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No leadership shouldn’t look like the pic above but unfortunately it certainly can feel like that. As a pastor and a leader I find myself needing other voices who lead in similar situations as me, who carry the same stresses and strains, who are struggle for life changing transformation. One place to find that is in books. Nevertheless I think the most important place to find that is in living, local mentoring relationships by trend-setters around you. That qualification being made leadership books have for my development been very helpful.

I find that leadership books are as good as the time you take to really internalize them and practice them. They can end up being merely proverbial wisdom you borrow from in sermons or they can be the grease that with the Spirit and the community’s solidarity makes the wheels turn in your ministry goals and vision. The truth is I think every single pastor, myself definitely included, struggles to turn these types of books into real grease in our labors. Here are the five I’ve been living with and from. I plan on posting five more that are written for the secular world in general in a follow up post.

Here’s my five favorite books in no particular order on Leadership by Christian authors addressing Christian readers: 

LeadershipNext by Eddie Gibbs. I love Gibbs book on leadership because he approaches the topic with the question what will tomorrows leaders who are leading today look like. What kind of cultural changes is the world going through and how do those effect Christian leaders. He has a tone of practical advice on how to engage all these new challenges. A great follow up book for pastors, church planters, or non-profit leaders is ChurchNext.

Leading with a Limp by Dan Allender. If you’ve never read Allender then go find your favorite pair of pants with reinforced knees on them because you’re going to be spending a lot of time on your knees repenting, praying, and basking in the gracious power of God to restore you. Allender says its not only ok to lead with a limp but a leader who’s really been transformed by the cross of Christ will find his greatest strength in his weaknesses.  

The Heart of a Servant Leader by Jack Miller. I interned at Jacks church after he had already passed away and I feel like the spirit of Jack definitely left an imprint on that leadership team. This book is unlike all the rest. Its a collection of correspondences Jack had with friends, family, and more. Its here in the nitty gritty of real life situations that you see the true heart of servant leadership and you begin to see fleshed out what Jesus meant when he said “the first shall be last.”

Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels & Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley. Ok so I cheated a bit on the “five favorites” but what can I say its hard to choose between these two. I’ve learned so much from Hybels and yet Stanley is such a clear and at times provocative thinker. These books will challenge you to step out and lead. To think circumspectly and be strategic, and to make sure you bring others with you.

The Cross and Christian Ministry by D.A. Carson. Like Allender’s book Carson’s seeks to apply the gospel message to how we think and do ministry, but unlike all the rest of the books on this list Carson picks a book of scripture and tries to raise the leadership question in an expositional/hermeneutical way from Paul’s own ministry to Corinth. I first read Carson’s book in a one-on-one conversational setting with a pastor I was interning with. It made for great discussion and mentoring in my life and its a great book to use with others you may be mentoring. 

What are your favorite books on leadership? Why?

(Photographic art by lumaxart, piece entitled “3D Team Leadership Arrow“)