Saturday, July 26, 2008

So What Are You Reading in July?

I have read three books this month, each of which has been pretty good.

jn2 Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger). A theologically insightful and often inspiration discussion of Jesus from His baptism to the transfiguration and Peter's confession. Of particular value was the author's discussion of the Lord's Prayer, in my opinion. I really enjoyed this book and if I was teaching a course on the life of Christ, I would make it a textbook. Benedict is simply too good of a scholar to ignore regardless of whether you are Roman Catholic or not. This was the first of his books I have read. It won't be the last.

5qThe Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization by Peter F. Drucker. Perhaps the most important leadership book I have read this year...maybe ever. It is as the title suggests. Drucker's five questions are:

What is our Mission?
Who is our Customer?
What does the Customer Value?
What are our Results?
What is our Plan?

I have been carefully pondering these five questions since I read this small but powerful book and the study questions that are included. Already we at The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada have become more focused as a mission as a result, rewording our mission statement to something that our staff could actually remember and own, and clearly identifying our primary "customer" as being persecuted Christians and not our donors (who are important, though secondary, customers). In the coming weeks and months, we will be addressing each of the other three questions in greater detail as well but the process has already begun. The best part of this book is that it was actually originally written with non-profits in mind, not businesses (unlike most books of this genre). I have bought copies of this book for each member of my leadership team and look forward to seeing even more fruit in the days to come. The process of asking these questions of one's organization is ongoing and never ending.

know_can_do Know Can Do!: Put Your Know-How Into Action by Ken Blanchard, Paul J. Meyer, Dick Ruhe. The value of this book is that it specifically addresses the gap between what people know--all the good advice and teaching they take away from books and seminars--and what they actually do with it (which usually isn't much and/or long-lasting). The most autobiographical of Blanchard's many books, written from the perspective of a leadership author who is frustrated that so many people read his books but do so little with what they have supposed to learn. This book has compelled me to make some changes in my own reading habits, including stopping reading more leadership books and going back to re-learn from the many that I already have read and need to read again. As the authors say, we need to learn less more rather than more less. If you like Blanchard and his approach to writing (they read like short stories), you'll like this one too. And it may keep you from buying more of his books for a while (wonder if he thought of that when he wrote it??).

Let me know what you are reading or if you have read any of these yourself.


Anonymous said...

How does Peter Drucker's book on leadership line up with the biblical view? I have seen a church that was heavily involved in these leadership seminars become no more than a 'glorified' with the pastor assuming the title of CEO. Everyone else toed the line. I have also seen what those same new principles of leadership did to one of the largest companies in Canada. I hope VOM will never lose that servant heart.

Glenn Penner said...

It does line up quite well. No need to worry... as long as I am director, we will stay true to biblical principles. That is our first value as an organization!! An uncompromising faithfulness to God.

It's also worth remembering that VOMC is not a church and so we will operate somewhat different than a church will in organization, etc.