Leading from the Heart: Insights from 50+ Years of Guidance

Over my 50+ years of leading and teaching leadership, people often asked when I was going to write a book. I always answered that I write on the hearts of students instead. I also wanted to test my leadership ideologies, themes, processes and grasps before writing yet another leadership book, given the high volume of what is already available.  That is still my preference. However, we see a world in increasing need of great and godly leadership. So, as transitions in my role created space to reflect and highly competent colleagues who could make this project viable arrived, I decided it was time. 

From the beginning, Holistic Christian Leadership: In Class with Dr. Magnus was envisioned as a team project.

We wanted multiple voices profiled in the book—many of them alumni of the Master of Leadership and Management program. We wanted to showcase the kind of work these exceptional leaders (experimented with, tested, and implemented) are doing and the way they have applied the concepts learned in class. We multiplied them through further learning and practice.

We wanted the book to be both theoretically and functionally sound and inviting. When you enter the book through a doorway, the first thing you see is a fireplace with chairs waiting for you. Leaders need that. They need safe and inviting spaces to continue their learning journey and process the real-world challenges and opportunities they face.

Leadership is challenging, especially in the increasingly polarized and complex contexts we find ourselves in. This book is our gift to leaders, and we hope that it not only offers resources but also encouragement to carry on. Our Leadership Centre team and I wanted to offer concrete hope, help, inspiration, and resources.

With that in mind, we have packed the book with Biblical insights, models, and perspectives that have shaped my thinking about Board, team, and organizational health. I hope they will help others as well.

However, the book is not just a compilation of resources. It is uniquely designed around a holistic, integrative model of leadership that begins with the person of the leader and their readiness and resilience. This approach, I believe, is much more helpful than any leadership definition I have seen. 

These four overlapping lenses build an integrative map, with the connections between them depicting movement and momentum, as well as intentional influence and impact.  This map ensures we don't overfocus on one area, for example, the leaders, while underdeveloping the kind of engaging, enabling, and empowering processes that can give wings to our teams. This is important because we tend to focus on what matters to us—some people being all about culture and others all about productivity. Each of these pieces is important, but they function well only in partnership with the others. And in a way that brings people together to deliver compelling purposes in a holistic system-wide way. 

We also made sure to build real-world case studies and places for team or personal reflection, making this a practical resource for a group to go through together. There are whole sections on themes that I am hearing in the ongoing church and organizational work I am doing with transition/succession, Board health, handling change, power and conflict, and effective and co-creative conversation and communication.

As I look back over my years of leadership, I see how much God used and how much I needed the people who came alongside me and who gave me opportunities. If I could encourage us all to do three things this week, it would be to look around your circle to find a leader who needs encouragement. Their job is probably harder than it looks. Then, take a second scan to find an emerging leader who is ready to step into more responsibility and find a way to make that happen. But don't just throw them into the deep end; provide support and developmental steps along the way.

This act of supporting emerging leaders is not just a suggestion; it's a responsibility we all share in building a better future. 

theology seminary