I recently completed a reading critique of Samuel D. Rima’s Leading from the Inside Out: The Art of Self-Leadership. Here area few of my observations:
What is the author’s main purpose in writing this book?
The author’s main purpose in writing this book is “to assist leaders, as well as aspiring leaders, in doing the all-important foundation work necessary before leadership of integrity can be exercised and maintained” (Rima, 17). In other words, before one can lead others he must be able to lead himself. No principle is more crucial in today’s climate than the art of self-leadership. Resources over the last few decades have too often focused their attention on developing abilities and aptitudes (i.e. administration communication) while largely neglecting the importance of exemplifying vision and values (i.e. spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical attributes). The economic system is now in recession, the political climate is as divided as ever, and even several prominent religious figures have recently been exposed to have been divided in their convictions. As the culture grows darker the church must be steadfast in being all the brighter. This is one reason why the Apostle Paul wrote, “. . . But if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:5, NASB).
List two items of information this book provided of which you were not previously aware.
The author’s section on emotional self-leadership, most notably the portion titled We Are What We Think, was extremely helpful information (Rima, 193). When coming up against opposition or obstacles, leaders can too quickly resort to the toxic leadership trap of blaming – either of themselves or of others. Current career performance often overshadows the responsibility to be obedient to Jesus Christ. Either the failure becomes “the individual’s entire fault or he instead resorts to claiming to have “nothing” to do with the mishap. There is also the danger of overgeneralization. The natural response of a leader can often be to approach any and all conflicts with the expectation that the outcome will be negative (largely due to any hurts that have taken place in past experiences). This approach stems from a mistrust that will only compromise and eventually destroy the relationship. The concept of mental filtering, when too much attention is placed on every minute mistake, goes along with this idea of emotional leadership. While evaluation is healthy and necessary, awareness of one’s limitations should never paralyze a person but rather propel him to train daily and intentionally.
Along with that, a crucial aspect of honest assessment is also to take time to acknowledge what was done well. One should be careful not to disqualify the positive but instead learn to take a compliment. Last but not least, a leader must be careful in reaching a conclusion. Every leader must be grounded by godly counsel and careful consideration. It is rarely the timing of the decision that matters, but rather the motive and process that led to the result. Asking for the perspectives and prayers of trusted advisers will often reveal and override one’s fears and misconceptions.
Another item of instruction that was appreciated was the chapter dedicated to Measuring Your Life’s Motivations. The author countered the mantra that “knowledge is power.” The general consensus in today’s culture is that the natural outcome of obtaining more information is that one will then gain an equivalent amount of influence. The author warns that knowledge left unapplied is simply powerless and that such consequences as procrastination, fear, deception, and lack of motivation quickly arise (Rima, 95). This is a valuable and vital warning to leaders of the Information Age. No generation has had more access to knowledge and data than this one. Technology has altered and expanded at a faster pace than ever in human history. The church must never mistake information (a.k.a. knowledge) as discernment (a.k.a. wisdom). Knowledge has the ability to direct attention to the person while wisdom rightfully directs acclamation to the Creator (not to mention that understanding will give the organization the needed courage to carry out Christ’s purposes on earth). The bible warns, that “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins (James, 4:17). Our world has enough information to know what is right and to know what is wrong, yet they continue to ignore their conscious. The church has the opportunity not only to demonstrate the loving truth of Christ but also to invite the unchurched to join them on the journey.
What was the most helpful part of this book and why?
