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Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  1,607 ratings  ·  188 reviews
"I'm tired of helping others enjoy God." "I just want to enjoy God for myself." With this painful admission, Ruth Haley Barton invites us to an honest exploration of what happens when spiritual leaders lose track of their souls. Weaving together contemporary illustrations with penetrating insight from the life of Moses, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership explores to ...more
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published July 6th 2008 by IVP Books (first published June 6th 2008)
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 ·  1,607 ratings  ·  188 reviews

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Timothy Koller
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it

Silence, solitude, self-differentiation, spiritual rhythm and habits, sabbath, and discernment. The book is helpful to feature good content from others (Friedman, Nouwen, Bonhoeffer) and invites people into good practices.

However, the focus on a single person tries to force concepts into the story of Moses that aren't there. Several stories on Moses and others draw conclusions that are, at best, stretching the limits of what is permissible. It is a pet peeve of mine when authors put quotation
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me too long to get around to Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry. I am a Ruth Haley Barton fan and I've read several of her books: Invitation to Solitude and Silence (IVP 2004), Sacred Rhythms (IVP 2006), Life Together in Christ (IVP 2014). While there are tons of authors who explore the realm of spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation, Barton has a special gift for combining an evangelical sensibility with contemplative spirituality. ...more
Rev Ricky
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Pastors
Recommended to Rev by: Brent Harriman
We have all heard the stories of pastors who burn out famously through immorality, or who simply grow cynical and bitter. We know Christian leadership ought not lead to that, but so often it does.

Ruth Haley Barton writes her book to address why leaders so often lose their souls. More importantly, she draws from the story of Moses to direct us how to nourish our souls and draw closer to the Lord as we lead.

Honestly, I did not expect to like this book. I thought it would challenge me, but I kept
Eddy Ekmekji
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read! She dives into the life of Moses and extracts lessons of leadership and spiritual formation. I read this book very slowly ( a chapter a week) and feel compelled to re-read it because of her insights and my desire to get that much more out of it. Highly recommend it!
David Lasley
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
2.5- right in the middle.
I have rather strong mixed emotions regarding this book.  The principles are excellent and applicable.  The practices at the end of the chapters are helpful.  Her ability to name and relate to the struggles that leaders in full time ministry uniquely face is so helpful.  I suspect she is a wonderful guide in spiritual formation for those she leads.

Yet I was confused regarding her interpretation of scripture.  Her approach is to look at Moses' life (since he was a leade
Nelson R.
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a required reading for my leadership group, Rock Solid, That I was partaking. The book was beautiful written. it had really good points. Our goals should align with gods call for us and making sure that we are there for everyone no matter who they are. One of the biggest point from the book is that we need to do the actions before we preach to people and that can be whatever subject we preach about, is not only spiritual, but other important factors in life like fitness, financial, soci ...more
Thom Cahill
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book. I liked the use of Moses' life and ministry and long with Barton's personal journey throughout the development of the faith journey. The reflection and practice questions at the end provide helpful guides as one seeks to engage in a spiritual retreat with God. While some of the insights were not new to this reader (but a solid refresher), other insights and practices were and very helpful. This could be very helpful especially if one keeps a journal as they go throug ...more
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Barton encourages spiritual leaders to lead out of who they are from God's presence, their true authentic self (soul) rather than a false, broken self. She discusses practices of solitude, listening to God, discernment, isolation, intercession, and other points while using Moses' life for a template to discuss principles of leadership. This is an excellent book, very thought provoking. Would be great for discussion and any pastors, ministry leaders, church administrators, and even people in the ...more
Jo Ann
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good book and resource. I always appreciate the way Ruth Hailey Barton keeps it practical and has guides for reflection and prayer along the way.
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some very good thoughts but a bit too long for me. Good use of Moses as leadership figure! Had not thought about a lot of these points.
Carrie Kann
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
One of the best leadership books I've read. Barton uses the life of Moses to draw out what it means to be a healthy leader within your own soul, and as soon as I was finished, I was ready to pick it back up and read it again. Phenomenal read. ...more
Tricia Culp
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-life
Ruth Haley Barton is astounding at bringing contemplative principles into everyday life. This book is for leaders, and is a must-read for anyone in church or ministry leadership.
Justin Dela Cruz
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Example of the jar of river water that has been shaken. The water is murky, impossible to see through. But as the jar sits still—unmoved—the silt and sediment begin to settle. Clearer water emerges.


Defining the soul:
The part of you that is most real
The “you” that exists beyond any role you play, and job you perform, any relationship that seems to define you, or any notoriety or success you may have achieved.

