The third book, Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders, came by of the middle school ministry I am blessed to oversee. I had chosen Biblical leadership as the summer’s theme and I desired to carry on the theme through the fall with our group, ‘Nuclear Reactors.’ ‘Nukes’ is our discipleship class for students where I choose a book for us to work through over a 11 week period. This time it was Spiritual Leadership by J.Oswald Sanders. It wasn’t the first time I had been exposed to this book. In fact, prior to reading it with the students, I think I had read the first 8 chapters twice before: once with a group at college and once with my pastor. I can’t remember the exact reasons we didn’t read the whole book each time; it certainly wasn’t for lack of excellent content, that’s for sure.
I would often joke with people that it was useless for me to attempt to highlight or underline excerpts from the book because I ended up underlining just about every sentence! Sanders’ wisdom and spiritual insight abound and his diligence in study is amazing as demonstrated by the wealth of quotes provided in each chapter. He was certainly a man who exemplified Proverbs 10:14, “Wise men store up knowledge.”
And let me just use this as an opportunity to comment on this aspect of Sanders’ life more practically for us. Do you have an organized system or method with which to “store up” wisdom from others? When you read something excellent in a book, or hear something helpful in a sermon, do you have a way to preserve these thoughts from others? It could be as simple as a notebook or journal that you use to write down useful quotes from books and sermons. Or it could be a folder in your file cabinet or a document in Word on your laptop. Whatever method works well for you. If we don’t have some kind of organized method of preserving notes for later use, our time reading, studying and listening to sermons will not be as helpful and fruitful as it could be.
Let’s get back to the book.
Sanders begins in the first chapter by encouraging those who desire to be leaders by maintaining, from Scripture, that ambition is not sinful if if it is guided by a desire to glorify God and tempered by sincere servanthood and genuine humility. Sanders investigates several different aspects of true spiritual leadership through the remaining 21 chapters and even includes highly practical chapters on the leader’s use of time (chapter 12) and the leader and his reading and study disciplines (chapter 13).
An especially helpful and heart-searching section is found on pages 36-37 where Sanders poses 27 essential questions a leaders must ask in order to truly investigate his or her leadership potential. For example, he asks, “Have you ever broken a bad habit…Do you depend on the praise of others to keep you going…Are you tactful…Do you welcome responsibility” as well as a host of other excellent questions.
Overall, like the previous two books I have mentioned, I found Spiritual Leadership to be very helpful, practical and extremely challenging. It is one to read and reread often!