10 Books Every Christian Leader Should Read


Summer is just around the corner, which means longer days, summer vacations and hopefully if you are a leader, more reading. I’m a big reader and think that if you are a leader, you should be too.

I often get asked about leadership books that pastors should read. If you haven’t read these books, I highly recommend them. Let’s just say, these are 10 books every Christian leader should read:

The Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future by Andy Stanley

To this day, this is still one of my favorite leadership books and one of the shortest.

Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda by Henry Blackaby

The chapter on decision making in this book is the best I’ve ever read when it comes to figuring out God’s will and how to make wise choices. This was one of the first leadership books I’ve ever read and has been marked up and written in, more than any other leadership book I have.

Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels

Hybels is one of those leaders that you should read everything he writes on the subject of leadership. It is always insightful and helpful. This book is 30 years of leadership experience put into one book.

The Catalyst Leader: 8 Essentials for Becoming a Change Maker by Brad Lomenick

Lomenick leads the catalyst conferences and this book is a great one for younger leaders as they figure out what is next for them, understanding when to step up and lead and when to follow. Tons of great insights for leaders of all ages and experience, but incredibly helpful for young leaders.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Like Andy Stanley’s book, this is still one of my favorite leadership books. His chapter on level 5 leadership has been life changing for me as I think about how to lead with humility and will to move my church forward and lead in a way that puts the health of Revolution first.

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

I just read this book and it is one of the best books on productivity. If you believe Christians should be productive, you will find the first 65 pages boring, but once you get to chapter 11 this book rises above every other book on productivity that I have ever read.

Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly by Mike Myatt

I read this book this year and was blown away by all the insight in this book. If you are a leader, this is a book you need to read and then follow Mike’s blog. His writings are incredibly insightful.

People-Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval-Motivated Leadership by Charles Stone

Approval is something that everyone struggles with to one degree or another. Pastors are no strangers to it and can often fall into the trap of making decisions based off of what others think of them. This book helps a leader (and someone who isn’t a leader) see how they gravitate towards approval in living their life and how to find freedom from it.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Dan & Chip Heath

If you preach or are a communicator, this is a book you need to read through. I go back to this book on a regular basis to think through how to make my sermons more clear. Incredibly helpful.

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz

So many people in our culture struggle with burnout and not managing their time well. This book points out that it is more important to manage your energy than your time. That point was incredibly helpful. It’s summer time and you are probably tired, and if that is you, this is a book worth picking up so you can head into the fall with more energy and perform at a higher level.

And a bonus one…

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni

You should read everything that Lencioni publishes. This book essentially is everything he has ever written all in one book. So, read it. So, so good.

What’s your favorite leadership book that every Christian leader should read?


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Links for Your Weekend Reading

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


9 lies in the not married life.

Singleness’s greatest sorrows are secretly reinforced every February in the souls of the not-yet-married still waiting for their wedding day. While many of our friends and family are inundated with dates, flowers, chocolate, and love notes, lots and lots of the valentine-less are overwhelmed with everything from impatience to bitterness, from shame to regret to confusion.

Rick Thomas on 5 sure fire ways to motivate your son to look at pornography.

Porn is first and foremost about the theater of the mind, where the young male can enter into his virtual world and be king for a day—or, in this case, king for a few minutes—as he satiates his mind with the risk-free intrigue of the cyber conquest.

Barnabas Piper on Why PK’s often hate the ministry and why so many are now in ministry.

Here’s what I learned from those PKs:

  • God’s grace is bigger than our frustrations and hurts (imposed on us or self-imposed) and bigger than our parents’ mistakes.
  • When we see mistakes our parents make that have hurt us or shaped us in ways we don’t like we become responsible for how we respond, either to follow Christ or not.
  • Whether or not our parents did a good job, being a PK is a unique blessing and creates an opportunity to serve God’s people that most don’t get.
  • The church is God’s people and part of God’s plan; to abandon it is to abandon what God has put in place.
  • Honoring our fathers and mothers is a really big deal and a really valuable thing. No, it doesn’t mean we must agree with them or imitate them, but it does mean we cannot resent them.
  • With few exceptions, our parents love us deeply. It’s worth figuring out how to connect with that love instead of holding on to hurt.

