on April 7, 2004
I just read Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge edited by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, and am I glad I did. This is a fantastic book-both informative and inspiring.
Kouzes, Posner, and the five others whose chapters are included in this book offer invaluable insight as to how we can join with Jesus in exercising leadership within the framework of our faith. In so doing, they touch upon such themes as passion, service, and sacrifice. Consider, for instance, these lines from Patrick Lencioni, the author of Chapter 5: "Before setting out on a quest to challenge the process and change the world, Christian leaders should probably ask themselves two questions: 'Who am I really serving?' and 'Am I ready to suffer?'" This chapter, I think, brings us right to the heart of what it really means to be a Christian in a country where so many have forgotten.
Throughout each of the chapters, these same themes sound in one way or another. Whether it is a willingness to sacrifice time, credit, power, position, prestige, comfort, or even money, it is clear that suffering and sacrifice are at the very heart of the leadership enterprise. That is perhaps the chief reason why leadership is rightly described as a challenge in the first place. Though it is within the reach of everyone, it will not come easily or without cost. Nobody knew this better than Jesus.
There are, of course, other themes discussed, as well as the "The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership" for which Kouzes and Posner are best known. In fact, Chapter 2, which discusses the Five Practices specifically applied within a Christian context, is one of the best in the book. I also thoroughly enjoyed Chapter 6 by Nancy Ortberg. Though trained as a nurse, she answered God's call to ministry in a way that would put many with advanced theological degrees to shame. Very inspiring! And Chapter 8, again by Kouzes and Posner, really brings it all into focus in a very practical way.
I have found much to ponder in this book, and I have every confidence that anyone wishing to better emulate Jesus will too.