Leadership Secrets From The Bible: From Moses To Matthew–Management Lessons For Contemporary Leaders, by Lorin Woolfe
The world, and my bookshelf in particular, are pretty full of books that seek to mine the Bible for contemporary business lessons. Some writers have even tried to make a career of the practice . This book, thankfully, manages to successfully navigate the tensions that such books often bring. On the one hand is the desire to make the Bible relevant to contemporary readers, especially businesspeople, by bringing in corporate examples which can lead to problems because the human examples chosen end up being bad examples rather than good ones. A chief example of this was John Maxwell’s warm praise of the ethics of the upper management at Enron. On the other hand, though, is the fact that such writers also want to show the timeless appeal of practices by notable contemporary business leaders, which requires the writer to have a good understanding of biblical law and practice. This is something that cannot be taken for granted among business writers. In this book, though, we have a solid example of what happens when this type of approach of looking for both timeless and relevant leadership principles from the Bible and contemporary business practice is done well.
This book, at slightly more than two-hundred pages, is divided into ten chapters that each deal with a different principle that is important for leaders. Starting with honesty and integrity, the author moves to purpose, kindness and compassion, humility, communication, performance management, team development, courage, justice and fairness, and leadership development–or would could be considered legacy. The author shows a skillful blend of biblical exegesis as well as corporate history. The author, although he uses some examples like Jack Welch that have soured a bit in recent years, makes no egregious errors, although it is clear that just as in biblical times, it can be a problem for companies to maintain their ethical core after the original owner(s) divest control to a larger company. This book, therefore, while full of biblical stories well told and corporate stories also well told, is more an invitation to a conversation and to reflection rather than the last word on any of the subjects it refers to. A surprising mixture of corporate jargon and a concern for matters of justice marks the author’s writing here, and provides a degree of balance that is striking and remarkable.
Overall, this is a book I can strongly recommend. It achieves a difficult task of writing with knowledge and appeal both to those who know and care about what the Bible says as well as those who are interested in books related to business and management. This is the sort of book that can be found in a bargain bin at a Barnes & Noble, like I did, and simultaneously be a place where one can mine information for a sermon or Bible study or a case study about business leaders. This is an author that I want to read more of, and although he is not particularly famous or well-known, at least by my knowledge, this book is a definite work of quality. By and large, the author’s approach praises leadership, but also recognizes that true leaders look out for the best interests of everyone in their organizations, making this book a far more humane one than many others of its kind. The author even manages to find a way to tie Harley owners and famed hippy entrepreneurs Ben & Jerry to a Christian message, and that is no small achievement.
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