Book Review: Leadership Lessons

Leadership Lessons: Avoiding The Pitfalls Of King Saul: Principles For Leadership And Personal Success, by Ralph K. Hawkins and Richard Leslie Parrott

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]

The stories of the Bible have often been mined for leadership lessons by writers and speakers [1]. Rather than the sort of successful examples that are the most commonly used ones by leadership thinkers, these authors chose a worst practices look at Saul, who most people would not tend to think of as a great example for leaders, and spend a lot of the book justifying their decision through the opinion of certain management thinkers as well as students in their management classes. This book is designed to appeal to those readers of management works like those of John Maxwell, who like a little bit of biblical insight with their management theory, and are either involved in the ministry themselves (especially as pastors) or are leaders in businesses and nonprofit organizations, for although this book claims it looks at personal success, what it means by that is some kind of positional power.

Those readers who enjoy reading books about management and who do not mind their biblical advice taken largely from the proverbs with a lot of quotations by other management books that these authors want readers to reflect on and apply will find much to enjoy here. Each chapter includes sections for group discussion and personal reflection on the subject matter of the chapter that encourage accountability and also for readers to assess, analyze, and act. Readers who do not like management works, dislike the book’s praise of Machiavelli for his views on power, and think the book is far too harsh on those who are without power (considering them “spiritual addicts” lacking in maturity at best, and “unpardonable sinners” at worst) will find much in this book to criticize, especially as it seems at times that this book is more interested in gaining credibility with other management thinkers than it is presenting a biblical view.

For the reader who is able to either appreciate or endure the style of the book, which is written in that jargon of management writing that is very common to me as a reader and as a student of management [2], this book has much to commend itself. It speaks passionately in favor of greater respect and concern for ordinary people by leaders, defends servant leadership, attacks rankism and other types of elitism, and genuinely seeks to wish for better conduct on behalf of those who claim to be Christians in their relationship with God and with other people. Bookended by questions of why one would study a failed leader as well as the positive lessons one can learn from the failures of King Saul, there are 11 essential failures that Saul had as a leader: Saul failed to build on his early successes, Saul failed to handle authority humbly, Saul failed to break out of his tendency for isolation, Saul failed to think before he spoke, Saul failed to act when the time was right, Saul failed to lead the people but instead let them lead him, Saul failed to promote or make necessary changes, Saul failed to love the people, Saul failed to be true to his own ethics, Saul failed to admit failure or concede to David, and Saul failed to consult God. Needless to say, these are all failures we can find ourselves wrestling with, which makes a good case for studying Saul so that we can avoid falling into the traps that ended up turning him into a failed leader.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Book Review: Leadership Lessons

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