What does Spiritual Influence promise? (Mel Lawrenz, Zondervan, 2012)
Mel Lawrenz has written a book that seeks to nurture the spiritual character which expresses itself in vital leadership which nurtures character in others. Lawrenz explains “Our focus here is on the personal dynamics whereby we can be positive spiritual influences in the lives of others, whatever the context. It is not difficult to talk about leadership as getting things done or moving people about. The deeper question is what needs to happen for our efforts to have enduring effects in people’s lives.’
What I liked.
The layout. Lawrenz recommends that each chapter be read and discussed with others, so their content is succinct and clear. The chapters are succinct and well ordered in four parts: Getting Grounded covers foundational issues, Taking Initiative deals with practical matters, Going Deep deals with ongoing personal growth, and Facing Challenges engages with, as the topic states, how obstacles and resistance can be dealt with.
The practicality. The technique of telling stories and drawing lessons is consciously eschewed in favour of simple and direct instruction. In keeping with the book’s aim it speaks directly to the issues of the character of leader. It maintains that focus, rather than measuring success from external objectives being attained.
The simplicity. When Scripture is used or referenced the contexts are clear and helpful, not simply invoked to illustrate a point being made. The wide variety of other references demonstrate that this material has had a long term development.
The humility. Maybe its the lack of stories, particularly personal ones, (which seems something of a rarity these days), but the book seems to carry a very understated air. It doesn’t indulge in selling its content with stories about people influenced or outcomes achieved. It simply focuses on the character growth of the individual in terms of Christian spirituality and wisdom. But it’s not introspective, because the reason this growth is sought is to be a blessing to those who come under our influence.
What I’m not sure about.
As Lawrenz has thirty years of pastoral ministry, I thought I might have seen more content about how involvement in the corporate worshipping life of the Church is the foundation of spiritual growth and growth in wisdom. Other devotional disciplines are vital, but they are supplements to consistent participation in corporate worship. There’s bits of it here and there, but I’d expect that element to be primary.
Something that amused me was the consistent explanation of the meaning of various words. It reminded me of the father from the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the character consistently demonstrated the meaning of every word from their Greek origin. But that’s just me. Lawrenz has made great effort to be clear.
I have found this an interesting book to dip in and out of. It challenges and instructs in a very gracious and encouraging way. And most of all it is founded on the premise that success as a leader who is a Christian is marked by growth in character and wisdom, not by the numbers of those influenced or outcomes achieved in their stations.
The review copy of Spiritual Influence was provided by Zondervan Publishers’ Engaging Church Blog as part of their Spiritual Influence blog tour.
Provision of the book did not require the publication of a positive review.