Earlier this year, I listed 15 Books That Have Shaped Me as a Leader. One of those books was the classic by J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership (I also talk about spiritual leadership in my last post, What Kind of Leader Are You?)
The main reason the book (which I read during my time as Asbury) made the list is because of a particular impact it had on me. I remember walking around the lower level of Crever Memorial UMC in Petersburg, where I was serving at the time, and reading the chapter on prayer.
It may be a little overdramatic, but it reminded me of God asking Solomon about the one thing he wanted (Solomon chose wisdom). It felt as if I had to choose between mastering the art of leading, preaching, or prayer. I chose prayer.
As important as leadership and preaching are to me (they’re at the core of what I do), nothing is more important than prayer. (Of course, full disclosure here: I believe that prayer will make my leadership and preaching better, so choosing prayer was a no-brainer! :-)).
Anyway, here are a few quotes from the book that I highlighted a few years ago when I read the book …
Real leaders are in short supply. (17)
The Bible shows us that when God does find a person who is ready to lead, to commit to full discipleship and take on responsibility for others, that person is used to the limit. (17)
Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or church assemblies. God alone makes them. (18)
In chapter 8, Sanders lists a number of essentials of leadership: discipline, vision, wisdom, decision, courage, humility, and integrity and sincerity. Sander’s lists grows in Chapter 9 where he adds several other qualities: sense of humor, (holy) anger, patience, friendship, tact and diplomacy, inspirational power, executive ability, the therapy of listening, and the art of letter writing (written before the advent of email).
On time, Sanders writes …
A leader needs a balanced approach lest it become his bondage and downfall … If the leader sincerely plans his day in prayer, then executes the plan with all energy and eagerness, that is enough. A leader is responsible only for what lies within the range of control. The rest he should trust to our loving and competent heavenly Father. (98)
Easier said than done.
On the cost of leadership, Sanders’ contends …
The toll of true leadership is heavy, and the more effective the leadership, the higher it goes. (115)
No cross, no leadership. (116)
Scars are the authenticating marks of faithful discipleship and true spiritual leadership. (116)
Sanders discusses many other topics, but I’ll close with some of his words about prayer. Sanders reminds us …
Prayer was the dominant feature of (Jesus’) life and a recurring part of his teaching. (86)
[W]e are to pray in the power and energy of the Spirit … praying in the Holy Spirit releases supernatural resources. (88)
The goal of prayer is the ear of God. Prayer moves others through God’s influence on them. (91)
Prevailing prayer that moves people is the outcome of a correct relationship with God. (91)
Great leaders of the Bible were great at prayer. (92)
This book, written in the mid-1960s, offers some timeless words on leadership!