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Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence For Every Believer (Sanders Spiritual Growth Series) Paperback – May 1, 2007
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Spiritual Leadership is the best book I've read on Christian leadership. I give copies to every key associate.
-Charles Colson, Chairman, Prison Fellowship
As a young pastor, J. Oswald Sanders’ book Spiritual Leadership was the first book I read that awakened me to the subject of leadership. It started me on a 30-plus year journey of teaching leadership to pastors and laypeople. No other book has influenced my life the way this one has.
-John C. Maxwell, Author, speaker and founder—the INJOY Group
Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sandersis a classic among the classics. I read it as a young Christian, later as a leader, and needed what's been taught in this book. I highly recommend it!
-Chip Ingram, President, Walk Thru the Bible
Spiritual Leadership should be the constant companion of every undershepherd in the Savior’s service. Most helpful is the fact that its emphasis is not on methods, but on character, passion, and godliness. I read it often to regrip the basic perspectives of my task, and have given it to the entire leadership team in our church.
-John MacArthur, Pastor-teacher, Grace Community Church
I first read Oswald Sanders’ Spiritual Leadership as a young woman heading into ministry. It helped to shape my perspective, priorities, and passion and to ground my heart and mind in the timeless truths of Scripture. Anyone who desires to serve the Lord would do well to digest and internalize this classic.
Many Christian workers today are enamored of the latest trends, marketing models, and bestselling books by leadership gurus; they aspire to a sense of greatness and success that exalts human giftedness and rests on shifting sand. By contrast, the kingdom of God will always and only be advanced by humble servants of God who lead out of a clear sense of divine calling, personal integrity, spiritual depth, and dependence on Christ--men and women of prayer, full of the Word and wisdom, and anointed with the power of the Spirit. These are the ingredients Sanders urges us to prize and pursue.
-Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Author, Host of Revive Our Hearts Radio
The accelerated change in both the church and larger society compels the revision of the language of a classic like Spiritual Leadership. The ideas of Oswald Sanders are of too great value to risk losing any of their power to the ever-changing idiom of the present century.
-D. James Kennedy, Ph.D., Author and Senior Minister, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
J. Oswald Sanders' book Spiritual Leadership came to my hand shortly after it was published and was a great help to me as a young minister. I recommend it highly, not only to pastors and Christian workers, but to all Christians who want to know something about God's leadership in their own lives.
-Warren W. Wiersbe, Author, Conference Speaker
This book proves that a godly attitude lies at the heart of Christian leadership. It does not borrow principles of leadership from the world and apply them to the church, but rather derives priniciples of leadership directly from the Scriptures. It ought to be read by all of us at least once a year.
-Erwin W. Lutzer, Senior Pastor, Moody Memorial Church
From the Back Cover
To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition. (1 Timothy 3:1 NEB)
The need for talented, vigorous leaders in the church today cannot be overemphasized. Such times demand the active service of men and women who are guided by God and devoted to Jesus Christ.
With more than 750,000 copies in print, Spiritual Leadership stands as a proven classic for developing such leadership. In these pages, J. Oswald Sanders presents the key principles of leadership in both the temporal and spiritual realms, illustrating his points with examples from Scripture and the biographies of eminent men of God (Moses, Nehemiah, Paul, David Livingstone, Charles Spurgeon, and others). He writes that even natural leadership qualities are God-given, and their true effectiveness can only be reached when they are used to the glory of God. Featured topics include:
¿ The cost of leadership
¿ The responsibilities of leadership
¿ Tests of leadership
¿ The qualities and criteria of leadership
¿ The art of reproducing leaders
¿ The one indispensable requirement of leadership
New to this updated edition are a “For Reflection” section and a growth-empowering study guide designed to enhance the usefulness of Spiritual Leadership as a training tool for future generations.
- Publisher : Moody Publishers; New edition (May 1, 2007)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0802482279
- ISBN-13 : 978-0802482273
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #610,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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I grew up under a theology that stressed holiness by human effort, and it is only after suicidal guilt that I finally began to understand how God transforms us through His grace. Identity must precede activity. This book seems to lay out the correct biblical qualities of a leader, but stresses the wrong means for how to get these qualities. They are not something that can be attained apart from an intimate love relationship with the one who gives them. Spend time with Jesus. Let Him love you. Let His beauty convince you that His ways are better than the other ways of living.
A better leadership book is Crawford Loritts book, "Leadership as Identity."
The book is rife with extra-biblical requirements for leadership. The phrase "the leader must..." appears constantly, and is usually followed by an elaboration from the author's opinion or an outside source unquestioningly presented as truth.
For example, while discussing 1 Tim 3:2 ("An overseer must be...not quarrelsome"), Sanders elaborates: "The leader must be actively considerate, not merely passive and certainly not withdrawn but irenic in disposition, always seeking a peaceful solution, and able to diffuse an explosive situation" (p. 48). To me this sounds like the pharisaical law-multiplying Jesus condemned in Luke 11:46.
