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Spiritual Leadership

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  6,600 ratings  ·  300 reviews
With over 500,000 in print, Spiritual Leadership is the perennial favorite for teaching the principles of leadership. In this classic, J. Oswald Sanders illustrates biblical leadership principles through the lives of David, Moses, Nehemiah, the Apostle Paul, David Livingston, and Charles Spurgeon.This world needs more leaders who are guided by God and devoted to Christ. Ch ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 9th 1994 by Moody Publishers (first published 1967)
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Barbara Have you found Spiritual Leadership by Saunders, yet?
I borrowed a copy through my county's library program, Inter Library Loan.
Now that I read this bo…more
Have you found Spiritual Leadership by Saunders, yet?
I borrowed a copy through my county's library program, Inter Library Loan.
Now that I read this book that was recommended by John C. Maxwell as one of the most influential books he read as a young man, I want to purchase a copy, too.
Amazon has the copy I read . . .
Spiritual Leadership - Completely Updated Text with Study Guide - Commitment to Spiritual Growth Series - Paperback - Second Revision 1994
I liked the extensive updated notes and a great small group study guide.

Barnes & Noble has a 2017 version: Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence For Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders(less)

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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  6,600 ratings  ·  300 reviews

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Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious
An excellent book on principles that every Christian should strive for, not just those wanting to be leaders. Christians will always be held to a higher standard whether we like it or not, because we represent all Christians in our actions. So if you're looking for guidance as a Christian, searching for an answer, or even just entertaining the idea of being a leader, this book will help. Sanders gives each chapter a clear cut quality and how to obtain it and what to look for. No excessive preach ...more
Sep 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: church, school
First of all, this book isn't horrible because the things it says aren't true. I think that the things in here are generally ok in terms of what's said - it's a collection of 1-2 page "observations" or "meditations" on small leadership principles. If you're looking for a sort of devotional book or a vague book about how to apply some generally true (regardless of religious affiliation) ideas with biblical language behind them, this book is fine.

But it's precisely that vagueness that kills me. It
Jul 23, 2011 added it
I have heard of this classic previously but have not had the opportunity to read it until now. Having thus finished the book, there were parts of the book that was profitable for me spiritually.
Among the thing that convicted me was the chapter on “The Leader and His Timeâ€, particularly this quote: “We have each been entrusted with sufficient time to do the whole will of God and to fill out His perfect plan for our lives†(114). The author Oswald Sanders gave examples of Godly men whose gre
Jacob Wischoff
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spiritual leadership is an amazing book with tremendous insight on what a Spiritual Leader is. It also shows what temptations are present with leadership and how a Leader must uphold himself in the context of his Church, Life & Ministry. As you work thru the book you start with how being a Spiritual Leader is an honorable ambition and work thru qualifications and then lifestyle choices and imperatives that should be the ear mark of a Spiritual Leader. It's a great book that challenges the reader ...more
Phil Kline
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Very good and comprehensive collection of valuable lessons and reminders. Some will be familiar to all who care about leading well, but other lessons are unique to the counter-cultural vision of leadership Jesus displayed and passed on to the church. However, this is not a book. Rather it is a collection of many unconnected 3-10 page meditations. Probably best read in very small doses, since there is little connection from one chapter to another.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am really enjoying going through this book with my Pastor as a type of discpileship training, but the one thing that I really do not like is that Moody Publishers take the liberty to add, subtract, and even completely change the content. I would much prefer to read what Oswald Sanders originally wrote. They preface the changes with the hope of making the book more understandable via modernazation, but in some cases they just completely change what was said. I love the book, but would love to h ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: internship-books
One of my favorite books of the year I’ve read! As I’m training to be a missionary this book was a capsulized version of every missionary leadership quality I’ve been taught elsewhere, so wise and helpful. Biggest part that I love is how practical and spiritual it is, the emphasis on missions is wonderful and finally pushing being a servant and not just a manager when you lead.
Max Cojevnicov
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Craig Adams
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the most helpful and insightful reads on leadership I've found to date! ...more
Barnabas Piper
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A leadership classic. I had never read it before, and it is fantastic. Anyone in ministry or business leadership would benefit from this book.
I LOVE THIS BOOK~ This book is an excellent resource for leadership. Every serious Christian should read this. This was a library book. But I am going to buy it.
Excellent book.
Apr 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, leadership
This little devotional book is full of gems that sparkle, catch God’s light and cause one to reevaluate one’s attitude toward spiritual leadership in general and church leadership in specific. It isn’t deep, scholarly, or philosophical, but it is practical and inspiring. Two matters which really jumped out at me were, of course, areas where I was predisposed to resonate with Sanders. I believe in the value of study and I think the biblical character named Nehemiah is a phenomenal model for good ...more
Dave  Johnson
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The problem with leadership books in general is that most of them harp on uninspired, ambiguous maxims that make the author sound smart. sometimes there will nuggets here and there that will actually help you lead people, but it seems to me that the vast majority of leadership books feed the ego or intellect more than the spirit.

but this book is completely different. J. Oswald Sanders was the leader of the China Inland Mission in the '50s and '60s. big shoes to fill, seeing as how the originato
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a MUST read for anyone who has a position of responsibility within the Christian church or within a Christian organisation!

