The Next Generation Leader: Essentials For Those Who Will Shape The Future, by Andy Stanley
When I read this book as part of my occasional reading on the subject of leadership , I was concerned that this book would be one of those cheesy books that seeks to disregard the value of history and understanding the past in favor of some new and improved model of leadership. Thankfully that was not the case. Instead, I am pleased to say, this book offered encouragement to the next generation of leaders, taking on a role of mentor and guide to encourage those who will be leaders to learn about how to be a godly leader. Again, as could be said about many books of this kind, the material of this book is not in itself very original. There is little said here that has not been said in books and articles and sermon messages many times before and that will likely be said many times again. Knowledge is easy, practice is hard, and so books like this continue to be written and continue to be worth reading because we need reminders from time to time on the fundamentals because we so easily forget and overcomplicate them.
This is a short book that is easy to read, and one that reads shorter than its roughly 160 pages of material. The materials in this book are organized into five sections, each of which have three chapters. The sections themselves deal with five fundamental aspects of leadership in the mind of the author, namely competence, courage, clarity, coaching, and character. First the author begins by pointing out that we should do less and focus on our strengths, showing the influence of strengths-based models of personality . Then the author discusses the ways in which people establish their leadership through speaking out about what others think about privately. Then the author discusses the need for leaders to be clear and unambiguous even where they may be mistaken. Then the author talks about the need for leaders to have good counsel from those who have a different perspective. Finally the author talks about the difference between most leaders and those leaders that are worth following because they are full of integrity. The book is not hard to read, but it talks about a lot of leaders in a thoughtful way that is easy to understand.
There are considerable virtue’s in the author’s approach, especially in the book’s smooth flow and ease of understanding. That is not to say, though, that the author gets everything right. Among the more egregious mistakes of the author is an introduction to an early chapter where the author states that “leaders in the first century church had no model to follow and no traditions from which to draw (29).” The fact that a Christian leader can be totally ignorant of the influence of the synagogue and its generally egalitarian model of leadership as well as the framework of biblical teaching and instruction and interpretations gained through centuries of seeking to follow God’s ways is a sign of a failure on the part of Christian seminaries to educate religious leaders on the kinship between apostolic Christianity and Judiaism, and that lack of understanding undercuts the author’s claim to be an expert on biblical leadership. Even so, despite this serious flaw, the book has worth, even if it is a book one has to take carefully, stronger when it deals with American history with people like Lincoln and Grant than it is when it moves into biblical exegesis. Still, there is always at least some worth in a book that encourages leaders to develop character and do the right things.
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