Faithful Leaders and the Things that Matter Most by Rico Tice (The Good Book Company, 2021. 112 pages. ISBN: 9781784985806. RRP: £7.99).
On the day I read this accessible little book by Rico Tice, I also saw an advert for an administrative post posted by a Christian denomination. It offered a salary that I consider to be so inflated as to be incompatible with gospel ministry. I also read Faithful Leaders during a week in which increasingly lurid revelations were coming to light about certain Christian leaders. It appears that some have been in it for themselves, disguising their wolfishness with a carefully curated veneer of servanthood.
Faithful Leaders is a great antidote for gospel leaders who might be similarly tempted. Let’s face it, at some point that is probably all of us. Sadly, the majority of books about Christian leadership do not concentrate on Christ-like character. That has changed a little during the last decade, but frankly, not nearly enough. By contrast, this book does focus on developing Christ-like character and does it very well. It begins by wrestling with what success means in the context of Christian leadership. Tice explains that, without careful thinking, we can easily find ourselves using false and ungodly metrics. His conclusion is that only one metric truly counts: that is hearing ‘well done, good and faithful servant’ from the lips of the master on the final day. That’s it.
The book then provides clear, concise definitions of both faithfulness and servanthood, making a strong appeal for biblical orthodoxy. For me, these were the standout features of the book. Again and again, Tice emphasises the need for pastors to embrace godliness, sacrifice and a solid commitment to the way of the cross. He highlights, in very helpful ways, how these qualities contrast with worldliness. In addition, he calls leaders to reject the numbers game, so often used to validate success. He calls it worldly, which it is. Tice says, pointedly, that we can have huge numbers and still end up as a failure if we don’t ‘rightly handle the word of truth’ (2 Tim. 2.15 - paraphrase).
He could have gone a little further by pointing out that certain leaders build their numbers by abandoning the ‘right handling of the word of truth’ by offering teaching more suited to people with itching ears (See 2 Tim.4.3). However, he does ask searchingly whether leaders are teaching the gospel of grace, with grace. It’s a good question, especially when placed alongside the temptation to bend the truth in our teaching, thrilling our listeners even as it destroys them.
The author is also not afraid to address issues in his own camp. The book excoriates the tendency within some parts of the Church of England to capitulate to the spirit of the age, particularly regarding sexual ethics. Tice has had to make significant sacrifices in standing up for historic biblical orthodoxy, and the book's call for holiness and repentance is the more powerful for it.
One (very minor) criticism I have is the use of various Bible translations, which occasionally felt like picking the translation which best fit the author’s argument. I felt he could have stuck to one translation and that would have been sufficient. Nevertheless, I highly recommend Faithful Leaders. Every gospel worker and leader, wherever they serve in church life, will find it a helpful spur to godly discipleship.
My favourite line is a quote from the late Richard Bewes, who, when facing difficulty and disappointment as a leader, said that it doesn’t matter because ‘we’re just servants.’ That is a good summary of what this book is all about. It’s a call to authentic Christian leadership. As leaders, we must set aside worldly ambition and distorted definitions of success, embracing instead the character of the humble and lowly Lord who tells us to take up our cross and follow him.
You can buy your own copy of Faithful Leaders on the publisher's website, or from any of your usual retailers.
Our copy was kindly given to us by The Good Book Company for a fair review. The opinions expressed in this review, and the others we undertake, represent our impartial and honest appraisal of the book.
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