Luther on Leadership edited by David D. Cook—Book Review

This book was published in 2017 amid a plethora of Luther books due to 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  Unlike many books that focus on Luther’s legacy, life and theology, this one takes a different approach:  what can we learn from Martin Luther’s leadership style?

Nobody can deny that great change came as a result of Luther’s convictions and his life.  Here is a quote from the book:

The legacy of any leader can be measured by the positive change he cements
in his own organization, nation, or culture. While many leaders
across the millennia have created change in their society, few have caused such
broad-based change as Martin Luther. Someone surveying Europe in 1600
would have found a cultural milieu that was markedly different than what
was present just a hundred years before, in 1500. For a society that had not
changed markedly in a thousand years, the seismic shift that Luther brought
in the span of a few decades was remarkable. From the church, to government,
law, education, and economics, the hue of society was drastically different because
of the leadership of Martin Luther and his fellow Reformers.

What was it that made Luther such an effective leader?  This is the question the book sets out to answer.

The first section does review Luther’s life and legacy.  For the Lutherans among our readers, this may be a review of facts they already know.  The second deals with different modern models of leadership, comparing Luther to these models.  Each section is written by a different author.  Topics covered include:

  • Luther as a change agent
  • Luther as an adaptive leader
  • Luther as a transformational leader
  • Luther as a pastoral leader
  • Luther as a servant leader

I found this book interesting and readable.  It is well written, clear and while referring to many academic models of leadership does not bog down in academic terms that lose the average lay person.  I came away with a better sense of Luther as a leader we can learn from today.  While his circumstances and personality were unique, all church leaders can learn from his dedication to Biblical truth as well as his ability to communicate his vision to followers and energize them for God’s work.

Verdict:  I was given a pdf copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a blog review.  I give it five stars.  Ask your Pastor to add it to the church library!  For ordering information follow the link below:

https://wipfandstock.com/luther-on-leadership.html

 

The Spiritual Gift of Leadership

As part of our Fanning the Flame process, all team members (and eventually all of our congregation) will be offered the opportunity to do a spiritual gifts assessment.  Leadership is a spiritual gift, and in this month of exploring leaders, I thought everyone would benefit from having the following definition which was provided as part of our material.  After reading this, do you think you may have the spiritual gift of leadership?

 

LEADERSHIP

 

Literal Meaning: To stand before

 

Description: The gift of leadership is the special ability that God gives to certain members of  the Body of Christ to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future and to communicate those goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish those goals for the glory of God.

 

Distinctives:

  1.     Provide direction for God’s people or ministry                                                                                                2.
  2.     Model the values of the ministry
  3.     Take responsibility and establish goals
  4.     Motivate others to perform to the best of their abilities
  5.     Present the big picture for others to see

 

 

Traits: Cautions:
q     Influential q     Should realize their relational credibility takes time
q     Diligent        and is critical for leadership effectiveness
q     Visionary q     Should remember that servant leadership is
q     Trustworthy        biblical model, the greatest being the servant of all
q     Persuasive q        Do not need to be in a leadership “position” to use  this gift
q     Motivating
q     Goal setter

 

References: Acts 15:7-12; Romans 12:8; I Timothy 5:17

Good Leaders Accept Help

“O, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and tongue….please send someone else.”  Exodus 4:10 & 13

Moses, probably the greatest leader in the Old Testament recognized his limitations.  He admitted that he was not good at everything.  He asked God to remove the burden of leadership from him.  Instead, God directs him to a helper, someone with the gift he lacks.

“Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite?  I know that he can speak well. … He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth …” Exodus 4:14-15

Later on, Moses encounters a different problem — time management.  As leader, he is dealing with so many small problems, he can’t get to the bigger ones.  This time, it is his father-in-law, Jethro who gives the advice to delegate.

“Look for able men from all he people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe;  and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.  And let them judge the people at all times.  Every great matter they shall decide themselves.  So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.”  Exodus 18:21-22

Likewise, in the book of Acts, the twelve apostles found they could not meet all the needs of the growing church.  Some widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.

“Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

We can’t expect our leaders to go it alone.  Good leaders recognize the spiritual gifts of others and they learn to delegate and train.  Maybe the greatest talent of good leaders is to recognize and cultivate the skills of the people around them.

I can see this in my own life.  Leadership is not my strongest spiritual gift, but I have found myself in situations when I am called to lead.  When this happens I know that I need someone with the gift of administration as a strong #2 — I see the goal, but not always the steps that need to be taken to get there.  I also need people with the gift of service — the ones who can just see a task that needs doing, and jump it to take care of it.  For me, leadership is all about assembling the right team–a group who can work together and accomplish great things.

What about you?  What can you do well, and what do you need to delegate?  I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming post on spiritual gifts.

 

Fanning the Flame #11–Book Review

As part of the Fanning the Flame process, various team members have been assigned to read books and write book reports which are then shared with everyone.  This one was written by my husband, Pastor Terry Culler on “Surprising Insights from the Unchurched” by Thom Rainer.  Want to know more about what Pastor Terry has to say?  Visit his blog, goodnewsforabadworld.wordpress.com.

