Know the Messiah, Share His Message, and Live God’s Mission – A Blog Tour of “Prodigal Christianity”

Prodigal ChristianityThis is the second stop on the blog tour for the new book “Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier” (2013) by David E. Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw.

Kevin Scott wrote a great introductory review of Signpost One on Post-Christendom that can be read here. I’d highly encourage you to read Kevin’s post, as well as those by all of the other future bloggers contributing to this tour in the upcoming weeks.

I’ve been commissioned to write a brief reflection on Signpost Two: “Missio Dei with the Prodigal God: The Journey into God’s Mission.” I have had the opportunity to personally speak with both authors on a couple of occasions and can confidently affirm the missional passion, divine imagination, and biblical conviction that David and Geoff have for proclaiming the relational, intentional, and prodigal love of God. This radically compassionate yet theologically critical approach to life together, proposes a third way of following Jesus in missional communities that “invites the kingdom of God into our lives and neighborhoods around us” (p. xv). The authors write not as ivy tower experts who have it all figured out, but instead as “chastened sojourners”, sharing their experiences in hopes to humbly provide direction through the uncertain fogginess that is the mission field of the Post-Christian West.

The nomenclature “prodigal” obviously comes from Jesus’ parable in Luke 15. But the authors combine with it insights from Timothy Keller’s well-known book, “Prodigal God”, as well as the parable’s missional and redeeming interpretation by the twentieth-century German theologian, Karl Barth. This third, prodigal way of Christianity is neither a continuation of the liberal, emerging church conversation nor is it identified among the Neo-Reformed camp. Instead, prodigal Christianity recognizes the current state of North America as a spiritual “far country” in which the Church needs to engage through both biblical reconciliation and cultural relevancy.

In Signpost Two, Fitch and Holsclaw make the Scriptural case that God has always been in constant pursuit of his creation. The very meaning of “missio Dei” is that God is on a mission. And his mission includes the history of the Father, as well as the sending of the Son and Spirit into the world. Agreeing with the missionally, Trinitarian theology of Lesslie Newbigin, the authors state, “to say God is at work in the world is to say that God has begun a new work in Jesus Christ made manifest in the world by the Spirit…We may not think of God as the one who has invaded the world in the Son. Nor do we live as if God has remained active in the world through the Spirit. But we must get back to this place” (p. 24-25). A recapturing and reinvigorating of the Church’s understanding of what it means to follow God into the world should break programmatic routines and seek a reckless attentiveness to God’s sovereignty, specific to our surroundings.

More reflective than directive, Fitch and Holsclaw offer helpful guidance for navigating faith communities in a world of religious pluralism and subjective ideologies regarding truth. Since they are both pastor-professors, their work contains theological depth and practical advice. Expounding upon the “sentness” of John 3:16 and John 20:21 the authors show how the missional component propelling the church outward is really a holy characteristic of God. They write, “It is essential to the nature of God to engage in mission, to go and draw near…The prodigal God is on a mission” (p. 27). Our response, and responsibility, as the Church should be to join with God in His journey.

The missio Dei is far more than advocating moral therapy among society, showing universal tolerance, or exacting stricter sin management. In fact, the biblical notion of the missio Dei is about “walking beside the world” and working with God to bring spiritual and social healing. Widespread community transformation has to happen from the inside out. In other words, knowing the Messiah leads to sharing His message and living His mission. Without being complacent towards, condoning, or condemning of the distresses in our societies, Christians can contextualize the Gospel and incarnate Christ within our communities. Such extension of the Body is the topic of Signpost Three.

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Pentecost, Paradigm Shifts, and Postmodernism: A Review of ‘Transforming Mission’

Transforming MissionDavid J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. New York: Orbis Books. (1997).

David Bosch was a professor of missiology a, prolific writer, and lecturer who had a tremendous impact on the study of missions. After his service as a missionary in Transkei from 1957-1971, he taught missiology at the University of South Africa. There Bosch was dean of the faculty of theology from 1974-1977 and again from 1981-1987. He also was also the inaugural secretary of the Southern African Missiological Society from its founding in 1968 and become the original editor of its journal Missionalia in 1973. Considered a “bridge person”, Bosch was much respected by the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Fellowship, and the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. He landmark book, Transforming Mission was selected as one of the “Fifteen Outstanding Books of 1991 for Mission Studies by the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, and it is still being used in mission courses today.

