Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dynamic Spiritual Leadership: Leading Like Paul

J. Oswald Sanders, Dynamic Spiritual Leadership: Leading Like Paul, Discovery House, 1999, 6th printing, 2011.

Dynamic Spiritual Leadership: Leading Like Paul is a gem of a book that I reread every few years. It is two books in one: a book on spiritual leadership and a book on the Apostle Paul. Sanders uses the life of Paul as an example to teach principles about Christian leadership. J. Oswald Sanders was a Christian leader for nearly 70 years and wrote more than 40 books on the Christian Life including Enjoying Intimacy with God, Every Life is a Plan of God, Facing Loneliness,Spiritual Leadership, and many others.

Leading Like Paul was a follow-up to his earlier book on Christian leadership. In some sense, this book book clothes on his earlier book. I like this book because of its description of the life of Paul more than because of its discussion of principles of Spiritual leadership, but I think readers will benefit if they are interested in either of these themes. The book is divided into fourteen chapters which a chapter a day could be easily read in fifteen minutes are less. The author is easy to understand, and he writes well. He also has years of experience from serving as a missionary and the director of a missions agency.

Some of the themes about the life of Paul covered in this book are Paul's preparation to be a leader, the characteristics of a leader, Paul's view of God, the centrality of the Cross of Christ, the importance of prayer, communicating God's message, Paul's missionary life, controversial issues, a philosophy of weakness, and the training of leaders. Sanders says about Paul, "In Paul we find an inspiring prototype of what one man, wholly abandoned of God, can achieve in a single generation" (10). The chapter on the background of Paul he discusses the influences of Paul's life before conversion, his conversion experience, and training after his conversion. One can definitely see the providence of God in the life of Paul. Sander's asserts that Paul's postgraduate training required "a period of withdrawl," and solitude. Solitude was necessary because solitude "is an important element in the maturing process. Spiritual leadership does not develop in the glare of publicity."

In the chapter on the characteristics of a leader, Sanders quotes from John Stott: "A man is not only what he owes to his parents, friends and teachers, but a man is also what God has made him by calling him to some particular ministry and by endowing him with appropriate natural and spiritual gifts." Some of the characteristics of the Apostle Paul that fitted him for leadership were: character, courage, compassion, leadership, encouragement, faith and vision, friendship. Sanders thinks "you can tell a man by his friends," and Paul had a lot of them. Just observe all the people he mentions in his letters that he sends greeting to. Other traits characteristic of Paul were a confident modesty, humility, communication, listening, patience, self-discipline, and Paul was "a generous and broad-minded man. In addition, Paul had an "exalted view of God," and he boasted in the cross of Jesus Christ. A. W. Tozer stated, "What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." Sanders noted that Paul was both a prayer warrior and a communicator for God. Sanders asserts, "Without doubt one of the most potent elements in Paul's leadership was his ability to communicate divine truth powerfully and convincingly."

Sander's Dynamic Spiritual Leadership is an excellent overview of the leadership of the Apostle Paul. It is an easy, and enjoyable read. I highly recommend it.

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