Eight Books That Have Shaped Me as a Leader

By Kathy Ferguson Litton

Leadership is often an uncomfortable topic for ministry wives. As I have interacted with hundreds of wives I have been surprised to learn that many hesitate to see themselves as leader. Yet we are leaders. If you have influence (and we do), you are a leader. Some lead formal, organized assignments. Others lead less visibly in less structured settings.

Recently Lifeway asked me to submit a blog citing books that shaped me as a leader. We want to repost that blog today for you to consider engaging your leadership with more intentionality. If we are leaders we want to do “all things for the Glory of God1 Cor. 10:31. We want to do this well.

1- Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

The first book on leadership I ever read. It called out the leader in me at a young age. A true, foundational classic that shaped my understanding that leadership was driven by character and personal holiness.

2- The Servant Principle by Rick E. Ferguson

I married this man when I was 19 and had front row seat to his servant life for 26 years. He debunks celebrity culture and calls it to be replaced by the servant model of Jesus. Jesus’ identity and security came exclusively through His relationship with His Father. Which also produces our servant’s heart.

3- Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt

No one treats the Titus 2 topic any better than Susan Hunt. This is a primer for any woman who takes seriously her impact. Her term “mothering” is so powerful to grasp and practice as we disciple women. Susan Hunt empowered me. She gave me a fresh vision of what my life should look like. (My copy is tattered, torn and marked on nearly every page.)

4- When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James

A five star book in my library, it completely revolutionized my understanding of the need for theology for women and how I taught. Women shoulder a huge responsibility in building up the church. Carolyn’s observation about women in a crisis: “they arrived with casseroles but they also brought their theology”. That theology must be vigorous. When my “life and belief collided” it was solid theology that steadied my rocked world.

5- Seven Practices for Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley, Lane Jones, Reggie Joiner

A very timely read when I joined the staff at a large church. It is helpful tool for operating within any type of ministry structure.

6- Just Lead!: A No-Whining, No-Complaining, No-Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church by Sherry Surratt and Jenni Catron 

It is not easy to find guidance as a female leader in a male dominated church culture. With practical wisdom Just Lead helps women navigate the tricky steps of leadership.

 7- The Leadership Ellipse by Robert Fryling 

An important book with this powerful premise: “How I lead is shaped by who I am”. We struggle to live with external integrity because we struggle with internal integrity. A well-written spiritual formation leadership book. The chapter on wholeheartedness was life changing for me.

8- Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman 

My most current read. The very idea of “multiplying” hints at disciple making yet this is purely a business context. Yet anyone who works with people needs this book. Wiseman will provoke you to think differently about how to engage the people around you. The research info is very helpful. Critical reading for church leaders who want to multiply their staff without adding to the payroll. Get this book!

Check out more book recommendations on our Resources page.

Published June 6, 2014

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Kathy Ferguson Litton

Kathy lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband Ed, pastor of Redemption Church. Both lost former spouses in car accidents, and God uniquely gave them new love and life together in 2009. Kathy enjoyed 26 years of life and ministry alongside Rick Ferguson. She has three children and ten grandchildren. Presently she serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development.