As someone who has been called to minister in the local church, leadership is something I think about often. As a pastor, I am called to lead the congregation entrusted to my care. This includes setting direction for the church, directing the execution of the church's mission, modeling a godly life, and developing other leaders to continue the work of the ministry. Leadership is something I regularly study, read, think, and write about (so far that is just scribbles in my notebook). Leadership is something that I am passionate about. Leadership matters.
And the Scriptures have a lot to say about leadership. The Bible directs, instructs, and informs leaders. It also provides powerful models of leadership , both failed and successful.
But sometimes it is also helpful to draw leadership principles from other great men of the past. Great men of history provide a unique opportunity for studying leadership, both good and bad. We can look back and see where leaders came from, what molded them, what difficulties they faced, and how they led in the face of momentous challenges. We can look back and see where their decisions led. We can evaluate their accomplishments and failures and consider how we should lead in light of this.
Recently, I read Robert E. Lee: A Biography by Emory M. Thomas. Much could be said about Lee's leadership. But I was especially intrigued to read about the bravery, conviction, and leadership of another great Confederate; perhaps the greatest subordinate to Lee, and in many ways Lee's superior, none other than Stonewall Jackson.
With my interest in Jackson piqued, I was excited to find a newer biography on Stonewall at my local public library, Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S.C. Gwynne.
I started reading this biography last week and it has been hard to put down. Gwynne is a superb biographer and talented writer. He makes the days surrounding the Civil War come alive.
As I started reading about Jackson being thrust into leadership from relative anonymity, I found myself noting pages repeatedly (don't worry, in Evernote not on the pages). Jackson is a powerful example of great leadership. As Gwynne walks you through the dusty lanes of northern Virginia and the fiery baptism of those first battles, Jackson's leadership marches to the forefront.
While he was not perfect - and he would agree with that statement - Jackson was truly a great leader among men. He offers valuable lessons in leadership, timeless principles that need to be applied in our tumultuous times as well. So as I read Rebel Yell, I plan to post some brief summaries of leadership principles drawn from the life of this greatest of Southerners. I hope you will profit from it as much as I.