The thesis Bosch makes, is that the practice of mission has evolved many times throughout the past twenty centuries, and at this point in history, the Church is again experiencing transformation in paradigm shifts as it enters into  a new world.  Bosch begins by making the case that the rapidly advancing fields of technology and science have given rise to globalization. In addition, the popular philosophy of postmodernism has impacted the process of worldwide secularization. Consequently, societies can no longer be classified in geographic or cultural sections of “Christian and non-Christian”. Therefore, the Church must embrace the current crisis of danger as opportunity which is expressed in this contemporary context. Bosch states that for the Church, mission is manifested in the areas of foundation, motives, and nature. To begin his critique of mission’s foundations over the past two centuries, in part one, Bosch reflects first on the missional theology of the New Testament authors. He claims that because they wrote their letters as an “emergency response” to their church, their writings require being theologized in order to be interrupted, both in their original setting and in generations since. Bosch then considers mission in the Old Testament, by addressing God’s covenant with Abraham and Israel’s treatment of the nations. He then goes on to build an understanding of Jesus’ Jewish identity and thus his priority of preaching repentance and salvation, but first to his own people. However, Bosch also notices the sharp criticism of Jesus to the Pharisees as well as Christ’s constant socialization with Gentiles. In looking at the New Testament as a missionary document, Bosch pays special attention to the Gospel of Matthew, a Jew attempting to influence his community to mission. Secondly, a look to Luke’s two volume work of his Gospel account and the Book of Acts is in order to explicitly connect Christ and His Church. Bosch then includes a discussion on Paul’s letters, as they represent the majority of the New Testament.

In Part two, Bosh considers the historical paradigms of mission by examining eschatology, Gnosticism, and Orthodox shifts in the Eastern Church, as well as the medieval Roman Catholic paradigm. He concludes this section with two outstanding chapters on the impacts of the Protestant Reformation and the wake of the Enlightenment. Finally in part three, Bosh speaks to the end of the Modern era and the world’s entrance to postmodernism. He concludes his magnum opus by offering insights to what he calls the “Emerging Ecumenical Missionary Paradigm” and focuses on topics such as the missio Dei, justice, evangelism, contextualization, liberation, theology, and Christianity’s response to other religions.

Perhaps the greatest contribution Bosch makes in his book is his treatment of the postmodern paradigm. As a missiologist engaged in the work of the Spirit, Bosch makes a scholarly, practical, and scripturally sound response to tolerance and autonomy through the reaffirmation of the conviction of commitment and the retrieval of togetherness. The Church is called to be a peculiar people in the world but not of it. In times of uncertainties such as the current case, the need for interdependence, Bosch states, is the key for salvation and survival. He goes on to claim that the “psychology of separateness has to make way for an epistemology of participation” (p. 362). The pertinence is for the Church as the Body of Christ to revive community and share God’s mission for a common and eternal destiny of all peoples. A second positive is Bosch’s analysis of Paul’s letters, as a Jew commissioned to serve as the apostle to the Gentiles. He describes the apostle as the first missionary theologian and exposes Paul’s missionary strategy, including his use of evangelizing in metropolises, use of teammates, and mentoring of colleagues. While the chapter on Paul’s theology and methods was useful, the chapter “Matthew: Mission as Disciple-Making”, left me wanting. While the discourse was adequate to a biblical theology of mission, I would have rather read a discussion on the Johannine letters that addressed God’s mission in Revelation. A second criticism is on Bosch’s treatment on the elements of ecumenicalism. Though Bosch was very forward thinking with his insights, we are now twenty plus years past the books original publication. In the last several decades, the Western church from a Protestant perspective, has experienced a mired of changes including the decline of mainline denominations, a rise in mega-church associations, nondenominational networks, multi-site movements, and the organic, emerging, and missional church conversations. In addition, the Roman Catholic Church has undergone the installment of two new Popes. Surely a more timely report on ecumenicalism would vary from what Bosch has expressed.

Still yet, David Bosch significantly added to the study of missiology in his classic work, Transforming Mission. It addresses a theology of mission from a Scriptural, historical, and theological approach. The implications Bosch makes for the understanding and practice of mission will continue to greatly influence missiologist into the twenty-first century.