The book is filled with practical wisdom, sound advice and quotable quotes! For me, perhaps, the best one (among so many) is ...

"'Whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many' (Mark 10:44-45). Each of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 was called to sacr
Patrick Chester
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Spiritual Leadership" was recommended to me by a friend in Christian ministry. It presents a series of speeches given by J. Oswald Sanders on the topic of leadership from a Christian perspective. Though I am not a minister, I found the book to be challenging and engaging. At the end of each chapter, there are a few questions that help you to reflect on what you just read and apply it to your own life. This is the kind of book that needs to be read slowly, preferably not more than 1 chapter a da ...more
Friday Otuya
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Spiritual leadership is one of the best books I have ever read on Christian leadership. This book is special to me because it draws its guiding principles and precepts from the Holy Bible; not from worldly standards. The vital scriptural values and convictions it puts forward can make a true spiritual leader out of anyone who is willing.
The author xrays the life of great christian leaders, showing the aspiring leader that it is possible to be great by following after the steps of the great (Heb
Adam Shields
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short review: This is a reworking of the original 1960s classic. Moody Publishers edited the book to modernize the language and bible citations. The sections on spiritual growth and devotion are good. The sections on leadership are good, but occasionally stuck in a 1960 leadership style. There is a lot of humility and grace in this book.

Longer blog review at
Andrew Canavan
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book on leadership. It's most applicable to ministry or church contexts but would be helpful to any Christian in any position of leadership. I most appreciated Sanders' working through the qualifications for leadership found in the Pauline epistles. This book was challenging, convicting, and encouraging. ...more
Jonathan Roberts
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, own, pastoring
I am not a big fan of self-help books. And I had a real bad attitude coming into this book. I felt like this was a book that you read to get better with a bunch of nebulous ideas. But I was surprised that this book was great! Still had some of the stuff I don’t just love but honestly this book is a solid book for all believers! Recommended
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it does focus on leadership, but it seemed more generally applicable to the Christian life... some points I'd argue on, but overall thoughtful and helpful. ...more
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another Northside Baptist Church Sunday School book. Very practical.
David Steele
Oct 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
4th time through, gets better every time.
Andrew Hall
Dec 25, 2012 rated it liked it
should read again....and again and again
Tim Johnson
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s been awhile since a leadership book has challenged and inspired me the way this one did. Take your time with this one, and take lots of notes.
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-living
An exhortation to spiritual leadership. The author lays out the foundations of what it means to be a "spiritual leader" (ie a leader in the church) and the requirements and standards of the man or woman of God.

Very easy to read, but also very challenging. Although a bit cliche-heavy, there is much to think and reflect on after reading this terrific book.


-To be a leader in the church has always required strength and faith beyond the merely average.

- Spiritual leaders are not elected, appo
Stephen Drew
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although this isn’t a long read some how it took me quite a while to work through. But, I do think that is the way this book is supposed to be read. It is broken down into devotional style meditations on scripture, some of them mediocre, some pure gold. In my opinion the very best few chapters came near the end of the book.

For anyone who has done other reading on Christian leadership many of the concepts covered will not be new. Things such as having a servants heart, being filled with the Spir
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Less successful as a book than as a patchwork of aphorisms, quotations, nuggets of wisdom, anecdotes, and whatnot. Came from a series of addresses, and indeed reads as such. Sometimes Sanders' use of the biblical text is rather arbitrary and decontextualised, but his heart is definitely in the right place.

It was out of date when it was written back in the 60s, but that is as much a strength as a weakness - whatever is in date is about to go off, anyhow. One can find any number of fashionable bo
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by my Bible Study Fellowship Teaching Leader, Lisa Bate, and it was very beneficial! Even though it was originally published 50 years ago, the principles shared are timeless and very relevant. A key message is that while leadership is challenging, spiritual leadership is even more demanding. Thanks to God's gift of the Holy Spirit, you can rely on Him to get through the tough times. I especially appreciated the biblical references to inspirational leaders: Moses, ...more
Jeremy Silva
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeremy by: Bruce Robinson
Spiritual Leadership is powerful, deep and densely compacted with substance. I take notes when listening and this book had me stopped every few seconds writing notes. Having read or listened to 50 books in the past six months, this is one of the top 5. Will be listening to this again, worth re-reading every year in my opinion.

There are a multitude of applications for spiritual leadership. The wisdom in this book will benefit anyone involved in ministry of any capacity. The material is also rele
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J. OSWALD SANDERS (1902-1992) was a Christian leader for nearly seventy years and authored more than forty books on the Christian life including The Incomparable Christ, Spiritual Discipleship, Spiritual Leadership, and Spiritual Maturity. He left a promising law practice in his native New Zealand to serve as an instructor and administrator at the Bible College of New Zealand. Dr. Sanders later be ...more

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