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The Leadership Ellipse: Shaping How We Lead by Who We Are
IVP Books / 2010 / Paperback
$12.99 (CBD Price)
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It is not uncommon for leader to lament the discordance between their outer image, and their inner realities. Sometimes it is even painful. These worlds collide. They have different priorities, different assumptions, and different expectations. More than this, often recovery from adhering to the demands of the external world begins to feel like spirituality. How can we find congruity when our worlds seem so diametrically opposed? In The Leadership Ellipse seasoned leader Robert A. Fryling, publisher of IVP, and Senior VP of IVP fellowship, shares his insights on how we can, and must, reconcile our inner and outer worlds and develop and integrated spirituality. Fryling believes the answer is too develop an understanding of reality that is not pinpointed on specific goals or items, but to embrace the ambiguities and tensions of life similar to the way we embrace the ambiguity and tension of divinity and humanity of Christ as Christians. In terms of leadership this opens up the question of freedom for others, and therefore both the requirement to trust, and to ease our grip on the desire to control our subordinates. As Fryling states, "My experience in organizational life suggests that most of us want structures for others but freedom for ourselves! But without honoring both needs at the same time, organizations can easily become imbalanced or schizophrenic. They become too dependent on structures and control, or conversely too flexible and chaotic." What Fryling therefore suggests is that our lives must be held in tension between these two points and that ironically it is in that tension that we find freedom.
Everyone in a position of responsibility knows the tension of leadership. It may be between tasks or people, money or mission, the present or the future. One often neglected tension is between our inner spiritual longings and the outward needs of the group we lead. But we need not feel forced to choose between the two. Leadership has more in common with an ellipse with two focal points than a bull's-eye with a single target. The Leadership Ellipse is designed to help Christian leaders embrace both halves of the tension--our internal relationship with God and our external relationship with others--to find a truly authentic, integrated way to lead. If you find yourself in a lonely, isolated place of leadership, this book can be your companion. If you find yourself longing to lead in a way that is truly Christian, this book can be your guide. And if you are simply exhausted, then this book can offer you a new way to find refreshment. There is life beyond the bull's-eye.
Robert A. (Bob) Fryling is publisher of InterVarsity Press (Westmont, Illinois) and Vice President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (Madison, Wisconsin). He writes, speaks and teaches in the areas of spiritual formation, leadership, Christian faith and culture. He lives in Illinois with his wife, Alice, an author and spiritual director. Together they have co-authored three books. Peterson, now retired, was for many years James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. In addition to his widely acclaimed paraphrase of the Bible, (NavPress), he has written many other books.
"With intelligence and wit, Bob Fryling wrestles honestly and graciously with some of the great paradoxes and finer nuances of leadership. This book will be a great blessing to those of us who are seeking to remain faithful to God in the trenches of leadership."
"If St. Benedict were still alive, he would have written this book. Since he isn't and couldn't, Bob Fryling has. The result is a rule of life formed over the years by one who, faithfully and introspectively, has lived those years in positions of highly visible Christian leadership. Every person in any role of Christian leadership today, however humble or mighty that role may be, will do well to attend carefully and prayerfully to what is written here."
"What makes this book especially valuable among writings on leadership is its richness of detail concerning the fine texture of the leader's life and personality. The weight the leader must bear, in order to carry through with the calling upon his or her life, simply crushes the person who is not, throughout their being, solidly joined with what is good and with God's grace upon all of it. So joined, in ways the author makes clear, there is joy and love, space and creativity, no matter what."
"As there are learning disabilities, so there are leadership disabilities, and chief among them is the gap that Bob Fryling highlights: between the leader's outer and inner worlds. I find The Leadership Ellipse to be both challenging (dealing with debilitating but often overlooked issues like self-pity and jealousy) and hopeful (chock full of delightful analogies and wise counsel). Read this book to inspire you to leadership which is neither fat with ideas nor thin in practice, but truly elliptical--shaped like Jesus!
"[Bob Fryling's] message is two-pronged: you can't be a Christian activist without being contemplative; you can't be a Christian contemplative without being an activist. With winsome accuracy he has joined two ways of life that are often 'put asunder.' It strikes me as a remarkable achievement. "This is not a book of advice on how to do it; it is more like a personal journal of a Christian leader who has spent his life being a competent leader and a thoughtful Christian."
"Christian leaders are often devoured by their jobs, either because they are insensitive and inattentive to what's happening around them or because they are unaware of what's going on inside them as they lead. The result of this external and internal inattentiveness is often disaster: for organizations, for the people who serve them and for the leaders who attempt to guide them. Bob Fryling has written a wise, honest, insightful book that encourages leaders to take a closer look at their world and themselves. His coaching is invaluable and--by God's grace--will help to bring wholeness and integrity to Christian leaders who too often lead in a fragmented, frenetic fashion."
"Written by a publisher, The Leadership Ellipse has insightful suggestions for pastors, politicians, princesses or any other person who has a commitment to Jesus Christ and, at the same time, is called to leadership in any of its forms. Bob Fryling hits the bull's-eye with his reminder and challenge that Christian leaders are ultimately called to have their outer worlds in harmony with their inner worlds--and vice versa! Not content to simply offer us this deepest meaning of integrity, he also suggests spiritual practices to attain it and strengthen it. In doing so, Bob Fryling proves to be a most reliable mentor for leadership in the Christian tradition."
"Bob honors leadership, and he knows the soul. If you let him, he will help you connect the dots."
"Our hearts long for an integrated life. Yet our schedules suggest this is impossible. In The Leadership Ellipse, Bob Fryling gives us both hope and a practical handle on how to merge life in the Spirit and life in the fast lane. I can't overemphasize the significance and timeliness of this message."
"Integrity is a silent quest for many Christian leaders. Integrating a rich spiritual life with a healthy work-life balance is challenging for busy leaders. Bob gives us tremendous insights and understanding toward living an integrated, authentic life. The Leadership Ellipse is a thoughtful and challenging guide to help us shape our own journey and calling."
"In The Leadership Ellipse, Bob Fryling provides a smart, useful guide for leaders who want to bring their spiritual lives into alignment with their organizational objectives. For too long, we have seen these as entirely separate spheres, but as this book shows, they are really twin foci that define reality for every leader. Over the next decade, leaders who succeed will be people who bring all of their lives--personal, spiritual and organizational--together. The Leadership Ellipse shows us how. Every leader ought to read this book."
"Bob Fryling blesses us with a perceptive and well-nuanced approach to effective Christian leadership. These thoughtfully composed ideas and experiences are broadly authentic and much needed."
"Bob Fryling is a perfect example of someone whose outstanding leadership is very much grounded in his deep faith. So when he writes about this subject, it comes both from an intellect informed by long experience and a heart shaped by selfless service--a very compelling combination."
"Bob Fryling's book is both inspirational and practical. He unpacks the issues and complexities of managing a spiritual leader's life. With biblical and timeless suggestions, it is a must-read for all who want to lead like Jesus for the long haul."
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