Review of ‘Passing the Leadership Baton’ by Tom Mullins

 Passing-the-Leadership-BatonTom Mullins, Passing the Leadership Baton: A winning transition plan for your ministry (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015). Hardcover | Kindle

The American men’s relay team is an Olympics powerhouse. Since 1920, it has won gold medals at 15 of 21 Olympics. It did not do so in the 4×100 relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, however. Rather, it disqualified when Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay dropped the baton as they headed into the fourth leg of the race.

When it comes to transitions between pastors and their successors, a lot of churches drop the baton. The reasons for this are various: lack of planning, poor choice of successor, the inability of a predecessor to let go of the ministry, unforeseen crises, etc. Whatever the reasons, Tom Mullins thinks churches can a better job of passing the leadership baton. In this book, he coaches pastors how to lead their churches through their own transitions.

Mullins’ advice can be summarized in eight action steps:

  • Lead through transition.
  • Keep the right perspective.
  • Prepare for the win.
  • Select and prepare your successor.
  • Position yourself for success.
  • Position others for success.
  • Lead through crisis-driven transitions.
  • Create a legacy.

Mullins devotes a chapter to each action item. His advice is practical, experience-derived, and simply and winsomely written. Throughout the book, he reflects on how he transitioned leadership of Christ Fellowship, a multisite church in Florida, to his son Todd. He also cites the experiences—both positive and negative—of other churches and Christian ministries.

Near the end of the book, he captures the proper spirit in which church leadership transitions should take place: “Transition really comes down to being an issue of humility and surrender, if you think about it. All the practical things we’ve discussed in this book have hopefully been helpful to you as you plan with intentionality and troubleshoot inevitable issues along the way to your own transition in leadership. But the most important thing to consider is the fact God’s work is for God’s sake—not your own… When that is your realization, it forces you to a place of humility and surrender in the transition process because He alone is the priority, and His plans for His church are what matters above anything else.”

I highly recommend this book to pastors and their boards. It will be of immediate help to older ministers who are preparing to transition into retirement or other ministries in a few years. But younger ministers can benefit from reading it too. “Transition is not the only greatest test of your leadership,” Mullins writes; “it is your legacy. Transition well.”


P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.






Later-Term Abortion and Science Denial

Over at Commentary, Jonathan S. Tobin writes:

Instead of mulling whether the late term abortion ban (passed on the second anniversary of the sentencing of late term abortion butcher Kermit Gosnell for slaughtering infants born alive after such procedures) is politically wise for Republicans or a godsend to Democrats eager to replay their 2012 “war on women” attacks on their foes, we should be discussing the real life implications of medical innovations on public policy. The real issue isn’t the legality of abortion as a whole — which isn’t in question — but the lives of infants who could survive but are now still able to be legally sentenced to a grisly death because of the fears of a political faction that is still in denial about a scientific consensus and medical facts.

Read the whole thing: Later-Term Abortion and Science Denial.

Review of ‘Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth’ by Samuel R. Chand

Leadership-Pain Samuel R. Chand, Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015). Hardcover | Kindle

“If you’re leading, you’re bleeding,” writes Samuel R. Chand in his new book, Leadership Pain.

That five-word sentence captures a crucial truth about leadership in general, and pastoral leadership in particular. Leadership is hard work. Rather than avoiding that hard work, Chand urges ministry leaders to embrace it.

Pain comes in many forms. Chand writes: “some of our pain is self-inflicted, the accumulation of unrelieved stress. Some is the result of external challenges, and we suffer heartaches and headaches because we’re trying to grow and fulfill God’s purposes for our churches.”

Consequently, he goes on to say, “The goal, then, is sometimes to avoid pain, sometimes to relieve pain, sometimes to create the pain of growth, but always to learn the lessons God has for us in the midst of our pain.”

Leadership Pain shifts back and forth between these two emphases, between identifying the form of pain and naming the goal in responding to it.

Two lessons in the book stood out in particular to me, or rather, two quotations: The first comes at the beginning of the book, in which Chand offers this hypothetical syllogism:

Growth = Change

Change = Loss

Loss = Pain

Thus, Growth = Pain

 The second comes at the end, when Chand writes: “Don’t run from your pain. Don’t deny that it exists. It’s the most effective leadership development tool the world has ever known. You’ll only grow to the threshold of your pain, so raise it!”

There’s a lot of wisdom in those two observations, as well as in the intervening pages of this book.

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Review of ‘The Secret Speech’ by Tom Rob Smith

The-Secret-Speech Tom Rob Smith, The Secret Speech (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2009). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

On February 25, 1956, Nikita Khrushchev delivered a speech to a closed session of the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The speech, which was formally titled “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences,” criticized Josef Stalin, his prosecution of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), his multiple purges of the armed forces and party leadership, and other politically driven crimes against the Soviet people.

Tom Rob Smith uses Khrushchev’s speech as his point of departure in The Secret Speech, the second volume in his Child 44 trilogy. The question it ponders is this: When the State becomes criminal, can criminals exact justice? As always, Leo Demidov is at the center of the action, traveling from Moscow to Kolyma to Budapest to uncover the truth and protect himself and his family in the process. As with Smith’s other volumes in this series, the pacing is swift and the plot twists are sharp.

Highly recommended, but read the books in order of the series!


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