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Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches (Engaging Culture) Paperback – 1 Jun 2004

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About the Author

Robert Banks (Ph.D., University of Cambridge), director and dean of Macquarie Christian Studies Institute in Sydney, Australia, is the author of many books, including Redeeming the Routines. Bernice M. Led better (Ed.D., Pepperdine University), former director of the De Pree Leadership Center at Fuller Theological Seminary, is adjunct faculty at Pepperdine University and principal of Ledbetter Consulting Group.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
A good resource. 24 Mar. 2005
By Israel Galindo - Published on
Format: Paperback
It seems that the number of books put out by publishers, in any number of fields, will not be abetting anytime soon. Whether or not that is a good thing may be a matter of debate. Some subjects are worth discussing at length, because trawling for deeper meanings or drawing out the nuances of the matter yield more insight and expand our understanding with each new layer of data-whether by contrasting it against the hard edge of another discipline or by the overlay of the veneer of a new metaphor. But some subjects, once having been examined, leave one with the impression that "everything that needs to be said has been said."

Robert Banks and Bernice M. Ledbetter think that the subject of leadership is one of those topics worth revisiting, and they do so in their book, Reviewing Leadership, much to our benefit. In this short book, Banks and Ledbetter do two things. First, they briefly introduce the reader to "everything that needs to be said that has been said" about leadership by providing a brief overview of how leadership has been treated and understood in what they categorize as biblical, historical, and contemporary perspectives (chapter two). Second, in the chapters following, they attempt to bring an ethical lens to the subject of leadership through a Christian perspective, beginning with "spiritual and religious dimensions" (chapter three) to a more overt Christian understanding of the leadership function in the final chapter through the use of "exemplary case studies" of Christian leadership in action (refreshingly, and tellingly, none of the persons featured in the case studies would likely be the first, or second, guess of most contemporary leaders or informed laity as to "models of leadership.").

According to the writers, the book is "a summary of academic approaches and concrete experiences. It is a fruit of biblical investigation and reflection on our own experiences. It is an exercise in cultural analysis and theological exploration. It is derived from current writings on leadership and personal observations of exemplary role models. It has its basis in common sense and familiar proverbs and our exposure to film and poetry" (p. 11). And it is this confessed subjectivity that yields some of the (few) least helpful portions and conclusion in the book. The critical reader, however, will be able to overcome those sections and focus on some of the more substantive and insightful contributions the authors make in this study.

The first two chapters provide a background to the study on leadership that the authors develop. The first chapter provides definitions and discussions on the nature of leadership and stakes a claim as to the importance of its study. In the second chapter the authors offer a brief historical interpretive overview of leadership, limiting the scope to a biblical context and to the last century. The brevity of the coverage leaves curious gaps in the scope of leadership studies, as well as an absence of mention of some arguably influential leadership theories and schools.

Chapters three and four provide the unique contribution that the book makes to the subject at hand. In these chapters the authors attempt to highlight overt spiritual, theological, and religious dimensions of leadership. The treatment culminates in their attempt to frame, and critique, distinctly "Christian" approaches to leadership. The fifth chapter discusses how to translate theories of leadership into practice through the advocacy of three ethical (Christian) dimensions: faithfulness, integrity, and a servant-like attitude. Following the chapter on case studies of model leaders (Franck Buchman, Soren Kierkegaard, Janet Hagberg, and Gordon Cosby), the book concludes with a a very brief chapter reflecting on how to nurture the kind of Christian leadership the authors advocate.

While not containing everything that needs to be said on the subject of leadership, this book is a good companion addition to other solid, more thorough, books on leadership that may be on the readers' bookshelf.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great Place to Start in reviewing leadership 31 July 2008
By Lt. Rhoades - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches
Banks, Robert and Bernice M. Ledbetter
Baker Academic, 2004
171 pages.

