A Work of Heart | Reggie McNeal

Once again I’m forced to write a review of a Christian leadership book and once again, I’m of two minds.

If the idea of delving into scripture to mine leadership qualities doesn’t bother you, then this book is one of the best that I’ve read.

McNeal begins by examining the lives of Moses, David, Paul, and Jesus to see how leadership qualities are evident in their lives. McNeal rightly emphasizes the importance heart-formation through remaining close to God and allowing him to change you.

In the second half of the book, McNeal examines six areas where the leader’s qualities are worked out:

  1. Culture
  2. Call
  3. Community
  4. Communion
  5. Conflict
  6. Commonplace

I was privileged to read this book through with a Bible College student in a mentoring relationship. There was always plenty of material and insights to discuss.

Here are a few of my problems with leadership books in general. The Bible doesn’t speak about leadership—shepherding and servanthood are the key metaphors.

Furthermore, the idea that there is a separate class of people who operate on a special “leadership” level seems foreign to the thrust of the New Testament. Jesus’ disciples didn’t look like people with high-level leadership qualities. They became effective once they were empowered by the Spirit.

We should examine what we mean by “leadership qualities,” too. Don’t we mean the sort of personal characteristics that make people successful in the business world today? What right do we have to dive anachronistically through scripture in an attempt to uncover these 21st century values?

On a hermentutical level, why do we assume that the personal qualities of people like Moses and David are qualities we should emulate? Scripture is the story of how God used these people—not how they were skilled enough to be used.

There you have it. If you enjoy the “christian leadership” genre, this is one of the best on the topic. If you share my reservations, leave this book on the shelf.

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One Response to A Work of Heart | Reggie McNeal

  1. Dick Degraaf May 6, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Thank you for expressing those observations about books on leadership. Only wish that I had said it !

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