Al Mohler, president of Southern Theological seminary, just released a cutting-edge book on leadership, that, coupled with Susan Cain's Quiet, makes a great Christian addition to the subjects set forth in that New York Times bestseller. Introverts and leadership, you ask? Well, yes, they are two different subjects. But Cain's solid premise coupled with Mohler's biblical perspective help to fill each other's gaps. Read them both and you'll find that in spite of their different subject they complement each other well. But Mohler's book The Conviction to Lead can also stand on its own.
The fact is, everyone (man, woman, adult and child) is at one point called to lead. This isn't authoritarianism, or egalitarianism. It's simply the fact that all of us choose whether we will be leaders or followers, in our different circles. With the girls at church, with the men in the workforce, with the conversation at family gatherings.
Being a leader does not necessarily require a position of authority. In fact, many CEOs and presidents are far from being leaders. Leadership, according to Mohler, requires 25 essential qualities, that if you're not ready to develop, then you'd better bow out in the leadership race.
I've picked my five favorite to highlight here:
Leaders Understand Worldviews
Mohler knows what he's talking about. Your business morals, your vision for the field you're leading in, what you consider right and wrong, why you do what you do, and the legacy you leave are all affected by your worldview: the "glasses" with which you view life. If life is a meaningless chaos where truth is relative, and eternity is a blank, then there's no way you're going to lead in a strong, decisive manner that will leave multigenerational impact. But if you understand that the supreme God of the Bible placed you on this earth for a specific purpose, and that you will be called to account for how you led, and your eternal reward will be affected by it, then you're going to put in every ounce of passion and energy you have. And you're going to make sure that your work matters. Really matters. Leaders understand the fundamental questions such as "What is the purpose of life?" and they make sure their followers understand it too.
Leaders are Communicators
If anything, one of the benefits we learned through homeschooling was communication. We had to. For one thing, we weren't around a lot of our peers for much of our elementary years, and let's face it: if your main social contacts are adults, you learn how to talk with them. My brother and I also loved to write. Essays were the greatest school assignment we could ever have. Perhaps it was because we had a passion about what we wrote. I've studied out a wide range of subjects from the mental effects of language to a biblical case for earrings. (When you start thinking, no subject is off limits.) But leaders are going to be called upon continually to cast the vision, and explain the vision, and defend the vision. To do that, they need to be comfortable with both the written and the spoken word. You don't have to be outgoing, but you do have to be engaging.
Leaders are Readers
Out of twenty-five principles that Mohler sets forth, I think it will hardly surprise anyone that I picked this one. What might surprise people is I didn't put it first on the list, knowing my passion for all things literary. Well, this list is meant to go in order, and as Mohler didn't place it first, I can't either. Leaders must be readers. There is no other alternative. To be a leader you're going to be making multiple decisions with multiple options and factors involved in each one. You're going to be working with different personalities, different needs, and different cultures. You're going to need to have a lot of information tucked away, both historical, scientific, theological, and of course, biblical. No human mind has all of these facts at their fingertips, and it requires extensive reading to keep you sharp and up to date. And yes, fiction counts too. :)
The Leader as Decision Maker
One of the biggest faults with Christian leaders I've observed is their propensity to second guess themselves. Somehow we've missed the connection that humility doesn't mean lack of confidence, and leaning on the Lord's understanding doesn't mean we refuse to use the reasoning capacities he has blessed us with. Evaluate, pause for quick review, and then make it and claim it as your own. Stamp your initials all over it, and don't second guess yourself. Take time afterwards to review the pros and cons of its consequences; and come to grips with the fact that sometimes you're going to make the wrong one. God places you in a position of leadership, not a position of deity. You're not supposed to be infallible.
The Leader as Writer
I could not neglect to pay a short tribute to Mohler's section on writing, as it is a subject quite dear to my own heart. Leaders must be writers: letters, articles, books, columns, memos: every leader will face some or all of these whether you're in leadership in the church, the corporate world, or the home. Writing both deepens and widens the impact of your sphere of leadership.
Mohler covers a lot more: leaders and time, leaders and passion, leaders and death. I could go through all 25 of them, but Mohler expresses them so concisely in his own words, that I would not rob you of the enjoyment of them.
Our parents taught us that wherever we went, we needed to lead. Granted, there are certain issues of propriety: for example, I don't lead the conversation when men are present, or older women. But with my peers and with those younger than me, I have the choice to be a leader or a follower. Passion isn't leadership, and conviction isn't necessarily leadership either. But when you have the conviction to lead, and the conviction to invest in your followers, then you will go far.
Be it a Bible study, a blog, or a simple conversation, opportunities abound. Read Al Mohler's book for 25 principles in leadership that matters.
This book was provided at no cost by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.