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Book Review: Christian Leadership Essentials

Book Review: Christian Leadership Essentials

by Mike Prah on June 14, 2020

Christian Leadership Essentials. A Handbook for Managing Christian Organizations. David S. Dockery, Editor. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011, 355pp.


< Christian Leadership Essentials, edited by David Dockery, provides sound practical advice on a wide range of needs that leaders face regularly. As the President of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, Dockery assembles valuable insights from eighteen qualified practitioners, including himself, to promote the idea that everything in leadership flows down from an organization’s mission and vision.  Each author discusses different aspects of an organization as it relates to mission and vision. Below is a summary of a few concepts from this power-packed book.

Beginning in the first chapter, Sloan lays the foundation for a biblical model of leadership.  He notes that Christian leaders, and all leaders exercise their power to the greatest extent possible in ways and for ends consistent with all things good, honorable, and according to the will of God.[1] Throughout the chapter, he recognizes that a biblical model of leadership must begin with God and find its ethics and convictions in Christ.

Next, Gyertson stresses the factors that shape organizational identity by addressing how an organization develops and implements its mission and vision.  He argues that leaders must own the responsibility of influencing the development of that identity and maintain it in the organization.  In other words, they must be ones to cast the vision and keep it in front of everyone involved.  The outcome of such a leader-led commitment to shaping identity is a healthy company with employees who live and breathe the brand, and are positioned to achieve productivity gains, market-share acquisition and distinctive contributions to customers, markets, industries, and society at large.[2] For leaders of Christian organizations, the concept of identity development and management are consistent with the value propositions and missional intentions at the heart of our Lord’s Great Commission mission as well as His Great

Also, Carlsberg argues that trust is an indispensable leadership quality. Quoting Stephen Covey, Carlsberg notes, “Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, your motive, and your intent with people.” When trust abounds, processes tend to move more quickly, decisions are made and implemented more fluidly, and goals are met more rapidly.[4]

Further, effective financial oversight and budget planning are critical to funding the mission and vision.  Wallace notes that the leader needs to act as the chief-fundraiser and help donors understand the mission and vision of the organization.  He directs the leader to forge relationships with various foundations and constituencies that can help in acquiring resources to accomplish its mission. Effective leaders make networking an essential aspect of their jobs in looking for ways that their vision can grow from those connections.[5]


Biblical leadership is all about emulating the behaviors and character attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ to reflect His intention to implement the overarching mission of God. Jesus spoke knowledgeably, which means everything I do as a leader has to conform with Scripture (cf., Mt 5:17-19; 21, 2, 33, 38; 9:10-19; 12-18; 15:1-29; John 2:19-22), be fact-based or founded on compelling data. Jesus had a robust and devotional life worth emulating (Lk 5:16; 6:12; 9:18,28). This encourages me to maintain a daily devotional rhythm to include praying daily for governmental leaders, my family, my church leaders and their families, and my needs (personal, corporate) and then a daily devotional and a Bible Reading plan.

Effective leaders know the wisdom of surrounding themselves with capable people who work alongside them to dream dreams and see visions of greater possibilities for the institution/organization. To build strong teams, the following guidelines will be implemented.  I will develop a clear understanding of what needs to be done in every administrative area of responsibility and develop an organizational flow chart that assigns responsibilities for every vital and strategic function of the institution.  I will recruit the most capable and best-qualified people to whom essential tasks can be assigned. I will lead by making everyone feel respected, valued and empowered to do their jobs. Further, I will involve people in developing mission, vision, goal setting, action strategies, evaluation, and renewal efforts.[6]

In fostering a culture of trust, I will demonstrate transparency and be visible and available. Additionally, my team will be to be open and sensitive to the needs of one another as well as being people of integrity.

Some of the core financial and stewardship values I will promote by myself and my leaders include: An organizational commitment to God-honoring excellence evidenced in every area, including financial planning and budgeting oversight. A commitment to a budget that supports a strategic vision and ensures results-oriented with measurable outcomes. Ensuring written policies and procedures that unite the institution in “forward-looking” actions. A budget that focuses on mission-critical efforts and initiatives to avoid being distracted by non-mission-critical and underperforming programs.[7]


Dockery, David S. Eds. Christian Leadership Essentials. A Handbook for Managing Christian Organizations. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011.

[1] Robert B. Sloan, “A Biblical Model of Leadership,” In Christian Leadership Essentials, David S. Dockery, Editor, pages 8 – 23 (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011), 9.

[2] David J. Gyertson, “Christian Leadership and The Identity and Mission of An Organization,” In Christian Leadership Essentials, David S. Dockery, Editor, pages 24-45 (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011), 28-29.

[3] Ibid., 29.

[4] R. Judson Carlberg, “Managing the Organization,” In Christian Leadership Essentials, David S. Dockery, Editor, pages 86 – 103 (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011), 89-90.

[5] Jon Wallace, “Financial Oversight and Budget Planning,” In Christian Leadership Essentials, David S. Dockery, Editor, pages 104-117 (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011), 110-112.

[6] Bob R, Agee, “Leadership, Vision, and Strategic Planning,” In Christian Leadership Essentials, David S. Dockery, Editor, pages 46-64 (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011), 57.

[7] Wallace, “Financial Oversight and Budget Planning,” 106-107.

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