Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Reframing Leadership to a Christ-Centered Perspective

Written by: on October 30, 2023

Goodreads lists[1] Glanzer’s The Sound of Leadership as “a collection of leadership insights,”[2] which would be the beginning of my description of this book if someone were to notice it on my coffee table. However, those five words do not do it full justice, as I found this book to serve as a reminder of good, common advice for a Christian who finds herself in a position of leadership.

Over the past several weeks, we have been talking through very high-level concepts that review the impact of our religious systems and identities on our society and ourselves. Whether it’s the impact of Evangelicalism on our worldviews[3] and capitalism[4], (or the inverse ), or the broader question of our economic underpinnings[5] or even how we see ourselves[6], the discussion has been, for the most part, analytical. This week however, Glanzer has set out to share with us stories of his own experiences in leadership and distill his observations into helpful principles for us to apply in our own contexts. Building on the Goodreads description, I might restate it to be:

A collection of leadership insights that encourages us to frame our own leadership story around Christ.

In full candor, after the heady reading of Bebbington, Weber, Polanyi and Fukuyama, I found Glazer’s work to feel almost superficial. In our time in Oxford, Martyn Percy asked us to identify leadership books which will remain on the minds of leaders 100 years from now.[7] And this term, we have been reading seminal works that I believe will continue to inform how we view certain aspects of leadership and society. I do not think that Glanzer’s work falls into this same category. While the reading from our previous weeks develop new theories regarding the nature of our society, Glanzer has packaged some well-worn truths into new framings to make them accessible to today’s audiences. Please hear me when I say that this is not meant to be a criticism. Let me explain:

In exploring The Sound of Leadership, I took the time to jot down each of Glanzer’s “Kingdom Takeaways” that would follow concepts he was identifying. In doing so, it illuminated for me that though these summarized ideas feel elementary they actually represent the hardest challenge we have a leaders. He is reminding us of our obligation to align our leadership techniques and strategies to the will of God. Today, we can breezily refer to this practice and label it as “mindfulness” on which whole genres of leadership tomes continue to be mass produced. However, Glanzer’s questioning serves as a gentle nudge that we are called to something higher than a humanistic approach to leadership. Questions like:

  • “When forced to make difficult decisions, what filters do you apply to the decision-making process? How are your decisions participating in the mission of God in the world?”[8]

  • What is your theology of leadership? Which biblical text(s) or story(ies) are the foundation of your theology of leadership?”[9]

  • “How do you distinguish the difference between marketplace leadership and leadership in the kingdom? What characteristics identify leadership that brings honor and delight to the Lord?”[10]

There is a time when analyses of mega-trends such as Capitalism, Evangelicalism and Identity Politics are important and helpful. However, we also need people like Glanzer to keep our eye on the immediate task of leadership in front of us.

Will Glanzer’s work withstand Percy’s 100 year test?

Will The Sound of Leadership go down in history as a primary textbook for leaders to use for the next 100 years? Even this question puts the author as the hero of the story. In reading Glanzer’s work, I think he would encourage us to reframe the question in a Christ-orientated way.


[1] “The Sound of Leadership: Kingdom Notes to Fine Tune Your Life and Influence – Kindle Edition by Glanzer, Jules, Sweet, Leonard. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.Com.,” accessed October 21, 2023, https://www.amazon.com/Sound-Leadership-Kingdom-Notes-Influence-ebook/dp/B0C2JP3DDW/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=.

[2] Jules Glanzer and Leonard Sweet, The Sound of Leadership: Kingdom Notes to Fine Tune Your Life and Influence (Invite Press, 2023).

[3] David Bebbington, “Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s” (London: Routledge, 1993).

[4] Max Weber, “The Protestant Ethic and the ‘Spirit’ of Capitalism and Other Writings,” Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics (New York: Penguin Books, 2002).

[5] Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation the Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, 2nd Beacon Paperback ed. (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2001).

[6] Francis Fukuyama, “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018).

[7] Martyn Percy, lecture to DLPG students, Oxford, England, September 23, 2003.

[8] Glanzer and Sweet, The Sound of Leadership, 51.

[9] Glanzer and Sweet, 112.

[10] Glanzer and Sweet, 123.

