The Multi-Directional Leader: Responding Wisely to Challenges from Every Side by Trevin Wax. The Gospel Coalition. 102 pages. 2021
This book exhorts pastors and church leaders towards a vision of leadership that the author calls “multi-directional”. He tells us that one-directional leaders are skillful in spotting and thwarting threats to the sheep that come from a single direction of the field. Multi-directional leaders, on the other hand, fend off threats from more than one direction. To be multi-directional is to lead with dexterity and discipline. The author’s goal is to help us learn how to better and more effectively respond with wisdom to challenges from every side. He tells us that a truth central to multi-directional leadership is that different problems require different remedies, and that moving from a one-directional to multi-directional posture requires courage.
After defining the difference between one-directional and multi-directional leadership, the author gives us examples of leaders who have demonstrated multi-directional leadership, such as Jesus, Paul, John Stott, Charles Simeon, Billy Graham and Tim Keller. He then looks at applications of one-directional and multi-directional leadership in the areas of racism, complementarianism and the interpretation of scripture. Although a short book, this is a helpful book about the concept of multi-directional leadership.
Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
- One-directional leaders leave the flock vulnerable and defenseless against threats from a different side of the field. Multi-directional leaders, though, spot various threats from different angles and adjust their leadership accordingly.
- Multi-directional leaders not only recognize the reality of dangers from multiple angles, but also their need for different people to help their ministry and provide appropriate cautions. They know they have blind spots, and so they rely on others to help them see.
- We need pastors and church leaders to sharpen their skills in fighting threats to the church that come from multiple directions. Unfortunately, many church members have come to prefer leaders who will point out the dangers coming from only one direction—while never offering a warning or uncovering the blind spots that may originate closer to home.
- Multi-directional leadership must be distinguished from moderation. It is not about finding a perfect balance of competing interests and beliefs. It’s not about finding the middle between extremes, but about holding fiercely to both extremes, insofar as we see them in Scripture.
- Christian leadership requires an imagination formed by Scripture as well as a deep understanding of the current cultural moment, so we know what to say and when, what to emphasize and how, and what challenges to face and where.
- We need leaders who know their Bible and their times well enough to see threats coming from more than one direction.
- We must pay attention to alarms sounded by people inside and outside our immediate circles. And we must seek to better understand our tendencies and temptations, as well as those of the people we lead.
- Know yourself, take stock of your history, and recognize why you lean the way you do. In the end, you must submit to Scripture and stay alert to the way your tendencies may lead you to downplay dangers from other sides.
- Multi-directional leaders work hard to keep both eyes open: be aware of wider cultural trends, but be most attentive to the pressing needs of your particular congregation.
- Multi-directional leadership requires us to reject the fear of losing status. We must pursue faithful versatility no matter the risks, and never sacrifice our convictions in order to satisfy followers or peers.
- Multi-directional leaders must recognize the risks in issuing warnings that may upset their followers.
- Multi-directional leadership requires discernment, carefully sifting what is biblical from what is not, so that our unified action stands out with love in a world filled with disdain.