Book Reviews

Mistakes Leaders Make

Dave Kraft Wheaton, IL 2012-09-30

Dave Kraft is the leadership development pastor with Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. Before his current role at Mars Hill, Kraft served with Navigators for thirty-eight years. In 2010 Kraft published his first book Leaders Who Last, and in some ways Mistakes Leaders Make could be seen as a sequel to this earlier book. Where Leaders Who Last focused on what leaders should do to finish well (drawing on the power of Jesus, having a purpose, living with passion, setting priorities, living and ministering at a healthy pace, and being clear about calling and gifts), Mistakes Leaders Make highlights subtle mistakes that continue for years in a leader’s life and cause permanent derailment if not addressed.

Kraft explains, “It is not my intention to give some kind of formula in dealing with each of the mistakes addressed in this book. There is no ‘four easy steps to deal with. . . .’ But I do want to share some things I am learning about dealing with each of the mistakes leaders make” (p. 22). Kraft illustrates the main points of this book through a fictional story of Covenant Community Church, a “composite of churches I have worked with in forty-three years of ministry” (p. 14). Each chapter opens with a case study involving the staff and elders of this fictional church, illustrating the core concept of the chapter. The case studies themselves are probably the best aspect of the book.

The titles of the individual chapters are self-explanatory as to the topics they tackle: (1) allowing ministry to replace Jesus (letting ministry become idolatry); (2) allowing comparing to replace contentment (not trusting God’s sovereignty in who a leader is or where he is or what he is doing); (3) allowing pride to replace humility (not having an appropriate and accurate estimate of oneself); (4) allowing pleasing people to replace pleasing God (desiring to be liked or appreciated or respected instead of fearing God); (5) allowing busyness to replace visioning (not taking time to be in God’s presence to hear from Him); 6) allowing financial frugality to replace fearless faith (being afraid to take risks and trust God to do the impossible); (7) allowing artificial harmony to replace difficult conflict (not willing to make tough decisions and do the right thing, instead of the popular thing); (8) allowing perennially hurting people to replace potential hungry leaders (being overwhelmed with hurting people instead of nurturing future leaders); (9) allowing information to replace transformation (not embracing, responding to, and obeying the gospel for oneself); and (10) allowing control to replace trust (not empowering others but letting insecurity and fear control oneself). Each chapter ends with a personal prayer and reflective questions related to the chapter’s topic.

To seasoned leaders probably nothing is new in this book. In some ways Mistakes Leaders Make feels more like a devotional book than a typical leadership book. The chapters seem a little uneven at times, but the book offers good reminders that every leader needs to hear repeatedly. Obviously the author has learned these lessons in the trenches of real-life ministry.

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George M. Hillman
Dr. Hillman has a passion for education, spiritual formation, and leadership development. He came to Dallas Theological Seminary with years of ministry experience in churches and parachurch organizations in Texas and Georgia. Nationally known in theological field education, he has been active in leadership of both the Association of Theological Field Education (former member of the Steering Committee) and the Evangelical Association of Theological Field Educators (former two-time co-chair). He and his wife have one daughter. Dr. Hillman received his BS from Texas A&M University, followed by an MDiv and PhD from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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