How Bill Hybels advises pastors and leaders to think about the Sunday service.

“Imagine if I could give you a newsflash, that the person you’ve been trying to invite to church for the last 3 years is coming this Sunday.” With those opening words, Willow Creek Community Church senior pastor Bill Hybels grabbed the attention of the 1000 leaders gathered at the Church Leadership Conference in Riga, Latvia. But Bill would then ask, and answer, a question that every church leader must come to terms with:  “What are you hoping will happen to that woman or that man during that one hour church service?”

Dan Black on How to maximize your personal growth time.

The most common reason I hear as to why a leader does not invest in personal growth is because they don’t have the time for it. Personal growth does not happen by chance but requires a few key ingredients.

Growing leaders crave silence and solitude.

When was the last time you had meaningful time alone?

No meetings, no appointments. No phone buzzing. No music in your ear buds. No distractions.

Just stillness. Solitude.

My guess is for many of us the answer is it’s been a while.

What if I told you that your effectiveness and maybe even your longevity as a leader depended directly on finding and establishing regular periods of solitude?

Keri Seavey on Your spouse is not Jesus.

Both husband and wife often start life together, from authentic love and commitment (and a bit of naïve self-assessment), blissfully aiming to meet or exceed every spoken or perceived expectation placed before them in their desire for a great marriage. They may even maintain their success for a while. Yet, given time, we all bump up against our (and our spouse’s) weaknesses, limitations, and tenacious self-centeredness. This is when things begin to get messy.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


5 things your pastor would like to tell you.

Brian Dodd on 12 signs of a healthy team.

Have you ever been part of a failing church leadership team?  I have.  It is a frustrating experience knowing a great opportunity is being wasted and not taken advantage of.  Apathy set in and you simply have to pray God will do something great in spite of your team. No one wants to be part of such a leadership team.

How Bill Hybels stays replenished.

Derwin Gray on 3 ways to spice up your love life.

Our culture teaches us to idolize sex and romance and ultimately, the idolization of erotic love will sabotage a marriage.

Carlos Whittaker on How to avoid porn.

“That’s someone’s sister, daughter, mother, friend. And they are sad.”

Brandon Cox on How to lovingly disagree with people.

So, if you disagree in a way that is unkind or impatient, you’re in the wrong. If your disagreement fuels jealousy or pride, you’re wrong. If you’re bull-headed and refuse to be a listener, then you’re demanding your own way. If you get angry or hold a grudge over a disagreement, you’re wrong, even if you’re right. If you get upset when someone else is proven to be right instead of you, you’re doubly wrong. And if you disagree with people and allow it to cause you to lose faith or hope? You’re wrong, even if you’re right.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like

My Notes from the WCA Global Leadership Summit

So many great leadership nuggets at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit last week. If you missed it, or a session, here are all my notes from it.

What was your biggest takeaway from the summit?

For me, it was the 6X6 idea from Bill Hybels, game changing.

My Notes from Day 2 of the Leadership Summit

In case you missed them, here are my notes from day 2 of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

What was your biggest takeaway from day 2 of the summit?

Leadership Summit Session 8 | Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels closed out this years Willow Creek Leadership Summit with a fantastic talk.

Bill Hybels is the Founding and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. He is the author of two great leadership books Axiom and Courageous Leadershipas well as The Power of a Whisper

Here are some highlights I grabbed from his talk:

  • Everyone wins when a leader gets better.
  • Leaders need an annual gut check about their leadership.
  • The world needs leaders who will passionately pursue what God is calling them to do.
  • Jesus reminds us (Matthew 16:18) that he will build his church and nothing will prevail against it.
  • For too many people, the church is lifeless, cowardly, and hopeless.
  • It’s one thing to see a vision, it’s another thing to be seized by a vision.
  • A vision gives people a picture of the future.
  • Vision causes people to sacrifice joyfully.
  • Without vision, people perish. They don’t die physically, they settle for a life of a lesser purpose.
  • A vision causes us to give up everything for it.
  • A fired up Christ follower, from a fired up church, is what God uses to change the trajectory of broken lives.
  • The message of Jesus is what changes a person heart. God has entrusted the message of Jesus to the church to take it to the corners of the globe. Means, the local church is the hope of the world.
  • The hope of the world is at stake when it comes to how we lead our churches.

