Review of “Spiritual Leadership” by J Oswald Sanders

Every leader going into Christian ministry should read this book!

Unlike many “Christian” leadership books Spiritual Leadership actually get’s it’s content directly from God’s Word. J Oswald Sanders is a master at hitting on the topics that Christian leaders most commonly face. He brings scriptural principles to life with practical illustrations and hard hitting truths. Some of the points he highlighted are…

Leadership is an Honorable Ambition

Sanders assures us that Christian leadership is an honorable ambition as long as we are not doing it for ourselves.

“Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.” Jer 45:5

Selfishness has no place in the life of a Spiritual leader. We are called to serve.

Leadership Requires Character

Sanders helps leaders look at the Biblical qualifications of leadership. Through out the book, Sanders reminds us that character and servanthood are the bedrock on which the leader must base his ministry. There is a reason leaders in the Bible are most commonly called servants.

Leadership is Influence

The leader must exhibit natural and spiritual leadership. “The best test of whether one is qualified to lead, is to find out whether anyone is following.” (DE Hoste) You are not a shepherd if you don’t have any sheep!

Leaders Pray

Prayer is the work of the ministry. A spiritual leader must set the example of prayer to his people. If he is not much in prayer he probably won’t be much of a leader. Sanders writes “The spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all in prayer (83).”

Leaders are Readers

Sanders shares a powerful chapter on the importance of keeping the mind sharp through reading. He writes, “If a man is known by the company he keeps, so also his character is reflected in the books he reads (104).”

Leadership is Costly

Leaders must be willing “to pay a price higher than others are willing to pay” (115). Spiritual leadership is not for the faint of heart! It is a perilous occupation.  As leaders we face self-sacrifice, criticism, rejection, pressure, loneliness, and fatigue. He writes, “The world is run by tired men.” It is hard but it is worth it!

Leaders Make More Leaders

“The ultimate test of a person’s leadership is the health of the organization when the organizer is gone (143).” Leaders who are worth their salt will replace themselves. Raising up more leaders and delegating is the mark of a great leader.

There is no reward for doing more than your share of the work! Sanders quotes DL Moody in saying, “he would rather put a thousand men to work that do the work of a thousand men” (137). You are not leading if you are doing everything yourself.

Do yourself and your church a favor and devour this classic book!  The kingdom of God will be better for it!