Long before the recent flood of books on modern leadership theory captured the bestseller lists, leadership was practiced throughout the world. While it may seem that leadership has only recently been discovered, the truth is that effective leadership has not materially changed over the years. Leadership is essentially a human relationship of influence. That is why current leadership gurus can write about “Jesus on Leadership,” “Alexander the Great on Leadership,” “Lincoln on Leadership,” and many other similar titles. In Spurgeon on Leadership Michael has given an intriguing look into the leadership of the most influential British preacher of the nineteenth century.
The book is comprehensive, examining many elements of leadership. Many of the best insights come from the study of the relationship between the leader and his or her historical and social context. Basically leadership is about change, about taking the organization or ministry in a new direction, along with the turmoil that change often brings. Spurgeon demonstrated his leadership most strongly in his ability to move his ministry effectively in a direction contrary to the status quo. Much to the chagrin of his contemporaries in the ministry Spurgeon used secular advertising to call attention to his ministry. He rented secular buildings and theaters in which to hold large services, something which was not done by others but was even considered a sin that would cripple his ministry. The foundation of Spurgeon’s influence, as it must be for all Christian leaders, was his impeccable character. Apart from that high character, weathering the inevitable controversies caused by his courageous innovations and decisiveness would have been impossible, and a superlative thirty-eight-year career in one church would have never happened.
Spurgeon on Leadership is fascinating. It is Spurgeon repackaged in modern leadership terminology. This reviewer’s only regret is that at times he would have enjoyed more on Spurgeon and less on modern leadership.
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