Classic Pastoral Leadership Books


Leadership is an integral part of ministry. After all, you need to be able to cast a vision people will follow and manage relationships in a way that is both empowering and inspiring.

If you want to increase your skills, reading is an important place to start. But if you only plow through the latest and greatest leadership and business books, you’ll end up falling into a couple of traps.

First, you’ll end up thinking the same thing as all your contemporaries. It’s helpful to stay on top of the most popular, cutting-edge books, but finding inspiration from multiple sources helps you develop more creative ideas.

Second, you will miss out on advice and information that has stood the test of time. Some books are classic for a reason, and a lot of the latest leadership books are built upon the foundation set by older, definitive works. By reading more broadly, you develop a wider appreciation for the entire leadership spectrum.

Here are several classic works to consider adding to your repertoire. The summaries below were created by each book’s publisher.

Author: Charles Spurgeon
Length: 448 pages

It is estimated that Charles Spurgeon preached 600 sermons by his 26th birthday and that during his lifetime he delivered nearly 3,600 sermons and preached to 10 million people.

This complete and unabridged edition of Spurgeon’s great work will make it possible to appreciate his combination of discerning wit and refreshingly practical advice. Included are lectures such as:

  • The Call to Ministry
  • The Preacher’s Private Prayer
  • On the Choice of a Text
  • On the Voice
  • The Holy Spirit in Connection with Our Ministry

As were all of Spurgeon’s messages, each of these lectures is saturated with Scripture. They move swiftly and are fascinating in their depth and sage advice.

Author: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Length: 325 pages

For over 30 years, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones ministered at Westminster Chapel in London. Today he is widely considered one of the greatest 20th century preachers. Based on a series of lectures originally given by Lloyd-Jones to the students of Westminster Theological Seminary in the spring of 1969, this collection of essays on the essence of powerful preaching has become a modern classic.

Lloyd-Jones defends the primacy of preaching and challenges preachers to take their calling seriously: “The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching.”

He also provides practical direction on the task of preparing a sermon, sharing insights on the shape and form of a message as well as covering such topics as the use of humor, giving invitations in a message, and the preacher’s relationship to the congregation.

Author: J. Oswald Sanders
Length: 208 pages

J. Oswald Sanders, a Christian leader for nearly 70 years, presents the key principles of leadership in this work. He illustrates his points with examples from Scripture and biographies of eminent people of God, such as Moses, Nehemiah, the apostle Paul, David Livingstone, Charles Spurgeon, and others.

Featured topics include:

  • The cost of leadership
  • The responsibility of leadership
  • The tests of leadership
  • The qualities and criteria of leadership
  • The art of reproducing leaders
  • The one indispensable requirement of leadership

Sanders holds that even natural leadership qualities are God-given, and their true effectiveness can only be reached when they are used to the glory of God.

Author: Richard Koch
Length: 336 pages

How can you be more effective with less effort? Learn how to identify and leverage the 80/20 principle—the well-known, unpublicized secret that 80% of all our results in business and in life stem from a mere 20% of our efforts.

Did you know, for example, that 20% of customers account for 80% of revenues? That 20% of our time accounts for 80% of the work we accomplish? We can achieve much more with much less effort, time, and resources, simply by identifying and focusing our efforts on the 20% that really counts.

Although the 80/20 principle has long influenced today’s business world, author Richard Koch reveals how the principle works and shows how we can use it in a systematic and practical way to vastly increase our effectiveness and improve the effectiveness of our churches.

Reading for depth and wisdom

Strong leaders are committed readers. By adding these classic works to your reading rotation, you’ll add depth and wisdom to your pastoral ministry. If you’re looking for even more reading resources, check out our Leadership Reading Guide for Pastors.