About the Author

Jennifer Vernam

8 responses to “Reframing Leadership to a Christ-Centered Perspective”

  1. mm John Fehlen says:

    In my post I wrote that “I resonated with Glanzer and “The Sound of Leadership” in such a deep way. It was a right time, right place book for me, especially because of the musical notes it embedded, and the volume of questions it posed.”

    I do agree that it would not pass the 100 year test, and yet it was timely. I read it a couple months ago, and blogged on it immediately. I almost wish I hadn’t been so ahead of the blogging game, and read it in real time AFTER Bebbington, Weber, etc. etc. It would have been a breath of fresh air for me, for sure.

    Having said that, again, it was timely for me. There are so books that fit that bill. I am looking at a few of them on my shelf even now. They struck a chord (pun intended) at the time in which I read them, but I see no reason to go back to them, or read them again down the road.

    To date in 2023 I am just finished reading my 132nd book – by any standard that’s a lot, I know. I consume a lot of books annually, so much so, I took the advice of my friend Tim who said a few years back to me: “You should keep a list of ‘Transformative Books’ – the ones that marked you and you will continue to go back to again and again.” I did it and it was a powerful exercise for me differentiate ‘consuming content’ from ‘transformation.’ Just some thoughts I’m musing on. Just for fun, I’m gonna put the list of Transformative Books in another post response, and see if anyone else wants to chime in with theirs!

  2. mm John Fehlen says:

    John Fehlen’s Personal List of Transformative Books

    Love, Acceptance, Forgiveness by Jerry Cook

    Pursuit of God by AW Tower

    Celebration of Disciplines by Richard Foster

    Essentialism by Greg McKeown

    Atomic Habits by James Clear

    The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson

    The Pastor by Eugene Peterson

    A Work of Heart by Reggie McNeal

    The Beauty of Spiritual Language by Jack Hayford

    Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

    Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel

    The Consolations of Imperfection by Donald McCullough

    Ordering my Private World by Gordon McDonald

    21 Laws of Irrefutable Leadership by John Maxwell

    The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

    The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    Prayer by Timothy Keller

    How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

    The War of Art by Sun Tau

    John Adams by David McCollough

    Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull

    Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

  3. Travis Vaughn says:

    Jen, you quoted Glanzer, asking, “What is your theology of leadership? Which biblical text(s) or story(ies) are the foundation of your theology of leadership?” As I read Glanzer, I found myself asking a question like this: “How does the Bible’s storyline (creation-fall-redemption) inform the way we exercise our leadership.” While I found much of Glanzer to be helpful, I had hoped that he would have taken leadership through the Bible’s plotline (and I had hoped that he would dig deeper into the science of sound and connections to leadership). I’m not sure if anyone has done that, now that I think about it (with the focus on leadership), though I now want to go back to look at another author or two who I suspect have done just that.

    After the heavy lifting of authors like Bebbington, Weber, and Polanyi, I agree with you — it was good to bring things back into our present stewardship of power… “to keep our eye on the immediate task of leadership in front of us.”

    • Jennifer Vernam says:

      I like your framing, Travis. When you ask the question, “How does the Bible’s storyline (creation-fall-redemption) inform the way we exercise our leadership?” I almost find myself sighing with relief, because it highlights that this exercise is not all about me… in fact, the contribution I make is in the mistakes, and giving God the opportunities to redeem me and the confusions I create! Is that passing the buck? I don’t think so. Over and over, we see leaders in the Bible that God uses despite themselves!

  4. mm Kim Sanford says:

    I agree that Glanzer’s work is beautifully Christ-centered. Of all the Kingdom takeaways that you noted down, is there one that stands out as most important or significant to you personally?

    • Jennifer Vernam says:

      The one that comes to the top for me is that Glanzer took the previously-known concept of “practicing the presence of God” and applied it to leadership. In other words, inviting Him to accompany me as I respond to the needs of my workplace. What about you?

  5. Esther Edwards says:

    Your post did show how we have had a bit of a whiplash in reading. For me, it came as a welcome break from the analytical readings of the past few weeks but also made me realize that we need both.

    You mentioned: “Glanzer has set out to share with us stories of his own experiences in leadership and distill his observations into helpful principles for us to apply in our own contexts.” What would be one helpful story/principle from your own context that would inspire others in their own leadership wanderings perhaps leaving the analytics aside?

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