The Christmas shopping season will soon be upon us!  In an effort to help you know what to purchase for the Christian leader in your life, I want to provide you a plethora of quality resources to choose from.

Leaders are readers.  Therefore, you can never go wrong with books.  The books listed below provide a nice cross-section between systems, processes, leadership development, instruction, inspiration, prayer, church growth, and challenging personal development.  There is something here for everyone.

The following are The Top 18 Books Christian Leaders Need To Read In 2018:

  1. Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff.  According to studies, 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail.  If you’re tired of being a chronic starter and want to become a consistent finisher, you have two options: You can continue to beat yourself up and try harder, since this time that will work. Or you can give yourself the gift of done.
  2. The Myth of Balance: Thriving in the Tension of Ministry, Work, and Life by Frank Bealer.  Balance is a mythical beast. We always say we need to achieve it for equilibrium in our work, life, or family time, but balance doesn’t really exist. In The Myth of Balance, Frank explains how a simple four-word formula can prepare you for the unexpected and not-so-unexpected events that distract you in the most inconvenient moments.
  3. Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership by Warren Bird.  A 2015 Readers’ Choice Award Winner.  Researchers and practitioners Ryan Hartwig and Warren Bird have discovered churches of various sizes and traditions throughout the United States who have learned to thrive under healthy team leadership. Using actual church examples, they present their discoveries here, culminating in five disciplines that, if implemented, can enable your team to thrive.
  4. Bigger, Faster Leadership: Lessons from the Builders of the Panama Canal by Dr. Sam Chand.  An epiphany during a visit to the Panama Canal led Sam Chand—one of the country’s most respected voices on ministry and marketplace leadership—to bold new insights on the life cycles of business or church organizations.
  5. Love Works: The Key To Making Life Work by Chris Conlee and Ken Blanchard.  Being released on February 28th, this book is getting a lot of early buzz.  In this book,  pastor Chris Conlee shows how the four major commandments of Jesus–the Great Commandment, the Great Commission, the New Commandment, and the Golden Rule–aren’t about intellectual depth, they’re about relational depth. When our focus shifts from knowing more to loving more, everything changes for us and for those we love.  Pre-order today!
  6. What Makes a Leader Great: Discover the One Key That Makes the Difference by Russ Crosson.  Russ is a GREAT leader and he has written an incredible leadership book.  If you’re interested in the true bottom line on leadership success, here is a concise but on-target look at what true leadership is like. Russ emphasizes the need for leaders to think about the legacy of their leadership.  There are many books that are “leadership how-tos” or “what to do” books. Here is something different: a why– to book that will help you succeed in more important ways than you ever imagined.
  7. The Mythical Leader: The Seven Myths of Leadership by Ron Edmondson.  n The Mythical Leader, Edmondson exposes some of the most common misunderstandings of leadership, shares stories from his own experiences, and will help church leaders develop healthier patterns to improve their individual leadership.
  8. Marching Off the Map: Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World by Tim Elmore.  In this much-anticipated book, Tim shares practical, research-based solutions that help adults: ? Inspire students to own their education and their future ? Lead students from an attitude of apathy to one of passion through metacognition ? Enable students to push back from the constant digital distractions and practice mindfulness ? Raise kids who make healthy progress, both emotionally and intellectually, through their teenage years ? Give students the tools to handle the complexities of an ever-changing world ? Understand and practically apply the latest research on Generation Z ? Leverage what is cultural to instill in teens the wisdom and advice you know they need to succeed in any stage of life.
  9. The Forgotten Jesus: How Western Christians Should Follow an Eastern Rabbi by Robby Gallaty.  Trading the popular, but inaccurate Western perspective of the Bible for the context in which Jesus actually ministered in 2000 years ago, Robby reveals the fascinating Hebraic culture, customs, and nuances many Christians have never experienced or learned about. He works from the premise that we can’t truly appreciate the New Testament unless we understand the Old Testament. By uncovering the teaching of the first and second century rabbis and Christian theologians, and highlighting little-known Jewish idioms and traditions, Gallaty takes Christians on a biblical journey to rediscover a forgotten Jesus from a biblical perspective, deepening your relationship with God.