An Old, New, and Inter-Testamental Witness to Jesus

Jesus the MessiahJesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King”

Just today in reviewing another book, I read about an anthropology course at the University of California, Santa Cruz that was titled “Will the real Jesus please stand up?” In his reflection the author recalled studying Jesus from the perspectives of the four Gospels, a couple of fictional novels, and a few movies. The conclusion for the course was that each student offered a relative definition on who Jesus “was” based on their preferred perspective. This type of subjective religious understanding, though becoming less and less relevant in a post-Christendom, Western context, is the norm among those whore express interest in faith matters, yet are outside of the church. In regards to Jesus, society has accepted the motto, “to each their own”.  An agnostic may believe Jesus was merely a good moral teacher. To the historian, he was a carpenter who never intended for the religious sect he started, to last two thousand years.  And according to whatever science or philosophy is newest among the New Age spirituality crowd, Jesus might as well be syncretized with practices of medieval alchemy, be reincarnated as the next Buddha, or portrayed as the biases for an upcoming fictional space movie trilogy. Essentially, the point I am making, is that in such a spiritualty diverse and relativistic culture, as is North America, people are encouraged to pick whichever “Jesus” they like most, if anyone at all.

This of course is neither the Truth of Jesus nor the Truth of the Bible to whom it testifies. In their new book Jesus the Messiah, professors Bateman, Bock, and Johnston do just as their subtitle suggests, “trace the promises expectations, and coming of Israel’s King.” The book is separated into three sections. In part one, Gordon Johnston covers the “Promises of a King”. In chapters one through seven, he looks at the predominate Old Testament books of Genesis and the Psalms as well as passages that declare God’s covenant with David, and the messianic trajectories of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. In Part 2, Herbert Bateman IV discusses the “Expectations of a King” and addresses such topics as the three obstacles that challenge a historic understanding of messianism during the second temple, including paralleled ancient events, social sensitivities, and the reality of limited resources.  Chapter eleven, “Anticipations of the One Called Son” is my favorite portion of this section. In it Bateman reflects on the classic “Psalms of Solomon” translated by R.B. Wright, by paying special attention to the profiled “Lord Messiah” and his righteousness, gentle kingship, and authority over the nations.  The final section of part 3, Darrel Bock analyses Jesus in light of Revelation, the Catholic Epistles, and the Pauline letters.

Complete with Hebrew word studies, full color maps, and significant footnotes, “Jesus the Messiah” is a considerable volume of academic research. Though this is a weighty book, both theologically and literally (finishing out at 527 pages in all), it is an essential contribution to the study of biblical Christology.

Disclaimer: In agreements with the FTC guidelines, I was provided a free copy of “Jesus the Messiah”, courtesy of Kregel Academic Publishers, in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

The Power of Serving Others by Creating Opportunities

Leaders Open Doors (2)Bill Treasure, the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting, has offered another incredible leadership book to help improve our organizations. Continuing his already established international, bestselling fame, Leaders Open Doors: A Radically Simple Leadership Approach to Lift People, Profits, and Performance” presents in eloquence, honesty, and brevity, the power of serving others by creating opportunities.

Treasurer tells the story of how the thesis for his new book was birthed out of a conversation with his young son. As the “class leader” the young Treasurer was granted the privilege to literally open the doors of his school for his classmates. By building upon the profound leadership truth embedded in this elementary metaphor, Treasurer explains that the four primary skills of open-door leaders include genuinely knowing your employees, developing your people, envisioning the desired results, and providing ongoing support.

Open-door leadership is not the same as an open door policy. One of the main differences is that the latter is a reactive function of management. While the former require the initiative of a leader who cares for people and sets them up to succeed. Of the doors discussed, the Door to Personal Transformation resonated with me the most. In this chapter, Treasure describes the differences between hierarchical and influential leadership, the power of self-awareness, and the much admired “velvet hammer” quality of giving constructive feedback.

Both personal and practical, Leaders Open Doors can help any company reach its full potential. In addition, one hundred percent of the royalties are being donated to organizations that open doors for people with special needs.

[Guest Post] Leaders Open Doors by Bill Treasurer

Leaders Open Doors (1)

This is a guest post by leadership consultant, Bill Treasure. Bill’s new book “Leaders Open Doors: A Radically Simple Leadership Approach to Lift People, Profits, and Performances” is a refreshing look at the true essence of leadership, namely, making life better for others. I will be posting a full review of Bill’s book later this week. For now, I encourage you to continuing reading this post and buy the book. 