Or again: "The spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer" (p.99). I certainly agree that a "spiritual leader" (by which he unequivocally means "preaching pastor") needs to be constant in prayer... but to suggest that he must be THE most prayerful person in his congregation is not biblical or helpful.
An entire chapter is given to this conjecture: "the leader must have an active life of reading...Leaders should determine to spend a minimum of half an hour a day reading books that feed the soul and stimulate the mind." (p. 122-23). The author supports this novel requirement by quoting (and praising) a pastor who "took a suitcase of books on his honeymoon" (p. 123). I value reading highly but cannot agree with the "must" and "should", nor the celebration of reading over and against the affection that poor pastor's new wife deserved!
Other problems abound, which I won't go into depth on. Sanders heavily emphasizes the leader's personality, charisma and skills over and above godliness, humility and faithfulness. In order to elevate the office of "spiritual leader", he degrades other vocational callings. Opinion and conjecture run high while humble expositions of scripture are hard to find.
If you are LOOKING for an exhaustive and exhausting set of extra-biblical laws, rules, "principles" and qualifications, look no further... Sanders has cornered the market on "heaping up empty phrases" and "loading people with burdens hard to bear".
Unfortunately spiritual leadership is often thought of in this way. This mindset it both saddening and maddening. It indicates a very low view of not just pastors, but all of those in leadership within the body of Christ and explains why we are content with just warm bodies rather than placing those both qualified and called into positions of leadership. Several years ago I was fortunate enough to read Spiritual Leadership for the first time and have considered it necessary reading for all believers. This month Moody Publishers is offering a redesigned of the updated version released 10 years ago. It’s worth noting that the only versions I have read have been updated and not the original, and in this latest release I see no discernible differences in the text from the 2007 update.
Originally put together as a a series of lectures, the book version is both logical and thoughtful. One cannot read the book without appreciating the effort that Sanders has put forward in conveying the material. The author delves deep into the realm of leadership addressing not just qualifications as many are so used to, although Sanders elevates these points to higher integrity than most, but he also tackles topics such as the pastor’s ability to read, write, and communicate. The final chapters convey the necessity of building up other leaders. Therefore, despite the shortness of the chapters, the material requires time to read because of the need to be both reflective on it and convicted by it. While deep, the points are cleanly made and the path of reading is done in a logical and sequential order so that readers can ponder all aspects of leadership from beginning to end. Therefore, readers can expect the initial chapters to cover qualifications of leadership, who should be a leader, and some basic insights for becoming a leader, while the rest of the book continues to cover the process of leading itself to the eventual stepping aside from leadership and training up others to continue the work.
J. Oswald Sanders discussion points can be considered the ABC’s of leadership in that they are (a) advanced, (b) balance, and (c) comprehensive. Sanders conclusions about leadership are advanced beyond basic thinking. Instead, he challenges both modern notions about leadership and conveys just how much is involved in leading God’s people God’s way. Additionally, the author presents many aspects with a very balanced way, avoiding the pitfalls of going to one extreme or the other. For example in discussing essential qualities of leadership he tackles the topic of anger in such a way that shows its necessity, but cautious about unloving anger. Finally, Sanders is comprehensive, covering many topics that are easy to overlook like those mentioned earlier about abilities to read and write or spiritual qualities such as prayer. He also looks at areas that many are prone to put off or avoid, like disqualification, replacing leaders, and training up new ones. Such details combined with an emphasis on biblical authority makes Sanders book an easy recommendation.
Perhaps my one complaint is not with Sanders’ teaching at all, but rather with the additions that the publisher and editors have chosen to put further. The updated edition includes questions for discussion, which generally are very appreciative because they stimulate thinking and application. However, the questions are often asked in such a way that suggests that all believers are called to spiritual leadership and seem to ignore whether or not that person has been called to such a position. To be clear, Sanders nowhere advocates this. I have never had access to the first release and so lament my inability to comment upon the editor’s updates and faithfulness to Sanders’ intentions in the original publication.
One thing is certain: Sanders has a high regard for spiritual leadership as God’s work. Therefore, he conveys the seriousness with which it must be undertaken. It comes with great costs of energy, patience, pride, and so much more, and the author is certain to convey that to readers so that they understand the importance of spiritual leadership. Because he does this, the book is beneficial for all persons within the body of Christ and not just leaders (or potential leaders). It is a timeless book that has the propensity to be used by God to transform his church if people would invest the time to read it.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purpose of review. However, my review was not influenced in anyway by outside sources and instead is the result of my own response to the reading of the book (in fact, I did a review of this book several years ago also highly recommending it and my opinion of it has not changed since).