When you think of leadership, words like “passion”, “intentionality”, or “visionary” may come to mind. And they should. But what about the word wisdom?
That’s a word that Craig Hamilton, author of the new book Wisdom in Leadership: The How and Why of Leading the People You Serve, thinks needs to be central in conversations on leadership.
A book for “leadership people” and “theology people”
In the Christian world, there are leadership people who read books by John Maxwell and Bill Hybels, and there are “theology people” who read more of D.A Carson and John Stott. Hamilton wants to bring each of these sometimes divided mentalities together to exercise wise leadership.
Some Christian leadership books seem to state a leadership principle, and then tie a weak Scripture reference to it as a proof-text. Others look down upon other leadership books written by non-Christians because they aren’t believers. Hamilton’s take:
Can I learn from an atheist whose book is all about how to make money and crush the competition? Well, if his observations are true then they’re true—regardless of how he chooses to apply those truths, I can still learn from them and apply to them what I’m doing in the church context. (16)
Hamilton sees all truth as God’s truth that “fit within the doctrine of creation and under the category of wisdom” (16). When truth from a variety of sources is filtered through a gospel lens and applied wisely to ministry situations, it helps leaders avoid common mistakes, and thus strengthens their ministries.
Do we need a 500-page leadership book? YES.
When I first heard about Wisdom in Leadership, I groaned and thought it was the last thing busy leaders would need. “Another leadership book?—this time 500 pages?!”
As I browsed through the table of contents, introduction, and first few chapters, my opinion quickly changed. I realized the five hundred pages weren’t philosophical fluff and needless stories—they were 78 powerful lessons and principles combining wisdom from several different worlds: theology, leadership, management, and productivity. The comprehensive scope of this book is what sets it apart. This unique combination makes for a very practical book—one that I wish I had read while I was in seminary.
The chapters are divided in four sections:
- Leading foundations
- Leading yourself
- Leading other people
- Leading the ministry
Each section has about twenty chapters that range from three to ten pages. Chapters are to the point and densely packed with insights and advice for readers to chew on. The chapter topics cover a substantial breath; and go surprisingly deep for short chapters.
One of Hamilton’s great strengths as a writer is clarity—readers can easily follow his logic and will enjoy memorable illustrations that bring his point home. Hamilton is also very well-read; he gleans insights from C.S. Lewis, Patrick Lencioni, Ed Catmull of Pixar, Jim Collins, and Jack Welch, among others. Hamilton distills the best from leadership, management, and productivity literature for Christian leaders, which means you don’t have to try and read it all anymore.
Several chapters like “Trust the Bible” and “Servanthood is Greatness” will not cover new ground for the biblically-minded, but will reinforce foundational biblical leadership principles, and will prove to be helpful conversation starters for ministry teams. At least a half-dozen times while reading the book, I had “a-ha!” moments that made me finally understand specific moments of frustration I have experienced as a leader in various settings, whether working with a team or participating in meetings.
A few game-changing chapters for me include “Ideas are Born Ugly”, a chapter that exposed my pessimistic nature when judging new ideas at brainstorming meetings. Remembering that often the greatest ideas have humble or “ugly” beginnings helps me think deeper and ask more questions when considering a new idea. “Energy is more efficient than efficiency” is another chapter that encouraged me to focus more on enthusiastic effectiveness for the right tasks instead of over focusing on efficiency, which often is counter-productive. (Also see my post 3 Dangerous Ways to Think About Your Identity.)
I feel silly for the following semi-critique: I wish several chapters could have been longer. But I don’t think a 700 or 1,000 word book would be as helpful as this 495 page tome.
A well-rounded and versatile resource for Christian leaders
There are a lot of great Christian leadership books out there1, but there is nothing with the breadth and depth of both spiritual wisdom and practical insight as Wisdom in Leadership. Young leaders will avoid mistakes and grow in wisdom by reading this book, while seasoned leaders will be stretched and fill in missing gaps due to the book’s comprehensive approach. I could see pastors using Wisdom in Leadership for personal growth and also to train other leaders.
In conclusion, I agree with Pastor Rory Shiner, who said, “This book could be a game changer for many Christian leaders and, as a result, a blessing to many churches and Christian ministries.”
Title: Wisdom in Leadership: The How and Why of Leading the People You Serve | Download a PDF sample
Author: Craig Hamilton (@ministrymatrix)
Publisher: Matthias Media
Rating: 5 Stars
1 I’m thinking The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler and Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Chambers