Do we need another book on leading well? There isn’t much new to be said, but this short book from Rico Tice is not a manual for Christian leadership. Nor is it the 101 of pastoring in the twenty-first century. Rather, in the context of scandals that have shaken evangelical Christians in both the UK and the US, this little book feels like a timely and wise contribution to several important discussions. In just four short chapters, Tice offers a helpful diagnostic check-up on your heart. If you are in Christian ministry, especially church leadership, I would commend this book as a helpful read to reassess how you are and challenge yourself as to whether there are areas in your own life where sin and error may be creeping in. Alistair Begg sets the tone in his foreword: Christian leadership requires holiness and faithfulness, because the Christian leader can have a huge impact.
Tice’s first chapter asks the reader to define success. In pointing the reader to God’s definition of success, to the welcoming of the faithful servant into glory with those simple words “Well done,” Tice sets a tone for the rest of the book.
Success is hearing “Well Done” from the only lips that matter. Failure is being successful at things that don’t truly matter at all.p19.
How you will live and act as a leader will depend on how you define success. This opening chapter presents a helpful challenge to the sinful heart: does my definition align with God’s? Success in Christian leadership, argues Tice, comes from correctly handling the Word, preaching and promoting the Gospel and not ourselves.
This leads Tice to the story of Achan in the book of Joshua. Chapter 2 (‘Fight Your Sin’) offers this passage as a brutal reality check. Confront and own your sin, and put it to death. Because the truth will out, and it will destroy you and your ministry. These two chapters are a punchy start, and Tice’s exposition of the story of Achan alone is worth picking up the book for. (As an aside – this reviewer found it refreshing just how much Tice relied on Scripture in this book. There is always the danger with any Christian book that it will lean on Scripture and move past it, or give only the briefest of treatments to God’s Word. Tice depended on Scripture for both his argument and the hope that he offered to struggling leaders.)
Lead like Christ
The third and fourth chapters tie in this leadership with the two parts of the pastor-church relationship. Chapter 3 challenges the leader to ‘Lead Yourself’, chapter 4 to ‘Serve the Church’.
In what felt like a prophetic word given recent events in the UK evangelical constituency, Tice reflects on self-leadership.
The art of self-leadership is fundamental to successful leadership in any generation, including (and perhaps especially) the house of God.p62
The book encourages leaders to reorient their lives so that the Gospel is once again their treasure. Tice urges leaders to adopt a posture of thanksgiving, beginning with the cross. Such a simple attitude will be an immense blessing and equip you to better serve the Christian context in which you serve. Chapter 4 added a further call to resist worldly leadership models, and Tice brings the reader to Mark 10:35-45. A well known passage for most, but the reader is not called simply to know it, but to live it. This reflection on Mark 10 ends what has been a helpful little study in Christian leadership, ending with a call, ultimately, to lead like Christ.
This short book might not offer a profound new leadership model, or insights that will transform your preaching or management style. But it is packed full of biblical wisdom that might well save your ministry. In the current climate it feels like a timely message as the author urges Christian leaders to “listen well” (91), seek authenticity (100) and live out their salvation by grace alone (75).
Tice frames this book within the aftermath of recent scandals by directly addressing them in his afterword, which aside from a few questions for discussion closes off his book. This adds a sombre tone to his message, but it is appropriate. We are all fallen and sinful people, leaders included, and in this particular season, there is a great need for winsome and humble reflection such as this.
You can pick up a copy of Faithful Leaders from The Good Book Company.