10 Challenging Leadership Quotes from J. Oswald Sanders’ Classic, SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP

This book was one of the first leadership books I read as a young pastor four decades ago; in fact, the picture above shows my first copy of the book and my most current copy. This many years later, I still remember many of its thoughts. Maybe these quotes will challenge you today as they do me.[1]

  1. “If those who hold influence over others fail to lead toward the spiritual uplands, then surely the path to the lowlands will be well worn. People travel together; no one lives detached and alone. We dare not take lightly God’s call to leadership in our lives.” (p. 19)
  2. “It is unwise to give key positions too early even to those who demonstrate promising talent, lest status spoil them. The story of the church and its mission is filled with examples of failed leaders who were appointed too soon.” (p. 45). 
  3. “The spiritual leader will choose the hidden path of sacrificial service and approval of the Lord over the flamboyant self-advertising of the world.” (p. 62)
  4. “The spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer.” (p. 83)
  5. “No leader lives a day without criticism, and humility will never be more on trial than when criticism comes.” (p. 120)
  6. “More failure comes from an excess of caution than from bold experiments with new ideas. . . . A leader cannot afford to ignore the counsel of cautious people, who can save a mission from mistakes and loss. But, caution should not curb vision, especially when the leader knows God is in control.” (p. 128)
  7. “The degree to which a leader is able to delegate work is a measure of his success. A one-person office can never grow larger than the load one person can carry.” (p. 138)
  8. “The ultimate test of a person’s leadership is the health of the organization when the organizer is gone.” (p. 143)
  9. “Leadership training cannot be done on a mass scale. It requires patient, careful instruction and prayerful, personal guidance over a considerable time.” (p. 153)
  10. “Through all the highs and lows of leadership, in times of great certainty and crippling uncertainty, those who have led in rebuilding broken-down walls and bringing God’s message of light and life into dark places have been those whose souls have never ceased to say ‘Yes’ to Jesus’ invitation, ‘Follow me.’” (p. 171)

Thoughts? Where are you most challenged? 

[1] Page numbers from the 1994 Moody Press version of this book. 

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