The Bible’s version of leadership is pretty different from—and sometimes alien to—that of the business world. It is also dissimilar from our usual assumptions about what makes a great leader in the church, where we tend to focus on preaching ability, strategic hutzpah, and managerial savvy.
But what if the Bible actually points toward a different set of characteristics necessary for leadership? What if our weakness is an essential qualification? Do we know our limitations, our inabilities? Do we see clearly our vulnerable, broken selves? Do we really believe that God’s strength is perfected in our weakness, and do we lead with that as a core belief?
James Howell’s Weak Enough to Lead is not a list of “leadership principles” from the Bible. This book is an examination of stories about leaders from the Old Testament, where we discover not only them but ourselves. How does family dysfunction or depression or tragic bad luck or larger historical forces figure into the leadership equation? How do biblical characters prosper despite themselves or stumble even while being holy? Can we get inside the head, heart, and the actual administration of King David and reckon with his strength and foibles? How is strength in leadership almost always the downfall of the biblical leader? What kind of leader would Jesus, Esther, Moses, Jeremiah, or Paul be today?
Howell explores the careers, struggles, joys, and devastations of various biblical leaders, believing that immersion in scripture’s stories is what modern Christian leaders need—not to succeed so much as to be God’s people in the world. He roots this unique exploration of leadership in a prayer of Jehoshaphat: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”
“Strength found in weakness is a theme running throughout the Bible and Christian history. James Howell captures well this countercultural, divine way of working. He engages an amazingly broad range of biblical characters—who have little claim to worldly leadership credentials—with the rich, careful, and penetrating analysis of scripture we have come to expect from him.”
—Lovett H. Weems Jr., Distinguished Professor of Church Leadership, Senior Consultant for the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC