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Mahaney on Leadership Books

June 12, 2008

I am listening to CJ Mahaney discuss “Leadership in the Local Church” (download mp3) from a message/conversation at Southern Seminary. Concerning leadership and the abundance of leadership books available he says this…

  • “When I think of the adoption of the business or managerial model by so many in the pastoral ministry, I think the issue (for them) is the sufficiency of scripture, or to many leaders, the insufficiency of scripture.”
  • “I would say to a young pastor, begin today devouring 1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus and let your understanding of leadership in the church be informed by 1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus and turn to anything in the managerial world with some or little value with discerning eyes so that you are not seduced by that, so that you do not adopt it.”
  • “I think there is some benefit… if you read Good to Great by Jim Collins, Discovering the Soul of Service, and The Effective Executive, that is a sufficient body of material to inform you and might be of some help to you. Beyond that you need to spend the rest of your life investing your book allowance into theological works that can inform your understanding of leadership in the church.”

By and large I agree with Mahaney. You might quibble over his extra-biblical book list, but don’t miss his primary point, which is the sufficiency of scripture.

Here are a few quick things that tend to lead us astray in this area:

  1. The feeling that the scriptures are not sufficient in this modern context.
  2. The normative behavior in Christian leadership to be heavily influenced by extra-biblical leadership books.
  3. It can be hard work to mine the scriptures for these truths, but we should do it anyway.

Whether you agree or disagree with Mahaney concerning the heavy influence of leadership books, if you are in pastoral leadership you must agree that we should first embrace the sufficiency of scripture and be students of scripture, especially 1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus so that you can exercise discernment when reading extra-biblical resources. I think that is his primary point.

In keeping with his recommendation of Good to Great, I might also recommend Good to Great: The Social Sector by Jim Collins. It is a monograph of Good to Great concerning non-profits and churches.

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