The Mindful Leader: Embodying Christian wisdom, by Peter Shaw 

by
12 April 2019

Anne Spalding looks at Christian themes in a leadership context

PETER SHAW has long experience working in UK government and then as a coach with international executive leaders and teams. In The Mindful Leader, he applies Christian themes and values to leadership at all levels in an organisation. Despite the short chapters (four to five pages each), plenty is covered — introduction; biblical references with some discussion; a workplace example; and questions for reflection — so skim-reading would miss a great deal.

Perhaps surprisingly, Shaw begins with a section, “Heart”. This includes chapters on resurrection, forgiveness, love, vulnerability, and hope, all of which can appear insignificant or “weak” in many business situations. But Shaw explains their relevance. For example, he talks about forgiveness to release oneself from the grip of disappointment or anger, but also about the need for firm action, and the option of forgiving but being wary of someone. He gives a workplace scenario that brings these aspects together.

The next section is “Head”, which comprises themes that require clear thinking, such as truth, crucifixion, freedom, judgement, and self-control. The chapter on crucifixion starts with the present reality that newspapers and social-media campaigns seek to crucify people, and goes on to explore how to respond to people who seek to crucify your reputation or radically oppose your views.

I was pleased to find that the third section, “Hands”, was more clearly about working as part of a team. The themes include responsibility, sacrifice, community, and kindness. So the chapter on community invites reflection on the extent to which your team is part of a wider community, and on how to handle a situation in which a colleague denies or betrays you.

Three final chapters, “Heart”, “Head”, and “Hands”, summarise themes from each section and add more questions for reflection.

This is not a book that provides answers — “Do this as a next step” — but, especially for Christians working in secular organisations, it gives valuable food for thought and for conversation with others. The same should be true for leadership in Christian organisations, but maybe we are too familiar with the themes to notice all that this book offers.

Dr Anne Spalding is a member of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis, and lives in Suffolk.

The Mindful Leader: Embodying Christian wisdom
Peter Shaw
Canterbury Press £12.99
(978-1-78622-113-1)
Church Times Bookshop £11.70

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

100 Best Christian Books

How many have you read?

Visit the 100 Best Christian Books website to see which books made our list, read the judges' notes and add your own comments.

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read five articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)