“Summoned to Lead”

One of the books on leadership I read during my D.Min. program was Summoned to Lead by Leonard Sweet, whom I’ve gotten to hear at a couple of conferences in the past. I enjoy everything Sweet writes, and I especially enjoyed this book which drew leadership lessons from the life and expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Edited to add: To learn more about Shackleton, visit Shackleton 100, a website marking the 100th anniversary of the expedition.

From the cover of the book …

Leaders are neither born nor made. Leaders are summoned. They are called into existence by circumstances, and those who rise to the occasion are LEADERS.

Sweet deals with sound and hearing as ways to understand leadership as opposed to sight and seeing. Interestingly, an early working title for the book was “Forget the Vision Thing.” Sweet writes, “Not accidentally, the primary language of many is ‘hearing the call’” (13).

In one sense, the last thing the church needs is ‘more vision.’ When Christians sing ‘Be Thou My Vision’ we are testifying to the fact that we have all the vision we need in Jesus. Where we need help is in developing a musical ear: ears to recognize the vision that is already at work in our world, ears to hear the false notes, and ears to tune ourselves to God’s Perfect Pitch, Jesus the Christ (15).

A leader’s job is to rise to the occasion, to imagine the best possible future, and to tell the truth about how to get there. A leader’s voice rings the bell of the future (35).

To have a vision to communicate, we must first hear the vision. Sweet says leaders must first be listeners. He also writes about the importance of intuition.

If you try to lead by everything you’ve been taught about leadership, you will likely fail. At all times we must be open to the possibility that what we thought we knew is wrong. Instead, trust your gut.

Since it starts with listening, Sweet asks an important question for us to consider …

How much time do you spend listening? (60).

For more on this aspect of hearing/listening, see my post on the movie, “Copying Beethoven.”

2 thoughts on ““Summoned to Lead””

  1. I have read the Shackleton Bio, and the interesting follow-up stories about the various expeditions. I will add the leadership book that uses Shackleton’s experiences as a leadership lens to my list – thanks for the entry.


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