Reviewing Leadership sets out to review, analyze, and process the paradigms of secular and religious leadership from the Christian worldview. The authors accomplish this mission through the development of six chapters, each building up the previous. The construct of the book is--
Ch. 1 The Growing Interest in Leadership Today: Definitions, Causes, and Issues
Ch. 2 Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives on Leadership
Ch. 3 The Emerging Spiritual and Religious Dimensions of Leadership
Ch. 4 Popular and More Substantial Faith-based Approaches to Leadership
Ch. 5 Practicing Leadership through Integrity, Faithfulness, and Service
Ch. 6 Christian Leadership in Action: Some Exemplary Case Studies.

Banks and Ledbetter attack this reviewing, analyzing, and processing through six tiers--theological exploration, current writings, personal experiences, cultural analysis, and personal observations of exemplary role models-- that consistently stack upon a common foundation: "truth comes from God in a variety of ways and that all truth is God's truth" (p. 11).

The authors from the onset of the book suggest that leadership and the leader are based both upon objective and abstract values. It is futile to establish any sense of a system of leadership as one-and-only-one and any limited catch-all attributes of the leader; but, the authors, as well, make it clear that there is a base philosophical system and a base of attributes that should be core to "influencing and empowering...people to bring about change" (p. 17).

What the authors uniquely provide in Reviewing Leadership is unparalleled in all "influencing literature" familiar to the reviewer. Banks and Ledbetter extract the core of every leadership book presented in their book, giving an objective-as- possible- purview to the reader. The authors do not merely attack-and-extract, but carefully weigh the pros and cons of each unique paradigm. As well, the authors complete each section with an exemplary model of the paradigms and implications for application (whether the authors agree to the model or not).

As great as the first four chapters book are, the reviewer believes that the remaining two chapters would even be as valuable if standing alone. The authors complete their reviewing, analyzing, and processing by giving heed to their personal flavor of leadership as focused through the core attributes of Integrity, Faithfulness, and Service. Banks and Ledbetter finalize these cores attributes by describing several near impeccable examples of "Christian Leadership in Action."

The reviewer holds little in negative assessment to the book as a whole. The book was informative through its historical description of leadership and provides an intense survey of modern leadership, leaders, and culturally relevant literature. As much the book was informative, it was far greater spiritually inspiring and provided the reviewer with a rekindled and new-founded motivation and desire to move to a greater personal and communal hope. Though small in size, the material begins to uncompress as soon as the reader opens the preface and continues to expand even upon completion of the final chapter.

The reviewer was affected not merely on the concept of external leadership but received a harsh slap to the ego. The result is a deep tattooing of the core questions addressed by Max De Pree--What do I believe? What is my purpose in life? To what am I, as a leader, devoted? Who do I intend to be? What is the source of our humanity? What will I die for? If anyone is unable to at least ask the tough questions, one may be doomed to a reciprocal selfish and superficial existence.

Reviewing Leadership's affect transverses the cognitive, affective, and spiritual synapses--what one hopes will be for the reviewer's remaining temporal existence. This learned objective and affect of leadership is not for the "I", but for the "we."
Hard to read and no practical application 4 Nov. 2014
By Jared Hageman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read a lot of bad books for college classes and this probably makes my Top Ten Worst Books list. The first 4 chapters are a collection of seemingly unrelated ideas with zero practical value. If this information were presented to me in a conversation, I would stop the person and ask why they were telling me all of this. It all seemed useless. The author never answered the "who cares" question in the book. In the last two chapters, the book got slightly more interesting, but it was still only a slight improvement over the rest of the book. I'm sure there are many great books on leadership out there that would be much more interesting and helpful than this one. As for this book, my copy will probably be making its way into a campfire in the near future.
OK 9 Nov. 2013
By Preacher Bill - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Had to buy it for a college class. required reading, but more - I highly recommend Grab your Bible and read John chapter 3. Great stuff.
Four Stars 23 July 2014
By Norman Kam - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
it is good and clear
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