Book Review: Mentoring Leaders By Carson Pue
Published by Baker Books, 249 pages
Review by Terry from the Barna Group
A lot of individuals and organizations pass themselves off as expert leader developers. But, as Jesus teaches us, you will know people by the fruit they produce. Carson Pue, a former pastor and parachurch executive, has been leading the Arrow Leadership program, which develops young leaders, for more than a decade. The proof of his wisdom as a mentor of young leaders is discernible in the lives of those whom he has guided.
The Arrow process that Carson employs is based on the notion that every leader must refine several dimensions: his or her character, leadership skills, evangelistic passion and the desire to pursue God’s kingdom through their leadership efforts. To empower an individual to lead more effectively, the process entails assessment of the individual, the creation of a developmental plan, teaching and interaction that bring clarity and growth, personal mentoring by experienced leaders, relationships with a cluster of peers, and shaping experiences.
This book describes how those procedures work in practice. The process is organized around five critical functions. The first of those is developing self-awareness, which includes understanding of one’s perceptions of and relationship with God, as well. The ultimate objective of such soul searching is to achieve inner peace, which Dr. Pue describes as a sign of personal maturity. That peace emerges from the development of integrity, wisdom and reflection. The book delves into those that are common to leaders, such as involvement in sensuality, spiritual excess, pride, spiritual lust, fatigue, laziness, and compromise.
The second critical function is identifying and overcoming the personal barriers to spiritual maturity. Every leader treads a different path, so his or her barriers will differ. However, they tend to relate to the commission of particular sins; inappropriate or limiting vows that have been made; addictions that control the individual; distortions derived from power; and issues arising from relationships.
The third critical function is discovering vision. Carson is clear that grasping vision starts with God, must be consistent with the Bible, and that there are several different types of vision. He also differentiates between vision and mission, and notes that unless the leader is passionate about pursuing the vision little of value is likely to happen.
The fourth critical function is the implementation of the vision. The related chapters discuss elements such as communicating the vision; organizing around the vision; developing a team to pursue the vision; planning, budgeting and evaluation; and prayer.
The final function is that of sustaining leadership. Given that a leader must finish well, this portion of the training process explores aspects such as reorganizing one’s team for continued growth; understanding the developmental stages of an organization, and how to maximize each stage; having the foresight and courage to introduce necessary change; and expanding the leader’s capacity to bring people further down the road. This latter component includes the ability to persevere; making good decisions; achieving balance and a healthy family experience; having supportive friends and mentors who assist with accountability and evaluation; and releasing continual spiritual growth.
If you are involved in the process of helping young people to develop into better leaders you are likely to find this book helpful because of its practical nature. These are lessons from a man who walks this road daily.