The process of leadership requires self-identification of behaviors and reflection on one’s attitude (Bell, 2010). Among the thousands of leadership books in print today, this book is one that takes a different approach to examining leadership from a Christian perspective as well as relating to the process of leadership along with many other resources, case studies, and ideas for the reader to consider.
Chapter 1 sets the foundation for the book by suggesting the impact that one’s values has on leadership. This is particularly important because Christianity has a direct connection to core values, beliefs and attitudes. It is from these perspectives that drive the direction in which Christian leadership moves. The authors ask thought-provoking questions and suggest that Christian leaders have an awareness of other sources and definitions of leadership as he/she evolves within Christian leadership.
Chapter 2 takes on a historical perspective of leadership practices from different religious traditions, but encourages the reader to place a greater importance on the value of the Bible and the leadership lessons within. The author introduces the metaphor1 as a “powerful tool to shed light on complex issues” (Banks and Ledbetter, 2004, p.53) to enhance the possibility of attaining a greater understanding of Christian leadership and what a Christian leader should do. Chapter 3 provides two case studies, one being a case study on Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits Seven Habits of Highly Effective People2. While this book has been critically acclaimed and has sold several million copies, the authors provided an opportunity for the reader to examine the Covey book from a different, spiritual perspective as to how his Mormonism roots are connected to the subject matter within his book.
Chapter 4 examines the assertion that most leaders of the world fail to exact or connect personal religious foundations to the leadership theories or principles he/she practices. This chapter also examines the writings of Laura Beth Jones3 and others so that the reader can evaluate their writings from a critical point of view. While many of the writers have a different religious foundation, the race of the writers is primarily of the Caucasian race. The authors fail to include writings of any African American so that the reader can evaluate and connect on a more personal level from another vintage point.
The writers discuss truth in this chapter, but appear to be contradictory by the exclusion of all types of writers. Chapter 5 is a good segue into a discussion about how faithfulness, integrity, and service are must qualities for a Christian leader to possess. The concept of “servant leadership” is introduced and the reader is left with a profound opinion that in order to be a good leader and to have others willing to follow, one must place the needs of others before oneself. The authors suggest that Jesus on the Cross is a “gift” that enables us to have the potential to become servants (Banks and Ledbetter, 2004, p. 113).
Chapter 6 is a series of case studies that provide the reader an opportunity to take a “deep dive” into personal thoughts and perceptions regarding Christian leadership and its applicability within society through questions. The authors provide an opportunity to think about implications of the process enacted and how one can use these case studies to further grow and develop with a true Christian leadership approach. Overall, the book provided a wonderful opportunity to think about leadership in a manner seldom thought about or accomplished. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to learn more about how Christian can impart leadership in a manner that is effective vice offensive. Concrete Response
Chapter 5 made me reflect on my current work situation and some things I am dealing with regarding Equal Employment Opportunity. In my desire to obtain leadership positions within the Federal government, I have applied for many positions at several agencies. Due to the fact that competition is so fierce at the higher level graded positions, I sometimes would not make the certificate of best qualified applicants. On other occasions, I would make the best qualified list, but failed to get an interview from the selecting official. Sometimes this failure was due to my lack of experience, but sometimes I felt it was due to one or more of the prohibited personnel practices or some discriminatory factor. When I felt my non-selection was due to factors I had no control, i.e., my race, sex, color, or age, I wanted to fight. Not in the literal sense, but I wanted to challenge the selection process and became frustrated.
Because some leaders within the Federal government behave in this manner is one of the reasons I have little loyalty to a particular agency. I switch jobs within the Federal government frequently. My mom teases me by implying that I have commitment issues…I respond by saying, “I am loyal to the Federal government, but not to a particular agency.” I still however, must ask myself, I am serving myself through these challenges or am I trying to prevent these illegal practices from continue so that someone after me will not have to suffer. Selfishly speaking, I know that I am more concerned about the negative impact these actions have on me than others that would follow…and it is for this reason, I need to regroup and question the motive for my actions. I need to get this anger from my heart and pray that God will further guide my steps and realize that there is a reason, though not known, why I do not get these jobs that on the surface I want. Maybe God knows these positions are not the best place for me and that He has me where I am supposed to be…at least for the time being. “Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills are all necessary for effective leadership” (Banks and Ledbetter, 2004, p. 96). Reflection
I attended a majority white high school, in respect to the student population. Afterward, I attended a historically black, all-male institution in Morehouse College. Continuing, I earned my Masters in Teaching at Bellarmine University, and lastly, I earned my doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. After high school, each school I attended had a religious affiliation: Morehouse – Baptist; Bellarmine – Catholic; and Liberty – Evangelical. Aside from Morehouse College, each school was a predominantly white academic institution. And while attending these schools, I found a apparent lack of attention that addressed the issues or perspective that African Americans may have in respect to leadership principles. Still, I enjoyed being in the minority because it afforded me an opportunity to respectfully and genuinely provide a different perspective to those who may not see things from my point of view. I felt everyone benefited and we all learned more through poignant and passionate discussions.
