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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church by Paul David Tripp

Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church by Paul David Tripp. Crossway. 240 pages. 2020.

This is an outstanding book for pastors and the leaders who make up their leadership community. It is one of the most helpful books I’ve read this year.
The author tells us that the focus of the book is the specific call of the gospel on the way we think about leadership. The book is shaped by twelve leadership-community gospel principles. The author states that these principles are deeply relational because the gospel is. He tells us that if you look at your leadership community through the lens of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it will transform your expectations, your commitments, your behavior, and the way you respond to difficulty.
The author wrote the book Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry in 2012. Since that time, he has gotten many calls from churches about issues regarding their pastor. However, he tells us that very often, behind the failure of a pastor is a weak and failed leadership community. He tells us that we don’t have just a pastoral crisis, instead we have a leadership crisis. In this book, he proposes a positive character model for local church or ministry leadership.
He shares six characteristics that will mark out a leadership community formed by gospel values. They are: humility, dependency, prepared spontaneity, inspection, protection and restoration.
This is a book that would be good for church and ministry leadership teams to read and discuss together. Among the topics he covers in this book are grace, ministry achievement and failure, limits, hearts in balance, failure of leaders, candor, confessing, identity, restoration, longevity in ministry, pride and servant leadership.
Below are 50 helpful quotes from the book:

  1. One of the most beautiful, hopeful, and encouraging gospel themes that courses its way through Scripture is the theme of fresh starts and new beginnings.
  2. Grace means we are not held to our worst moment or cursed by our worst decision.
  3. Every leader leads while being in desperate personal need of the full resources of God’s grace.
  4. Every ambition and every achievement must bow to the lordship and the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  5. The qualifications for ministry in the church of Jesus Christ are radically different from the way we typically think about the makeup of a true leader.
  6. True failure is always a character issue. It is rooted in laziness, pride, lack of discipline, self-excusing, failure to plan well, lack of joy in labor, and failure to persevere during hardship.
  7. Often failure is the workroom God uses in our lives to reform us to be what we need to be in order to be more successful tools in his hands.
  8. Ministry achievement becomes dangerous when it turns potential disciples into consumers.
  9. If you take credit as a leader instead of assigning credit to the one who sent you and who alone produces fruit out of your labors, you will praise less, pray less, and plan more.
  10. God doesn’t call us to ministry leadership because we are able, but because he is.
  11. Prayerlessness in a leadership community is always a result of putting credit where it is not due.
  12. Your leadership community is in trouble if your leaders are more excited about a strategic planning meeting than a prayer meeting.
  13. The one who called us goes with us. The one who called us will empower us. The one who called us will convict us. The one who called us will protect us.
  14. Difficult things in ministry are meant by God to be redemptive things. What often beats us down is meant by the Savior to be a tool to build us up.
  15. There should be no more powerful influence on leadership formation, mission, community, and methodology than the gospel of God’s grace.
  16. Every leader needs to have his heart, life, and ministry firmly planted in the right-now nutrients of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that he gets his identity, meaning and purpose, inner peace, and sense of calling from the gospel.
  17. The gospel tells you that no matter how long you have known the Lord or no matter how successful you have been in his work, you need his grace right now as much as you did the first moment you believed.
  18. Leader pride produces personality cults, while leader humility stimulates worship of God.
  19. If, as a leader, you deny the possibility of personal spiritual blindness and trust the accuracy of your self-view, you are not humbly open and approachable to fellow leaders whom God has placed near you to help you see what you won’t see on your own.
  20. Everyone and everything has been designed by God with limits, and it never works, never results in anything good, to attempt to live, minister, and lead outside the boundaries of the limits God has set.
  21. Every leader is a package of God-given gifts and God-assigned limits. It is dangerous to focus on the one without humbly remembering the other.
  22. Every leader needs to rely on the contributions of other leaders who are smart in ways that he isn’t.
  23. Pride in one’s own giftedness coupled with devaluing the gifts of others is a recipe for leadership disaster.
  24. A spiritually healthy leadership community cares not only for the spiritual health of its leaders but for their physical well-being as well.
  25. It is my experience, as I have dealt with fallen or lapsed pastors, that around them was a weak or dysfunctional leadership community that failed, in pastoral love and care, to protect that leader from himself.
  26. A spiritually healthy leadership community participates in the ongoing personal spiritual growth of each one of its members.
  27. Leaders are tempted to look to ministry to provide for them what it was never intended to provide. Leadership position, power, respect, acclaim, and success begin to take on more weight in our hearts than they should ever take.
  28. If you begin to want things out of ministry and leadership that you shouldn’t want, other areas of calling will not receive the attention from you that they need.
  29. The number-one characteristic that every church or ministry should want in each of its leaders, and which should be regularly monitored and encouraged, is a heart in balance.
  30. Leaders who have character, lead with character, model what is truly important, and encourage the same in others.
  31. The reason we are often way too passive in the face of troubling evidence in the attitudes and actions of a leader is that way too often, performance trumps character.
  32. Leadership in the church of Jesus Christ is not just a battle for theological faithfulness, gospel purity, and methodological integrity; it is also always a war for the heart of every leader.
  33. Many more leaders fail because they have lost the battle for their heart than because of shifts in their theology or view of the gospel.
  34. The joy of a true servant is not power; the joy of a true servant is not control; the joy of a true servant is not acclaim; the joy of a true servant is not comfort or ease; and, of course, the joy of a true servant is not position. What gives a servant joy in being a servant is service.
  35. Leaders who do not serve aren’t actually leaders. They use their power and position and those they have been called to lead to get for themselves what they think they deserve.
  36. We would all do well to have Jesus as a more influential model of leadership than the cultural or corporate models we sometimes look to.
  37. A spiritually healthy leadership community is spiritually healthy when it is a safe place for struggling leaders to speak with candor and hope.
  38. A gospel-shaped leadership community will be a confessional community, where leader honesty is a not only a constant protection but encourages a deeper and deeper dependency on God.
  39. In a confessing leadership community, leaders’ pride shrinks and worship of God grows.
  40. Looking horizontally, as a leader, for your identity, meaning, purpose, and internal sense of well-being asks people, places, and position to do for you what only your Messiah can do.
  41. Getting our identity from ministry is not only a dangerous and miserable ministry experience, but also disrupts the kind of ministry community that we need and that serves the spiritual health of fellow leaders.
  42. A job is a wonderful provision from God, but if it becomes your identity, it will leave you regularly unhappy and will destroy your family.
  43. A leader’s pride in ministry achievement is not only a self-serving delusion; it is redemptive thievery, taking personal pride in what only the Redeemer can do.
  44. Every leader in every leadership community is either resting in the complete and perfect control of the heavenly Father over every person and every situation or seeking to take control.
  45. Every leadership community should commit to representing, in their leadership culture and relationships, the restorative heart of the Redeemer.
  46. Restoration that isn’t heart deep sets up that leader and his community for further problems because the core of the problem, the leader’s heart, has not been restored to where God designed it to be.
  47. We should not assume that because a leader is still doing his assigned ministry duties that he is spiritually where God wants him to be.
  48. Longevity is the fruit of spiritual maturity, and spiritual maturity is the result of longevity, and both are the fruit of gospel community.
  49. Every leader who becomes an oak of righteousness will weather harsh storms of life and ministry.
  50. If we are not doing our work with the presence and glory of God in view, we will take credit for what we could never institute, produce, and control on our own.