I wanted to venture into the world of Christian leadership. I have already read many books on leadership, but aren’t distinctly Christian in its nature. Thankfully, I learned about Dave Kraft’s Leaders Who Last (Crossway, 2010). I asked a friend to buy it for me in the States. And after a period of waiting, I finally got my copy.
The Goal/s of the Book
Clearly, Kraft’s book aims to help leaders “finish well.” This is the important to him since “many leaders are not doing well and are ending up shipwrecked” (20). He cites a book by Professor Bobby Clinton of Fuller Seminary, in which the author concludes that only 30% of leaders finish well. Thus, the cover of the book states: “Only 30% of Leaders Last.” This actually what grabbed my attention and made me buy the book.
The book is “written from a Christian perspective,” and is “primarily, but not exclusively, addressed to the following types of leaders: Senior pastors, ministry staff members, volunteer leaders, Sunday school teachers, small-group leaders, leaders in local parachurch organizations.” Truly, it is distinctly Christian in nature. In fact, Chapter 6, entitled The Leader’s Calling, is even written “primarily for leaders in full-time vocational Christian ministry” (77). Obviously, the chapter deals with calling.
The book is divided into 3 parts: Foundations, Formation, and Fruitfulness. In Foundations, Kraft focuses on “leading from the inside out.” He means that a leader must live with Jesus Christ in the center of his power, as he develops a purpose and a passion, as he sets priorities, and as he develops pacing for how much he needs to accomplish and how fast he does it.
In Formation, he deals with the leader’s calling, gifts character, and growth, while in Fruitfulness, the leader’s vision, influence, and legacy.
At the end of every part, Kraft includes a Thinking Things Through, which are questions and points for discussion. This is helpful for readers since it makes them remember what they read, reflect on it further, and put it into action.
The book is also readable. Once can finish a chapter in 5-10 minutes (Consider the fact that I’m a slow reader).
Additionally, the book is full of personal stories, illustrations, and practical insights. Kraft writes:
Most of the leadership books in my library are based on surveys and studies that attempt to crystallize key principles and proven methodologies for discovering, developing, and deploying leaders. These books are written by successful CEOs of large organizations or professors in MBA programs who use the business world as their model.
In contrast, this book is written from my personal leadership journey for over forty years. It is not the result of interviews and surveys from the business sector, nor is it the product of analyzing and dissecting successful leaders from the Bible or history. Instead, it is a personal and extremely practical account of essential leadership principles I have learned and used. (21)
Kraft uses this definition of a leader throughout the book:
A Christian leader is a humble, God-dependent, team-playing servant of God who is called by God to shepherd, develop, equip, and empower a specific group of believers to accomplish an agreed-upon vision from God. (25)
I agree with Kraft. But take a look at the opening sentence of Chapter 1:
As a leader, everything I am and everything I do needs to be anchored in my identity with Christ. Leadership begins and ends with a clear understanding of the gospel and being rooted in the grace of Jesus Christ as a free gift. (29, emphasis added)
When I read those words, I immediately knew that this book will talk about a Gospel-centered leadership. I’m so glad I have such a book!
Leaders are Gifted to Speak
Before I end this review, allow me to highlight a point of Kraft which I deeply agree with. It’s about speaking gifts. He asserts that the leader who least must be gifted to speak:
After many years of teaching on the subject of spiritual gifts and working with hundreds of people to help them determine their gifting, it seems the gifts of a leader tend more toward speaking and serving. Bobby Clinton of Fuller Seminary refers to these gifts as word gifts. A true leader is gifted and skilled at using words to shepherd, develop, equip, and empower followers and potential leaders.
The leader who lasts needs to have word gifts. This is not to say they don’t serve. But what distinguishes them as leaders is their ability to use words to accomplish the mission, communicate an agreed upon vision, climb the mountain, and reach the goal. (89)
He goes out on a limb with this statement:
If a person’s gift mix is not predominantly in the speaking category, that person should not consider a major leadership roll. (89)
In my experience, the leaders who made an impact on me are the very ones who have the ability to move me through words, either verbal or written, in the form of preaching or in the form of a simple encouragement.
Leaders Who Last is a Gospel-centered, biblically-grounded, and deeply practical book on leadership. Any leader, especially those working full-time for churches, will greatly benefit from this book. I recommend it to you.
