By Doug Hibbard
Leadership books are everywhere and have been for some time. They range from seriously deep to the farcical. It appears that everyone has a leadership theory, and so everyone has a book to write. The question for Charles Stone is whether or not “Brain Savvy Leaders” rises above the clutter of the market.
First, let us examine his basic premise. Stone, who blogs extensively about the connection between neuroscience and ministry, tells the reader that the way the brain works is critical to understanding leadership. His premise is that ministry leadership should consider not only how their minds work, but also the impact neuroscience has on their communication and their followers. I would note, positively, that Stone sticks with neuroscience as his term and not neurology — he is not a “neurologist,” which is a medical specialty.
Along this path, Stone presents that we, as Bible believers, need not fear the science of the brain. After all, if the brain is part of how we are created, then learning about the brain furthers our understanding of how God made us. As we grow in that understanding, we are more equipped to work together.
From there, he goes on to present a mixture of Scripture and science, showing how the brain works and how that affects us spiritually. One of the more valuable sections deals with stress hormones and their overall effect on performance. To summarize, stress does have physiological effects on the brain, which make it harder to make decisions. Even though we may feel like we make good decisions under stress, the truth is just the opposite. Cortisol is only your friend in crisis, and you need time to recover.
From a theological perspective, Stone’s analysis dovetails well with Scripture. He clearly recognizes the Bible as the top-line authority on what we do in ministry. This includes noting passages in the Psalms about rest and Proverbs about diligence, but tops out with the reminder that our purpose is to seek the kingdom of God.
The concluding chapter provides a plan to implement Stone’s ideas. This practical addition moves the work of “Brain Savvy Leaders” from a theoretical exercise to a practical work. While this is not the first book I would hand to someone developing their leadership skills, it’s definitely a great “next-step” learning book.
Doug Hibbard is pastor of East End Baptist Church, Hensley.