by David Brown
Book: Carson Pue, Mentoring Leaders, Wisdom For Developing Character, Calling, and Competency, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2005, 266 pages. $15.99.
The need for continual development of new leadership within the church is a fact recognized by anyone who wants to ensure the church's existence in future generations. Carson Pue's book, Mentoring Leaders, is written for individuals already involved in leadership who are also interested in seeing the Kingdom grow and thrive in the future. The development of existing and new leadership will not happen on its own; instead, specific action must be taken for Biblical leadership to come into existence. A continual struggle against complacency also has to take place. It is easy for mature ministries to rest on past successes and not really challenge themselves for future gains. While we believe that the Lord could come back at any moment, this must never be an excuse for failure to prepare for the future. Such preparation requires the continual development of leaders who will be able to meet the challenges of their generation.
Mentoring Leaders is really for those individuals who are interested in assessing their own leadership abilities and who are willing to grow and change themselves. It is also for anyone who is involved in the development of new leaders. It is not a book for those who have a hold the fort mentality; instead it is for those who are not satisfied with current attainments but are willing to reach for the next level.
Pue frames the discussion around five major areas which can be diagrammed as a circle within a circle, with the outer ring being divided into four equal parts. Part one is called self-awareness and deals with the leader's position in God. This is the inner circle and the starting point for the mentoring process. It is self-awareness, not in the modern sense of the word, but as in one's position relative to the cross. Every leader has to be aware of who he is in God as well as his strengths and weaknesses relative to God's ability.
The second phase of the matrix is called freeing up and focuses on breaking those chains that leaders often find themselves attached to. Various experiences of the past as well as ways of thinking and behaving can be weights that drag effective leaders down and impede their ability to reach the next level. This is the personal soul-searching phase, where personal strengths as well as weaknesses are examined.
Visioneering describes phase three. Developing vision is a key to effective leadership provided it is a vision designed by God. Many times the fulfillment of a vision does not take place rapidly, but develops over time as God works out His purpose in the leader's life. Here the leader must be patient and let God work things out in His good time. Included in this phase is a useful section on practical vision helps.
Part four is the implementation phase and is the largest segment of the book. Here the rubber meets the road and Pue gives practical examples from real life situations and experiences of the task of actually doing leadership as well as mentoring leaders. This involves a willingness to step out of the comfort zone and see what new goals might be reached. Included in this phase are sections on budgeting time and resources, as well as a chapter on performance evaluations of people and outcomes.
The final phase is on sustaining leadership and seeing growth and expansion in the church. Here the dangers of complacency and regression are dealt with. Many institutions have followed the growth, maturity and decline trajectory. The key is to recognize when growth ceases to exist and renew or establish a new vision before the decline phase sets in. Beneficial chapters in this phase deal with loneliness in leadership and on establishing a system of personal accountability.
Strong leadership is needed in the 21st century just as it has been required in every past century. This has been true for the church as well as every other type of organization. It is a fact that Apostolics need to remember, for if the church begun by the Apostles is to succeed into the future, it will be through effective God-called leadership. This is why developing good leaders, or as Pue describes it, Mentoring Leaders, should be something that concerns us all.
Leadership is a subject that much has been written on and the shelves of bookstores, both secular and religious, are filled with books on the topic. New offerings come to the shelves almost weekly. Observant observers will notice trends and fads often pass through much leadership literature, something which Pue refers to as 'management by best seller'. It does not take too many attempts to realize that what works in one location may not have universal applicability. Biblical based leadership, however, will never lose its effectiveness regardless of the generation.
I seriously contemplated titling this column Mentor or Die! While that title may be a little too blunt, it does get the point across. The leader who is not reviewing his own abilities and accomplishments and challenging himself or herself to step up to another level, has succumbed to complacency and the death process has set in. Likewise, if leadership is not being perpetuated into others, then the organization has ceased to grow and it too is in a slow death spiral. Prudence dictates we all strive to achieve the next level of personal as well as church growth.