Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart
By Christena Cleveland (IVP, 2013)
The Facts: Social psychologist Christena Cleveland explores the question: "If Christians are supposedly all about love, why do we seem to fight so much?" While many have written explications of Jesus' prayer for unity in John 17, Cleveland takes a different tack and examines many of the social factors that inhibit the Church's desire for unity. Cleveland is careful not to discount the importance of theological issues, while challenging her readers to examine biases and presuppositions that govern the way they interact with the "other."
The Slant: Cleveland tackles a thorny topic by sharing pieces of her own story. She is appropriately vulnerable and honest about the ways she has sought to grow in her view of other Christians with whom she disagrees. This is a great resource for the pastor or lay leader serious about bridge building in a Christian culture that can sometimes be obsessed with fortifying boundaries and walls.
—Andrew E. Stoddard
Character and integrity aren't just essential for spiritual health; they're the bedrock of a leader's credibility. BuildingChurchLeaders.com offers a downloadable series of assessments (Character and Integrity) to help you take an honest look at the state of your heart. The six assessments are designed to unearth underlying motivations and give you a spiritual audit. Learn more at BuildingChurchLeaders.com
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval-Motivated Leadership
By Charles Stone (IVP, 2013)
Why do some leaders seem more motivated by being well liked rather than being true to the mission and vision of their church? How can a pastor who has been consumed by people-pleasing tendencies recapture a sense of self and direction according to God's calling? Charles Stone addresses these difficult questions and others in his most recent work, People-Pleasing Pastors. As someone who has dedicated his life to pastoring and especially to "pastoring pastors," Stone has a deep since of empathy for those in leadership that seem to be plagued by people-pleasing tendencies.
Stone recognizes that it has become increasing difficult for pastors to manage their motivations in a consumer-driven culture. He warns against two extremes: being too eager to earn approval and admiration of congregants, or being overly reserved or removed. Stone advises pastors on how to steer clear of both pitfalls.
Stone begins his book with a section on diagnosis. Has the people-pleaser virus infected your leadership? What makes leaders sick? What are the keys to health? Just as a virus affects the human body, so too, people-pleasing acts like a virus in the body of Christ. It not only affects leadership, but once leaders succumb, it affects the laity as well. The cruel irony of people-pleasing is that it ultimately damages those whom you are attempting to please.
People-Pleasing Pastors diagnoses the problem while offering a variety of tools and techniques to help pastors move toward healthiness. Stone's training in both theology and leadership development is apparent in this volume. In addition to offering a strong biblical basis for personal strength and health, Stone utilizes principles of human and organizational development. Many of the chapters possess assessment tools and personalized challenges. This book will help leaders guard their calling against an all-too-common leadership snare. —Andrew E. Stoddard
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