Open-Door Leadership:

Leadership is the most overanalyzed, thoroughly dissected, and utterly confused topic in business. Just think of the expectations we have of leaders and the definitions we want them to live up to. We expect leaders to be bold and calculating, flexible and principled, tactical and strategic, competitive and cooperative. We want leaders to be everything. Of course it is possible to be all of those diametrically opposite things…if you’re God!

By holding unrealistic and unattainable expectations of our leaders, we’ve made the concept of leadership unattractive, causing people to opt out of the chance to lead. It’s time to lighten the leadership load by clarifying what’s most important and essential about leading. It’s time to simplify leadership so we can make it attractive again.

So what matters most about leadership? Well, it’s not about feeding the ego of the leader, that’s for sure. And it’s not exclusively about getting results and adding value – though obviously those things matter. What matters most about leadership is developing the people you’re leading. It’s about creating more leaders by staying committed to those you are privileged to lead.

Effective leadership isn’t about having power over people, it’s about using power for people.

I call this kind of leadership open-door leadership. At its core, this kind of leadership is about identifying, creating, and assigning opportunities that help people and organizations grow and develop. Think for a moment about the leader you admire most among the people you have worked for. My bet is the person you picked is someone who

  • took the time to get to know your career goals and aspirations.
  • gave you challenging and meaningful stretch assignments that helped you grow.
  • supported you and gave you pointers for being successful.
  • truly cared about you and your development.

People will move mountains for a leader if they know they will get something in return. If by moving the mountain they grow skills, deepen their knowledge, have greater access to the leader, and advance their own opportunities, they’ll be deeply loyal. But if they’re told to move a mountain because it’s their job, that ol’ mountain will be moving very sluggishly.

Want to be an open-door leader? Take these actions:

  • Sit down one-on-one with each of the people you’re leading and find out about their career goals and aspirations.
  • Look for opportunities that align with both the organization’s goals and the career goals of each individual.
  • Support them by removing barriers to their performance and making it easier for them to do good work.
  • Give them challenges and goals that cause them to grow and sharpen their skills.

Open-door leadership is good for the people being led, but also for the leader! When you are loyal to the growth, development, advancement, and fulfillment of each of your employees, they in turn will be deeply loyal to you. And when they are loyal to you and the goals you’re pursuing, your chances of being successful go way up.

Remember, the folks you’re leading are the ones who will determine whether you’re successful as a leader. You want to be successful, right? Then start opening doors for the people you lead!

Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting. His latest book is Leaders Open Doors (www.leadersopendoors.com). Bill is also the author of the bestselling book Courage Goes to Work along with the training kit Courageous Leadership: A Program for Using Courage to Transform the Workplace. Bill has led courage-building workshops for such organizations as NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Contact Bill at btreasurer@giantleapconsulting.com, or on Twitter at @btreasurer (#leadsimple).

Your Compass for Living, Leading, and Leaving a Legacy

True NorthReflection on True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership (2007) by Bill George with Peter Sims

The purpose of Bill George’s book True North is to help both young and experienced leaders develop in their self-awareness in order to maximize their efforts as leaders. Though slanted towards the business community, the lessons offered are easily applicable to leaders in the public and social sectors as well. The author argues that through a critical reflection of a leader’s personal story, core competencies, held values, and motivations can lead to the discovery of their “True North”. Such characteristics that authentic leaders demonstrate include self-discipline, contagious passion, honesty, and integrity. Authentic leaders remain true to themselves despite the situation. They are essentially the same person at work as they are at home with family or out in society.

Bill George defines True North as the internal, moral compass that guides a person’s beliefs and behaviors in all aspects of an integrated life. George makes the claim that when leaders become authentic, vulnerable, and transparent, their leadership ability is strengthened enough to not only earn success, but also to sustain them through challenges, setbacks, and adversity. When organizational as well as personal crises do arise, a leader who is deeply guided by their True North is more likely to preserve and experience growth through the trial. Authentic leaders who are in synch with their True North are able to align their teams around a common purpose, empower others to their full potential, and produce superior results. They tend to value serving others over being served and usually have an ambitious desire to make a difference in the world.

