Takeaway: The age of the book often has little to do with the quality of its advice.
If I had said it once, I have said it well, a lot of times. You need to pick up christianaudio.com‘s free audiobook every month. I am often a month (or two or more) behind on reviews. So once again I am reviewing a good book that is no longer free. (It was free during the month of September.)
Spiritual Leadership is packed with wise spiritual and leadership advice. This is not a new book, the original version was published in the 1960s. The version I read (on audiobook) was re-edited in 2007 to update the language and few of the illustrations. I appreciate the updating. It feels like a fairly modern book on leadership, with the real depth of spiritual content that is often only in books written in the 19th century.
In many ways it feels like a modern attempt at writing Proverbs. Much of the writing is pithy and direct, moving quickly from one idea to another. Spiritual Leaderhip is extremely quoteable. (Even though Grover Gardner does an excellent job on the narration in the audiobook, I think many people will prefer the Kindle or paper version so that you can highlight and refer to great quotes.)
Time after time, when I started to raise objections in my head, J. Oswald Sanders was right there balancing out in wise and humble words, a point that could be taken too far one way or another. The sections on prayer and time I think were especiallly helpful.
The only negative is that I think that at times there was a real sense of the book caught in the culture of the 1960s. Sanders speaks of efficiency and management in a way that I wonder about some of his priorities. For instance in speaking of leisure time, he allows for 3 hours of time a day for eating and conversation with family. But I am not sure if family is something that should be time managed in this way. On the other hand, most families don’t spend 3 hours a day together in real conversation and meaningful play. So maybe he is right that we can do more with our time if we really value it. Another example of the modernist view is the section on being alone in leadership. Post-modern leadership is often part of a team and even when some decisions have to be made alone, there is often a sense of cooperation in healthy leadership situations. Sanders speaks of the aloneness of leadership as a sign of God’s favor.
As I was finishing up Spiritual Leadership I was also starting a Read Again reading of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. I would not read them at the same time because there is a lot of overlapping content. Spiritual Leadership is really about being a leader and what you need to do to prepare yourself for leadership. But the spiritual disciples section of the book was really just a shorter version of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. I recommend both, but most likely I would read one and then wait six months and read the other. They will be good to continue to encourage you to pick up spiritual disciplines that you are still lacking.
Even if there are a few concerns, this is an older book worth your time.