This is an outstanding book by Scott Sauls, who is the lead pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Formerly Sauls served on the lead team and on the preaching team with Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.
In this book Sauls discusses eight vulnerabilities – eight things to be alert to that can cause problems for leaders. But at the same time, these are eight weaknesses that God can use to make us better leaders.
The book is quite good. Sauls is insightful and bright. He is well read and the book has excellent quotes and anecdotes. He is also humble and transparent about his own struggles.
Here are the eight vulnerabilities: ambition, isolation, criticism, envy, insecurity, anti-climax (disappointment), opposition, suffering. I would say that the chapters on ambition, criticism, envy and insecurity are especially good, but all of them are good.
Near the outset of the book, he makes these comments:
Jesus also offers a radically different understanding of what it means to be a leader. His vision for leadership often parts ways with the typical American view of such things. For example:
In America, credentials qualify a person to lead. In Jesus, the chief qualification is character.
In America, what matters most are the results we produce. In Jesus, what matters most is the kind of people we are becoming.
In America, success if measured by material accumulation, power, and the positions that we hold. In Jesus, success is measured by material generosity, humility, and the people whom we serve. (p. 21)
Because of his own struggles, he makes this prayer a daily prayer for himself:
Father in heaven,
Always grant me character
that is greater than my gifts
that is greater than my influence.
The book is rooted in the Scriptures. For example, he has very good sections on the rivalry of Jacob and Esau, and on Jacob’s wrestling with God in Genesis 32.
Here is an example of the kind of honesty and vulnerability that he models:
One season flattened me physically, spiritually, and emotionally to the point where, though not suicidal, I prayed daily that God would either heal the affliction or end my life. I could not sleep despite taking sleeping pills, lost thirty pounds, and could barely eat or get out of bed. If you had quoted Romans 8:28 to me or referenced other Scripture promising that God would work my situation out for good, it would have fallen on deaf ears.
In retrospect, however, I can now see the hand of God in that horrid season. (p. 179-180)
Finally, he concludes with a tribute to Tim Keller. He wrote this tribute after Tim Keller announced his planned retirement in March, 2017. There is much to be learned simply by reading about Keller’s life in this tribute.
Overall, I highly recommend this book.