Recent book reviews in The Reading Disciple:
D.A. Carson on TGC Women’s Conference, John Starke on B.B. Warfield, Chuck Colson and Timothy George on Obama’s contraceptive mandate, and et cetera.
1. Interview with Don Carson on the TGC Women’s Conference (Tony Reinke) – Carson answers some questions on the first Women’s Conference of The Gospel Coalition (TGC).
2. The Lion Who Died February 16 (John Starke) – Starke on B.B. Warfield.
3. First They Came for the Catholics: Obama’s Contraceptive Mandate (Chuck Colson and Timothy George) – Colson and George calls for action regarding Obama’s mandate. This article is definitely controversial.
4. Thursday is for Thinkers: Eugene Cho (Cho via Ed Stetzer) – Cho on “downward mobility” and “a lifestyle of enough.” Inspiring!
5. The MacArthur Study Bible (NIV) (Phil Johnson) – MacArthur Study Bible on NIV2011. This is interesting.
6. Spiritual Leadership May Be Heartbreaking, but It Is Always Hopeful (Jon Bloom) – Bloom on Moses and leadership. He writes: “Spiritual leadership may be hard and heartbreaking, but it is always hopeful because of where the hope is anchored. Moses’ reward was not the peoples’ admiration, and not even the Promised Land. God was his reward (Hebrews 11:26). And any servant-leader whose reward is God can weather the storms with overcoming faith and joy. Any leader whose reward is something else will not last.”
7. The Strategically Generous Church (Craig Groeschel) – Groeschel on giving strategically. He writes: “Instead of just planning our next building project or fundraiser, we should also ‘plan to do what is generous.'”
8. When the Accounts Are Called: A Christian Understanding of Gambling (Albert Mohler) – Mohler on gambling. Finally, I have a grasp of the issue.
9. “He Knows My Name!” A Defense of Church Member Directories (Tony Reinke)
10. He Knows My Name! He Knows My Name! (John Piper) – Piper on knowing a person’s name. His point seems simple, but is actually profound.
11. Know Your Evangelicals: Charles Colson (Joe Carter)
12. Give Up the Gimmicks, Youth Pastors (Brian Cosby) – Cosby on youth ministry. He pleads: “With all my heart, I plead with you to not be tempted with “success,” professionalism, or the fading fads of our entertainment-driven culture. Rather, pursue Jesus as the all-satisfying Treasure that he is and feed his young sheep with the means God has provided.”
13. Casino Culture and the Collapse of Character (Albert Mohler) – Mohler on casinos. He concludes: “In the final analysis, the greatest danger posed by the casino is not anything that can be determined by economic analysis, because the greatest injury caused by gambling is not financial — it is moral.”
14. 6 Ways Sex Is a Gift (Mark Driscoll) – Driscoll gives 6 glorious benefits of sex.
15. Why Did God Let Paul Become a Murderer? (John Piper)
16. The Power of Clarity in Your Church’s Vision (Matt Steen) – Steen on vision statements. He gives four qualities of a great vision statement.
18. Read the Bible Devotionally — and No Less Critically (D.A. Carson) – Carson being interviewed on devotions.
Albert Mohler (and others) on abortion, Kevin DeYoung on preaching and God’s Word, Nathan Bingham on John Calvin’s preaching, and et cetera.
1. “Abortion is as American as Apple Pie” — The Culture of Death Finds a Voice (Albert Mohler) – Mohler on abortion.
2. Preach Like You Mean It (Kevin DeYoung) – DeYoung on preaching and God’s Word. I fully agree with this: “The only hope we preachers have for success in the ministry is the power inherent in the word of God. We can have no other confidence.”
3. 10 Distinguishing Marks of John Calvin’s Preaching (Nathan Bingham) – Bingham adapts Steven Lawson’s contribution to John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
4. Should I Stay or Should I Go? (Adam Holz) – Holz on trusting God whatever one’s decision is. He writes: “God was more interested in whether I was trusting Him than which fork in the road I took.”
5. Picking the Right People (Dave Kraft) – Kraft on choosing leaders. He writes: “As the size of your group, organization, church or company grows, so does the need for more character-filled, Christ-centered, and competent leaders.”
