Luther on Leadership by Stephen J. Nichols. Tremendous Leadership. 80 pages. 2017
This short book is a part of the Life-Changing Classics series. The author, who has written extensively on Luther, looks at five essential lessons for leaders that Luther offered, each of which he states was colorfully displayed in his life. Below are the five lessons, and a few of the author’s comments about each one:
Leadership lesson #1: Timeless Truth. The time of Luther was a time of death and darkness (economic, cultural and spiritual). He writes that ultimately, the answer to this darkness is the timeless message of the gospel and the timeless truth found in the Bible.
He tells us that in addition to his understanding of media and negative communication, Luther also knew the value of the well-spoken word and the power of a concise message. Luther used the pamphlet to get his message out. He was not the first person to employ the pamphlet as a tool for reaching people, but he came near to perfecting it with a great deal of efficiency and effectiveness. The author states that Luther utilized the greatest technological advancements of his day, and he mastered the medium.
Leaders tell timeless truth in timely ways. They know the power of the written and spoken word, and they know just the right package for each. When a timeless and truthful word is told well, it can change the world.
Leadership lesson #2: Boldness and Confidence. Boldness and confidence come not from within, but from God. There should be very little doubt that courage, boldness, and confidence are necessary for leadership.
Leadership lesson #3: Perseverance. Luther was no stranger to conflict or suffering. He suffered physically and he also watched his family suffer. Another source of trials for Luther was the distortion of his teachings by opponents. Friends and foes alike made life difficult for Luther. Nevertheless, he persevered. We see this perseverance even in the events surrounding his death. Though he had many victories and celebrations, his life was difficult and full of sorrows and cares.
Leaders who are unprepared for distortion, rejection, suffering, and loss probably will not be able to endure in leadership roles.
Leadership lesson #4: Potential of Children. Luther never underestimated the potential of children and rarely did he pass up the opportunity to influence them.
Prudent leaders will invest time and attention in their younger employees, workforce, or direct reports.
Leadership lesson #5: Service. Luther sees servant leadership as not only a time-tested reflection of the practices of Christ, but also as liberating and joy-inducing. Luther would say that to be a servant leader is both a duty and a delight. Gratitude leads to humility. Humility leads to service. Luther both withheld his power and used his power in the service of others.
Luther’s leadership occurred largely within the church, but he was also a leader in the academy. The author states that Luther was a reformer and scholar but, above all, he remains a leader worth following.
I enjoyed this unique look at Luther from a respected author. Unfortunately, the editing and formatting of the book was poor (many sentences starting without a capital letter, etc.), resulting in my lower rating for the book.