Moving People On To God’s Agenda
Author: Henry & Richard Blackaby
Hard Cover, 305 pages
Publisher: Broadman & Holman Publishers
This book aims to provide leaders with a real basis for the practice of their gifts in the body. Too many leaders, ordained or otherwise, have “led” their churches into disarray, confusion, and even death. The fact, as Henry and Richard Blackaby show, is that leaders hold a critical role in the body of believers, but that Christ is still the head. If we will earn to follow his lead, we can help move the people of God on to his agenda.
- The Leader’s Challenge
- The Leader’s Role: What Leaders Do
- The Leader’s Preparation: How God Develops Leaders
- The Leader’s Vision: Where Do Leaders Get It and How Do They Communicate It?
- The Leader’s Character: A Life That Moves Others To Follow
- The Leader’s Goal: Moving People On To God’s Agenda
- The Leader’s Influence: How Leaders Lead
- The Leader’s Decision-Making
- The Leader’s Schedule: Doing What’s Important
- The Leader’s Pitfalls: What Disqualifies Leaders?
- The Leader’s Rewards
From the beginning of the book it is clear that leadership can be exercised in “the church” as well as outside it, as Spirit-led leaders respond within the body as well as their homes and workplaces. Chapter 1 helps the reader recognize that saying you’re a leader doesn’t make it so. It also helps the reader recognize that worldly wisdom in regards to leadership does not match or come close to making up for a failure to follow God’s voice and character. Further chapters will further erode the idea that all the business-leadership buzzwords and techniques can be harmlessly transferred as-is, even common concepts like goals and vision statements.
Chapter 2 is built around helping the reader recognize that spiritual leadership is, “moving people on to God’s agenda.” Using Jesus as the example, we read that leadership is not found through his methods, but through his obedience to his Father’s will. Chapter 3 follows this and helps the reader grasp what makes a leader – the experience, character, calling by God that help identify a leader and prepare them for leading.
Chapter 4 is probably the hardest to read for someone steeped in corporate leadership principles. Spiritual leadership is not about large goals, huge motivation. It is about communicating what God has shared as the direction for an organization – Christian or otherwise. So leaders must learn how to communicate vision effectively – but remember that they are not the source of vision, God is.
Chapter 5 discusses both improper (though common) and proper sources of influence. It is filled with a number of readable examples of believers and businessmen who moved their organizations forward because they recognized where influence should come from.
Chapter 6 discusses goals. The goals usually suggested for the church are weak compared to the goals God desires. Not only weak, but often misguided. God didn’t ask for bigger, faster and more –change for the sake of newness. God doesn’t expect perfection or “excellence” – he desires our best effort, which is not quite the same thing. God certainly isn’t about numbers, as if the count at worship is what pleases God. God IS interested in spiritual maturity in the body. God does desire that leaders raise up new leaders. And he does desire that his people bring him glory. These are all worthwhile goals, as laid out in this chapter.
While Chapter 5 focused on the sources of influence, Chapter 7 discusses how leaders use influence. One of the most overlooked uses is prayer – for people, for the organization. Leaders then work, leading by example. They communicate, and finally serve – following the example of Jesus who was a servant. Being a servant is not a rejection of leadership, nor do followers misunderstand when leaders serve their followers correctly. Jesus served the disciples, even becoming a servant to them by washing their feet. Not one of the disciples was misguided enough to think that they were now somehow elevated above their master.
Chapter 8 looks at decision-making, both the good and bad. Some leaders are quick to make decisions, while some are reticent to make them at all. Both are an abdication of the leader’s true role. Wisdom and faithfulness require a leader to use every bit of truth available to them to make decisions, even when it is difficult; and spiritual leadership includes sticking with decisions based on God’s revealed will. It makes no sense to be tossed about, confusing the organization, when we already are clear in God’s direction.
Chapter 9 deals with scheduling. This involves delegation – not taking all the work on oneself. In light of the priesthood of all believers, this is always a timely message. The Blackaby’s are clear that scheduling is a boon to the wise leader, helping them to be more effective with their limited time resources. But they do not suggest a slavish attention to the schedule. People’s interjections may not always necessitate breaking a schedule, but God always has the right to interrupt. Recognizing when an interruption is a distraction, and when it is God breaking into view, is the job of a good spiritual leader.
Chapter 10 helps leaders grasp the significance of sin in their lives. No leader is immune from its consequences, so every leader must be vigilant. Pride, a sense of not being susceptible, is one dangerous way to ruin effective leadership. Sexual sin is especially damaging based on its inter-personal and highlighted character. Leaders must surround themselves with other believers who can be honest and direct with them. The unfortunate fact is that many leaders at some point are disqualified by activities that could have easily been avoided. The book closes in Chapter 11 with the rewards of leadership – satisfaction in completing God’s calling for our lives and satisfaction in the commendation of God himself. This provides the right response in light of the risks and possible pitfalls presented in the previous chapter.
Overall, this is a wonderful book. It is not an easy read. As you read, you will likely identify both good and bad examples with leaders you have had connection with in your past. Hopefully, you will be introspective enough to see how you have failed, and maybe even succeeded at times, to follow God and move people on to his agenda.
Even if you are leader in the corporate world, you will find that God wants to use you as he has gifted you. Spiritual leadership is not confined to the Church. Spiritual leadership can be exercised by anyone God calls to move people onto his way of thinking. It is about submission, not skills. As well, even if leading is the farthest thing from your mind and background, it should provide some bit of help in understanding the incredible burden leaders often feel. The struggle to be faithful, to avoid living to meet people’s expectations; the struggle to point others to God’s way of doing things when it is uncomfortable and even unpopular.
This is a worthwhile read for every leader, refocusing the leader on God as true leader, the real king. I give it ★★★★★.