Books Faith

Book: The Serving Leader for the People of God

Combines solid theology with excellent, practical leadership wisdom. Get it and use it with a mentor or team. You’ll all be better leaders for it!

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These days, leadership books are a dime a dozen. For those of us trying to become better leaders, it seems that there’s a hot new book promising to crack the leadership problem. And they’re not wrong – many of those books, from guys like Dan Pink, Seth Godin, Jim Collins, Chip & Dan Heath – are absolutely outstanding.

My biggest challenge as  Church leader is that business books aren’t written within a theological framework.

That’s not the books or the authors’ faults. They’re writing secular books for a mostly-secular industry. But as a Christian leader, I have to be careful what ideas and principles I embrace. Is the latest leadership advice consistent with a Christian life?

Photo credit: Ben Reed ( books, on the other hand, aren’t always much help either. While they offer great biblical framework, many theology books aren’t concerned with what happens "on the ground", in the day-t0-day life of a Church. How many times have I finished a stellar theological text, only to be frustrated trying to apply it to my actual circumstances?

Books that balance solid, clear theology and down-to-earth, practical leadership advice are few and far between.

If you know what I’m talking about, pick up The Serving Leader for the People of God, by Elizabeth Wourms and John Stahl-Wert. It’s based on leadership book The Serving Leader, which was written by two Christians who applied a Christian ethic to the workplace. SL4PoG simply returns those same leadership principles to the Christian vocational world.

My personal favorite principle - Upend the Pyramid!The book consists of five chapters, one for each principle:

  1. Run to Great Purpose
  2. Upend the Pyramid
  3. Raise the Bar
  4. Blaze the Trail
  5. Build on Strength

Each chapter begins with a fictionalized narrative of a dysfunctional leadership situation. If you’ve been in Christian leadership for any length of time, you’ll be nodding your head along to each one. They’re short and sweet, and set up the problem each chapter is addressing.

The rest of the chapter is a mixture of the authors’ personal experiences, advice from all the great leadership minds, solid theological grounding and simple, practical steps. The best part of the book is the journaling pages, designed for you to stop and reflect on how well you embody each principle, and what you can do to get better.

This book is best used in a mentoring or team environment. Don’t just read it alone!

It's the key... to unlocking leadership... get it?Though each chapter was excellent, I personally found most helpful the last: Build on Strength. So much current leadership wisdom encourages us to lead from our strengths and manage around our weaknesses. This seems to fly directly in the face of the biblical mandate that God is made manifest in our weakness.

**SPOILER ALERT** Wourms and Stahl-Wert engage this conflict head-on, demonstrating that this is paradox, not mere contradiction. Only when we recognize our fundamental dependence on God can we fully utilize our gifts, talents and – yes – God-given strengths to serve God’s people.

Again and again, SL4PoG calls Christian leaders to return to our identity in Christ, to foster a genuine love for our people and to lead courageously.

Yup. Use this book and you'll be as cute as these little guys. Promise.This book is for anyone who’s stuck in a ministry environment, anyone trying to figure out how to move forward. If you’re an older leader, pick up two copies, find a young, promising leader and work through this together. If you’re a young, up-and-coming leader, get two of these books and ask someone older than you whom you admire to work through it with you. If you lead a team, buy enough for the whole team. If you’re on a team, ask your leader first, then buy enough for the whole team.

You get the idea. Go read this book. With other people. You’ll be a better leader.

Bottom Line: A singular book in its theological foundations plus immediately practical application. Should become a heavily-used classic.

YOUR TURN: Where do you struggle as a leader? Do you tend to be more theological or practical?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free as a friend of one of the authors. I was not expected to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

By JR. Forasteros

JR. lives in Dallas, TX with his wife Amanda. In addition to exploring the wonders that are the Lone Star state, JR. is the teaching pastor at Catalyst Community Church, a writer and blogger. His book, Empathy for the Devil, is available from InterVarsity Press. He's haunted by the Batman, who is in turn haunted by the myth of redemptive violence.