My blog posts revolve around my interests and vocation as a historian: the intersection of history and contemporary church life, the intersection of history and contemporary politics, serendipitous discoveries in archives or on research trips, publications and research projects, upcoming conferences, and speaking engagements.
I also blog for two other organizations, the Canadian Baptist Historical Society and the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.
The views expressed in these blogs represent the views of the authors, and not necessarily those of any organizations with which they are associated.
I was recently asked by a student if I had any books on leadership that I could recommend. I realized at that moment that I needed a quick go-to reference for my recommendations. What follows are some books that I have found to be helpful and are a good starting point for someone wanting to read about Christian leadership.
Of course, as a historian I have defaulted to a lot of classic works. The good thing is that you can find many of the older sources online if you are not wanting to purchase a hard copy.
Two important early martyrs for the church provided inspiration and education for those facing persecution.
The following four works were standard reading in the early church for anyone aiming to lead, and therefore are must reads for us as well.
These works are not leadership books per se. However, they are works that deal with holiness, discipline, and devotion. Spiritual formation is critical for Christian leaders, and these works speak to our own inner lives in ways that are profoundly compelling. I recommend reading these books throughout one’s entire tenure in leadership – over and over again.
Here are some modern works that I have found filled with some gems for leadership, pastoral or otherwise.
I do not recommend doing everything in the following works. However, one thing you can learn from such books is how the world (and quite often the church) works. Knowing such things allows you to engage in leadership with your eyes wide open, and allows you to adjust accordingly.
Here is my nod to those who want a “how to get things done” book. The value of this book is to provide some helpful techniques to take control of your time and make happen what you wish to make happen. If the pietists were right about one of the most important marks of holiness being how we use our time, then we had better learn how to make good use of it!
A few closing comments. First, Justo Gonzalez’s The History of Theological Education (2015) is a must read for those who want to get the big picture of how Christians have been trained for leadership for the past 2,000 years. It is a rich, informative, and deeply rewarding read.
Second, reading hagiography is a must, and serious Christians need to seek it out and immerse themselves in it. As one author writes, “In our search for the new models of sanctity appropriate for our age and condition, we cannot ignore or bypass the great hagiographical tradition of the past. Only the most radically revisionist critics would seriously argue that the tradition of Christian sanctity is without merit or irrelevant to Christian life today.”
Third, my list is short when it comes to “classic” works on leadership from Christian women. I hope to add to this list as I seek out some selections from the many Christian women who have done stellar work in and outside of formal leadership positions.
 Lawrence S. Cunningham, The Meaning of Saints (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980), 140.
 In the meantime, read the following for a helpful summary of women in Christian history: Ruth A. Tucker & Walter L. Liefeld. Daughters of the Church: Women and Ministry from New Testament Times to the Present (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987); Mary T. Malone. Women and Christianity: The First Thousand Years (Mary Knoll, Orbis Books, 2001).