If I have any criticism for this book, it is that it too failed to provide perspectives from the African American viewpoint. Although race is not seen by God, the world however, will always see race and until we tackle this “elephant in the room” true understanding of Christian leadership from all perspectives will fall short. I think Banks and Ledbetter could have referenced or interviewed African American Christian leaders and writers as well or provided case studies that would have created a greater connection for me. Too often, African American perspectives are ignored. Banks and Ledbetter missed a golden opportunity to address what others also fail to acknowledge…and that it race is in fact, a part of everything we do within our society…and there are many African American leaders and African American case studies which could have had just as valuable an input to this book if used.
So, I would ask the authors, why was this perspective omitted from the book and whether there was any discussion to interject the perspective on Christian Leadership from the African American community to this book? Action
Changes in My Life
Exhibiting patience and waiting on the Lord continues to be a struggle for me. I find myself more often than not, very impatient about a great number of things and this lends to my frustration when I do not get what I want or feel I deserve. I sometimes look to blame others before looking inward to determine what I did that brought the negative or undesired result. Sometimes, when I do not get the job I want or the opportunity, I lash out. I get mad and I blame others for preventing me from an opportunity that I feel I deserve. I have grown up in a culture that taught me that an African American male has to do things 2-3 times better to achieve…so when I do these things and I still fall short of a goal, I often felt it was someone else’s fault and not mine. Not until I take a deep breath and relax do I realize that some of my issues are self-inflicted and a rush to judgment placed the blame somewhere it should not reside. Therefore, my first action item based from my readings is to continue to pray for patience.
But, not only patience, but the understanding that God will place things in my life that will help me grow in wisdom to understanding that His time is not always my time…and that His answer may be “No or Not yet.” This will help me demonstrate a greater ability to be a Christian Leader. I am going to actively measure these moments of frustration by keeping a journal of what made me frustrated and what I did to address this frustration. I am going to put this action item in place for the duration of this class to see if I feel better and to measure the results of my frustration and patience level. Listening has never been a strong attribute of mine. Sometimes while I may hear what a person is saying, I am often times listening only so that I can insert what I really want to say in response. I sometimes do not listen to see how what is being spoken has applicability to my current situation. One of the chapters within this book hit me like a rock…and it was the chapter discussing the use of metaphors as a method to better understand Christian leadership.
Banks and Ledbetter provided me a clearer understanding regarding the purpose and use of metaphors and the impact metaphors can have on one’s thinking and listening. Now, I understand why most preachers use metaphors in their sermons as well. In contrast, while pledging my fraternity, we used poems to enable us to connect to what we were going through as a method to draw strength and encouragement, e.g., “See It Through” or “Invictus,” but metaphors were used at times as well. Nevertheless, knowing that I am a person who likes to talk and I sometimes do not listen as attentively as I should or as closely as I should to what others may be saying or to what is important to others, I can now address this flaw because there are many metaphors that apply directly to me in this regard.
Recognizing this flaw and addressing it will allow me to focus on the feelings and concern of others before mine – I will become more of a servant leader, which is what I strive to become. Being a good listener is a hard, difficult task, but not an impossible task. So, for the remainder of this class, I am going to address this flaw by making real-world connections through the use of metaphors and use different metaphors when interacting with family and friends to assist them in a particular situation that they may be facing. I am going to actively listen before I try to interject my opinion. This will afford me the opportunity to work on my listening skills and demonstrate Christian leadership through this method. This book was very uplifting and an outstanding read. I am glad it is a part of the required literature.
Banks, R., and Ledbetter, B. (2004). Reviewing leadership: A Christian evaluation of current approaches. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Bell, Skip. (2010, Spring). Learning, changing, and doing: A model for transformational leadership development in religious and non-profit organizations. Journal of Religious Leadership, Vol. 9, No. 1, 96.