6. J.C. Ryle, Temperance, and Abortion (John Piper) – Piper learns from Ryle, and applies it in the battle on abortion.
7. What Does Roe v. Wade Actually Say? (Jonathan Parnell) – Piper explaining what the Roe v. Wade decision says.
8. Church Journeys: First Baptist Church of Atlanta (Ed Stetzer) – Stetzer visits Dr. Charles Stanley’s congregation.
9. Five Things We Can Do For the Unborn (Josh Etter) – Piper gives practical advise in fighting abortion.
10. Don’t Take It from Me: Reasons You Should Not Marry an Unbeliever (Kathy Keller) – Keller on marrying someone who does not share the same faith.
11. Eight Ways to Live as Pro-Life Christians Under a Pro-Choice President (Jonathan Parnell) – Piper on honoring a pro-choice president.
12. Mutual Submission (Tim Challies) – Challies on “submitting to one another” (Ephesians 5:18-21).
13. James MacDonald Resigns from TGC (D.A. Carson & Tim Keller)
14. Scandal! Ex-Nun Marries Former Priest (Mark Driscoll) – Driscoll on Martin Luther’s romantic life. Cool!
15. Visual Theology – The Attributes of God (Tim Challies) – Challies provides an infographic on God’s attribute.
16. Update on C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries (Justin Taylor) – Mahaney will resume the role as president of SGM, but only temporarily.
17. Do You Feel Called to Teach?(Jonathan Parnell) – Piper gives counsel to those considering a career in teaching biblical and theological studies.
18. Wordsmithy (Tim Challies)- Challies on Doug Wilson’s latest book, Wordsmithy. I want to have a copy of the book.
19. Evidence of Coming Together on Culture (Tim Keller) – Keller responding to comments on his article on culture.
20. T.D. Jakes, the Trinity, and Truth (Ed Stetzer) – Stetzer on Bishop Jakes and on his participation in The Elephant Room.
21. Owning vs. Renting Your Community (Brad House) – House on ownership of the mission within the church. I agree with him.
22. Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus (Jefferson Bethke) – I only saw this video last week while the online community has already seen it weeks ago. Cool video, powerful message.
There’s no Weekly Wraps last week, since I was brought to the hospital for a suspected Dengue fever (and it was). This Wrap are the links I visited the past two weeks. Russell Moore and Joni Eareckson Tada on Pat Robertson’s statement on divorce and Alzheimer’s, Ed Stetzer on leaving the local church, Albert Mohler on Dutch Christianity, and et cetera.
1. Christ, the Church, and Pat Robertson (Russell Moore) – Moore blogs on Pat Robertson’s statement on divorcing a wife with Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Divorce and Alzheimer’s (Joni Eareckson Tada) – Tada comments on Robertson’s statement.
3. Should “Broader Interests” Preclude Pastoring? (Ed Stetzer) – Stetzer blogs on pastors who leave the local church and “pursue” another calling. This blog is enlightening, since I’m confused about the trend, especially that Francis Chan, a pastor that I admire, left Cornerstone.
4. A Laboratory for Christianity’s Destruction (Albert Mohler) – Mohler blogs on a Dutch situation. I can’t believe that there are atheist/agnostic pastors existing!
5. How to Glorify God at Work (John Piper) – Piper blogs on how young workers can glorify God at work. Helpful!
6. Why Are You Thrilled to Be Loved by Jesus? (John Piper) – Piper blogs on being loved by God. He writes: “It seems to me that too many songs and sermons leave us with the wrong answer. They leave the impression that the heights of our joy would be in the recurrent feeling of being loved. “He loves me!” “He loves me!” This is joy indeed. But not the heights and not the focus.”
7. Giving Thanks for Victor Manuel Watters (Brian Eaton) – Eaton blogs on a boy named Victor Watters, who recently passed away because of cancer. The boy’s story is powerfully moving! May the Lord raise more boys like him.
8. Serve In the Shadow God Places You (Jon Bloom) – Bloom blogs on Andrew, Peter’s brother. Andrew served in the shadow of Peter, because he had a mentor who served in the shadow of Jesus—John the Baptist. It’s not about one’s prominence. It’s about Jesus’ prominence. Interesting!
9. Servant Leadership: The Cliché Versus the Reality (Robert Sloan Jr.) – Sloan preaches on leadership and 2 Corinthians 6:1-10. He wisely says: “You want to be a leader? Don’t think about being a leader. Think about doing the will of God” (30:30).
10. The Global God Who Gives the Great Commission (Louie Giglio) – Giglio speaks for 2011 Desiring God National Conference. He does a good job in helping people see how glorious God is. It feels like Indescribable in a Desiring God conference. Wonderful message!
