Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders is a classic book, one of the greatest leadership books in print today. It’s depth and breadth of biblical wisdom and practical application are unmatched in a single volume. What follows is the first installment of a two part post sharing 40 of the books best quotes. I’m not giving page numbers because there should be no cheating to look these up in context. Just read the whole book. You won’t regret it.
1. Desiring to excel is not a sin. It is motivation that determines ambition’s character. Our Lord never taught against the urge to high achievement, but He did expose and condemn unworthy motivation.
2. True greatness, true leadership, is found in in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you.
3. Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or church assemblies. God alone makes them.
4. But from God’s point of view it is noble work to reclaim the world’s downtrodden people. When we find some of those the world calls “the least” and seek to meet their needs, Christ tells us we can think of them as Him.
5. There is no such thing as a self-made spiritual leader. A true leader influences others spiritually only because the Spirit works in and through him to a greater degree than in those he leads.
6. A leader must be calm in crisis and resilient in disappointment.
7. Leaders know there is a difference between conviction and stubbornness.
8. Are you responsibly optimistic? Pessimism and leadership do not mix. Leaders are positively visionary.
9. Do you direct people or develop people?
10. If you would rather pick a fight than solve a problem, do not consider leading the church. The Christian leader must be genial and gentle, not a lover of controversy.
11. When God calls us, we cannot refuse from a sense of inadequacy. Nobody is worthy of such trust
12. Pride ever lurks at the heels of power, but God will not encourage proud men in His service.
13. Many who aspire to leadership fail because they have never learned to follow.
14. A leader must be able to see the end results of the policies and methods he or she advocates. Responsible leadership always looks ahead to see how policies will affect future generations.
15. The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.
16. Vision leads to venture, and history is on the side of venturesome faith. The person of vision takes fresh steps of faith across gullies and chasms not “playing safe” but neither taking foolish risks.
17. Leaders take lessons from the past, but never sacrifice the future for the sake of mere continuity.
18. A visionary may see, but a leader must decide.
19. The spiritual leader will not procrastinate when faced with a decision, nor vacillate after making it. A sincere but faulty decision is better than weak-willed “trial balloons” or indecisive overtures. To postpone decisions is really to decide for the status quo. In most decisions the key element is not so much knowing what to do but in living with the results.
20. Leadership always faces natural human inertia and opposition. But courage follows through with a task until it is done.