Wednesday 17 February 2016

Empowering Young Christians Developing Bible-Based Leadership and Soft Skills - Cary J. Green PhD

Empowering Young Christians
Developing Bible-Based Leadership and Soft Skills
Cary J. Green PhD
Dog Ear Publishing
ISBN 9781457540998

I was offered a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The product description is "In today's competitive landscape, brains alone won't get you very far. Truly successful students and young professionals live according to God's plan, and they also exhibit skills that make them really stand out. They honor God, communicate well, dress and act professionally, solve problems, and seem to be natural leaders. If you're wondering how you can tap into God's power and acquire these important leadership and soft skills, this book is for you." And it does a good job of that. But as someone in my mid-40's I can say that this book can be used by anyone looking to make positive changes in their life. Anyone who wants to have a greater understanding of biblical leadership, and grow in their soft skills can learn and improve from taking a chance and reading this book.

Cary states: "One of the most important things to understand when you are young is that intelligence alone won't make you successful. You must develop leadership and soft skills." And I have seen this in my own life and the life of numerous co-workers over the years. Brains and knowledge alone are no guarantee of success, in fact sometimes they can be a detriment and Cary gives a number of examples of people with great knowledge and skill but who lack commitment, disciple or fail consistently to meet goals who are not successful. And the knowledge gained from this book can be applied beyond just the walls of work. Cars says: "Knowing how to listen effectively and how to have a difficult conversation can come in handy when talking with family and friends." And like most business development books, you can take the skills and habits that Cary outlines and apply them across all area's of your life. It is not enough to apply and develop these skills just in the work place. We need take those same skills and apply them in our families, with our friends and in our church and other social interactions. Cary knows that reading the book alone will not produce major or lasting chance he encourages us to "Call on God's strength, put forth effort, apply the concepts in this book, and you will grow as a Christian and as a leader." If we are open to that then we can with God's help make the changes we need and want to.

Cary also gives some advice on how to get the most out of the book; " To fully realize the benefits of this book, apply what you learn. You must have the goal to improve and work deliberately to improve your performance through practice. If you want to improve your three-point shooting ability, you can't just read a book on basketball- you have to shoot a lot of three-pointers. Developing your soft skills and leadership ability is similar; you must purposefully work to develop those skills." And it will be work but in the long run the work will be worth it both for your career and for your personal life and development. He also recommends that "By re-reading and working through this book on a regular basis, you will be on the path to continual progress." There are many books in my life that I have reread, some every year for a decade, others just for a few years. With all the skills and habits covered in this book this is another great piece of advice. One of the final pieces of advice in the introduction is "To truly experience the abundant and successful life that God has for you, embrace God's plan for your life, obey Him, and stay faithful." And to be honest that is more important than anything else. The rest of the book is a guide to help us do so.

The soft skills are taught using the three R's Readiness, Relationships, and Results. And Cary walks us through them. One of the best pieces of advice in the book for me at this point is "Producing results is not the same as being busy. You must understand the difference between doing something and doing something important." I have known many coworkers who always seemed buys but never seemed to get much done. Another great quote is "A colleague of mine has a program he calls "The I in Team." You probably have heard that there is no "I" in team. However, my colleague teaches that each individual team member must contribute to the overall success of the team; use your unique strengths to contribute to your team. Don't misinterpret this "I" in team as being the star, but use your strengths so that your team succeeds. By making strong contributions to a successful team, you set yourself up for opportunities as an individual." And further on Cary states: "Here is the point: You may be smart, an excellent communicator, and an excellent problem-solver, but your success will be limited if your attitude is bad. If you have a bad attitude, prioritize your effort to improve your attitude." And I have seen this in myself and others bad attitudes do not start overnight typically they grow slowly and creep up on people. They are something as Christians we need to be very cautious about.

Later Cary reminds us "The difference between busyness and productivity can be difficult to see. Most people realize they are wasting time if they spend a lot of time online or playing video games. However, spending time on otherwise worthwhile activities can also get in the way of your progress if those activities are not your real priorities. Please don't miss this point: Not all "important" activities are equal, and "good" activities can get in the way of your true priorities." We all need to learn and relearn this our whole lives both at work and in our families and our social lives. And a final quote to wet your appetite for this book is Cary's "A Simple Six-Step Approach to Problem Solving

1. Identify the problem.
2. Determine the underlying cause of the problem.
3. Determine possible solutions.
4. Select a solution.
5. Implement the solution.
6. Assess the solution.

Overall this was a really good read. The pace slows a bit the further I got into the book, but part of that could be my experience and similar books I have read before. In many ways this book reminded me of reading John C. Maxwell or Zig Ziglar. It is a good business book and has some great tips and tools for helping a Christian become the best version of themselves at work. Therefore I can highly recommend it.

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