Simple Truths Of Leadership (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Kenneth Blanchard cranks out the leadership books! What I love about his writing style is how he makes his leadership principles so accessible in just a few words. Most of his books contain an overarching concept that’s easy to grasp and immediately applicable. But Simple Truths Of Leadership, which he co-wrote with Randy Conely, is a slight departure from this predictable style. 

Simple Truths—as its title implies—still presents easy-to-grasp principles, but this book has a different feel to it. I think the best way I can describe this book is as an index to Blanchard’s earlier leadership books. 

The overall emphasis of this book is servant leadership, with all of these simple truths being presented to us in 52 snippets. Each snippet gives the reader more than enough information to get to work, but then there is a reference given to a book previously written or co-written by Kenneth Blanchard to allow for a deeper study of that principle. This is why the overall feel of this book is as an index to the other books. 

Whether you’ve read Kenneth Blanchard’s leadership books before, or if this is your first time picking up something he’s written, Simple Truths is a great book to add to your leadership library. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

The Holy War (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Many of the principles taught in the Bible are conveyed to us through graphic stories. Think about some of the imagery the prophets of the Old Testament used or even the parables Jesus used in the New Testament. In fact, even the Hebrew language of the Old Testament and the Greek language of the New Testament are very picturesque languages. John Bunyan takes full advantage of this in his book The Holy War. 

If you have ever read a John Bunyan book or sermon, it is quite obvious that the Bible is his Source Book. In fact, Charles Spurgeon said of him, “Why, this man is a living Bible! Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.” Much like The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Holy War is steeped in biblical imagery that makes the story so engaging. 

The title and subtitle of the book alone tell you the essence of the story: The holy war made by Shaddai upon Diabolus for the regaining of the metropolis of the world, or the losing and taking again of the town of Mansoul. With the assault taking place on Ear-gate and Eye-gate of Mansoul by such combatants as Lord Incredulity or Mr. Forget-Good, and the servants of King Shaddai such as Captain Conviction, Mr. Justice, and Mr. True-Man drawing up battle lines against the town, you can quickly see how picturesque the language truly is. 

Much in the vein of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, Bunyan also lets us hear the correspondence and war counsels of Lucifer and his minions, as well as the conversation between King Shaddai and His Son Emmanuel. 

As with anything I’ve ever read from John Bunyan, The Holy War is entertaining and insightful. If you have read and enjoyed The Pilgrim’s Progress, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this book as well. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Just as I was beginning my business career, Louis Gerstner was at the top of his career. Mr. Gerstner stepped in as the CEO of IBM when Big Blue was at a perilous time: This massive company was on the brink of either crumbling or soaring. Gerstner unpacks the impressive turnaround story in his book Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? 

When I was in my teenage years, several family members were encouraging me to consider IBM for my career path. They explained that a job at IBM would become a lucrative, influential, and lifelong position. Indeed, since its founding in the early twentieth century, it had grown into a worldwide behemoth of technology. You could tell IBM employees by their distinct dress, confidence, and loyalty to Big Blue. 

But adhering to the rigid principles that both Thomas Watson Sr. and Thomas Watson Jr. had preached turned into inflexible practices that were losing the true soul of this once-great company. By the early 1990s, IBM was floundering, hemorrhaging cash, and about to experience one of the most epic collapses any organization had ever seen. 

Enter Louis Gerstner. He had developed a stellar reputation at American Express and RJR Nabisco, and was highly sought as the CEO of IBM. Except Mr. Gerstner initially didn’t want to take on this challenge. He knew how difficult it would be to lead change in an organization that was so entrenched in its nearly 100-year-old ways. 

Eventually, he did agree to step into this role, and over the next decade led one of the most comprehensive and impressive turnarounds in business history. IBM shook off stodgy practices while returning to its founding principles, refocused on customers’ needs, and as a result, regained its dominance in the technology field. 

Any organization—whether for-profit or non-profit—can get stuck in a rut. Its once-beneficial principles can morph into practices which are merely attempting to keep the machinery running, but are no longer meaningful for either team members or other stakeholders. 

