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Building Blocks of Spiritual Leadership

buildingblocksBy Rob Birks, Major – 

You may be thinking: “Not another leadership book!” So states Commissioner William W. Francis early on in the preface of his latest book, “Building Blocks of Spiritual Leadership” (The Salvation Army, 2015). By beginning that way, the author both unarms the more cynical of us and welcomes in any leadership book novices. Francis readily admits to asking the “Why another book on leadership?” question himself before embarking on this literary journey.

In fact, asking the “So what?” question (in essence: will this manuscript, paper, sermon, email, and so on make any difference?) is a discipline that Francis learned from a mentor of his, Colonel Henry Gariepy, Order of the Founder inductee. “If the ‘so what’ question cannot be adequately answered, tear up the manuscript and start over!” Gariepy instructed. Even before chapter one, the reader of “Building Blocks of Spiritual Leadership” is the recipient of sage advice that will serve him or her well, if heeded.

I am grateful for the fact that Francis didn’t tear up his manuscript. This book is a keeper. Part one is comprised of 23 concise chapters describing and calling for various characteristics of spiritual leadership, such as motivation, vision, humility and courage. Part two offers the reader and would-be spiritual leader top 10 list—including to weigh criticism, solve problems, and never give up. Throughout the book, Francis weaves together personal experiences and biblical examples, as well as timely and timeless advice from other leaders of the past and present-day. The reader would be wise to keep a notepad nearby while reading this book, as it is a treasure trove of good to great leadership quotes.

The author’s stated mission for this book was to “distill the basic building blocks of leadership in general, and the essential elements of servant leadership as described and mandated in the Bible specifically.” Mission accomplished. I don’t know if “Devotional Leadership Books” is a genre, but that is how I read this book. It calls for meditating on the truth of Scripture over memorizing tips for success. Many any of us who know Francis may attest to his having personified these principles before publishing them. He is quick to confess, however, to not having “attained mastery over any aspects of leadership.” His preface prayer is “that this concise volume will serve as a basis for the reader’s continued study and modeling of biblically centered spiritual leadership.” Amen.

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