Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders. Moody Publishers. 208 pages. Updated edition.
The author was a general director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship, (then known as China Inland Mission), in the 1950s and 1960s. The material in this book was originally delivered as lectures to the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in 1964 and 1966, and later put into book form. The book was originally published in 1967, and later had a major revision, including the increasing role of women in leadership. It has become a classic on Christian leadership.
The Apostle Paul wrote that to be a leader is an honorable ambition. The author writes that for the Christian it is sinful if your motivation for ambition is self. Instead, good ambition is motivated by godly goals. Our ambition should be focused on the glory of God and welfare of the church. The church needs more leaders, not less. The kind of leaders we need are authoritative, spiritual, and sacrificial.
Servant is a word that is often substituted for leadership in some versions of the Bible. Spiritual leadership emphasizes servanthood. This type of leadership yields to God’s sovereignty and must be willing to suffer. True leaders are in short supply. God seeks out leaders. Spiritual leadership is all about being last, rather than first. A spiritual leader is one that imitates Jesus, the greatest spiritual leader of all.
Traits for potential leaders include peace-making, trust, tactfulness, being able to respond effectively to criticism, relationship building, and discipline. The author writes that leaders are both born and made. He contrasts natural leaders with spiritual leaders.
The author discusses the heavy cost of leadership, such as fatigue. He addresses tests of leadership such as compromise, ambition, impossible situations and pride, ego and jealousy.
The author shares leadership insights from the Apostle Paul, including being of strong moral character, hospitable, leading your family well, and spiritual maturity. From the Apostle Peter, we learn to not be dictatorial in our leadership, to be a worthy example, humble, and not pursue leadership for financial gain. From Nehemiah, among other things we learn that he was a man of prayer.
The author discusses a number of essential qualities for spiritual leadership such as being Spirit-filled, which he writes is indispensable. Disciplines that will help make the leader effective include prayer, good time management and reading. Others are self-discipline, vision, courage, integrity, humor, anger, and patience. Leaders also need executive ability and good listening skills. A leader should be able to provide for successful succession of their leadership, leaving a healthy organization, and multiply themselves by developing future leaders.
Throughout the book, the author references many leaders that have influenced him, such as John Wesley, Martin Luther, Judson, and many that I was not familiar with. He uses a lot of Scripture and covers many aspects of leadership at a high level in this helpful book.