Thesis of the Book
It is quite a pervasive occurrence in today’s hectic environment for oneself to lose the connection with the soul. From the religious point of view, the soul is a very private space where God’s Spirit dwells to be united with the soul and to lead from it. While assuming a leading role, Ruth Barton shares her own experience of such a journey to talk about the significance of the human soul. She was providing spiritual direction to individuals and groups of leaders when she learned to listen to how the soul cries.
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Her 2008 work Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership is a sincere examination of the outcomes that emerge when spiritual leaders forget to remain focused on their souls, based on the life of Moses as the biblical figure and the model leader. It is the reminder to maintain and nurture the soul, as it connects oneself to the divine. By intertwining the modern cases with the insightful perception of Moses’ life story, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership aims at discussing the essential topics of leadership strategies together with the in-depth analysis of the human soul.
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership is the story of the presence of God in the middle of a person’s leadership. Throughout thirteen chapters, Barton explores the issues of losing the soul, the practice of paying attention, guiding others on the spiritual journey, the loneliness of leadership, and other topics. Altogether, they culminate in the critical point of finding God’s will. Every chapter of this book introduces a spiritual practice in order to provide the reader’s soul with the sustenance it needs.
According to the author herself, spiritual leadership derives from the strong will to be related to the soul, as it is a place where God’s Spirit dredges up the deepest hidden questions and desires to bring the individual closer into the relationship with Him. The leader is required to become a “spiritual seeker” himself, as the people he is guiding are as well searching for spiritual nourishment (Barton, 2008, p. 29). The spiritual journey implies the profound exploration of God. With that said, it is crucial to learn the discipline of solitude as it the critical direction to God, which can be contrary to the addicting leader’s work and experiences (Barton, 2008, p. 31).
The solitude will have a good influence once the person is fully aware of it. Barton also states that in solitude, one may explore his dysfunctions and fears, which is essential for obtaining leadership quality.
Furthermore, the author highlights the importance of taking responsibility for inner emotions and self-consciousness; otherwise, the leadership act may cause harm. Barton later explores the chaos of the human soul and the ways to settle it. The book mentions the relevance of protection from the wounding elements in the environment for the proper leadership qualities, as most of the reactions are connected to past experiences (Barton, 2008, p. 51). The journey to leadership represents a transformation, the process for the sake of others, in which to be called by God is the most substantially spiritual experience of the human condition (Barton, 2008, p. 74). In the case of Moses, God called him to be who he was but also to become who he was not.
The author’s thesis implies the enhancement and maintaining the vital connection with God as the most important choice of oneself who chooses the path of the leader. Ruth Barton aims at providing crucial elements to teach the ways to lead spirituality with a strong emphasis on the leader’s self-control of external and internal factors. She discusses the God-ordained limits the leader must recognize, as well as the spiritual rhythms, the intercessory prayer of Moses for the people he was guiding, and the ways that lead from isolation to the leadership community.
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Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership is a thought-provoking text with specific strong points that examine the soul of the leader through the theological context. The first point lies in the book’s relevance not only for a leader, but also for someone who is on the edge of burnout and is internally exhausted, or needs more of God’s presence in life. Besides, this book is more than just the analysis of methods of spiritual practices; it is a valuable source that guides its readers for determination in ministry based on the author’s personal experience.
Another point lies in its new approach to the leadership strategy presented in the book, as the text greatly influences and changes the mindset with its interesting insights on the life of Moses and his example of the great leader. Barton addresses the core of leadership, which is the health of the human soul. She thoroughly discusses the critical points of the soul and ways of sustaining its health, as well as deals with the story of Moses to provide crucial lessons for the current or future leaders. Most importantly, Barton discloses the core of the aspect of spiritual leadership by engaging the leaders in the process of spiritual discipline.
Despite the remarkable success of this literary piece and the majority of strong parts, it seems essential to mention the minor weak point of the book. This lies in the fact that Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership itself does not introduce any contextual novelty. Needless to say, there is a significant number of leadership literature, and the figure of Moses is a common character to analyze as well.
However, even this point might have some positive side. With that said, in spite of the lack of new ideas, Barton’s work, with its religious undertone, managed to convey God’s word into similar aspects and strategies but to different people. The writer presented the existing ideas of the close interrelation of the human soul, the leadership qualities, and biblical stories in a way that might connect with people on a different level.
In my opinion, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership is the phenomenal piece that reaches the smallest inner part of the human soul. By reading this book, I expected to meet the key aspects that define the strength of the soul that consequently leads to the formation of leadership qualities. Therefore, it was an impressive finding, as Barton made a successful approach to analyzing those features.
To conclude, the author created solid guidance for those who seek soul-restoring advice or God himself with the basis of her personal life experience of ministry. By drawing the lessons based on the life of Moses, Barton deeply explores the topic, and gradually helps the reader to experience God and his guidance on the journey to leadership. With its strengths and weaknesses, the book still managed to masterly depict the idea of the soul as the place where the presence of God meets a human life and the aspect that may define the leader.
Barton, R. (2008). Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.