Awaken The Leader Within: How The Wisdom Of Jesus Can Unleash Your Potential, by Bill Perkins
After finding this particular book in the bookshelf next to my bed, I figured it would be an enjoyable read. After all, I enjoy reading books about the subject of leadership  from time to time. This book is a fair representative of the genre as a whole, as it has a fairly standard length at around 200 pages, and as it manages to follow the lead of Maxwell and others by seeking to keep one foot in the camp of those who aim to mine the scriptures for leadership advice and another foot in the camp of those who lead businesses and other related institutions where our ideas of leadership typically are practiced. This book, similarly, strives to keep a balanced perspective between reliance on God and personal responsibility, which is to be expected for a book that is aimed at potential or future leaders whose full leadership potential may not yet be developed or actualized. As such this book has a strong tendency towards instruction, making this the sort of book that would likely be read by those engaged in leadership self-education.
The contents of this book is divided into two fairly equal parts. The first part of the book is devoted to the subject of awakening one’s character. Included in this part are chapters on turning one’s potential loose, wearing no masks, looking ahead with vision, leading with courage, depending on God, finishing what one starts, and curbing one’s appetites. To be sure, these are areas where many leaders and would-be leaders could stand to improve in. Areas of opportunity, vulnerability, vision, courage, trust in God, and perseverance are all areas of focus for personal development for myself personally, after all. The second part of the book encourages readers to awaken their leadership skills by keeping one’s vision alive, fleshing out one’s values, developing an awareness of the concerns of others, keeping the team united, being a master innovator, and putting others first. The author shows some honesty here and even some vulnerability in admitting he is not so good at servant leadership, which is something better to admit and wrestle with than to deny. After the second part of the book there is an encouraging short epilogue, a somewhat extensive set of discussion questions for readers to apply the insights discussed in the book, and a short series of notes.
Weighing this book is not as straightforward a task as one might expect. Those who are looking for a great deal of originality here are likely to be disappointed. It is distressingly easy to know what principles make for good leadership but distressingly difficult to put those principles into practice when faced within our own corrupt human nature. The fact that this book gives encouragement to those seeking to be leaders and also provides an honest face of the author’s own struggles is something to be counted on the positive side. Some aspects of this book are neither positive nor negative, but are somewhat mysterious. It is, for example, a great mystery to me as a resident of the greater Portland area that so many people from this part of the United States write books on Christianity in an area where there is so little church attendance. That fact does not hurt this book itself, but it is a rather mysterious sign of a disconnect between the way in which Portland is viewed as an area of cultural influences and the lack of influence Christianity has in contemporary Portland. Obviously, that is a subject of personal relevance to me. On the negative side, though, the author can be tediously repetitive talking about the reader’s “blow your socks off vision,” and the author, like many writers, thinks he is funnier than he actually is. On the whole, this is a book worth reading, but it is not nearly as original as the author believes it to be.
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