C.H. Spurgeon writes, “Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.” Spurgeon poignantly alerts us to the danger of indwelling sin. The writer of Hebrews warns against that sin; the “sin that so easily entangles” (Heb. 12:1a). Tragically, many Christian leaders fail to heed the warning of Spurgeon and the book of Hebrews. Theological compromise leads to liberalism. Moral compromise leads to immorality. Few Christian leaders, as a result, finish strong.
Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft serves Christian leaders well by turning their attention to the standards set forth in the Word of God. Kraft writes, “The greatest and most pressing need in the body of Christ today is an army of leaders who have a vision of a desired future and are called and anointed by God. These leaders possess a fire burning in their hearts that can’t be extinguished. They are motivated and led by God to intentionally, passionately, and effectively influence others.”
Kraft argues that leaders (and pastors in particular) have four key responsibilities, namely, shepherding, developing, equipping, and empowering. Three sections provide a helpful framework for developing the author’s argument.
PART ONE: FOUNDATIONS
Kraft presents five areas that should characterize the life of every leader. The center hub represents the power of Christ. Four additional spokes make up the “leadership wheel” and include purpose, passion, priorities, and pacing.
“Leadership” writes Kraft, “begins and ends with a clear understanding of the gospel and being rooted in the grace of Jesus Christ as a free gift.” I might build on the author’s presupposition by adding that no amount of talent, speaking ability, giftedness, or charisma can replace a working knowledge of the biblical gospel. So many churches appear successful on the outside. Some Christian leaders and pastors (especially some young pastors) appear to have it all together on the outside. But when the gospel is compromised and the core truths of the Christian faith are neglected, tragic results are waiting around the corner! When a pastor begins to compromise the doctrine of hell, the exclusive claim of Christ, or the authority of God’s Word he willingly embraces a “different gospel” (Gal. 1:6-8). The leadership foundation must be established for any kind of tenure in ministry. And Kraft does an excellent job developing the “leadership wheel.”
PART TWO: FORMATION
In part two, the author narrows his focus. He discusses the leader’s calling, gifts, character, and growth. Finishing well should be a high priority for every Christian leader. Kraft presents five helpful suggestions for achieving this important goal:
1. Maintain a vibrant relationship with Christ.
2. A posture of learning.
3. Identifiable goals and self-control.
4. Supportive personal relationships and family.
5. Clear vision, strong biblical convictions, perspective, and surrendering to the lordship of Christ.
PART THREE: FRUITFULNESS
Part three summarizes the leader’s vision, influence, and legacy. The section on vision is especially helpful. Kraft writes, “A leader is a person who is dissatisfied with the way things are. He has a God-given burden, a vision, and a call to see something different. He wants to see something change, to build a new future. He then begins to communicate what he thinks and where he wants to go.”
Kraft is calling for visionary leaders to step up to the plate; leaders who have a “destination in mind and possess the ability to take others along on the journey.” He makes a strong case for visionary leadership. These leaders must:
1. Develop the vision.
2. Communicate the vision.
3. Implement the vision.
Leaders Who Last is a book that every pastor should read, absorb, and put into practice. Dave Kraft writes with the heart of a pastor and clearly communicates essential leadership skills that should be included in the makeup of every Christian leader. Every leader who intends on finishing strong needs to read Kraft’s book. The principles are biblical and practical. No theory here. Highly recommended!