True North makes an incredible contribution to the study of a focused life. Most prominently, this advancement is made through its analysis of the life stories of 125 leaders from a wide range of age groups. Selected not only for their achievements, but also for their reputation of authenticity, each individual account shows how living by a genuine and ethical compass is often more critical than living by a timetable or a clock. Throughout the book, George shares candidly about his experiences, good and bad, as CEO of Medtronic, as well as his wife’s battle with cancer. Other well-known leaders profiled include Warren Bennis, Jack Welch, A.G. Lafley, Charles Schwab, and Howard Schultz. Though the names of some of the other interviewees may be less recognizable, the powerful truths shared in their personal accounts will convict the reader to examine their own life. By providing chapter exercises for considering the circumstances of our own context, George teaches his audience the necessity of reflecting on the past in order to refocus the present and fashion a more positive future.

George distinguishes between three stages on the journey to authentic leadership: preparation typically birth until age thirty; leading from age thirty to sixty; and giving back between the ages of sixty and ninety. Though this triad of developmental stages surely is not accurate for every leader, it does complement the decadal timeline review suggested by other students of life calling and leadership, such as Bobby Clinton and Parker Palmer. One advantage of George’s three stages is that by showing how leadership development happens at every phase the reader can pinpoint where they may be in the process and determine the next step in creating a life of meaning. Therefore, this model of learning and self-discovery can be of tremendous assistance to all ages, especially the recent graduate, midlife professional, or the senior adult looking to create an encore chapter in life.

The concepts that brought about the most personal resonance include the benefits from leading with strengths to minimize weaknesses and fulfill a specific mission. George illustrates that by cooperating with others who have complimentary abilities requires a sense of security common among authentic leaders. Also, a person may have several passions that though seemingly unrelated can, coincide to complement one another in directing purposeful leadership. This element of leadership passion is also rooted in personal experiences. George writes that “For most leaders, passion comes from their life stories. By understanding the meaning of key events in your life story and reframing them, you can discern what your passions are that in turn will lead you to the purpose of your leadership” (p. 158). Other advantages that aid to the developing of an authentic life and leading with purpose can be the seeking out of mentors and support groups that are mutually beneficial. Such practices can dramatically expedient personal leadership and professional advancement, years before their time.

The emphasis on a high regard of values, translates leadership principles into action. Therefore, values are similar to the needle on a True North compass. They are evidenced by pointing the direction to travel. For this reason, George clarifies the differences in intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. While the latter is more concerned with materialistic accumulation, a positional title, or the approval of others, the former is derived internally and focused on a life of meaning. For authentic leaders, joining to help with a social cause is typically more important than expanding their social status. In addressing the cultural shifts in employment from the previously dominate manufacturing industries to a more knowledge based workforce, people now have the privilege of vocational options. George shows through his own story in the medical field, that career and calling do not have to be compartmentalized. Whether in corporations or nonprofit ministries, authentic leaders with a focused life are able to leave a legacy.

In the Epilogue, George, calls the reader to contemplate that which they will be remembered for. The notion of legacy assumes a goal to be realized and an impact that transcends generations. So then, the need for critical reflection of self should also include a process for determining success. While monetary rewards are important, the leaders interviewed cautioned about making financial incentives the only factor. Instead, being true to who you are and allocating room for family and personal relationships, community involvement, and spiritual practices are essential for living a satisfied life of significance.

The most crucial concept I plan on integrating into my life and ministry from the book True North, is the adaptability of leadership styles. Of the six leadership styles discussed: directive, engaged, coaching, consensus, affiliative, and expert, I associated most with the engaged and coaching styles. Engaged leaders seek to be involved with everyone at all parts of the organization, and lead through influence and motivation based on relationship. Coaching leaders are focused on the development of others. They lead by helping teammates come to new realizations and improve performance though introspection and counsel. Both engaged and coaching leadership styles are centered on the ability to work with others and multiply the team’s talent exponentially. The power of the leader is ironically found in the way they empower others. This type of interdependent relationship yields greater degrees of creativity and commitment. As a leader in the local church, the need for authenticity should be obvious. Helping people to grow in faith and also to discover their authentic identity are the primary functions of my ministry philosophy. True North will serve as a great reminder for the need to be transparent and vulnerable while committing to the cause I have in Christ

Leadership Struggle: An Ingredient for Success and Significance

Leadership adn Art of the Struggle “Leadership and the Art of the Struggle: How Great Leaders Grow through Challenge and Adversity” (2013) by Steven Snyder.

