There’s a lot of concepts and practical ideas packed into this comparatively slender book—so much so that I wish it’d been noticeable thicker so that it all could have been unpacked more. Nonetheless, and especially for those who aren’t big-time readers, Steve Ogne and Ken Priddy have at least set out the stepping-stones for a very clear path to spiritual leadership development.
Steven L. Ogne and Kenneth E. Priddy. The Leadership Ladder: Developing Missional Leaders in the Church. 184p., $12.00, ChurchSmart Resources.
Although the specific focus here is on developing missional leaders, the fact is: Every leader in the church should be a missional leader to some degree. All of us are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Thus, the authors take us through a very logical path of progression that can apply to any one of us, really, and not just leaders. Chapters start with the two “rails” of the ladder before then moving into the six “rungs,” as follows:
• Building biblical knowledge
• Building biblical character
• Living missionally
• Making disciples
• Mobilizing ministry
• Leading ministry
• Leading leaders
• Planting churches
Each of these stages could easily have been a book in itself (and this might well be an overview for a much larger training program, although I can’t say for sure). Not everyone needs to get to the “top” of the ladder here, but really, every leader should be at least “halfway” up, and most should be striving to move beyond that.
Thus, each chapter identifies several skills that need to be developed for each rail and rung, and provides practical ideas (and sometimes even sketches of larger workshops) in order to train and develop leaders further. Again, on the one hand, as a reader it feels like it moves a bit too quickly. On the other hand, a prospective leader could grab this, dig into one or more of the many suggestions here, and take months fleshing them out on their own. And that’s not a bad thing (and likely part of the authors’ intent).
One thing that Ogne and Priddy do that I especially appreciate is to cross-reference the stages as they go along, especially in terms of tying the “rails” of the ladder to the “rungs.” By doing so, authors reinforce something we all too often forget: Leadership doesn’t mean that you no longer have the need for spiritual and character formation; in fact, it’s something you need more than ever. And by the same token, it becomes clear here than growth in leadership isn’t so much a progression from one stage to another as it is an expansion of one’s circle of influence. (As such, it kind of betrays the entire ladder motif, but I’m OK with that.)
The authors do include a brief chapter/overview at the end on “Putting the Leadership Ladder to Work,” but by then it’s likely you’ll have starting developing your own ideas. And again, that’s a good thing.