I recently read through Al Mohler’s The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters. In my reading schedule I alternate between books addressing pastoral ministry with books that cover leadership.
The amount of materials discussing leadership is bountiful. Mohler laments the problem of the vast literature in the field and the sad lack of beneficial information. He writes, “The hunger for leadership had reached every sector of our society, including business, government, education, cultural institutions, and, of course, the church.” (Mohler, 2012) He writes shortly before this, “I had to create my own leadership studies program.” (Mohler, 2012) Why create your own? Because of the lack of good leadership books!
Overall the book is great. Dr. Mohler covers what I would call the ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspects of leadership. I am blessed to have a father who is a leader. In fact, almost everything I know about leadership and management has come from him. Many of the facets of leadership that Mohler deliberates on are the roots of true leadership. I won’t cover all the chapters, but a few stood out to me.
His chapter on worldviews is, in my opinion, one of the most important of the twenty-five. Noting the peculiar characteristic of Christian leadership, Mohler writes, “Christianity is a comprehensive worldview and way of life that grows out of Christian reflection on the Bible and the unfolding plan of God revealed in the unity of the Scriptures.” (Mohler, 2012) Leadership today, whether in the workplace or in the church, is in desperate need of a Christian worldview. Our own thoughts, on whatever issue, must be funneled through God’s truth. He writes further, “A God-centered worldview brings every issue, question, and cultural concern into submission to all that the Bible reveals, and frames all understanding within the ultimate purpose of bringing greater glory to God.” (Mohler, 2012) Imagine if our leaders maintained this worldview. How different would our workplaces look? How deeper would our churches be?
The next chapter that drew my attention approaches the subject of teaching. Mohler composes, “Every great leader is a great teacher, and the greatest leaders seize every opportunity to teach well.” (Mohler, 2012) I remember a manager I worked with during my days in retail. He took opportunities to help train me on a variety of tasks, ensuring I learned the reasons why we performed tasks the way we did. He helped me breach my own shortcomings and developed me into a more effective manager. Leaders, in the true sense of the word, do that. They move beyond the simple commands of “Do this…” or “Complete this project…”. They utilize every occasion to teach their associates. Mohler also wisely includes the historical development of education found through the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.
The final chapter I would like to cover is the chapter entitled, “The Leader as Decision Maker.” This is certainly my area of opportunity (to borrow retail language). My personality thrives in a collaborative atmosphere. I desire unity through a task, and whenever I have two individuals or groups with diverging opinions, it is exhausting. I want everyone to be happy. Leadership demands that, at times, we must make decisions that will cause ill feelings. As we develop, we must execute what Mohler describes in serious language, “Leaders simply cannot avoid making important decisions, and effective leaders stand out because they are both courageous and skilled in making the right decisions again and again.” (Mohler, 2012)
I enjoyed his discussions on writing, reading, and death. His work covers the entirety of leadership, from beginnings to endings. I recommend it, especially to those who have not had positive examples in their lives. I also recommend it to the seasoned veteran. Scripture confirms the necessity of remembering (see Deuteronomy 6:20-23; 1 Chronicles 16:16; and 2 Timothy 2:8).
One downside to his book is also its strength: ambiguity. I believe his motive is to address leadership generally, in that the fields of leaders to which he is writing is vast. This is helpful because there are many different roles in which leaders find themselves. However, it also prevents some practical suggestions on how to carry out the various principles. Some principles lend themselves to practicality, such as his chapters on reading and writing. Other chapters are not meant to be practical, for example the chapter on believing. The bulk of the book could be practical, but its breadth of readership disallows this.
I definitely recommend the book. While it is not one that I would return to on a regular basis, I believe that the principles would prove quiet helpful.