Leadership among God's people is not a matter of easy answers or simple solutions. There is no foolproof list of character traits that one can acquire and develop in order to be a successful leader. Authentic leadership is a complex interaction of the leader's gifts and calling, the people's needs and response, the particular situation of the moment, and, above all, the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Birch and Parks believe if we wish to understand the intricate and messy character of leadership in the church, the obvious place to start is Scripture. The Bible portrays leaders not as heroes placed on a pedestal, but rather as flawed and fallen human beings who nonetheless work with the people around them and with the situation at hand to move toward accomplishing the will of God. Ducking Spears, Dancing Madly is a penetrating look at church leadership through the stories of Saul, David, and other central Old Testament figures. The authors demonstrate that those who have a clear and honest understanding of the triumphs and flaws of the individuals who lead God's people in Scripture will be better prepared to lead God's people today. In order to provide that understanding, they engage in a dialogue with the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, texts that portray the people of Israel in frequent social and political transition, and hence in need of effective leadership
Bruce C. Birch is Dean and Professor of Old Testament at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC. He is a contributing author to volume II of the New Interpreter's Bible and The Old Testament: A Theological Introduction.
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