Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review. J. Oswald Sanders: Spiritual Leadership

J. Oswald Sanders' book Spiritual Leadership is one of the best leadership books now available. Originally written in 1967, the later versions have been updated and thoroughly annotated by Moody Press.

In the past couple of weeks, I have been reading as much on Christian leadership as I can and I have continually found this work to be a deep well of fresh cool water.

Sanders, the former director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship, has plenty of experience from his own life to share to a new generation of pastors and leaders, but it is the way the author defers to the experiences of literally dozens of other historic personages that continually intrigued me.

As a history lover, my heart thrills with the anecdotal mini-stories of men like Luther, Spurgeon, Carey, Tyndale, Mueller, Whitefield, McCheyne and more. Reading this work was like taking a walk down the corridors of time and having multiple generations whisper timeless truths into our modern ears.

Relentlessly biblical, Sanders does not spill much ink on the frivolities that transfix most modern leadership books. Readers scanning for the cheap content of entertainment-focused, seat-filling gimmicks will be deeply disappointed. Instead the author drives the book like a spear straight for the leader's heart. In a word, the book is what the title claims to be "spiritual."

Sanders, I have come to believe, is utterly unconcerned with how many numerical followers one might accumulate. Instead, he is deeply concerned what kind of men his readers might become.

Although the work is at times a bit pithy, and the anecdotes could be filled out a bit with more description of the men he quotes and their historical settings, Sanders cannot be deterred from his goal of helping to produce men and women in leadership who are conformed more and more to the likeness of Christ.

Chapter headings include: prayer, time management, reading, improving one's skill set, and delegation. Personally, however, I found the chapters on "the cost of leadership" and "the perils of leadership" to be most profound.

Readers from every sphere of Christian leadership--the pastorate, mission field, administrator's desk, or Sunday School classroom--will all benefit from this devotional work.

Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida.

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