The Call and the Commission” // Edited by Rob Frost, David Wilkinson and Joanne Cox // Paternoster

With the plethora of material aimed at developing young leaders, “Growing Leaders – youth edition”, “One Life” (springing from St Andrew’s, Chorleywood) and “Kinetic” from Urban Saints – it is great to see a book bringing together a wide range of authors to add some theological depth and focus to the discussion about how we might equip this generation for leadership.

Each chapter stands alone.  Some read as a thinly veiled diatribe against the status quo, other chapters appear to defend institutional models of discernment and training – which makes finding these different perspectives (all well argued and succinct) in one book, unique.

The late Rob Frost’s opening chapter is a powerful testimony to his desire to find and release leadership, sometimes regardless of the structures of the church – which can so often get in the way of what God is trying to do!  Despite its title, “Overcoming Theological Inertia” is a cracking chapter.  One sentence towards the end of this chapter, for me, sums of the challenge and the opportunity for training institutions in the 21st century, “Ministerial training colleges . . . need to embrace  the tension between individuality and institution and encourage an environment of creativity through a process of dialogue and understanding”.  There is also a chapter from Derek Tidball with some reflections on the call, charisma, and character of a leader. 

The chapter with which I felt the most resonance was Anne Dyer’s, as she reflects on the spirituality of leadership.  Her chapter ends with an important note.  Many of our young people might aspire to leadership and many of us as leaders might, at times, find we are primarily defined by our role and what we do as leaders.  However great our gifts, however solid our character, how ever certain our call, as Anne says, “. . . our knowledge is always partial, incomplete, but knowing who we are in Christ is deep and empowering knowledge for us all.”

The most powerful example as leaders that we can give our young people is to demonstrate our reliance not on what we know or our position, but on who we know and our relationship with Him.  This is a common thread through the book, and why it should be on all our bookshelves.