Book Review: The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler

“Indecisiveness is one of history’s greatest leadership killers.” Mohler

Leadership books surround and inundate the society with their latest insightful tip that will put you over the top to become the greatest leader of all time. While this may be an oversimplified exaggerated observation concerning leadership books, the point is that there are so many different voices saying, at times, contradictory things when it comes to leadership. One of the important principles to remember when choosing a book on leadership is the author and seeing what they have accomplished with their life. Are they a self-made billionaire who started with nothing? Are they a CEO of a prominent Fortune 500 company? Dr. Albert Mohler is a man who lives what he believes and leads with great conviction in a singular direction. His character and ability to successfully cast and guide drastic change at a large scale makes this book a must read for pastors and the next generation of leaders.

Mohler desires for leadership to be reconsidered with the foundation not being the bottom line but the convictions that guide the leader. In other words, the leader is led by certain truths and aspects in life and that is where leaders should find their conviction to lead. While an overview of all twenty-five principles for leadership is outside the scope of this review, there are several highlights that help the pastor as he thinks through guiding the church toward faithfulness in Christ.

One of the things that stands out in each of the principles is the amount of responsibility is laid at the leader’s feet. There are choices to make, vision to cast, books to read, and mission to communicate to name just a few. Mohler says bluntly in several chapters that if the leader does not desire the responsibility that comes with leadership then they should not be leaders. It may appear harsh and quick to judgment but there is truth in what he observes. Leaders must lead by definition and that means there are certain responsibilities that come with the territory and if one is unwilling or unable to perform then changes must be made.

Another overarching and recurring theme in the book is that leaders must have something to offer those who follow them. Whether in writing, speaking engagements, or personal conversations, leaders must have something to offer and it must be presented clearly and concisely, or followers will quickly move on. Where does this message come from? How can a leader be ready to answer at a moment’s notice? For Mohler, the convictions that thrust the person into leadership is where the message comes from. What drives the leader to want to speak and write and have a social media presence are the convictions that their message is necessary for others to hear. Without the conviction that what one is communicating being needful in other’s lives, then that leader will not be effective in the long term.

One of the greatest strengths of this book is that each topic is dealt with in a short manner that gets to the heart of the matter quickly. Mohler has a talent for seeing the big picture and the parts that make it up. He has broken down that picture into the twenty-five principles and makes quick digestible chapters for his audience. Although the chapters are short, the content that fills them is worth a lifetime of learning and reflection. Leadership books are often over simplified “how to” books, but Mohler has set his eyes on giving lasting advice to generations to come.

How does leadership translate into the pulpit and the pastor’s study? The first thing that must be stated is that pastors have the most important message and worldview to communicate. There is nothing greater than the glory of God demonstrated through the Son of God coming to earth, dying on the cross, rising from the dead, and then sending the Spirit of God to continue the work through the Church. That is an eternal message that cannot be simply monotoned to people in this world. Pastors have a message – the Bible. Pastors as leaders must read and study and spend their time knowing that message above all other messages to communicate in written and spoken word. Pastors as leaders must be ready to give an answer and must be bold to make choices that advance the Gospel cause.

Pastoral ministry is about people and people, in Jesus’ words, often are like sheep without a shepherd. Shepherds are leaders; therefore, pastors must be faithful, committed, loving, and convictional leaders for the glory of God and the good of others. Mohler’s book reminds pastors that ministry is not simply about what is said on Sunday but is a lifetime work in leading others to the One who has given a message and vision for the Church to follow. The book helps pastors understand that they are leaders, not just of their churches, but of their own souls and the souls of those closest to them. Pastors do not get a “spiritual hall-pass” to not be committed to leading to the best of their God-given ability. Pastors in reality are held to a higher more sacred standard for their leadership.

All pastors and young leaders must decide where their convictions lie so that they can grow in these twenty-five areas as leaders.

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Review by Caleb Nedimyer

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