“Leadership and the Art of the Struggle” has become my favorite book for providing encouragement through difficult situations. Though it has only been out for a few months, I have already recommended it to several of my peers, including entrepreneurs, professional speakers, and midlevel managers. If you are a leader in any capacity, then you know leadership is tough and tiring. Sometimes the sage advice of a leader who has been victorious on the battlefield of trials can be the perfect anecdote to adversity. That is exactly what leadership consultant Steven Snyder offers in this highly inspiring work.

Hailed as one of the “must-read” books of the year by leadership experts like Jim Kouzes, Ken Blanchard, and Marshall Goldsmith, Snyder presents a clarifying analysis of one of the most critical aspects of leadership: the challenge of struggle. He argues that the three main components of struggle are change, tensions, and being out of balance. Change is always difficult for people to accept. Even when the change is for the better, Snyder states that the struggle can be in discerning between opportunities or deciding how to allocate limited resources. In terms of tension, he categorizes four types of tension points, stemming from individual and institutional traditions and things of the past, aspirations or hopes for the future, outward relationships, and the internal conflict associated within identity. Lastly, a leader may experience struggle by being out of balance, resulting from change that he or she may not even knowingly be aware of.

In order to overcome struggle Snyder presents five grounding practices and fleshes them out with practical and reflective exercises. The author also uses examples from his personal story as well as other accounts of leaders who have successfully conquered personal and professional challenges. Included in the illumination of these skills are insights from the lives and work of people such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and Rosa Parks. The five “Grounding Practices” are:

1.)    Adopting a growth mind-set.

2.)    Becoming resilient in the face of failure.

3.)    Drawing your position on the tension map.

4.)    Centering your mind, body, and spirit.

5.)    Finding the support you need.

Though all five practices are essential, I’d like to highlight some aspects of the first, since I consider it to be the building block for the remaining four. In terms of a healthy foundation, Snyder declares that a leader with a “growth-mindset is consciously aware that ability is not innate and unchangeable but instead a malleable quality that can continuously be augmented through practice and persistence. In a growth-mindset, you pay conscious attention to cultivating abilities through continuous learning. You seek new learning opportunities by pursuing challenging assignments instead of taking safer and easier routes” (p. 45). I agree that such a posture leads to lifelong learning and consequential improvement. The fifth discipline of finding support groups in relationship with others is an often overlooked mechanism for leadership care. Using the example of “True North Groups” developed by former CEO and author, Bill George (who also wrote the forward to “Leadership and the Art of the Struggle”), Snyder suggests seeking out mentors, and searching for people to help met your needs within your own network. Snyder states that “an integral part of the art of struggle is breaking out of old patterns and creating new habits to channel your energies in adaptive ways. Creating a community of people whom you can connect and bond with and from whom you can seek advice and feedback is a great way to get started” (p. 92).

One of my favorite aspects of this great book is the connection it makes between leadership and literature. In fact, Snyder comments in the Introduction how a former classmate of his named Joe Badaracco, taught a class at Harvard Business School on leadership through the examination of fictional characters in classic literary works. The argument of Badaracco and Snyder is that fictional writings deepen the understanding of leadership as prominently a human endeavor. The big breakthrough from Badaracco’s course at Harvard is that “leadership is a struggle by flawed human beings to make some important values real and effective in the world as it is” (p. 5). The literary theme continues throughout the book with chapter epigraphs from timeless stories such as Charles Dickens “Great Expectations”, Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”, and William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”. By really driving this point home, Snyder writes “who would have guessed that meeting great characters can help you build great character?” (p. 173).

Though tough and tiring as it may be, it is precisely the trials we go and grow through that define a leader’s character. Ultimately it isn’t the expectations or measurements that others impose which make leaders great, but the contribution that each leader makes to the bettering of society. Snyder concludes his work by affirming it is “how we find our unique path, tapping into our potential, becoming the best person we can possibly be. The art of the struggle lies not in achievements but in the ripples from the journey and how we’ve grown along the way-the lives we’ve touched, the kindness we’ve shown, the ways we’ve brought to life our most important values. It is the accumulation of all life’s choices, big and small, that creates our unique and personal gift to the world” (p. 180).

Since its release earlier this year, “Leadership and the Art of the Struggle” has been a book I have referred to time and again. Steven Snyder has done a great service for leaders by teaching how struggle is an inevitable ingredient for success and significance.