Resources in Review- 2 Books on Leadership by Tod Bolsinger

Resources in Review- 2 Books on Leadership by Tod Bolsinger

Resources in Review: Read, reflect, and grow. 
Karen Ziel, Assistant Director of the Center for Transformational Leadership 

Reading is my passion. I find there’s never enough time to read all I’d like to immerse myself in. That’s why today’s technology with a landscape of multi-media presentations from authors, church-thinkers, theologians, development specialists and others can be so very beneficial. But while I enjoy a good podcast, YouTube video presentation, and the like; I’m continually drawn back to the printed page. Sometimes the draw is prompted directly through that eye-catching title, that well timed e-blast summarizing the article, or a vodcast (video cast), or a radio interview with the author.  How about you? Is reading fundamental to your personal and professional development?  

If so, I invite you to turn to this section of our new publication from the Center for Transformational Leadership, a monthly newsletter- Innovation Now, regularly. Here we hope you’ll find useful information and reviews of resources and tools. You’ll find stories of experimentation and transformation. You’ll find the occasional well-curated list of books that folks are currently finding value in, brief reviews of what we’re reading (either from your SNEUCC staff or our community of leaders) and so much more! So, welcome to this first in a series. We’re glad you’re taking the time to read this. And, because we know your time is precious, we’re always happy to hear from you at any time. Do you have a book review you’d like to share? What types of resources would you like to know more about? Please feel free to reach out at any time!. And now, for the main event. The following is a brief review of 2 resources for your consideration. Each written recently by author and church leadership specialist Tod Bolsinger, author of the popular 2015 book on change leadership, Canoeing the Mountains. 

The two books are: Leadership for a Time of Pandemic, Practicing Resilience and Tempered Leadership, How Leaders are Formed in the Crucible of Change. In each book, Bolsinger asks and answers questions revealing much of what today’s congregational leaders need to know. “What does a transformational leader look like?  What does church and non-profit leadership in uncharted territory call for?” 

In a similar way to his writing approach in Canoeing the Mountains, Bolsinger uses a metaphor through which to explain the ideas, concepts, and suggestions he makes and relates the lessons learned in his example to the learning and teaching he offers. In the case of Tempered Resilience, (The title of which was enough to pull me in!) he explores the ideas of tempering resilience through two key examples: that of a Blacksmith’s trade and craft (from personal experience) and the ministry and leadership legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   

In Leadership For A Time of Pandemic he explores the work of leaders and what is needed in a time of sudden disruption, uncharted territory, disequilibrium and the extraordinary stress of fear and anxiety on a system.  He suggests that one key in successful leadership during this time are three essential and overlapping components: technical competence, relational congruence, and adaptive capacity. He reminds us that nothing changes within our systems until there is a change in behavior and goes on to say that; “[Clergy] Leadership in a disrupted context requires different ways of functioning than the old ways of preaching, liturgics, pastoral care, and running meetings.”  

I find each of these books to be filled with wisdom. I especially resonate with his definition of leadership (and there are many): “Leadership is energizing a group of people toward their own transformation in order to accomplish a shared mission in the face of a changing world.”  What a great way to think of a leadership.

I love the notion of the best leaders in this time and these moments being conveners and equippers.  

In closing, I’d say yes, you can find a YouTube Video of Tod Bolsinger talking Tempered Resilience, you can find any number of podcasts in which he shares these ideas, but summer is approaching and there’s nothing like a good book! Enjoy! 

Tod Bolsinger 

Tod Bolsinger (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a speaker, executive coach, former pastor, and author who serves as associate professor of leadership formation and senior fellow for the De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Seminary. He is the author of Canoeing the Mountains, which was named Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year in Pastoral Leadership, as well as the Christianity Today Award of Merit recipient: It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian. 

A frequent speaker and consultant, he serves as an executive coach for corporate, nonprofit, educational, and church organizations in transformational leadership. For seventeen years, he was the senior pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian Church in San Clemente, California, after serving for ten years at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Tod and his wife, Beth, have two children.  

(Biography from Intervarsity Press, Publishers of Leadership for A Time of Pandemic and Tempered Resilience)  


Karen E. Ziel

Karen Ziel is the Assistant Director of the Center for Transformational Leadership (CTL) at the Southern New England Conference.  She can help congregations and their leaders with tools and resources for assessment and discernment.  As a member of ...

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