Mr. Gerstner’s refocusing of the elephant-sized IBM will give any leader some invaluable insights into how to keep their organization from sliding into ineffectiveness and irrelevance. I would highly recommend this book to all leaders. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

A Shepherd Leadership Update

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

My friend Greg Heeres and I have been through so many things over the past 30 years. For the past couple of years, we have been presenting a leadership podcast called The Craig And Greg Show. Recently, Greg wanted to talk with me about the success of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, and to get an update on how the book has been received by others. 

I am so grateful that my book was listed on Amazon as a #1 new release. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

The Roots Of Endurance (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I always glean so many valuable lessons when I read the autobiographies or biographies of notable people of history. The Roots Of Endurance is the third installment in John Piper’s excellent series “The swans are not silent.” 

This book looks at the lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce. Unlike the other books in this series, these men were all contemporaries and all of them had at least a passing relationship with each other. In fact, their lives and accomplishments were an encouragement to each other. 

Pastor John makes the case in this book that in order to endure through difficult times successfully, we must have a deep root into the joy of the Lord. This root nourishes our hearts to persevere successfully through long trials. These three men exhibit this endurance beautifully. John Newton had to endure his own struggles with his past, Charles Simeon contended with an obstinate congregation, and William Wilberforce battled pro-slavery forces in Parliament for years before the abolition of the slave trade was enacted.

All three of these men endured successfully because they trusted God so deeply. These roots of trust went deep and helped them to persevere for God’s glory.

As I have mentioned in my other book reviews from the series, anyone who enjoys biographies of godly leaders or the study of church history will thoroughly enjoy The Roots Of Endurance. 

If you would like to check out the other books in this series that I have previously reviewed, please click here, here, or here.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Susanna Wesley (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I think most people are familiar with the saying, “Behind every good man there is a good woman.” In the case of Samuel and Susanna Wesley almost the opposite is true: Susanna excelled as a godly mother despite the obstinacy and shortcomings of her husband Samuel. Arnold A. Dallimore delivers a fair overview of their lives in his biography of Susanna Wesley. 

Rev. Dallimore does an admirable job of telling Susanna’s story through the first person accounts of almost all of the Wesley family members. He has culled through the historical records, reading the letters of Samuel, Susanna, their children, and their relatives to give us a fairly unbiased look at this notable family. The subtitle of the book is, “The mother of John and Charles Wesley,” which is no small gift to the world! The preaching and song-writing ministries of these two brothers has had a huge impact on both the secular and church worlds, which is still being felt today. 

Samuel Wesley at times was distant from his family, to the extent of even abandoning them for a period of time, and was a very poor provider for his family. They were constantly in debt and struggling for the basic necessities. But despite these obstacles, Susanna created her own curriculum to instruct her children, and continued to correspond with them into their adulthood to give them her motherly wisdom. 

What a debt of gratitude we owe to this godly woman for not only persevering but thriving in the face of challenges that would have thwarted most people. And we also should be grateful to Arnold Dallimore for his well-researched biography of this amazing woman. 

(I previously reviewed Rev. Dallimore’s biography of George Whitefield.) 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Out Of The Depths (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I’ve heard it reported (and I quite believe it) that “Amazing Grace” is the best-known song in the world. This song of God’s unfathomable grace was written by a pastor who was once a slave trader. Out Of The Depths is the autobiography of slave-trader-turned-pastor John Newton. 

This story is told largely through the re-printing of letters that John Newton wrote to a friend over a lengthy correspondence. The original letters were not preserved, so as Mr. Newton wrote them again, he said that he added details that he hadn’t included in the first writing. Then the book closes with some remembrances of a dear friend, and a compilation of some short maxims that Pastor Newton used in his sermons and in conversations with friends. 

One of the real benefits of Newton writing these letters so long after the actual events is his ability to look back at the lessons he learned through his various trials. Granted, many of his trials were brought on by his own stubbornness, but still the beginning of the message of grace from his memorable hymn is heard in the recounting of these stories. 

Another key aspect of his story is his relationship with his wife. She and her family were much more committed Christians than Newton was at the time he began to show an interest in his bride-to-be, but neither she nor her family allowed the courtship to proceed until Newton had entirely surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. Their marriage was a source of great strength and encouragement to Pastor Newton. 

