5 Leadership Resources To Motivate Your Ministry Leadership

Emily Katherine Johnson
November 11th, 2020

I feel the need to start this conversation off with you very honestly. I do not typically like books on leadership. Simultaneously, I am sharing a list of books with you for the goal of strengthening your list of books. I am even sitting next to a shelf full of books, that I was required to read in seminary or was provided at work that have the word leadership in the title, but I am not recommending these to you. 

What I have in common about every single one of the books I am NOT recommending, which would fly off the tables at a trendy Christian leadership conference, is that the first few pages are underlined or highlighted and the rest are blank.

They are books I started and sat down after the first chapter or two to never pick them up again. 

Their definitions of leadership often felt too vanilla. Like something I had heard a million times before but did not necessarily want to hear again. They contain words that could easily be tweeted, but nothing that made me feel like I was punched in the gut, making me want to improve or change. I do not want to offer you books that give you language that makes you believe you are doing great.

I think you are best equipped as a leader when you are provided with resources that reshape the way you view work, teamwork, your own calling, the depths of your relating to God, and whatever other beautiful work God has in store for you. 

I, by a rule of life, do not recommend leadership books with icebergs. That metaphor is overdone. I have a psychology degree and learned enough from Freud. I try to read leadership resources from a diverse group of people, male and female, pastors, researchers, writers, and people who lived in different centuries. I, by a rule of life, will not recommend leadership resources that overdo a metaphor. These are books that only get highlighted on the first few pages.

With all to my reasoning covered, here is a list of books I highly recommend that I believe will help you transform as a person and, in effect, grow to become a better leader! 

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

If this is your first time hearing about Brené Brown, it is time to catch up on a plethora of great resources. Brené is a research professor who has studied vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Her work has led her to consult large companies like Facebook and Pixar while also landing her many a seat on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Dare to Lead explains its focus as “Daring Greatly and Rising Strong at Work.” Brown explores various pitfalls within her own leadership and team and recommends resources to overcome these challenges. Her website also includes many free resources to accompany this resource and applicable to any workplace. (Disclaimer: Though Brene’ Brown is a Christian, This is not a Christian. There will be profanity.)

Garden City by John Mark Comer

John Mark Comer is a pastor in Portland, Oregon who explores many of the reasons for work, play, and rest as he digs deeply into the Genesis account.

Leaders can be equipped by Comer’s work to take a step back from life’s routines. He gives practical direction on how to guide the people we lead, minister to, and minister with. He helps us understand the true point of leadership in the rhythms and how we can point people to the love of God in these rhythms and opportunities for flourishing in our calling. 

Jesus, the One and Only by Beth Moore

I love Beth Moore’s passion to dig deeply into Scripture. I have linked her 90 day study of Jesus throughout the Gospels that requires no video accompaniment, but walks readers through reading Scripture and uncovering more of who Jesus is.

What you will see is the greatest leader of all time and no bullet point presentations about why it was so. 

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton 

When describing this book to friends and colleagues, I tend to begin by saying “Just buy it.”  Barton dives deep into leadership, beyond all façades of competence, right to the soul of how we relate to God and how this permeates everything around us.

This is an incredible resource and includes discussion questions for a group to walk through together. 

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen was a Dutch priest in the 20th century. His works are profound on various topics of the Christian life, but this book speaks to me the most. It has had such an impact that I read it, almost, annually and often recommend it to young believers.

The Inner Voice of Love is a compilation of Nouwen’s journals he wrote while in a facility fighting for his faith in God. His work is so raw and honest. The journals account his journey, from the ground up, as he peels the scales of ministry and approval from his sense of self and restored belief that he is loved by God. 

Emily Katherine Johnson

Emily Katherine works with WinShape College Program equipping college students to make disciples on their campus while also volunteering as a high school small group leader. EmK graduated with her Master of Divinity in Christian Education and loves equipping believers to make disciples in a fun and engaging way. She published "Let's Be Real" her memoir of faith and grief in 2020, the same year she married her husband and best friend during a COVID wedding. You can find blog posts, book reviews, and her schedule for booking at emilykatherinejohnson.com

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