Five Seminal Leadership Books Every Pastor Should Master

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For a book to be seminal, it must rise above the other works of the time. Not only must a seminal work stand out, it must also change paradigms and become an influencer of later developments. A seminal book is not necessarily current, but it is one you must master in order to understand current thought.

While the study of leadership can be traced back to such thinkers as Machiavelli, this field is relatively new. It is only in the last fifty years that the academy has recognized leadership studies as a formal discipline. 

So much of what we find in church leadership books today can be traced to a few seminal works in the field of leadership studies. I’ll share with you five of my favorite seminal works in leadership studies. There are others, for sure, but these five stand out as having a profound influence on what we find in church leadership literature, even if the authors don’t realize the origin of their thoughts.

You should master these five works if you lead a church. Each book has gone through several editions and revisions. I’ve provided the original publication date. 

Servant Leadership by Greenleaf (1977). As the father of modern servant leadership, Greenleaf introduced the idea that great leaders are the ones who are—deep down—servants first. This book champions the concept that authority should only be bestowed upon those leaders who have first demonstrated they are servants. Greenleaf believed society would change and become more caring as servant-leaders worked…

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