Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: Spiritual Influence

I'm going to go on a mini-rant and then I'll move on to the actual book review.  I just have to get this out of my system.  Why does everything have to be "hidden" or "secret" to be interesting these days?  "The hidden power behind leadership."  What's hidden about it?  Nine times out of ten or better, the stuff isn't hidden or secret or undiscovered (if it was undiscovered, how did it make it to a book already?), it's common sense.  (Ecclesiastes 1:9) It's a sad state of affairs when we have to try to jazz up solid information just to get people to read it and when we can get people to read not-so-solid stuff just by jazzing it up. (Just for the record, this book falls into the "solid information jazzed up so people will read it" category.) End rant. On to the review.

Mel Lawrenz

For many Christians, the questions surrounding leadership and how to be Godly influences in a fallen world are difficult ones. They are questions that should be asked by those in vocational ministry and those who have been called to vocations outside of the Church. Lawrenz has set out in this book to address some of those questions and provide helpful answers to some of the struggles involved in leadership from a Christian perspective. Books on leadership from a "secular" view and angled toward business are a dime a dozen. (It could be argued that good ones are a bit harder to come by, but that's a whole different post.) What is hard to find is a good book on leadership from a Christian perspective.

I will argue that there is nothing new or "hidden" about the information Lawrenz presents in this book.  I think that's a good thing.  This is all Scripturally sound, time honored and tested, solid information that is helpful to those seeking to be good leaders.  That is what makes it valuable.  This isn't some new trendy system that's going to fizzle in a few years.  It's not some "newly discovered" "ancient practice" or anything silly like that.  Perhaps the only hidden thing about this stuff is that it's not often passed on to the entire body.

So often, we split the ideas of leadership in the church and elsewhere. We live in two worlds where you are a "Christian leader" if you are in leadership in the church (which is usually equated with "pastor" and sometimes "elder") and if you lead anywhere else, you are just a "leader."  Lawrenz brings the two together and makes the idea of being a leader and a Christian accessible to everyone in both the Church and the rest of the world.  Which is great because we aren't called to be the "salt of the Church," right?

Well organized and easy to read, this book is a good read for people at many places in their spiritual journeys. It is suggested at the beginning of the book that it be read as a small group and I agree that would be a good use of this resource.  Depending on the reading level and drive of you group, this could be used as anything from a four week study to a full semester or more.  It would be a great way to kick start a small group or Sunday school class into applying good, Christian leadership skills to their everyday lives.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, Charissa. I had so many great interactions with believers in the U.S. and in other parts of the world as I was researching and writing this book. You are exactly right that the moniker "Christian leader" has been far too limiting. Christian influence must be the norm in the church, but in any other context--at work, home, etc.

    I understand your aversion to "hidden" or "secret." I agree. I know one author who said he was tempted to write a best-seller, calling it "The Secret of the Purpose-Driven Shack."

    In this case, there actually is a reason for "hidden." I was intrigued by the meaning of "influence": "something that flows in and causes changes, usually a force that is imperceptible or hidden." Most approaches to leadership focus on big bold hammer-in-hand force-of-will actions. I think "influence" suggests that we flow to others the small kingdom of God things which, like a small seed, or a small hidden piece of leaven, have pervasive and enduring effects.

    Glad you see the small group part of this. We've got free stuff for that at the "Form a Circle of Influence" part of

    Mel Lawrenz