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June 6, 2013

Just Lead!

A book review



Just%20Lead%20cover.png

The book:
Just Lead! A No Whining, No Complaining, No Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church
By Sherry Surratt and Jenni Catron
Published by Jossey-Bass

Why I picked up this book:
I have known both authors for several years now and think the world of them as women and as leaders. I was excited to hear they were partnering to share their wealth of experience and wisdom. I also wanted to read it because there are so few leadership books written by women, and even fewer from a ministry context (like hardly any).

Who should read Just Lead!:
This book is going on my recommended reading list for any woman leading in a ministry context—church or parachurch, staff member or volunteer. I would particularly suggest it to those new to leadership.

What’s in store for you:
Just Lead! delivers just what it promises in the subtitle: a practical guide for women leaders in the church. Sherry and Jenni give step-by-step approaches to leading well during times of growth or challenge (like conflict or organizational change) from their collective lessons learned.

Because of its conversational style and two perspectives, the book is far from a stale list of leadership how-to’s. Just Lead! reads like you’re having coffee with two longtime ministry friends: swapping their personal stories of what worked and what didn’t come close to working. Through special guest stories in most chapters, we also get introduced to several of their leader friends along the way.

With group discussion questions at the end of each chapter, the book is perfect to read with a team or a group of leader friends (like I did). Their easy-reading chapters tackle 11 major leadership issues, including fighting off fear and loneliness as well as dealing with insecurity and conflict.

My personal takeaways:

I was struck by how refreshing it was to read a book about leading in ministry that was written from a female perspective, with a woman’s examples. I especially appreciated their devoting a whole chapter to criticism. After digesting the truths and stories they shared, the discussion question cut right to the core for me: “Do you most fear rejection (criticism of who you are) or failure (criticism of what you do)?” And then the following honest chapter focused on pride and humility—the exact issues I have been struggling with, summed up in Proverbs 11:2: “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

What my book club had to say:
My leader friends thought it was easy to read and recommend this book as a good starting place for deeper conversation about personal leadership growth. But since each of us have well over a decade leading in ministry, we didn’t seem to have as many “aha” moments reading the book as we thought new leaders would have. We mainly found ourselves nodding in agreement with the majority of what was said and being reminded of leadership principles we try to practice.

Perhaps this is why we were most encouraged by the final chapter on investing in the next generation of women leaders. And then collectively convicted by our need for more “challengers” in our lives (as discussed in Chapter 1).

Twitter-worthy quotes:
“You can lead alone or you can lead well.”
“Good leadership is not leading by authority or position, but by inspiration and empowerment.”

Another book I would recommend on this topic:

Gifted to Lead by Nancy Beach


Julie Pierce empowers leaders to change the world through coaching, consulting teams, and communicating with groups. You can follow her on Twitter at @julie_pierce or read her leadership blog at www.empoweredbypierce.com

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