Monday, March 26, 2012

"Spiritual Leadership" (J. Oswald Sanders)

TITLE: Spiritual Leadership (Commitment To Spiritual Growth)
AUTHOR: J. Oswald Sanders
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1994, (192 pages).
ISBN: 0-8024-6799-7

This book is a classic work on spiritual leadership. First released in 1967, it has been republished several times and remains one of the key references for learning about spiritual leadership. Initially given as a series of lectures for the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) in Singapore in 1964 and 1966, this book has been updated and revised for the new generation.

One look at the way the book has been setup is a clue that this book was not meant to be published as a book in the first place. Sanders has prepared the work to be spoken rather than written. That is why there are no neat categorizations or broad structural flows in the texts. Moreover, some of the chapters appear to end abruptly, just like how some preachers cut short their sermon endings when they run out of time. Nevertheless, the value of the book lies in its constant assertion that Christian leadership is spiritual in nature. It is an honourable ambition. It is designed with Christ as our Model and our Leader. Sanders compares natural and spiritual leadership in terms of flesh vs spirit. He brings out biblical insights from Paul and Peter, as well as many examples from the Old Testament.

Some essential qualities of leadership include the fundamental aspects such as discipline, vision, wisdom, decision, courage, humility, integrity, and sincerity. He also deals with the challenges to leadership like how to deal with anger, leading with humour and friendship, tactful, inspirational, and one who communicates well. Most importantly, Spiritual Leadership is to be led by the Spirit.

Other aspects of leadership includes how the leader prays, the use of time, reading, and the courage to face suffering and persecutions. One of the most important aspects of leadership is the readiness to deal with the challenges to spiritual leadership.
  • Counting the costs in self-sacrifice, always mindful of Christ's greatest sacrifice.
  • Temptation of loneliness that weighs leaders down.
  • Threat of criticisms
  • How rejections can bring a leader down
  • About the pressures and perplexities of life
Sanders ends with an exhortation on the prophet Nehemiah, saying that the primary task of spiritual leadership is to 'build the faith of others.' Indeed, a leader can lead by example, and to live through his own life challenges. In order to strengthen the faith of others, the leader needs to strengthen his own faith. In order to encourage others, leaders need to find encouragement in God and how to deal with their own discouragement. In order to make disciples of Christ, leaders need to be disciples themselves. In order to be spiritual leaders, they need to be led by the Spirit.

Be warned. This book may be easy to read, but practicing it requires us to be led by the Spirit.  Interestingly, note the subtitle on the front page of the book, 'principles of excellence for every believer.'  This book is not just for leaders. It is for ALL believers.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


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