Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review - Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft

Being in leadership I want to learn as much as I can from people who have been in leadership. I want to learn from their successes and failures. So when my pastor recommended Dave Kraft’s book Leaders Who Last I ordered immediately.

In this book Kraft writes clearly and makes his points well. As to the content it wasn’t until the last section of the book that I began disagree with him on leadership (more on that later).

The opening lines of the introduction set up the book wonderfully - This book is about finishing your leadership race. It is a marathon, not a hundred-meter-dash. What follows is a how-to guide on finishing the leadership race that God has called leaders to run. Drawing from Scriptures and experience Kraft shows us what it means to be a leader.

Kraft’s definition of a leader is as follows - A Christian leader is a humble, God-dependent, team-playing servant of God who is called by God to shepherd, develop, equip, and empower a specific group of believers to accomplish an agreed-upon vision from God.

Kraft, drawing from thirty years’ experience, gives details on how to fulfill that definition of a leader. He categorizes the responsibilities of a leader into three parts - foundations, formation and fruitfulness.

The section on foundations deals with a leader’s personal growth and how he develops as a leader. He begins with this statement - Because leading is a reflection of who you are, you lead from the inside out.

How true this is. Like every aspect of our Christian life we are changed and developed from the inside out. He takes it a step further by saying - As a leader, everything I am and everything I do needs to be anchored in my identity in Christ.

After going into this in detail he devotes a chapter in the section on foundations to a leaders pacing. Too often leaders try to do everything and get overextended. Health problems will/can occur. Close relationships get strained. To guard against this he argues that leaders need to take regular time off to reenergize.

He moves onto the formation of a leader. He spends a good amount of time on being called which is paramount in being a good leader. We tend to put people in positions of leadership when they in no way have been called. That is a recipe for disaster.

He finishes with fruitfulness. This section is where I began to disagree with Kraft. Throughout the book Kraft mixes Scripture and personal experience fairly well. In this section he directs us to very little Scripture to make his points and instead relies heavily on experience. He places much of the success and failures a leader experiences on the leader himself. Yet we see in Scripture that leaders can and do fail because of no fault of their own (Noah and Jeremiah are prime examples of leaders doing God’s work yet saw literally no fruit of their labors).

With that said I would recommend this book to any leader. He will challenge you evaluate your understanding of a leader and the role a leader plays in God’s church.

You can purchase it at Amazon or Christianbook.