This is an anthology of 26 essays which brings together scholars from fields as diverse as psychology, sociology, economics, and history to take stock of what we know about leadership, and to consider areas for future research. The angle of this colloquium is to champion and outline academic research into leadership, as opposed to the breadth of popular material on the subject.
The material is organized within five sections, each of which has a core assumption or theme.
Section one: The impact of leadership
Section two: The theory of leadership: personal attributes, functions and relationships
Section three: The variability of leadership: what’s core and contingent
Section four: The practice of leadership
Section five: The development of leaders
As church leaders and pastors, it is interesting to read and consider secular leadership material of this kind, primarily from the business sector. Reflecting on the cult of leadership and its rise in the church over recent decades, Eugene Peterson says the following:
“There’s a lot of talk about leadership in the Christian church today: how to be a strong leader. I think a lot of that talk is misguided, taking its cues from the worlds of sports and big business. In those areas, a leader is someone who comes in and gets things done. That’s appropriate in almost every other area of life—but not for pastors in the church. As pastors, we’re not trying to get something done. We’re not looking at people and thinking about what we can convince them to do. That’s not the goal. As pastors, we’re trying to pay attention to what’s going on now, right here—right now. We’re trying to pay attention to what God is doing. And we’re trying to share that in the community. If we get that idea turned around and focus on getting things accomplished, then we turn ourselves into congregations that have bought into this sports-business model. That’s why so many pastors are depressed so much of the time. They try and try—and keep trying—to become these business-style leaders and they can’t make it work in the church.”
Eugene Peterson’s voice is always a welcome counterbalance to the plethora of voices that promote and champion secular leadership models in the church.
Can we learn from big business and other sectors on how to be better church leaders? Hybels and many like him believe we can, and invite such leaders to speak at Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit on the latest insights from their various specialist fields. Their line of thought is that we should use the very best leadership thinking to enhance and further the kingdom of God and to build the church.
Reviewing some of the material from this colloquium, I think there are indeed some interesting insights and views that are helpful in a church leadership context and that can inform good practice and thinking.
As with most things that Peterson writes/says, however, I welcome his red flag and his caveats when it comes to overly enthusiastic adaptation of much of this material into a church context.
 Interview with Eugene Peterson: http://www.readthespirit.com/explore/eugene-peterson-has-a-message-for-pastors; accessed on 17.11.2016.