Monday, June 20, 2016

BookPastor >> "The Most Excellent Way to Lead" (Perry Noble)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Jan 25th, 2016


TITLE: The Most Excellent Way to Lead: Discover the Heart of Great Leadership
AUTHOR: Perry Noble
PUBLISHER: Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2016, (288 pages)

What defines good leadership? If you have attended one of the many leadership conferences, courses, or classes, you might have heard about traits such as vision, influence, confidence, courage, and other impressive characteristics that make the leader looking like some hero from the movies. While many of these leadership gurus are not necessarily wrong in highlighting these leadership features, the questions for us are: Are they the most excellent things for leaders to have? What is the heart of great leadership? Is there a more excellent way? What should be the biblical approach? What makes leadership Christlike?

Perry Noble is pastor of Newspring Church, one of America's fastest growing churches. Beginning with a group of 15 individuals with no budget, no employees, and no buildings, the Church has grown tremendously to 19 campus locations, with an average attendance of 35000 people, and a $50 million annual budget! Having experienced humble beginnings, he leads with conviction with the following principles:
  1. It is not titles but voices people want to listen to that matters
  2. The most excellent way is also the most difficult way
  3. Leaders do not make declarations but are servants through and through
  4. Leaders will do whatever it takes to turn a vision into reality.

Other paradigm shifts include:
  • Great leadership has nothing to do with control or manipulation
  • Leadership is less about lecturing people but listening to people
  • Leadership is not about making declarations but about learning to submit to others, and the willingness to serve
  • Great leaders don't simply seek answers; they are immensely curious people loaded with questions
  • The best source of leadership guidance is not the literature of leadership and leaders in the world. It is the Bible.
Beginning with a humourous description of his early years as a young pastor leading a group of senior adults, Noble debunks some of the popular descriptions about leadership. Confidence is a good thing, but Joseph Stalin had confidence too. So did Pharaoh of Egypt, who subsequently led many of their subjects to death. Of influence, Noble points out that people like Bernie Madoff had confidence too that attracted lots of investors. Eventually, over $65 million ended up in a scandalous Ponzi scheme. Of "vision," Hitler had vision, and guess what happened to the world? For Noble, the most excellent way is the way of love, as according to the great love chapter in 1 Corinthians. With personal stories and exposition of Bible passages, Noble leads us through several chapters, each describing an aspect of love and what it means to leadership. He lists 15 qualities of what love entails. Leadership by love means:

  1. Patience: patience with people; patience to bear with the process; and patience to be faithful to present responsibilities instead of wishing for tasks one prefers. 
  2. Kindness: Remembering that the "who" is more important than the "what."
  3. Not Envious: Don't imitate others; Initiate ideas that are helpful to others
  4. Does Not Boast: Remember the humble beginnings we all have
  5. Not Proud: Leaders are first to admit their mistakes; not having all the answers; vulnerable; and unafraid to seek help
  6. Does Not Dishonour Others: Make praises public; confrontations private
  7. Not Self-Seeking: Learning to seek after God and the interests of others
  8. Not Easily Angered: 

The only thing most boring about this book is its cover. Everything inside are more captivating. That is another reason why we cannot judge this book by its cover. Using 1 Corinthians 13 as a guide for leadership, we not only get a book that is soundly biblical, but also a book of ample practical advice about how to lead. The greatest leader of all is not how one led but how one loved with the love of Jesus. This single motive is the entire idea of the book. It is the most excellent way that is countercultural; paradigm shifting; and utterly out of this world. With wit and humour, Noble is not afraid to make fun of himself. The way that he describes his food fight shows us how far he is willing to go in order to reach out to people. At the same time, he shares about his pledge not to repeat the nasty acts on him upon other people. Through that example, he not only tells us about what it means to serve, he shows us the way.

Leadership resources nowadays are everywhere. People talk about it. They preach on it. They also conduct expensive courses and seminars on it. At the end of it all, it is not a matter of how we serve or what kind of serving we are in. It is a matter of who we are honouring with our service. With 1 Corinthians 13, we are brought face to face with the greatest commandment of all: Love God, Love people, serve all. This one big idea drives the most excellent way to lead. Kudos to Noble for giving us this resource. I recommend this highly for any leadership courses in any Christian community.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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