Have you ever read seven books in just five weeks? Some of you avid readers out there are saying “Yes, easily!” The other affirmative responses are coming from former students of Artios Christian College‘s introductory course, LEA111 (Essentials of Vibrant Leadership). Over the five weeks of this course, students are required to read seven different books all on Christian leadership! Thankfully, each book is compelling and insightful making the reading enjoyable. One of these assigned books is Andy Stanley’s Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future. This particular book comes with an essay assignment in which students answer three questions: 1) What did this book teach you about leadership? 2) What part of the book was most significant for you personally? And 3) How can you apply what the book has taught you to your own daily leadership?
The group of LEA111 students from 2017 did not disappoint in their responses.
What did you learn about leadership from this book?
“This book was chock full of practical guidance on leadership,” says Dirk Anderson. “The section on competence was excellent. It taught me that doing more does not necessarily mean I am accomplishing more. In fact, I may be accomplishing less. I learned that my effectiveness diminishes when I move away from my core competencies.”
Building on the point of competency, Esther Winchell makes this point based on the book: “As a leader, one may think that there is no one else to do something, therefore they take on all tasks even though they may not be very good at some. Delegation is important as [Stanley] states, ‘The less you do, the more you enable others to accomplish.’ 1”
Yair Moreno also learned the importance of delegation through this book. He says, “What I learned about leadership from this book is that leadership is not always about getting things done ‘right.’ Leadership is about getting things done through other people.”
Enabling followers to learn from your leadership, and develop more efficient methods of achievement is what leadership is all about. It’s equipping others to lead. As student Misael Castro points out, “In his introduction Stanley states that ‘In leadership, success is succession.’ If those coming along behind me aren’t able to take what I have offered and build on it, then I have failed in my responsibility.”The less you do, the more you enable others to accomplish. - Andy Stanley Click To Tweet
Courage and Fear
Moving on from the value of delegation, Abigail Gaona appreciates the author’s insights on fear and courage. She notes, “After reading [this] book, I learned that a leader must have courage, and found it especially significant when the author mentioned how fear can hinder an individual from becoming a leader.”
At the core of Christian leadership, however, is the goal of reflecting Christ in all that one says and does. Which often does take courage. That is the lesson that student Tom Winchell learned from Stanley’s book. Winchell explains, “Another point of great interest and truth is what Stanley said on page 72, ‘the truth is that there is very little to show for all the meetings, messages, and mothers’ mornings out. The church is making far more dinners than disciples.’ This is so true when activities get more emphasis than speaking [about Christ] to a co-worker, your neighbor, or even family members.”
What was the most significant part of this book for you personally?
Courage and Uncertainty
Who doesn’t love certainty and predictability? Unfortunately, neither come with a guarantee. With that in mind, Antonio Reyna explains, “The most significant part of the book for me is how a leader must embrace the uncertainty of all situations. The lack of clarity is the perfect environment for a leader to thrive in. If every department has the clear goal of the things that must be done, then there is no need for a leader. However, when the situation is very unstable and the chances that anything could happen increase, the leader’s responsibility also increases.”
Despite the element of uncertainty, “The part most important for my personality,” begins David Zellers, “is that as a leader one must use the information available to courageously make decisions in a timely manner without hesitation. Then those decisions must be communicated with clarity to those involved.”
Other students reflected more on the remaining leadership essentials from Stanley’s book. Like Janhoi Kelly who focused in on character. “The fifth facet of leadership, character, has resonated deeply with me and is the most significant part of this book for me. Unlike the other traits, character does not directly affect leadership performance and success but makes the leader one worth following.”
The essential of coaching stood out most to Lionel Stith. He reflects, “I have always believed in mentoring and preparing leaders for the future. I have also made it a practice to enhance my leadership skills by education and seminars. However, it never occurred to me the best way to sharpen my leadership skills would involved utilizing a leadership coach.”