11. Every Life Has a Story – A simple yet powerful video from Chick-fil-A.
Dave Harvey on leadership, John Piper on Peter’s escape from prison, Michael Oh on being a nobody for Jesus, and et cetera.
1. The Call to Ministry and the Leadership Moment (Dave Harvey) – Harvey blogs on leadership. He wisely writes: “Our leadership moments come in smaller and more frequent doses. They’re mundane, obscure, sometimes even boring…Anyone who steps into the call of pastoral ministry quickly realizes that the real work of leadership unfolds in the ordinary responsibilities of life.”
2. The Prison Gates Opened of Their Own Accord—Really? (John Piper) – Piper blogs on Peter’s escape from prison. Yes, mindless obstacles will not stop us!
3. Come Be a Nobody for Christ (Michael Oh) – Oh blogs on being nobodies for Jesus. He writes: “I believe that Jesus Christ is calling for well-trained, well-educated, godly, capable, wise, talented nobodies.”
4. When God’s Will Isn’t Clear (Jon Bloom) – Bloom blogs on making decisions. He writes: “Our love for him and his kingdom will be revealed in the pattern of small and large decisions that we make.”
5. Minimizing Views of God Don’t Advance the Mission (John Piper) – Piper blogs on God “taking a risk.” He responds to a quote by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost. Interesting!
C.J. Mahaney on his leave of absence, John Piper on tweeting, Alex Chediak on leadership, and et cetera.
1. Why I’m taking a leave of absence (C.J. Mahaney) – Mahaney blogs on his leave from the Sovereign Grace Ministries. It was posted back in July 6.
2. How Do I Think About Tweeting? — A Response to John Mayer (John Piper) – Piper blogs on tweeting and contrasts to John Mayer’s experience. He says that tweeting “demands thinking. A peculiar kind of thinking—thinking that is capacious, concise, and compelling.” Also, he writes: “Two aims drive my writing of Tweets: One is theological and the other is aesthetic. I aim to say important theological things. And I aim to say them in a compelling way. Whether I succeed is not mine to judge.”
3. Develop Your Leadership Potential (Alex Chediak) – Chediak blogs on leadership. He identifies three characteristics of a leader and gives practical advise on developing them. He jam-packs his blog with so many truths about leadership.
4. Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming. Advice for the Young, Restless, Reformed (John MacArthur) – MacArthur blogs on the said “Young, Restless, Reformed” (YRR) movement.
5. Grow Up. Advice for YRRs (part 2) (John MacArthur) – Part 2 of MacArthur’s series on the YRR movement.
6. John MacArthur Wants Us to Grow Up (Tim Challies) – Challies blogs on John MacArthur’s YRR series. He calls out that younger people must give MacArthur a fair hearing.
7. John Piper Interviews Louie Giglio (Part 2) – Piper interviews Giglio on Passion Conferences going global, etc.
8. John Stott, The Expositor, Sent at a Crucial Point in My Life (John Piper) – Piper honors John Stott (1921-2011).
9. Why Youth Stay in Church When They Grow Up (Jon Nielson) – Nielson blogs his observations on kids who stay in church. He wisely writes (and this convicts me, especially I’m a volunteer for a youth ministry): “If our students leave high school without Bible-reading habits, Bible-study skills, and strong examples of discipleship and prayer, we have lost them. We have entertained, not equipped them…and it may indeed be time to panic!” Interesting blog!
Tim Challies on Rob Bell mania and on writing, Chris Carr on personal holiness and leadership, and John Piper on the authority of preaching.
1. Bell, Hell and What We Did Well (Tim Challies) – After four months, Challies reflects on the Rob Bell mania and blogs his thoughts.
2. Do Leaders Need to Be Holy? (Chris Carr via Trevin Wax) – Carr blogs on personal holiness and leadership.
3. How I Write, How I Live (Tim Challies) – Challies blogs on writing and living it out. He also shares his experience as a barista of Starbucks. Unfortunately, he doesn’t love coffee!
4. The Authority of Preaching for Readers and Non-Readers (John Piper) – Piper blogs on the authority of preaching. He writes: “The authority of preaching is rooted finally in the absolute authority of God. That root passes through the infallible Word of God, the Bible…Therefore authority is not intrinsic to the preacher. It is intrinsic only to God and his written word.”