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Friday, February 26, 2016

"Next Up" (Jonathan Pearson)

TITLE: Next Up: 8 Shifts Great Young Leaders Make
AUTHOR: Jonathan Pearson
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014, (128 pages).

The next generation will rise up faster than most of us can imagine. Young leaders are the future of every society and every nation. With that in mind, it is most necessary to empower them as soon as possible. The path to great leadership must start now. For author and pastor at the Orangeburg campus of Cornerstone Community Church, Jonathan Pearson, part of his desire to make this world a better place before he leaves this earth is translated into eight great shifts in perspectives. While written for the younger leaders in mind, the concepts and ideas proposed can be shared across generations. This is because everybody experience general shifts. The specifics may differ but the need for change is the same. Adaptation is key to survival. The eight shifts are:
  1. From Entitlement to Honor
  2. From Unreliable to Consistent
  3. From Dissension to Cooperation
  4. From Conformity to Integrity
  5. From Pride to Humility
  6. From Passive to Passionate
  7. From Selfishness to Love
  8. From Premature to Patient
Written primarily for leaders and leaders to be, Pearson's audience is the young leader. The first shift from entitlement to honor reminds me of how often the older generation perceives the younger one as being too fixated on entitlement and entertainment. As a millenial, Pearson himself is aware of the temptation toward entitlement of various things such as material things and the pursuit of happiness. He maintains a starting point that we are not entitled to anything at all. What is needed is to learn to give honor to our elders and to our peers. Using biblical examples, honor begins with God. We learn honor when we recognize our indebtedness to Christ. We honor God by honoring others. 

Second, the shift from unreliable to consistent is a sign of spiritual maturity. The things we do faithfully will become the measure of consistency. If we want to lead consistently, we need to learn to live consistently. Being consistent is the antithesis of unreliability.

Third, the shift from dissension to cooperation is necessary primarily because people are important to God. If we honor God, we would honor one another by learning to work together. This means adopting the habit of humility and the celebration of diversity. In an increasingly pluralistic world, and a networked culture, this shift is becoming more and more necessary.

Fourth, the shift from conformity to integrity is a call to respect our uniqueness. It may seem easy to copy and to conform to expectations but at the end of it all, we need to recognize the need for integrity by acknowledging our shortcomings while achieving our potential. This is perhaps the most important shift of all.

Fifth, the shift from pride to humility is a common theme throughout history. The reason why it is still considered a "great shift" is because pride is a giant impediment to true humility. Every generation must do their utmost to fight this temptation.

Sixth, the shift from passive to passion shows the difference between extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Leaders must be passionate, otherwise they cannot be good leaders at all. Only when the leadership is passionate can one inspire others to follow the lead. Nobody wants to follow a passive leader.

Seventh, the shift from selfishness to love is crucial because leaders cannot be self-serving. Love sacrifices, connects, relates, empowers, protects, and flows powerfully when we dwell in God's love and draw our strength from God alone.

Eight, there is a shift from premature to patient, to remind us that leadership is never limited to present timelines. Leadership is very much aimed toward a patient future. Without patience, we cannot lead for the long haul.

The book is laid out in a clearly understood framework. Young leaders will find it helpful to reflect on the pointers given. Having said that, my main gripe is the use of the word "great." The author does not define it sufficiently, choosing to just use it like in popular culture. If everything looks great, nothing is really great. I suppose Pearson is riding on the same bandwagon of "greatness" vocabulary popular with writers such as Stephen Covey or those management gurus. "Great" is still very much a Western concept. Compared to non-Western cultures such as conservative Asian climates, the word "great" may not be so appropriate. Probably, depending on cultures, the word "good" is preferred. Pearson  has written a commendable guide for young leaders but it is not exactly a "great" book. Just ok for me.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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