Leaders are Learners

I will never forget one of my first Willow Creek Leadership Summits where John Maxwell spoke. He said something that has been quoted over and over since then, “all leaders are learners.” This challenged me to constantly be learning. I wish I could say today that I always followed through on this commitment.

As I look back on my leadership, the season where I was committed to learning are the season I was effective and saw Kingdom fruit. The season where I was not learning, I was basically not growing. My leadership was lukewarm. Yes, I believe that our leadership can be lukewarm just like our relationship with Jesus. I am also convinced that I am a better leader when I am committed to reading the Word of God EVERY DAY! When I am not, I am not only a lukewarm follower of Jesus, but a lukewarm leader.

I believe that I have the spiritual gift of leadership. Because Christ has given me this gift, I constantly need to grow in my leadership. There are those who are in leadership but DO NOT have this gift. For these people, it is absolutely essential that they learn leadership. I am convinced that we can either lead out of our emotions and personal preferences or we can learn from an equipped, God honoring stance. When we fail to be learners, we fail to be leaders. This is true for all who have the spiritual gift and those who do not.

The primary place to be a learner is the Bible. I am coming to believe that every follower of Jesus really need to be reading the bible every day. We need to take the time and hear the voice of God as revealed in the Bible. By saying we do not have time to read our bible, we are saying that we do not have time for Jesus in our lives. I heard someone say that every follower, if they are series about Jesus, will read the bible cover to cover at least once a year. This quote was attributed to J.I. Packer (becoming one of my favorite authors). I believe he is right! With God’s voice in our lives, we can live life generally in a honoring way to Jesus Christ. We will be on mission for Him, and we will spend more time confessing our sin and receiving the forgiveness He offers us. Without spending time in scripture, we just live our lives for ourselves, we do not get convicted of sin, and we generally live our lives with no joy.

There are other places we learn leadership from besides the bible. (The bible being primary though) In our world of technology, there is not shortage on resources. There are podcasts, books, article, webinars, college and seminary courses, video’s, just to give you a short list. Even today I will attending a webinar about church attendance and why it has declined 20% nation wide over the last year – a source of learning.

So here is a very short list of some books and podcasts that you can engage in to be a learner. I provided the webpage that has the podcast because there are also great articles there as well. This list is not exhaustive and only scratches the surface. This list represents places I have learned from in the past and recently. This list reflects leadership in general and not specific area’s. Example – I am reading books, watching online courses, and reading articles about preaching so I can grow in that area of my life and ministry. There are podcasts, articles, online conferences, books, and other resources for just about every area of our lives – you just have to look for yourself.

My hope and prayer is that you take this list, and take the steps in being a growing leader, because I am more convinced that God honors our growth and our commitment to be a better leader. Remember – the bible is the primary place we learn and grow – READ IT EVERY DAY!!!


Discipleship Books (just a few):

“Knowing God” by J.I Packer

“Pursuing Holiness” by Jerry Bridges

“Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby

“Prayer” by Tim Keller

“Spirit of Discipline” by Dallas Willard

“Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster

“The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer

“Pursing God” by A.W. Tozer


Leadership Books (just a few):

ANYTHING by John Maxwell

“7 Practices of Effective Ministry” by Andy Stanley

“Visioneering” by Andy Stanley

“The Leaders Journey” by Jim Herrinton

“Practicing Greatness” by Reggie McNeal

“Courageous Leadership” by Bill Hybles

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins

“The Next Generation Leader” by Andy Stanley


Discipleship Podcasts: 

Daily Hope by Rick Warren

Walk In The Word by James MacDonald

Renewing Your Mind by Ligonier Ministries and RC Sproul (more Theology based and other resources available)

White Horse Inn by Michael Horton (more Theology based AND other resources available)


Leadership Podcasts:

Craig Groeschel 

Purpose Driven (PD Cast)

Carey Nieuwhof 

Andy Stanley 

Luminex (a ministry of the RCA)


There you have it. By no means is this list exhaustive. These are just resources that I have learned from and have seen The Lord teach me from. There are a lot more books out there to read and a lot more podcasts to listen too. I challenge you to start learning and try not to be overwhelmed. Remember – once we stop learning, we stop leading. If you have never engaged in learning, then you really never lead. Happy learning…

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