Wesley Methodist Church Alor Setar

Wesley Methodist Church Alor Setar

Spiritual Leadership
Written by Chan Weng Seng   
bk_spiritual_leadershipAuthor : J Oswald Sanders
Publisher: Lakeland (6th edition 1977)

Review & Reflection
“True greatness, true leadership is achieved not by reducing men to one’s service, but in giving oneself in selfless service to others. This is never done without cost. It involves drinking the bitter cup and experiencing the painful baptism of suffering. The true spiritual leader is concerned infinitely more with the service he can render to God and to his fellowmen than with the benefits and pleasures he can extract from life. God cares not an iota for the rank or title a man has or the office he has held, but only the quality of his deeds and the character of his mind and heart.”

With these words in the opening chapter, Oswald Sanders has written a classic on what it means to embody the biblical qualities of true godliness in spiritual leadership.

Issues are examined from different perspectives as Sanders unfolds chapter by chapter, the biblical criteria and prerequisites for spiritual leadership. In 20 short concise chapters, he has successfully compacted into it depth of content that is practical and relevant. Each chapter covers one aspect of what a spiritual leader ought to be. There’s hardly anything written on how to get things done. Each chapter contains a short and pithy analysis of qualities that are indispensible for the Christian leader who aspires to be godly and faithful. Wisdom and spiritual insight abounds and Sanders’ diligence in study is amazing as demonstrated by his wealth of quotes cited in each chapter.

A scan of each chapter title reveals how extensive the scope of issues he chose to highlight.

  1. An Honorable Ambition
  2. The Search for Leaders
  3. Natural & Spiritual Leadership
  4. Criteria of Leadership Potential
  5. Pauline Sidelights on Leadership
  6. Petrine Sidelights on Leadership
  7. Qualities Essential to Leadership I
  8. Qualities Essential to Leadership II
  9. The Indispensible Requirement
  10. The Leader & His Praying
  11. The Leader & His Time
  12. The Leader & His Reading
  13. The Cost of Leadership
  14. The Responsibilities of Leadership
  15. Searching Tests to Leadership
  16. The Art of Delegation
  17. The Replacement of Leaders
  18. The Reproduction of Leaders
  19. The Peculiar Perils of Leadership
  20. An Exemplary Leader
This book is a classic because spiritual leadership concepts and principles are highlighted with simplicity, clarity and brevity. In moderate and measured tones, Sanders teaches and illustrates kingdom values drawn from the lives of biblical characters before exemplifying these qualities using current leaders as examples. This book is a treasure trove of insights on spiritual leadership.

Although the language and life examples used are a bit antiquated, the principles of leadership enunciated are timeless. Even though this book is more than 40 years old, its truths are still fresh and relevant.

This book serves to help anyone who aspires to serve God by influencing others. Sanders has dissected and analyzed the very heart of spiritual leadership and he challenges the reader to lead by God’s way by strength of character and not by man’s ways through the skillfulness of human wisdom. God’s work must be done by God’s man God’s way. This book is a classic for helping the reader be a godly leader in his home, church and society. It is an insightful book that needs to be read by every christian who aspires to be a leader. This book should be diligently studied by every person who aspires to lead others and influence others for God. I had read this book 40 years ago. I’m glad I have to study it again. There is still so much more to learn from it. There’s still so much more to apply and practice what I have missed out since I last read it.

I end with this quote by Samuel Logan Brengle, one of the truly great leaders of the Salvation Army.

“Spiritual authority is not won by promotion or appointment, but by many prayers and tears. It is attained

  • by confessions of sin, much heart-searching and much humbling before God;
  • by self-surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol;
  • a bold uncompromising and uncomplaining embracing of the cross
  • and by an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified.
  • It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves, but rather by counting those things gained as loss for Christ.
  • That is a great price, but it must be unflinchingly paid by him, who would be not merely a nominal but a real spiritual leader of men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth and in hell.”
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