Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer: Book Review

by | Oct 14, 2017

I love books. Although you can’t choose a book by its cover, when the cover looks and feels great, I feel happy as I sit down with my pen and open the book.

To be honest, I chose Spiritual Leadership with some trepidation, thinking it would be stogy and outdated, but feeling it was time to read something fresh about leadership. Within seconds, I realized I had made an excellent choice.


Spiritual Leadership was first published in 1969; this is the fourth printing, with over 1 million copies in print and this copy was updated for the contemporary reader.

Though written last century, Sanders has an incredible foresightedness. His writing is relevant, and interesting, and held my attention.

The book is a classic on leadership. In a day when we view prime qualities of leadership as either charisma or else the choleric propensity to get things done, Sanders directs us to a higher standard; Jesus Christ, the Servant Leader. Leadership isn’t about how gifted you are or about getting others to do what you want, it is about spiritual character qualities flowing out of an intimate relationship with the Lord.  

Be challenged to pray in the Spirit

Learn to take interruptions as from the Lord

Rediscover the focus of service rather than ambition

Be reminded that failure can bring humility


“All vital praying makes a drain on a man’s vitality. True intercession is a sacrifice, a bleeding sacrifice.” (Pg 102). Become a person who prays in the Spirit. Real prayer “uses the body, requires the cooperation of the mind, and moves in the supernatural realm of the Spirit.” (Pg 103).


A refreshing perspective on dealing with interruptions, “So when someone comes in, I say, ‘The Lord must have brought you here. Let us find out why He sent you. Let us have prayer.’ Now I take interruptions as from the Lord. They belong in my schedule, because the schedule is God’s to arrange at His pleasure.” (Pg 116).


Sanders was a reader. “The habit of reading and forgetting only builds the habit of forgetting other important matters.” I don’t think he would be a proponent of skimming or speed reading, for he encourages us to “read with a pencil and notebook in hand” and to think about what is read. I loved his suggestion to “correlate your reading – history with poetry, biography with historical novel.” (Pg 129).


Sanders compassionately states no failure is final. We each are imperfect. Let the Lord use our failure and feelings of inadequacy to produce humility and cause us to intentionally come under His authority.


He warns of the deadliness of ambition within Christian leadership, of which the Church is rife today. Sanders quotes Leslie Newbigin, “The church needs saints and servants, not ‘leaders’, and if we forget the priority of service, the entire idea of leadership becomes dangerous.” (Pg 180).

Servant Leadership

Throughout the book, Sanders sees spiritual leadership as vital to the development of a balanced life – both of the individual and of the Body of Christ. He clarifies godly leadership is not about methods and business practices; it is about the development of your inner character so you reflect the character of Christ.

This book is a call to return to the essentials of the faith. We need this message. As we’ve sought to be relevant, we have become more focused on being seen and accepted, than concerned about learning to become like Jesus, who as a Servant, exemplified the heart of compassionate servant leadership.

Reflection Questions and Study Guide

Each chapter has questions for reflection. Although I love to ask and ponder questions,  and Sanders challenges the reader to move forward into a deeper commitment to Christ, the chapter questions added to this edition failed to engage me.

As I finished the book, I found a small group study guide in the back. Those questions would be helpful to consider as you read the book.

Seek a Servant Heart

I recommend anyone in leadership or preparing for ministry to obtain this book. It is an excellent resource that will challenge you to reassess your life. Each chapter includes well researched examples and quotations of godly men or women of Scripture and through history who made a positive impact on the Church of Christ.

Read and meditate on this book. If you engage with the concepts presented,  it will help in your journey to walk worthy of the calling wherewith you have been called.

Prayerfully ask the Lord: to reveal where you walk in the flesh, to develop in you a servant heart motivated by love, and inspire you to do the will of the Heavenly Father.

Remember. Readers who engage with godly men and women through the printed page, make authentic leaders!

Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.

God Bless You My Friend
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