The Leadership Dynamic (Book Review)

leadership-dynamicThree guys in my church and I just finished reading a book together on the topic of Christian leadership.  We got together to sharpen our understanding of leadership in our marriages, in our families, in our workplaces, and in our ministries to Christ inside and outside the sponsorship of the church.  In a word, this study we pursued was about discovering and honing our calling.

The book we chose to guide our learning was The Leadership Dynamic: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders by Harry Reeder (with Rod Gragg).  It proved to be a sufficient stimulus for discussion, disagreement, exploration, reaffirmation, recommitment, and redirection.  Reeder structures his book into four sections.

  • Chapters 1-3.  Introduction to godly leadership contrasted with world leadership
  • Chapters 4-8. Defining leaders and leadership.
  • Chapters 9-11. Developing leaders.
  • Chapters 12-15. Deploying leaders.

This is the mantra that Reeder hammers home throughout the book: “Define, Develop, and Deploy.”  In order for the church to succeed in America (his focus is exclusively on the church in the United States) and take back the country for Christian godliness, then the church much become a leadership factory and distribution center.  According to Reeder, this is the biblical blueprint for effecting change in a culture.

The strength of the book is its orderliness in setting out a plan for identifying, training, multiplying, and sending leaders into the culture.  Reeder is a motivator, a teacher, and a systematizer.  There is nothing in this book that you won’t find in some other book on Christian leadership, but Reeder’s presentation is simple and memorable.  He is a successful preacher and leader because he has a way with words, utilizing aphorisms to distill his points that we might recall them.  Here are just a sampling of his slogans.

  1. “Remember who you are and where you are from.”
  2. “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
  3. “Define new leaders, develop them, deploy them.”
  4. “If it ain’t horse, carve it out!”
  5. “The leader seeks the position, the position does not seek the leader.”
  6. “Leaders are to be position-bearers, not position wearers.”
  7.  “Godliness is more important than giftedness.”
  8. “Great leaders take care of their people.”
  9. “Keep the main thing as the main thing.”
  10. “Circumstances do not determine your character, they reveal it, and become the occasion to refine it.”
  11. “Great leaders learn from the past, live in the present, and lead to the future.”
  12. “Christian leaders are shepherds not ranchers.”
  13. “Great leaders are great learners.”
  14. “Great leaders lead others to learn.”

Perhaps the only glaring weakness of the book is the author’s exaltation of military-style leadership over all other styles.  Reeder sees the Christian life as a spiritual battle, and for this I don’t fault him.  But in reading his many historical illustrations mined from military and political conflicts, the reader may conclude the proper response is always (after considering strategy) “Charge!”  It seems to me that Reeder is proposing that only “Type A” personalities make effective leaders.  He never comes out and says it this way, but it is the impression I (and the others guys who studied with me) had of the book.

Still, The Leadership Dynamic is a useful resource to wake up the Church to the importance (and one strategy of implementing) defining, developing, and deploying leaders that the kingdom of God may advance.

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