Overall it was a good book. A little slow at times and it definitely read as a doctorate level look at leadership too often in my opinion. While this is Gibbs area of expertise, so this makes sense, it made it hard to read at moments.
While it was slow, there were definitely some worthwhile things to take away. One of the things I thought was right on was when he compared churches to fleas and elephants. That new ideas are coming from fleas, fleas can reproduce faster, elephants are slower. But that you need both of them to sustain a movement because fleas and elephants need each other. This image for me was incredibly helpful.
One of the other things I appreciated about the book was chapter 9 “Facing the cost of leadership.” The longer I am in leadership, the more I realize the price that leaders and their families pay. I no longer look at church planting and leading through rose colored glasses. As Darrin Patrick says, “Planting a church will kill you.” Leadership and pastoring is not for everyone, it is painful, it does hurt, the highs are incredibly high and the lows are incredibly low. The reality is that to be a leader that leads a church that reaches this culture, you will need to undergo a lot of change, and change is painful and not fun, or everyone would do it.
Here are a couple of other things that stood out:
- We can more readily identify the characteristics of leadership by their absence.
- “A Christian leader is a person with a God-given capacity and the God-given responsibility to influence a specific group of God’s people toward God’s purpose for the group.” (J. Robert Clinton)
- Leadership emerges as power is shared rather than as authority is exerted.
- People want direction, trust and hope from leaders.
- In the midst of chaos, leaders provide vision that rises beyond the present circumstances that threaten to overwhelm and capsize the movement. Such vision provides a sense of purpose, resilience and exuberance. In order for the church to remain on even keel, keep its bows to the waves and stay on course, it will have to “keep the main thing the main thing.”
- What does it take to lead an organization where people forget their job and do what needs doing?
- The problem with empowerment is that it suggests that this is something leaders magically give or do for others. But people already have tremendous power. It is not a matter of giving it to them, but of freeing them to use the power and skills they already have. It is a matter of expanding their opportunities to use themselves in service of a common and meaningful purpose.
Not a bad book, but if you have read other leadership books, I would skip the first 4 chapters. The last half of the book is great, the first part felt like somewhat of a retread.