Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review: A Leader's Heart

I love books.  I love books that are thought-provoking.  I love books that let me journal.  So when I got the chance to review John Maxwell's  devotional-journal that promised to nurture "a leader's heart" ... I jumped at the chance.  A Leader's Heart: 365-Day Devotional Journal by John Maxwell has just been re-published by Thomas Nelson Publishers under their "Countryman" imprint.

Unfortunately, this story has a sad ending:  I just can't like this book.  I think it's trying too hard to do everything -- a journal, a "devotional", a self-help book to grow leaders -- and ends up being nothing. 

I honestly tried hard to like it.  I browsed through it.  I read it.  I held it in my hands and smelled it.  I honestly tried.  But still no success.

First, the binding is all wrong.  It's a sewn-in binding for a book that is supposed to be used daily for writing thoughts.  A better choice would have been a looser binding (comb, spiral) OR wider margins with bigger lines for truly writing in.  A sewn-in binding would be great if the book didn't encourage the reader to write in the lines.  This just doesn't work for me.

Second, the book mixes scripture passages with quotes from Maxwell's previous volumes on leadership.  One or the other, but not both, would have worked better for me.  This would have worked if Maxwell had than added the question to either a scripture quote or a Maxwell quote (I also had a problem with the use of quotes from Maxwell's Leadership Bible but that's a personal pet peeve -- there is only one Bible).  Maybe there could have been a separate section with one or the other pithy quote.  But they're not pithy quotes -- their two-ton heavy with meaning.  On a daily basis, this might get a bit over the top.

Third, maybe it's because I'm a Catholic reading a very Protestant author, but the impression I get from the Maxwell quotes is that everyone should be, must be a leader and that is how we would witness to the Kingdom.  But that's not what Jesus said.  Jesus would have us follow Him.  Jesus told us, "the last shall be first".  Jesus gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom and put the Church as the leader on earth.  Maxwell's leadership maxims are great for the corporate board room but not for life -- but Maxwell's volume leads me to believe that he wants us to replicate the dog-eat-dog, climb the corporate ladder to success kind of lifestyle in our daily lives and in our spiritual lives.  

I'm sorry, I just can't like this one. 

This book was obtained through Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program which requires that I post a review after reading the volume.  The critique above is my honest review of this work. 

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