Rainer, a well known Southern Baptist leader approached this study from an interesting perspective–rather than ask the unchurched what they would like to see in a church, he surveyed the formerly unchurched, those who had changed from unchurched to church members.  He asserts that this is a better indicator of the things churches should pay more attention to than the opinions of people who were probably never going to become church members.  The formerly unchurched were those who had not been in church except sporadically for at least 10 years.

The people surveyed were from a number of different denominations and belonged to churches with different worship styles.  They were asked to put down which factors led them to join their congregations.  The two most frequently mentioned were Pastor/Preaching (90%) and Doctrine (88%).  The two least frequently mentioned were Worship style/Music (11%) and location (7%).  Other indicators in declining order were friendliness, a witness from somebody in the church, attendance by a family member, atmosphere, a relationship other than a family member, Sunday School, Children’s or Youth ministry, other group ministries.

One of the standout points of interest among the formerly unchurched was an attraction to a church that held strong biblical convictions.  Another was that only 4% of the formerly unchurched said that a denominational name had a negative impact on their decisions.  Churches that are unambiguous and clear in what they teach are the ones more likely to see visitors return.  High expectations are seen as positive and not a negative thing to those who were formerly unchurched.

The second part of the book deals with the leadership of pastors who are successful in attracting the formerly unchurched.  One of the sections in the latter part of the book focuses on how to become a church that attracts the previously unchurched and this can be summarized by the following:  be biblical, conservative and convictional;  give evangelism priority and passion;  provide deep biblical teaching; develop effective small groups; have a neat and clean church; seek excellence, etc..

What I got from this book is that we at St. Paul’s have a strong platform on which to build to make ourselves attractive to those who are seeking truth in a world filled with lies.

 

Leaders Who Imitate Christ

In the apostle Paul’s letters to various churches, he often tells the believers to imitate him.  Our leaders should be examples to us, but why is that?  For Christians it is because leaders are to imitate Christ, who is the ultimate leader of our lives.  Here’s some more of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians:

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.  Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

In imitating Christ, Paul teaches other leaders to be unselfish, desiring always what is best for others, particularly when it comes to their faith and salvation. In honesty, I have to admit that I don’t always do this, but I should.  Who wouldn’t want to follow a leader who had their best interests at heart?  If we lead in this way, people will follow us to the one who can save them and give meaning to their lives.

Jesus Himself told his followers:

“And he sat down and called the twelve.  And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35

And remember the last supper?  The scene when Jesus washes the feet of the disciples.  He tells them:

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do just as I have done to you.”

Jesus gave us an example.  He wants us to imitate Him as a servant-leader.  If you are a leader in any way (and you probably are), be unselfish and loving.  Think the best of those you lead, and desire God’s best for them.  It’s the least you can do as an imitator of Christ.  He loves you and so do I!

 

 

Fanning the Flame #10 Continued … Creating a Culture for Change

This is a continuation of my post from yesterday, which discussed Pastor Harry Reeder’s talk about how leaders create a culture for change.  Listening to it was part of our teaming process.

Lay leaders are also important in any transitional process.  Here are some of the ways they contribute to successful change:

  • Take a pulse of the congregation;  let the Pastor know where the people are in the process
  • Pray with and for individuals in the congregation
  • Remember the Pastor can’t shepherd everybody so lay leaders can be there for fellow members who are hurting
  • Find ways to communicate change

Good change agents know that VISION PROMOTES CHANGE.  We must all have a vision of what we want our congregation to look like, and we must communicate that to others.  Harry Reeder says successful change agents should:

  • Bring change respectfully, not judgmentally
  • Start with affirmation
  • Be patient
  • Find a way to be a good loser (not every change will be accepted)
  • Use logic and passion to persuade with gentleness and without emotional manipulation
  • Don’t surprise people
  • Admit your own mistakes

I found this CD both inspiring and helpful.  One big takeaway — good leaders build morale and achieve consensus.  That’s what we’re working toward here at St. Paul’s.  Readers, pray for us to be successful.

 

 

Fanning the Flame #10 — Creating a Culture For Change

“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel;  instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24

This past Saturday, the Fanning the Flame team gathered to listen to a talk on a CD, given by Pastor Harry Reeder, author of From Embers to a Flame.  The title was “Creating a Culture For Change” and it dealt with leaders and how they are to deal with the difficulty of leading a congregation through transitional times.

HUMILITY is the watchword.  People are not won over by force and impatience.  They will be won over by leaders who exhibit the teaching methods of Jesus, leaders who see themselves as servants.  Leaders must earn the right to lead by their own behavior.

Here were some of his suggestions for the Pastor:

  • Believe the gospel
  • Exemplify in his own life a dedication to the disciplines of prayer, study, worship and the means of grace
  • Pay close attention to himself and his teaching — be stable, share what is going on in bite-size nuggets
  • Keep watch on his words and attitude
  • Let people know that he is committed to them and to his call
  • Be appropriately committed to his spouse and children
  • Do not make excuses or become defensive.

Suggestions to the leadership team included:

  • Pray for the team
  • Be ready for the team to change
  • Develop a meaningful relationship with the Pastor
  • Spend time together in fellowship and prayer
  • Find ways to encourage and empower each other

To be continued …..