Leaders are readers. Or so it is often said. So, a common question among leaders is, “What are you reading?” Leaders are always on the lookout for something that will inform, improve, enhance, or encourage their leadership practice.
I have been asked time and time again to give recommendations on my “top” leadership books for church leadership and ministry. Honestly, I struggle to provide an answer. For me, truthfully, there are very few books that I have reread regarding leadership or ministry and recommend to others. My list is very short.
- Integrity by Dr. Henry Cloud
- The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson
- In The Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen
- Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono
- The Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking
After reading Zack Eswine’s book The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy In Our Limitations Through A Daily Apprenticeship With Jesus published by Crossway I will adding a new book to my very short list.
The first few lines of the book set the tone for the journey Zack takes his readers on.
“I became a pastor. But I didn’t know how to be one. The Serpent saw this. He seized his opportunity. ‘You can be like God,’ he said. And I, the fool, believed him.”
While reading Zack’s book, the Divine Comedy came to mind. Zack is the both proverbial Virgil or Beatrice taking the reader through his journey of “Inferno to Paradiso.” We the reader accompany Zack through a “Dante”-like journey filled with lessons in limitation found only in a “daily apprenticeship with Jesus.”
Zack explores the challenges and temptations to exceed our calling, to transcend our humanity in the pursuit of leading in ways in which we can be everywhere, fix everything, know everything, and do it all quickly. Zack’s call to resist the temptations to do everything large, famous, and fast is a tonic for the souls of all leaders in our culture, but certainly for those of us in ministry.
The Imperfect Pastor is a personal book. Zack walks us through his journey of big mistakes and small victories. Many leadership books advance the idea that we can be more than we are, but the Imperfect Pastor calls us back to be what Jesus asks us to do and be in all our humanly limitation. The lessons are personal, powerful, poignant, and pointed.
Many leadership books scream from the rooftops about their paradigms, positions, and powerful ideas. These sorts of books show us the ways in which we can overcome all our limitations to reach our self-defined destinations of success.
“What I am trying to say is that life and ministry are an apprenticeship in Jesus in which, by his grace, he recovers our humanity, and for his glory he enables others to do the same.”
The Imperfect Pastor whispers to you. The author invites you onto the front porch, into his study, into stories of Papaw and Mamaw, small church pulpits, funerals, board meetings, and out into an imperfect world filled with imperfect people all who need shepherding and care and calls us to give what we can while embracing our limitations.
When asked, what book I would recommend for anyone considering entering into ministry or church leadership, this book will certainly be on my “limited” list.