Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Review: I am a Follower by Leonard Sweet

This book, I am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus, by Leonard Sweet, is the first book that I believe gets Christian leadership right. I have read hundreds of books on leadership since my days in middle school when a teacher first recognized my leadership ability. And now since becoming a Christian, I've read many, many volumes on Christian leadership from the likes of John Maxwell, Andy Stanley and others.

While there is much to be learned from these Christian leadership books, two big things have always bothered me. One is the concept of running a church like a business. While yes, there are some transferable leadership ideas that can be used in both secular and church management, there is an inherent danger in church culture to focus too much on numbers, finances and doing things in our own power instead of God's power. The other concept that bothers me in most books is the idea of servant leadership. I get it. Jesus was the perfect model of servant leadership, so we should look to Him in our leadership model. Unfortunately, what servant leadership often ends up looking like is either the leader of a large organization finding token random things to do to make it look as though they are serving those below them (aka...focusing on looks more than the heart), or putting hundreds of non-pastoral tasks, such as scrubbing the church toilets or mowing the grass, on an already overworked pastor because "aren't they supposed to serve us?".

This book, though, is the first to get Christian leadership right. It isn't an egotistical power struggles, being a visionary with minions to control, or being a self-deprecating narcissist. It is about being the first follower and leading others to be followers as well. The short chapters and deeply beautiful prose allow it to also be an enjoyable read. The theology is rock solid and gets at the heart of what being called to lead should look like.

I cannot recommend this book more highly to any leader, especially Christians. This should be the first leadership book any Christian leader should read and the lens through which all other leadership books should be seen.

I received a free copy of this book through in return for my honest review.

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