As a part of the leadership journey that I am on, we were asked to read Practicing Greatness by Reggie McNeal. A few years ago i read the Present Future, which is also by McNeal (and I should probably read it again). So I was familiar with his work and his style. Practicing Greatness is a quick and easy read, but there is a lot to digest in it.
The basic plot is this, what are the practices or disciplines of great leaders. And what does that look like in various contexts. The use of anecdotal examples is very helpful, and I kept finding myself in both the negative and positive examples. Reading this book challenged me to really look at what practices I need to develop in my life. Of the 7 listed I think that Decision Making and belonging are my two weak points. I make decisions but I know it takes me forever to feel comfortable with that. And I am an independent person by nature but I need to develop relationships that I can truly belong to and with. And I am working on that.
I was also challenged by the Chapter on the Discipline of Mission. i know what the mission of every christian is, but I need to constantly drag my life back the mission that God has put on my heart, which is teach people about Jesus and his incredible grace. That’s my mission, so whatever I do I need to be making sure that I am living up to my mission.
This is truly a must read for all spiritual leaders.
Eugene Peterson, author/editor of The Message, is in the middle of a five book series on Christian Theology, the first book in the series was Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, the second is Eat This Book.Eat This Book is a study in Spiritual Reading, particularly the practice of Lectio Divina. Peterson shows that the Bible is not meant to be a snack-bite, sound bite, fortune cookie experience, rather it is supposed to be a meal that nurishes our soul and transforms our lives.One of the most intersting parts of this book is in the third part where Peterson does a quick study of how we got the Bible, discovery of paprii and translations to greek and all that. This is a very interesting section that shows how amazing a book the Bible really is.At times it seems that Peterson gets a little overly scholarly but overall this is a great read for anyone who would like a little help making the Bible a more vital part of their lives.
This week I promptly picked up the latest offering for David Crowder Band – Remedy. I’ve spend a few days listening to it, and I like it. This is a much more straightforward album than A Collission. The theme of Remedy seems to be saying that Jesus wants to heal us and the world around us. I don’t have a favorite song just yet, but it is good, and I would recommend you go pick it up.
This weekend I picked up Steve Farber’s The Radical Edge.
I really enjoyed the simplicity of this book. I’m finding that I enjoy the Leadership Parable format a lot more than the principle driven books. Steve Farber, Pat Lencioni, Ken Blanchard are all writing in this same vane and it’s very enjoyable. As the reader I am found myself very engaged with the characters and with the drama that surrounds their lives.
I found that this book really focuses on the person more than the organization the person works in. I think that is an important principle because as a leader if you don’t know who you are then you are just going to vacillate in your leadership, following the whims and fancies of the day. But if you really know who you are and what you want to do and where you want to do it, you will succeed.
This book has a lot of simple principles that I think are helpful and easy to initiate. The principle of the WUP (Wake-Up Pad) is great and something that I have been trying to do. Basically record what’s going on around you. I’m not very good at it, but this blog and the journal that I’ve been using have helped.
I’m considering reading it again just to really cement the concepts in my brain. But I would highly recommend this book to anyone trying to be a better leader.
Presence-Centered Youth Ministry by Mike King
Mike King is a long time youth worker who brings 30 years of experience to this book. He shares his stories and frustrations with the way youth ministry has been run for year. And as he grew in maturity he began to boil down youth ministry to what he felt was most important – – Jesus.
This book does a great job of getting the focus back on Jesus and making sure that first and foremost the youth leader is connected to Jesus heart. The students will follow as we become more and more in love with Jesus. King proposes many practices that would be viewed as controversial in many protestant communities but in truth many of these practices are timeless and can really strengthen your faith.
I think this book is valuable for youth leaders because King challenges us to tend to our hearts first. Also, King reminds us that the true success of any youth ministry is not how many students show up to your wednesday night program. Rather, the true measuring stick is how many of those students are connected to Jesus and the church 30 years down the road. To do this youth leaders need to think long term and we need to equip and encourage students to seek Jesus on their own. You can have the flash and bells and whistles in your program but you just better be sure that that’s not all you have.
Great read I highly recommend it to any youth leader and to pastors in general.