The most helpful part of the book was the author’s “Self-Leadership Workshops” located at the end of each chapter. These exercises will be a complimentary piece to the assessments located in Aubrey Malphurs’ Maximizing Your Effectiveness which will be used in the formulation of the Personal and Ministry Profile at the end of the semester (Rima, 119-124). The following is a rough sample of those initial responses:
Values (Rima, 53)
- Community: Relating in truth and love with God and others
- Commission: Responding to Christ’s call to make more disciples
- Communication: Reflecting Christ in all attitudes and actions
- Commitment: Representing humility and longevity in all relationships
Calling (Rima, 74-77)
- Vocation (calling or mission)
Embodying the teaching of Titus 3:3-8 by fulfilling the great commandment and the great commission by engaging seekers, enabling followers, entrusting ministers, and encouraging leaders
- Current avocation (role or position)
Connecting the millennial generation to the love of Christ
Complimenting/cooperating with the local church and leadership
- Ideal avocation (future career or dream)
Transitioning an existing church which is programmatic and attractional to be missional and intentional in focus and thus pastoring a people who aim to connect others to the love of Christ, to the life of the church, and to the need of the world
- Ideal avocation becoming a reality:
Continuing to be mentored by pastor and other key role models
Continuing education (Masters of Arts in Ministerial Leadership)
Continuing to strengthen talents and utilize gifts
Goals and motivations (Rima, 92 and 117)
- Devoted to a lifetime of love and loyalty towards my family – Showing my wife affection via quality time and acts of service and giving my children provision, protection, direction, and recreation
- Devoted to partnering on Christ’s mission by pastoring a local church – Staying in a significant shepherding role in a local church and keeping accountability and affiliation with a governing body
- Devoted to loving everyone regardless of age, beliefs, gender, etc.
– Reaching out through kindness, conversation, and invitation
and connecting to the community (neighborhood, sporting events, etc.)
- Devoted to more effective communication (writing, speaking, etc.) – Investing in continued education (whether formal or informal)
and by growing in all areas of my reading, writing, and speaking abilities
Action steps for spiritual self-leadership (Rima, 150-151)
- Praying – Dedicating time at home and at office (15-30 minutes a day)
Journaling – Studying and meditating on Scripture (15-30 minutes a day)
Action steps for physical self-leadership (Rima, 172-175)
- Diet and nutrition – Limiting meal portions and sugar intake
- Physical fitness – Exercising five days out of the week (30 minutes a day)
- Weight management – Getting down to and maintaining 215 pounds
Action steps for emotional self-leadership workshop (Rima, 199-201)
Stopping the all-or-nothing thought pattern
Believing that one’s call is not based purely upon performance
Stopping the mental filtering process (expecting the negative)
Believing that the leader, followers, and situation can improve
Action steps for intellectual self-leadership (Rima, 219-220)
- Continuing education – Completing Masters of Arts by Spring of 2011
- Improving exposure to the arts – Experience variety of music and painting
Copy one quotation from the book that seemed particularly important to you and interact in your own words with the portion you quoted.
One particularly important quotation from the book was located in the portion concerning Connecting with Your Life’s Calling. The author went on to write, “To effectively master the art of self-leadership, a person must develop a strong connection with a sense of calling that guides his actions and elevates his daily activity above the mundane, imbuing all efforts with an intrinsic, metaphysical value” (Rima, 55). To illustrate his teaching, he told the story of the Alaskan Airlines CEO who retired in order to serve full-time in the area of global missions. The man’s experience testified to the fact that no title or position (a.k.a. career) will ever bring true significance or fulfillment to one’s life. Rather, one’s vocation (a.k.a. calling) will bring true significance and fulfillment to whatever position one has been entrusted with. He was careful to define vocation as being what God has selected and positioned for one to be. In contrast, an occupation is merely the stage for that calling to be played out upon – he referred to this venue as an “avocation” (Rima, 59). The Apostle Paul spoke of his vocation when he wrote, “But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased” (Galatians, 1:15).
Many leaders commonly misplace their vocation with their avocation. Some are tempted to receive their significance by their performance (attendance, appreciation, or awards). Others are guilty of confusing their calling with their position. These leaders are quick to grow frustrated when their people cease to follow based solely upon a title. In order to effectively maintain and intentionally expand one’s influence, a leader has the responsibility to approach his calling with humility and honesty – understanding that his vocation was entrusted to him as an act of grace and that his position demands a measure of accountability and responsibility (and not merely one of privilege).