Books on Christian leadership abound these days, and many take the approach of applying insights from the secular business world to the church in order to aid church leaders in building successful organizations. This is not an altogether unhelpful approach. I’ve read several of these books and have benefited from them in various ways. On several occasions I’ve come away with ideas and initiatives that I’ve found to be truly helpful in leading a local church. But each time I’ve been a bit cautious at the basic assumption that business leadership models should be taken as the primary way of thinking about developing the leaders of the church. That’s why I was hopeful when Harry Reeder’s The Leadership Dynamic (Crossway 2008) was recommended to me. The subtitle says it all: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders.
Reeder is also wary of starting with the business leadership models of secular culture when thinking about cultivating leaders for the church. Thus, instead of going outside the Christian tradition for insight, Reeder goes straight to scripture to see if a biblical model for leadership development can be found; his answer: an emphatic yes. Without going into the details of the book, Reeder’s overall framework is what he calls “3-D Leadership“: Defining, Developing, and Deploying Christian leaders. The chapters of the book fall basically into these three categories to articulate a comprehensive plan for developing Christian leaders that is thoroughly biblical and rooted in historic Christian belief.
Let me mention three features of Reeder’s book that are particularly commendable. First, when Reeder says he is giving a biblical model, he isn’t kidding. This book is scripture saturated. Every leadership principle is grounded in or drawn from the biblical text. The strength here is that we know we are not twisting an idea from a non-Christian context to try and make it fit church culture. Instead, the result of Reeder’s method is a model of leadership development that is shaped and refined through scriptural interaction. Second, if Reeder’s first calling is that of a pastor, his second is that of historian. The book is chock full of historical vignettes that make Reeder’s points vividly. Many of the short but potent narratives are drawn from the lives of Christians who made leadership decisions based on their understanding of scripture, which clearly falls within Reeder’s goals. Third, Reeder is ridiculously good at coming up with short and punchy memorable maxims that help the reader follow and remember his main points. This makes the book highly readable and easy to follow. For these reasons and others, I highly recommend Harry Reeder’s The Leadership Dynamic: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders.