Book Review-Malphurs

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A Paper

Presented to

Dr. Daniel Moosbrugger

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


In Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for PASMN 5323



Ronald G. Sears

February 1, 2007

Book Review-Malphurs


While in the corporate world, I had the opportunity to attend conferences, take personality profiles, and read books on the topic of leadership. It is encouraging to see so many similarities with Christian leadership. Both types of leadership cast a vision, develop a plan, set goals, and empower people. The core difference seams to be in the motivation. In the secular environment, the motivation is leading people to meet goals that would result in the individual, the leader, or even the company to gain financially. In the Christian environment, the motivation is leading others to deny themselves, train them how to live holy, and to glorify the Lord.

Summary of Contents

A Christian Leader

This chapter looks at the leader’s core. A Christian leader must always lead christianly, regardless if he or she is leading in a Christian environment. A Christian leader has eight distinctive characteristics. He or she must be a Christian, a committed Christ-follower, have a source of truth that is divine revelation, emphasize godly character, understand the importance of motives, serve through the power of the Holy Spirit, practice godly servant leadership, and may have the gift of leadership.

Christian leaders in the first century church were apostles, elders, and overseers. The term elder, best describes the name of the office; but the term overseer, describes the function of the office. There are two common views concerning the leadership structure of the church. One way will place more authority in a senior pastor, while the other, relies more on a group with equal authority. Scripture is not clear, so the church has the freedom to choose. Some of the pastor’s responsibilities are to manage his family, guard against false teachers, be able to teach, provide direction, and purse the Great Commission.

A Servant Leader

This chapter looks at the leader’s heart. A servant leader’s motivate should be to glorify God as he serves Christ and his church. The servant leader’s manner of leadership is humility, the essence to service, the recipients are others, and the motivation of love. These characteristics resemble a servant and a shepherd. There are four misconceptions about servant leadership. They include doing ministry for others, being passive, focusing on the leader’s weaknesses, and ignoring the leader’s own needs. 

A Credible Leader

This chapter looks at the leader’s trustworthiness. If potential followers do not believe in the message of the leader, then they will struggle believing in the leader. The followers must decide to trust God, and then extend that trust to the leader. This requires the follower to step out of their comfort zone, into a trust zone.

Regardless of the context, a leader must develop his or her credibility, and that will take time. Some obstacles for the leader could be the three pastoral stages, the arrival time and his or her age, and generational gaps. Developing credibility includes eight important ingredients. It takes character, competence, clarity of direction, communication, conviction, courage, care, and composure. If credibility is lost, the five steps to regain it are to admit the mistake, acknowledge the responsibility, apologize, accept the consequences, and correct the situation.

A Capable Leader

This chapter looks at the leader’s tools. The leader’s capabilities are his or her God-given and God-directed special abilities for ministry. The God-given capabilities are spiritual and natural gifts, passion, and temperament. The developed capabilities are character (being), knowledge (knowing), skills (doing), and emotions (feeling). The combination of both types of capabilities is what makes up the total leadership package. This includes the practices of challenging the process, inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, modeling the way, and encouraging the heart.

An Influential Leader

This chapter looks at the leader’s impact. Leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an individual or group in efforts toward goal achievement in a given situation. Moving people to change their thinking and behavior requires persuasion, encouragement, and a godly example. A leader must strive to understand his or her leadership style. A leader’s behavior is driven by tasks or relationships. The four leadership styles are directors (strong leadership), inspirationals (personable leadership), diplomats (supportive leadership), and analyticals (conscientious leadership). It is common for a leader to have a primary, secondary, and tertiary leadership style.

A leader should discover the ideal context in which his or her leadership style would be the most effective. A leader can overcome some of their weaknesses or limitations by working with others that are strong in that area, trying to improve them, or finding an acceptable work around that would not hinder the ministry. Maximizing strengthens is the key.

Influence and power are very closely related. Power is the ability to exercise control over other people, things, or events. Influence involves persuasion or giving the recipient more latitude. The leader’s relationship to power is positional (holding a position), personal (earned), individual (personal or position), or corporate (a group). The church’s relationship to power is episcopal, presbyterian, or congregational. The church polity determines whether a person or group of people holds the power and whether the structure is centralized (top-down) or decentralized (inward-outward). Scripture is not specific, so the church must determine which structure works better for them. The goal of the leader’s influence should be the spiritual transformation of the entire congregation. The power to accomplish that comes from the Holy Spirit.

A Followed Leader

This chapter looks at the leader’s supporters. Leadership requires followers, whether it is a governing board, a staff, or laypeople. A follower’s success depends on their ability and willingness to follow. Some followers will respond quickly, some eventually, some very slowly, and some never will. Therefore, it is important that a leader knows how to handle follower opposition.

A Situational Leader

This chapter looks at the leader’s context. A leader can be a very successful in one context, and experience ongoing struggles in another. For this reason, it is important to identify what type of context best aligns with a particular style of leadership. Knowing yourself as a leader, knowing your leadership context, comparing yourself as a leader with the ministry context, and making necessary adjustments, are four way to increase effectiveness. If struggles continue, then the leader can try to adjust his or her leadership, adjust the context, or he or she may choose to leave that ministry opportunity.

A Directional Leader

This chapter looks at the leader’s task. The God-given direction of the church is to fill the Great Commission. It is the leader’s responsibility to direct the people with that goal in mind. The leader should train the followers and the church to discover their ministry mission and vision.

Application to Ministry

The definition and characteristics of Christian leadership has helped me to identify who I am, and clarify the task ahead. As defined in the book, a Christian leader is to protect, teach, and lead his or her followers in such a way that the church is spiritually healthy and obedient to Christ’s Great Commission. A Christian leader is a servant with the credibility and capacity to influence people in a particular context to pursue their God-given direction.

The area I see the most applicable to my ministry is concerning the leader and church’s context. Knowing my doctrinal beliefs, core ministry values, style of leadership, capabilities, theology and philosophy of ministry, and ideal ministry circumstances will help me to lead in the most effective way, in a ministry that fits my God-given design. It has also helped me to recognize areas that need attention and which ones which might cause continual stress.

Another area is the leader’s task. To set the proper direction, I need to create a personal ministry mission and vision statement. My motto will be, “I must be committed to the fulfilling of His Great Commission while following His Great Commandments (Matt. 28:18-20; Matt. 22:37-39). If that is true in my life then it will be contagious to those around me. I can only imagine the witness that would have on a community to see the body of Christ working together to accomplish that goal. May God be glorified by my life, and what I lead others to do!


I do think Malphurs met his two-fold purpose for writing the book. His first goal was to define Christian leaders and leadership based on Scripture and research of leadership over the last two centuries. The second goal was to force others to define their terms and develop their concepts of a leader and leadership.

Though I did not answer all the questions at the end of each chapter, as I read them, it helped me to reflect back on the main points and personalize the application. Appendix C was very different from the others, but it was so true. I agree that the church views the leader’s primary task to be pastoral care. Malphurs adequately points out that it is one of his responsibilities, but leading is his primary focus. The combination of Appendix F (Spiritual Gifts Inventory), Appendix K (Relational Skills Inventory, Appendix L (Task Skills Inventory), Appendix M (Leadership Style Inventory), and Appendix Q (Ideal Ministry Circumstances Audit), helped me to clarify what area of ministry aligns best with my design.


This book had a lot of valuable information that has helped me to identify and evaluate many areas concerning my past, present, and future Christian leadership. It will serve as a useful resource for years to come.

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