  10. The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World by Jon Gordon.  I call this Jon’s Greatest Hits book.  Jon works and consults with leaders who have transformed their companies, organizations and schools, won national championships and are currently changing the world. He has also interviewed some of the greatest leaders of our time and researched many positive leaders throughout history and discovered their paths to success. In this pioneering book Jon shares what he has learned and provides a comprehensive framework on positive leadership filled with proven principles, compelling stories, practical ideas and practices that will help anyone become a positive leader.
  11. The Daniel Dilemma: How To Stand Firm And Love Well In A Culture Of Compromise by Chris Hodges. In this eye-opening new book, Chris Hodges provides a solution by examining the life of the prophet Daniel, who persevered in a corrupt culture that closely resembles our own—and emerged as an influential force in God’s redemptive plan. Full of scripture and seasoned with Hodges’ candid personal insights, The Daniel Dilemma shows us that we can hold firmly to biblical beliefs without becoming obnoxious, insulting, or mad. We can stand strong while loving others well.
  12. Demolishing Strongholds: Finding Victory Over the Struggles That Hold You Back by Johnny Hunt.  This is the BEST book I’ve read in 2017.  There is a difference between leader development (character) and leadership development (competence).  This is a fine a leader development book as you will read.
  13. Finding Joy In The Midst Of Sorrow by Mike McCrum.  Every family writes its own unique story. In this transparent and moving account, you’ll be inspired as Mike and Debbie McCrum tell the story of their family’s challenging journey of faith, from tragedy to triumph…and purpose.  Finding Joy in the Midst of Sorrow is written to help families.  Incredible story by a Godly man!  As inspirational a book as you will read this year!
  14. The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health by Tony Morgan.  Think about your church for a moment. Is it growing? Is it diminishing? Is it somewhere in between? Acclaimed church leader, blogger, and founder and chief strategic officer of The Unstuck Group, Tony has identified the seven stages of a church’s lifecycle that range from the hopeful and optimistic days of launch, to the stagnating last stages of life support.  Regardless of the stage in which you find your church, it carries with it the world’s greatest mission—to “go and make disciples of all the nations . . .” With eternity at stake the Church should be doing most everything within its power to see lives changed forever. The Church should strive for the pinnacle of the lifecycle, where they are continually making new disciples and experiencing what Morgan refers to as “sustained health.”
  15. How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority by Clay Scroggins.  One of the greatest myths of leadership is that you must be in charge in order to lead. Great leaders don’t buy it. Great leaders lead with or without the authority and learn to unleash their influence wherever they are.  With practical wisdom and humor, Clay will help you nurture your vision and cultivate influence, even when you lack authority in your organization. And he will free you to become the great leader you want to be so you can make a difference right where you are. Even when you’re not in charge.
  16. The Road to Unafraid by Captain Jeff Struecker.  If you are not familiar with Captain Struecker then you know his story.  He was part of the rescue mission for Black Hawk Down and now serves as a military chaplain.  This book strikes a great balance between the military tactics and drama of Black Hawk Down and his own spiritual journey.  My father-in-law gave me this book after Captain Struecker spoke at his church.  I want to make it available to you.
  17. Talking with God: What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray by Adam Weber.  As enjoyable book on prayer as I have ever read.  Prayer seems like it should be so simple. Yet when it comes to actually praying, it often feels awkward and complicated.  The truth is, prayer is simple.  It’s like talking; talking with a good friend.  Here’s the best part: No matter where we are in life, God can’t wait to talk with us.
  18. Kill The Spider: Getting Rid Of What Is Holding You Back by Carlos Whittaker.  Carlos has lived much of his spiritual life in the spotlight. But, like any Christian, his faith story has its ups and downs. He spent decades trying to figure out how to be a “better person.” Time and time again, he strived for holiness only to get caught in the web of destructive habits, behaviors, and thought patterns.  But, the buck stops here. Or, rather, the spider is killed here.

What other great books are on your list to read in 2018?

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