When it comes to books on leadership, the words of the ancient biblical wisdom writer come to mind: “Of making many books there is no end…” (Ecclesiastes 12:12 ESV). So, do we really need another book touting the latest theory on leadership?
Anticipating the question, Paul Seger writes:
The complexity of our Western world blurs our understanding of leadership. Thousands of books have been written on the topic. There are multiple theories of leadership, and each one seeks to replace the previous popular approach. So why would anyone write another book on leadership? (p.vi).
In making the case for yet another book on leadership, Seger says many leadership texts come from secular theorists who make no claim for presenting a Christian theory of leadership. Others take secular leadership models and clothe them in biblical texts “in an attempt to give them a Christian look” (p.vii). Targeting a Christian readership, Seger is unapologetically biblical in his approach.
Truth originates with God. Sometimes non-religious people stumble onto principles that work. It didn’t happen because they were searching Scripture. They just found something that seemed to function well. In many non-Christian leadership books there are practical hints that work. This book, however, is an attempt to bring to the surface biblical truths on the topic of leadership (p.vii).
As Director of Biblical Ministries Worldwide, Seger oversees an international team of missionary evangelists, church planters and disciplers. Not only is he a mission leader, Seger grew up in a remote Nigerian village where his parents were pioneer missionaries. He joined the mission he now leads to serve as a church planter in South Africa. He served there for 17 years. As a missionary-kid-turned-missionary-church-planter-turned-mission-leader, Seger is well qualified to write this book. He understands leadership from an explicitly Christian perspective exercised in an international, multicultural context.
In Chief: Leadership Lessons from a Village in Africa, Seger explores 20 basic leadership principles. The study is built around the definition of leadership used by the agency he directs.
A leader is a godly servant who knows where he is going and inspires and equips others to follow.
Drawing from a childhood of Nigerian village life and from the actions of African wildlife, along with his subsequent life and ministry experience, Seger builds a colorfully-engaging and convincing picture of biblically-based leadership. The chapter titles below give you an idea of his approach to leadership.
Village Chief or Medicine Man? – Leading without title
King of the Jungle – Learning to lead
Lorries – Paradigm shifts
Mai Haji – The importance of vision
Ant Hills – The art of teamwork
Dodo – Define reality
The First Rain – Time management
Hornbills – Servant leadership
Mud Huts – The beauty of simplicity
The Blacksmith – The value of mentoring and apprenticeships
Sawubona – People skills
Pushing Boulders – The importance of values
Veld Fires – The reset button
Village Life – Transparency
The Baobab Tree – Rejecting status quo
Rhino Skin – Handling criticism
Head Loads – The art of multi-tasking
Wells – Creating margin
The Swinging Bridge – Succession
Going Rogue – The danger of success and getting old
Every chapter concludes with questions for reflection and action, encouraging readers to apply the leadership lessons in their own lives. The appendices include several valuable tools to help readers assess their leadership readiness, style, strengths and weaknesses.
If you are looking for an enjoyable, practical, and useable text on biblically-informed Christian leadership, this may be just the book you are looking for.