Book Review: The Crucible of Leadership

Wednesday, 31st August 2022
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Alan Wilson, The Crucible of Leadership: Learning from the Story of Moses, Instant Apostle, Rickmansworth, London (2022) 224 pages.

Review by: Davy Ellison

In June 2022 one of the College’s visiting lecturers, Dr Alan Wilson, published his first book. His doctoral work with the Irish Baptist College stands behind the book, although most readers will be glad to know that the book does not read like a thesis. Rather, in an accessible and engaging style the book aims to draw eight leadership lessons from the life of Moses as presented in Scripture.

The focus on the life of Moses, while arguably providing a distinctive contribution, does cause a slight issue. The danger is being drawn to speculate on what is left unsaid in the text or squeezing the text to say more than it does to illustrate a point. Chapter 2 provides an apt example—while I agree with the big idea of the chapter (Wise Leaders Learn to Navigate the Desert), I find myself uncomfortable with leaning on Moses’s “silent years” in making the point.

Even so, on the whole Wilson has written a provocative and, at times, particularly challenging book. There is much wisdom and truth contained within the book, and his experience seeps through the pages. I particularly appreciate the first and last chapters considering shaping influences on a leader’s early life and an exit plan for leaders as they hand over the baton. As is to be expected from something that emerged from doctoral work, it is evident that a wide range of leadership literature stands behind the book. This reading offers the book depth. All of the above is capped by it being written in an especially lucid style—I found it effortless to read.

While there is nothing new here, The Crucible of Leadership is an excellent summary of the lessons widely disseminated in Christian leadership material. It would therefore serve as a most helpful entry point into the world of leadership literature, offering a distillation of many of the commonly agreed upon principles of Christian leadership.


Top Five Quotes

“The most truly effective Christian leadership will come from those who are growing in their knowledge of God and growing in His grace.” (p. 82)

“It’s a mark of maturity when a leader can give away power to others without fearing loss of their own power or position.” (p. 109)

“Wise leaders will be able to discern what lies behind complaints, and when there are legitimate needs to be met, they will pay attention to them.” (pp. 147–148)

“Who you are as a leader matters.” (p. 169)

“It should not be unusual that a significant part of a leader’s legacy is seen in the number and quality of next-generation leaders who are trained and released into their own spheres of influence.” (p. 193)

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