Leadership is an ongoing process of becoming a “lifelong learner.” Unless a leader continues to grow and stretch their understanding of leadership, they will eventually run out of steam. The Leadership Challenge book was an insightful and wise look at the importance of explaining leadership as a process. It is no longer a process of allowing a few people at the “top” of the leadership ladder to be in charge of everything, but it is moving people along in their own abilities on the team. A great quote from the book says, “Our research challenges the myth that leadership is something inherent in the DNA or is found only at the highest levels of an organization, whether it is the executive or the pulpit…leadership is everyone’s business.” The five practices of exemplary leadership are, model the way, inspired a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. It is true that leaders are the change agents in any organization to lead and create an environment of growth. Leaders are not just born but are developed. Although some have qualities through their spiritual gifts, the key is if they develop them through the power of the Holy Spirit working in their life. This quote explains further, “the truth is that leadership is an observable set of skills and abilities that are useful no matter where you are. And leadership, like any other skill, can be strengthened, honed, and enhanced, given the motivation and desire, the practice and feedback, and the proper role models and coaching.” Leadership is learned as the book continued to explain and this is why it is imperative for every person to find their place to connect and lead.
God establishes leaders to make an impact on other people. The clear way any person can make an impact upon another is to build a relationship. Building relationships based upon clear goals and shared responsibility is the key to lasting leadership. To encourage and uplift a person in their abilities is to make them better and build them into a stronger individual. A goal of leadership is to enable people to act upon the vision. Leaders are to motivate and encourage people to see themselves embracing the vision and being able to own it for themselves.
The only way to improve an organization is to challenge the habits or processes that make it function. It takes humility and a teachable spirit for a person to improve and take constructive criticism. At the heart of any successful leader is a willingness to always be willing to improve. Without a good review of the process, there will be no improvement throughout the organization. With that being said, encouragement goes hand in hand with challenging the process. The motive of leadership is to help people come to a clearer understanding of themselves and become confident in their abilities.
People are in a continual need of hope. Leaders are to live and breathe hope for the future to become brighter. The book highlights some of the most important aspects of the leadership challenge that is faced in today’s culture. God’s plan has always been using people to complete God’s mission on the earth. Leaders are at the forefront of change and this change can have an eternal impact on the lives of many people who need the good news of Jesus Christ.
One example that I thought of while reading this book on leadership was that there are negative and positive ways to lead. One example for me was that when I first began in the youth ministry, I viewed parents as an obstacle versus them being a positive to the strength of the ministry. For some reason I believed that I could help the students and thought that most parents did not know how to help their students. Through conversations with numerous parents, I learned that parenting is my largest ally to the ministry. Instead of thinking that I had the answers, I would gather around me parents who were wise and more experienced in life and ask questions and learn from their advice.
I have learned in the past four years that leadership is a shared vision and not a “one man show.” My focus was upon the students and their view of me more than reaching the parents and encouraging them to be the spiritual influencers in their home. My passion now is to not only building relationships with students, but to encourage and equip parents to lead in the home and reinforce God’s Word into the lives of the students. One of the challenges of leadership is to be willing to admit faults and through these past years, I have learned that parents need encouragement and ministry just as much as the students.
The book was one of the best books that I have seen on leadership. I found that the author had clear and good examples of principles that could be applied in any leadership setting. One way that I hoped it would explain clearer is how to apply these principles in a ministry setting. One of the issues that I see with some books on leadership is that the topics and principles are broad and do not always give clear steps to apply. I did agree with the statement, “Leadership is everybody’s business.” It is true that too long organizations have pointed to one person as the savior of the mission. When people rally behind a vision and embrace it, strength and excitement will build into the future. The book clearly communicated the needed principles for leadership to grow and thrive. I could not find anything else negative about the book to critique, it was an excellent read and I plan to use it for the rest of my ministry as a foundational book for leadership.
This book was a refreshing look at the importance of understanding the foundation and heart of leadership. Through a passion to see people reach their potential and a desire to lead with integrity, organizations can thrive due to strong leadership. Leadership is a continual learning process that seeks to move people from mediocrity to greatness.
Buy the book here: "Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge"
 Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge, 2.
 Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge, 4.