I am increasingly convinced that all leaders have their chosen Bibles. Christians will claim the book we all understand to be the Bible, but even many Christians will practice more from their functional Bible, which may be ‘Good to Great’ from Jim Collins or the latest from Patrick Lencioni or others. Now, let me be clear, Collins, Lencioni, Maxwell, Ramsey, Godin, and others are outstanding and have some great counsel and expertise and we should listen to them. But, Christian leaders must see all business books through the lens of one book.
Harold Bloom, author and scholar, has said that Shakespeare is the humanists’ Bible. And his work on Shakespeare, ‘Invention of the Human,’ is, in my mind, essential reading for leaders (confession: I did my undergraduate work with a double major in English and Theatre spending a term in London, England, for study, so I am by no means objective). Try reading King Lear or Julius Caesar or even Richard III or Henry V spending time jotting down some amazing quotes for your leadership library and you’ll agree that Shakespeare understands the human condition well.
Yet, in an age where leadership materials increasingly become accessible, the lens through which we see the content is important. Tim Keller among others has taught that we all have functional idols, meaning this: there’s the God we say we believe in and then there’s the god we functionally obey. I would submit that it’s the same with Bibles. There’s the Bible we say is without error and vital to all of life and then there’s the Bible we obey. While I read a lot of books from biography to history to crime fiction to management to leadership to philosophy and Bible commentary, there are only a few that actually make up my functional Bible and there is only one that should be my functional Bible.
What books have replaced your Bible as your ‘go to’ source of inspiration and information? And are you willing to give the Bible another shot at being smarter than the latest and greatest? I know I could always use a reminder to discern between the good and the better.
The NIV Leadership Bible (A Review)
Thematic Bibles have grown in popularity and availability over the years and specifically I can think of several that highlight the notes of specific writers like Max Lucado’s Life Lessons Bible, the CS Lewis Bible, the John Maxwell Bible, and the Macarthur Study Bible.
Recently, the NIV Leadership Bible has been made available and it contains notes from specific business leaders, thought leaders, and theologians and is laid out for the manager or leader to tackle a different book of the Bible in small chunks. Bible readings, quotes, and application questions all are part of Day 1 and this formula is repeated throughout all 66 books. In terms of a Bible, it’s attractive, useful, and I find the quotes often compelling. I am struck though that the ‘leadership’ quotes are often pulled from outside the Bible. When it’s truly impactful (as is the case when a John Perkins quote on justice is set in the margin of the prophet Isaiah….one of the more powerful devotional experiences in the format in my opinion) it works well, but when the quote takes away or lessens the impact of the Biblical text, then it’s unfortunate.
The NIV Leadership Bible will make a great gift and welcome addition to the business person’s library and may be a great idea for that man or woman who is visiting your church. The layout is well done and the format is useful. Being someone who has practiced reading entire books of the Bible in one sitting, I may not be the target audience, but I benefit regularly nonetheless. And what leader couldn’t use a good copy of the Scriptures?
(I received a copy of the NIV Leadership Bible free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review in cooperation with the Booksneeze program)
RC Sproul Interviews Don Carson on Studying the Bible
this is about a half hour, but worth your time, especially if you’re a Christian leader seeking to understand the Bible better.