Reuben Harris found a point about family leadership most personally significant to him. He comments, “[Andy Stanley’s] father Minister Charles Stanley ensured that a healthy balance was struck between external ministry and family. His mother equipped him for life but empowered him to make decisions and to live with the consequences of his actions. I feel this is significant because parent ministers must ensure not to alienate our children whilst serving the congregations. I learned that we must prepare both our biological and spiritual children to face life challenges then release them with confidence.”In leadership, success is succession. - Andy Stanley Click To Tweet
How can you apply what you’ve learned as a leader within your own spheres of influence?
Stanley’s book resonated deeply with the students, providing them with practical steps to take in their own leadership journeys.
Courage to Lead
Andrea Slawson is determined to embrace courage in leadership. “I can apply what I have learned by not letting fear rule my life, and if I wait for it to go away I will never move. To pray that God gives me a boldness to be what He needs me to be, even if that isn’t popular with some people. I need to be a leader of action, one that acts on what she sees and to speak when everyone else is silent. I need to go first.”
Courage to Embrace Strengths and Weaknesses
Stuart Minica is taking these essentials to heart in every area of his life. He explains, “I can apply these principles within all my spheres of influence (family, church, business, school). Instead of trying to ‘do it all’ and take too much upon myself, I will focus on what I am good at while encouraging others to get involved in areas of my weaknesses. I will strive to have courage and provide clarity at all times, but especially in times of uncertainty. I will be on the lookout for potential leadership coaches. Most importantly, I will determine now to maintain my Godly character no matter the cost.”
Deandra Hurst also plans to humbly accept both her strengths and her weaknesses. “I certainly plan to embrace who God has created me to be which includes identifying both my strengths and weaknesses and being comfortable enough in this area,” she notes. “Within my sphere of influence, I will not feel abashed to admit that I can only do so much and no better and so I will focus on doing what I can do well and allow others to do what they can do well. This will enable camaraderie and encourage others to step up and utilize the talents that they have been gifted with.”
Courage to Say “No”
Sometimes courage means knowing when and how to say “no”. John Schott plans to do just that more often. “I am better prepared now to say no for the sole purpose of concentrating on my current responsibilities. I have accepted too much before, and the results were poor. Also, I plan to maintain personal devotional time to nourish the character of my heart by staying focused on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Noe Salazar agrees with Schott’s last statement about focused time with the Lord. “‘Leaders are not always the first to see the need for change, but they are the first to act. And once they move away from the pack, they are positioned to lead.’ 2 How I had found this statement to be so truthful. When we are in a group setting we tend to just follow the group. I also found when we move away from the pack we can hear or teach what God wants us to do next.”
Two students wrapped up the general take-away of this helpful book.
According to Loren Stacy, “While it seemed to me as I read this book that almost every chapter offered me a new insight, the larger lesson that I think I have learned concerns the content of this book: There are certain basic ‘essentials’ of leadership which, when learned and put into practice, will make a leader effective and, if ignored, will prevent one from being much of a leader at all.”
Michael Mancha concludes his take-away with this: “The more I read, the more I realized that these five essentials that Stanley highlights—competence, courage, clarity, coaching, and character—are all action based. They are things that require, not just thought but working to put them into real life. This is what leadership is to me… action. Stanley takes these matters that begin in the heart and in the mind, lays out a landscape in how these essentials can exist in the life of a leader, then challenges the reader to make it happen.”
Andy Stanley’s Next Generation isn’t just for those who have or plan to have leadership titles. This book and all of LEA111 is for every Christian. Why? Because Jesus re-creates every person who follows Him to lead in their everyday circles of influence. Are you up for the challenge (and personal benefit) of reading seven excellent leadership books in 5 weeks? Become an Artios College student by taking Essentials of Vibrant Leadership!
These resources may also interest you:
- Read Why Jesus-Followers Should See Themselves as Leaders
- Read 10 Qualities of Influential Christians
- Get Artios Christian College’s free download of Discovering Your Leadership Strengths