This book is about:
The transformation of our souls in the presence of
Brianna Seeberger
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership, faith
Insightful, powerful and truly life changing. Knowing the importance of little things in your faith and how those aspects build your leadership is essential to guiding others in faith. She breaks down the struggles of Moses into those of everyday leaders in the modern era that are relatable and mind-blowing. A must read book for leaders of tomorrow.
Matt Garm
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The final chapter of this book is fantastic, and moves my review from 3 to 4 stars.
Keith Lenard Jr.
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rob O'Lynn
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you are in leadership, you NEED to read this book. I was, again, delightfully impressed with Barton's writing style and content. This is a wonderful follow-up to her previous work Sacred Rhythms, an introductory text on spiritual formation. Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership builds upon Sacred Rhythms in that now Barton is applying spiritual development specifically to leadership. However, having not read her previous book is not an issue. Barton lays plenty of groundwork throughout t ...more
Michele Morin
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Encased in a body that you recognize in the mirror, your soul is the “you” that’s always been there peering back from your reflection. It’s the part of you that infuses all the roles you play (parent, spouse, friend, leader, employee), and it’s what makes those roles uniquely yours. Your soul is the place where you and God meet–or where the empty spot resides when you are sensing God’s absence and wishing things could be different.

Chances are if you live in the crucible of ministry, you’ve given
Nov 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: ministry
This was a decent book; I probably would give it 2.5 stars. It deserves to be read slowly and it will cause Christian leaders to pause and take time to consider the state of their soul. If readers spend more time in solitude after reading this book, it is a success. Barton uses the story of Moses as the frame for the chapters which at times made me wonder whether the lessons here could not have come from a non-Christian perspective? In other words, as great as Moses is as an example, Christians ...more
Aaron Case
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a Christian leader I am regularly fed a steady stream of leadership content promising such things as "5 Ways to Greater Influence Others" or "Learn These Tricks to Calendar Like a High Impact Leader." There can be value to some of that content, but this book is different. This book is a beautiful meditation through the story of Moses. This book has caused me to sit silently in God's presence and search for him. This book has caused me to examine my heart in his presence, lay down my agenda an ...more
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book could have been retitled easily as “Leadership Principles from the Life of Moses”. Barton has masterfully mined nuggets of practical wisdom and truths from the greatest patriarch of Israel for today's Christian leaders. Overall, this book hits all the right spots on “strengthening the soul of your leadership”. The “Practice” and poem sections at the end of each chapter are very well thought out and reflects Barton's experience as a spiritual director. ...more
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those in leadership positions. Those who want to deepen their walk with Christ.
When I first starting reading, it took me a little while to get into the book. The more I read, the more I liked it. Learning how to connect more intimately with God will help us connect with that which will help us to lead others more effectively.
Cristine Braddy
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book!!! I will read the story of Moses and the Israelites differently. She brought to the surface the struggles Moses faced and at the same time brought the struggles of my heart to the surface. I will definitely read this again.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that should be sipped and taken in a bit at at time. It is densely packed with wise reflections on leadership brought partially out of the biblical account of Moses and partially out of the author's personal successes and failures in leadership. ...more
Luke Hillier
I've heard great things about this book from a number of different folks (and, in fact, was most curious about it given the diversity of "camps" within Christianity represented by its fanbase) and so, when putting together a curriculum focused on leadership to read through for my job, it felt like the perfect time to seek it out. Having read it in increments over the past 3 months, I found it to absolutely meet the hype. I was not only impressed by Barton's insightful wisdom and soulful advising ...more
Mark Oppenlander
A colleague of mine suggested that I read this book a number of years ago, so it wound up on one of my myriad (and voluminous) too-read lists. I finally made time for it this autumn, and couldn't escape the irony that it took the enforced slow-down of a pandemic for me to find time to read a book about nurturing one's own soul. For more than anything, this is a book about spiritual self-care.

Ruth Haley Barton runs The Transforming Center, an organization focused on strengthening the souls of pas
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Barton connects the journey of transformation with leadership in an articulate, enlightening way. Leadership is a crucible which reveals the true self for those with the strength, honesty, and endurance to be willing to do the inner work required for transformation.

She offers great insight on the potential development of our dysfunction as leaders as well as the actual step-by-step process God uses to bring about change, revelation and healing of our dark sides, and ultimate transformation in o
Michael Eckhardt
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think this is probably my favorite leadership book I've ever read, largely because it's aimed at being the kind of person who can actually be a spiritual leader, and has very little to say about models or strategies-- except for the strategy of being a person who has truly been touched and shaped by God.

That's what Barton calls "leading from the soul," from the place where you've encountered God. The book is loosely arranged around the story of the life of Moses, Barton's invitation to leader
Jaymee Pilarta
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every time I read about Moses' relationship with God I am filled with longing, and it is not the longing to get somewhere—although there are always new places to get to. It is the longing to be a certain kind of person. A person who knows God. A person who is faithful against all odds and does not shrink back. A person through whom God can perform whatever deeds need to be done—mighty or otherwise—but also a person who can be just as content settling down beside a well or sitting on the side of ...more
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Ruth Haley Barton (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is founding president/CEO of the Transforming Center, a ministry dedicated to strengthening the souls of pastors and Christian leaders, and the congregations and organizations they serve. For over twenty years, she has ministered to the soul care needs of pastors and leaders based upon her conviction that the best thing we bring to leadersh ...more

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