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Friday, July 02, 2010

Relational Leadership book

I recently read Relational Leadership: What I Learned From a Fisherman About Leading a Church, by Kerry Willis. (Kansas City: Beacon Hill, 2009) Willis is the "Beautiful Feet" blogger -- you'll find his blog, which is always a lot shorter than this post is going to be, in the list of "Some of the Feeds I Subscribe To" in the right column of this page. Willis is Pastor of Harrisonburg, VA, First Church of the Nazarene. I met him at the South Carolina Family Camp of The Wesleyan Church, where he was one of the speakers.

The book is brief -- 125 pages. It is divided into 13 chapters, each one entitled "Realistic Expectation . . ." These expectations are things that a relational leader should exhibit, such as "Embrace a Balanced Work Ethic," by which Willis means that work isn't everything, although it is important.

I am not going to be leading a church, except as a good layperson, so perhaps I'm not the best person to review this book. I'm not going to cover all 13 of the Expectations in this review, and I haven't set out to make sure that I am putting them all into practice in my life. But I can see that a pastor, or aspiring pastor, or other church leader, would be well advised to do exactly that. They are sound Expectations.

To me, the best feature of the book is not its organization, but the various ways Willis uses to illustrate and discuss his 13 points. On page 93, for example, he attacks the common statement "Well, I'm no saint." Why? As Willis, himself, says, such statements are usually meant as a humble confession. But he goes on:
To say, "Well, I'm no saint," is to make Christianity mainly about our human performance instead of about the holy presence of our Lord in our lives. (93)

It is interesting to consider what Oswald Chambers said about this very matter:
Why aren't you a saint? It is either that you do not want to be a saint, or that you do not believe that God can make you into one. My Utmost for His Highest, An Updated Edition in Today's Language, Entry for June 12th, Grand Rapids: Discover House, 1992. (Willis, by the way, is a big fan of Chambers.)

 Willis writes often, and lovingly, of his family, and it is inspiring to read about how his mother was converted, and how she became a prayer warrior, to the point of locking the house door on her sons so that she could pray in peace, or how his father told him that there were no rules for driving his son's first car -- he just expected him to use good judgment, based on the training that the parents had given.

A good read. A challenging one. An inspiring one. I recommend this book to you.


Keetha Denise Broyles said...

Yes, secondary succession is alive and well in these hills. In fact, yesterday as we fought our way through that "jungle" I pointed out that it was secondary succession. They ignored me.

I took some photos of great examples of primary succession today - - - I'm sure they'll appear on my blog soon.

Martin LaBar said...

I'll look forward to them.


i am Grateful... Kerry i am. said...

Humbled, grateful, speechless....

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Kerry i am.

You shouldn't be speechless. That would be where another book would come from.