Will the local church, the hope of the world, be able to sustain itself until the end of time?

  • Whole empires throughout history have disappeared.
  • Companies with tons of money and clout but are no longer in business.
  • Who it is that is actually building the church and sustaining it is who will keep it from disappearing.
  • Jesus is the sustainer of the church (Matthew 16:18).
  • Building the church is the main thing Jesus is doing until the end of time.
  • It is incredible to think that Jesus is not only building His church, but includes us in that and uses us to bring about His plan.
  • What would happen if we got up in the morning and joined in, full on with what Jesus is doing? How would the world change? How would our churches change?
  • A leader calls people out, calls them to be a part of the vision, to make a move.

What was your biggest takeaway from this session?

My Notes from Day 1 of the Leadership Summit

In case you missed them, here are my notes from day 1 of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

What was your biggest takeaway from day 1 of the summit?

Leadership Summit Session 1 | Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels kicked off this years Willow Creek Leadership Summit with a talk titled “The Privilege of Leadership.”

Bill Hybels is the Founding and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. He is the author of two great leadership books Axiom and Courageous Leadershipas well as The Power of a Whisper

Here are the highlights I grabbed from his talk:

Leaders Lead the Way

  • Everyone wins when a leader gets better.
  • Hybels retold the parable of the scattered seeds (Luke 8) at the start of his talk.
  • No matter how much seed is sown, some people are closed off to it.
  • The reaction to a message doesn’t impact its truth.
  • Jesus created a seed rejection ratio in this parable. He chose a 75% seed rejection ratio, which is incredible to think about.
  • Everyone’s life would be better with God at the center of it.
  • If you want to see more trees in your church, plant more seeds.
  • Do the people who drive by your church everyday know you are there?
  • What happens if leaders don’t listen to those around them, to the Holy Spirit? They miss out.
  • A church takes ALL of its cues from its leaders. Never changes.
  • Leaders must fight autopilot at all cost.


  • Work habits are the things that leaders struggle with the most.
  • Uncertainty about how to order a leaders life keep them from maximizing their impact.
  • Leaders think their time is their most important asset, it isn’t. Their energy is and their ability to energize other people.
  • In the next 6 weeks, what are the biggest contributions could I make to the church?
  • 6X6 is a game changer. Make your weekly calendar be based on your 6X6 goals.
  • God didn’t make you a leader to respond to things all day, but to move stuff ahead.

Leadership succession

  • In a planning phase, every question must surface.
    • Who decides what?
    • Who is involved?
    • How long will something take?
    • In succession, what is the pastor’s role, what does he do after the transition?
    • Make sure your greatest legacy as a leader means your church will live on past you as the leader.

Move People

  • God doesn’t make you a leader to keep people still or for them to think you are smart. God makes you a leader to move people to a better future.
  • Don’t paint the picture of the future until you build the case for why you cannot stay where you are.
  • The middle of a leadership vision is when it is most vulnerable. Not at the starting line or when you can see the finish line.
  • Year 10 – 15 can be the season when a leader is most vulnerable.
  • My overarching thought of leadership is, what a privilege it is to be a leader.

Links of the Week

  1. Why smart pastors fail.
  2. Scott Williams on Ladies, stop lusting after your pastor.
  3. How Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley think about the weekend services. This stuff is gold.
  4. Tim Keller on Why churches should be allowed to meet in public schools in NYC. Ed Stetzer also has some great thoughts about why this is a problem that you can read here.
  5. A letter from Mark Driscoll about the state and the future of Acts 29. This is one reason I’m thankful Revolution is part of Acts 29.
  6. Justyn Smith on Leading leaders.
  7. What a young husband ought to know.
  8. J.D. Greear on Avoiding burnout part 1, part 2 and part 3. This stuff is so, so helpful.
  9. Grace Driscoll on 10 ways to honor your husband. Grateful for Katie and how she lives these out in our marriage.