I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy learning about the key figures of church history. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

God uses humans—flawed, imperfect humans—to accomplish His sovereign plan. As we yield to His sovereignty we can discover an unparalleled joy. In The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy, John Piper shows us this principle in the lives of three notable men of church history: Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. 

Although separated by 1000 years, these men are inseparably linked to the beginning of the Reformation. Both Luther and Calvin relied heavily on the writings of Augustine as they called Christians away from the unbiblical teachings and traditions, and back to the pure, freeing truths of the Bible. 

These men are also linked in another way that should be quite encouraging to us. Augustine struggled with his sexual passions, Luther struggled to control his razor-sharp tongue, and Calvin used some rather worldly means to fight for biblical truths. All of them were flawed men, and yet God sovereignly used them. And through all of their struggles, the Holy Spirit brought all three of them into a place where they savored the sovereign joy that only God can give. This should give us great encouragement that God can use us too. 

By themselves, John Piper’s biographies of these men are worth your time to read, but the way Pastor John intertwines their stories to show us how sovereign joy can be our mainstay as well is absolutely brilliant. 

This was the first book Pastor John published in his series “The Swans Are Not Silent.” If you’re interested, I have previously shared reviews on The Hidden Smile Of God and Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully. 

Students of church history and those longing to know the joy of the Lord more deeply will enjoy reading The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

Book Reviews From 2021

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

I love reading, and I love sharing my love of good books with others! Here is a list of the books I read and reviewed in 2021. Click on a title to be taken to that review.

24

AC/DC

Churchill’s Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible

George Whitefield

Hal Moore On Leadership

His Last Bow

Holy Sexuality And The Gospel

How Christianity Changed The World

How I Got This Way

How To Bring Men To Christ

Jesus On Trial

John Adams

Miracles Out Of Somewhere

My Lucky Life

Out Of The Silent Planet

Perelandra

Pilgrim’s Progress

Prayer

Prophet With A Pen

QB

Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers

Secrets Of Dynamic Communication

Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully

Shepherd Leadership

Star Struck

Talking To GOATs

That Hideous Strength

The Art Of Writing And The Gift Of Writers

The Hidden Smile Of God

The Hiding Place

Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

To The Work!

Voice Of A Prophet

Washington’s Immortals

Word-For-Word Bible Comic: Jonah

Here are my book reviews for 2011.

Here are my book reviews for 2012.

Here are my book reviews for 2013.

Here are my book reviews for 2014.

Here are my book reviews for 2015.

Here are my book reviews for 2016.

Here are my book reviews for 2017.

Here are my book reviews for 2018.

       Here are my book reviews for 2019.

Here are my book reviews for 2020.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

AC/DC (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

A few weeks ago a storm had knocked power out to our house, and yet I still automatically flipped on a light switch every time I walked into a room. We have become so accustomed today to the consistent flow of electricity everywhere, but that wasn’t always the case. Tom McNichol recounts the history of the epic battle that brought electricity to our homes and offices in his book AC/DC.

I think most people would call Thomas Edison the pioneer of the flow of electricity to homes that lit up the lightbulbs he created. This is true in a certain respect, and yet it is only a fraction of the story. Edison did perfect a lightbulb for the express purpose of enticing people to bring electricity into their homes or businesses, and he did create a power station to generate that electrical flow. 

But power can flow through either direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC), and Edison steadfastly—some might even say stubbornly—stuck to his conviction that DC power was the way to go. In the meantime, other inventors, especially George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, were perfecting and promoting the superior advantages of AC power. The battle between these forces was vicious, unrelenting, and at times gruesome! 

Interestingly, it took the unique talents and prodigious minds of all three of these inventors to bring us the electrical systems we now rely upon so heavily to power our homes, businesses, cars, computers, and smart phones. From AC wired power to DC battery-stored power, we are daily grateful for these inventors’ creativity. 

I will add a slight footnote to this review that I found the bookend chapters of this book—that is the first and last chapters—to detract from the overall fascinating history. The opening chapter talks about man’s fear and fascination of lightning, and the last chapter talks about a modern-day technology battle that I found incongruous with the history of the AC/DC battle. But despite those somewhat awkward chapters, I found the balance of the book to be quite entertaining and educational. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

%d bloggers like this: