Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton {Review}


Even though this book is finely tuned for pastors and leaders in church, it’s useful for anyone. We all lead somehow. We all need to find ways to listen for God and take care of our own souls. We are all spiritual people in the midst of an everyday life filled with unruly demands and expectations to contribute to the greater good. We all need soul-care. We all need to prioritize our spiritual health. This book is for you whatever you may do in your daily life. Be encouraged and courageous.

In this book, Barton goes through some common soul challenges of leadership, offers advice, and teaches about spiritual practices. Barton uses Moses’ life for examples of how God shows up, calls, empowers, and then leads the leader. I loved getting to look closely at the life of Moses in the discussion of soul-care in leadership. My favorite example was the story of the burning bush. Barton used this to invites us to pay attention to the burning bushes in our own lives. Those places where God is glimmering around the edges inviting us to investigate and discover. These are invitations to the practice of paying attention and slowing down enough to see where God is trying to make something known in my own life.

“The practice of paying attention awakens us to what is extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. As we live our lives in a humble response to the One who is calling to us out of the burning bush in our own lives, we discover that we are standing on holy ground more often than we think.” – Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, p. 70

I would love to find out I am standing on holy ground more often than I think. Wouldn’t you?

Overall, I liked this book, underlined a lot, and learned a bit. ( I might have to go back for a reread if I want to say I learned a lot. Such is the state of my memory. Alas.)

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

  1. “The most important thing I can do as a leader today is to keep seeking God in depths of my own soul – no matter what it costs.” p30
  2. “Many of us are choosing to live lives that do not set us up to pay attention, to notice those places where God is at work and to ask ourselves what these things mean.” p 62
  3. “Calling is first and foremost the calling to be yourself, that self God created you to be.” p 77
  4. “God is not in any particular hurry to get us to the Promised Land. He is much more concerned about the transforming work he is doing in us to prepare us for greater responsibilities of freedom living.”p94
  5. “Living within limits is not in any way an acquiescence that is despairing, passive or fatalistic. Rather it honors the deepest realities of the life God has given us. Life in this body at this age and stage. Life in my family at its age and stage. Life in this personality. Life with this community. Life in the midst of this calling. ” 113
  6. “Seeking to stay faithful to hearing and following God’s call in my own life has been the very bet preparation for supporting and guiding others as they seek to say yes to God’s risking invitations in their lives.” p 149

And a few books that have a similar feeling (click the cover to go to the Amazon description):

I love books that give me a chance to focus on one piece of biblical history or one person to glean a little extra.  Another book like this is A Glorious Dark by A.J Swoboda which looks at the three days of Good Friday through Easter Sunday. Basically Amazing.

What book have you loved recently?


  1. Book provided by IVPress in exchange for an honest review.
  2. This post contains amazon affiliate links. Thanks!)

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