July 10, 2013

The Conviction to Lead

Albert Mohler has written what is probably the best book on leadership I have read. What sets The Conviction to Lead apart is that it is thoroughly Christian, cohesive, and conviction-based. Unlike some leadership books which would be equally as helpful in a secular setting, Mohler’s book is specifically geared for Christian leadership. Certainly, there are principles that apply in both worlds, but this book is not business principles baptized with Bible verses. Second, it is not a random collection of wise principles. The chapters dovetail together and build on each other. Finally, what really sets this book apart is that it teaches leadership based on conviction rather than pragmatism. At the core, we must be more concerned with “what is right” than merely “what works.” Mohler’s book exemplifies that type of godly practical leadership.

Here are several gems mined from this book. These quotes help describe the heart of conviction-based leadership: 
True leadership starts with a purpose, not a plan.
Convictions are not merely beliefs we hold; they are those beliefs that hold us in their grip. . . Put simply, a conviction is a belief of which we are thoroughly convinced. I don’t mean that we are merely persuaded that something is true, but rather that we are convinced this truth is essential and life-changing. We live out of this truth and are willing to die for it.
The leadership that really matters is all about conviction. The leader is rightly concerned with everything from strategy and vision to team-building, motivation, and delegation, but at the center of the true leader’s heart and mind you will find convictions that drive and determine everything else.
The leader develops the capacity to think in convictional terms and leads followers to do the same.
The leader draws followers into a story that frames all of life. . . That story frames the mission and identity of the organization, and explains why you give your life to it. The excellent leader is the steward-in-chief of that story, and the leader’s chief responsibilities flow from this stewardship. Leadership comes down to protecting the story, bringing others into the story, and keeping the organization accountable to the story. The leader tells the story over and over again, refining it, updating it, and driving it home.
Leadership is the consummate human art. It requires nothing less than that leaders shape the way their followers see the world. The leader must shape the way followers think about what is
real, what is true, what is right, and what is important. Christians know that all truth is unified, and so these concerns are unified as well. Leaders aim to achieve lasting change and common alignment on these questions.
Leaders must be unquestionably committed to the truth, and they must lead their followers to do the same. Beyond that, leaders must lead followers into a growing maturity that enables them to discern the true from the false.
Matters of priority are also central to worldviews, and the leader must teach followers what is most important, most urgent, and most essential. If not, followers will go off in different directions, working out of very different understandings of what matters most. The great aim of leadership is to lead followers continually into a deeper and more comprehensive love for what is most real, most true, most right, and most important. The thrill of leadership is in seeing this happen, and long-term success depends on it.
This is how effective, faithful leadership works. You aim at the heart and the head of your followers, confident that if they share the worldview and embrace it with conviction, the right actions will naturally follow.
Passions must arrive out of convictions. . . Passions arise naturally or not at all. It happens when convictions come to life, and deep beliefs drive visions and plans. The passionate leader is driven by the knowledge that the right beliefs, aimed at the right opportunity, can lead to earth-shaking changes.
In any context of leadership, passions arise out of beliefs. For the Christian leader, those convictions must be drawn from the Bible and must take the shape of the gospel. Our ultimate conviction is that everything we do is dignified and magnified by the fact that we were created for the glory of God. We were made for his glory, and this means that each one of us has a divine purpose. 

Related: Leadership: Character, Connection, and Direction 

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