Top 10 Leadership Books for Pastors

I get asked a lot by young pastors what leadership books I recommend. It seems they didn’t learn leadership in seminary. 🙂 Pastors get into the administration of a church and quickly discover they need help learning to lead.

It should be noted that I don’t do “favorites” normally. I learn from everything, so I seldom have a list like this compiled. I do, however, recognize the importance of learning and these books have helped me, so when I was asked recently I decided to compile a list.

Here are my top 10 leadership book suggestions for pastors:

The Secret, by Mark Miller

Built to Last, by Jim Collins

Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath

Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath

Axiom, by Bill Hybels

Leadership is an Art, by Max Dupree

Next Generation Leader, by Andy Stanley

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John Maxwell

Good to Great, by Jim Collins

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

This is the kind of post that only gets better with the comments, so be sure to read them and add your own. We’ll learn from each other.

What did I miss?

What would you add to my list?

Which of these are on your list?

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58 thoughts on “Top 10 Leadership Books for Pastors

  1. My preaching professor Rev. Doc. Hugh Litchfield said "A pastor is only as good as the prayers said for him or her." So I would add Partners in Prayer by John Maxwell.

  2. Thank you for this list Ron! I value your opinion and look forward to reading what you hold in high regards.
    Twitter: raystrauss

  3. On my list:

    21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John Maxwell

    Good to Great, by Jim Collins

    Personal List

    The Ascent of a Leader: How Ordinary Relationships Develop Extraordinary Character and Influence

    Bill Thrall, Bruce McNichol, Ken McElrath

    High Performance Ethics, 10 Timeless Principles for Next-Generation Leadership by Wes Cantre

    & James R. Lucas

    The Leadership Challenge By Kouzes & Posner

    Bruce PowerChurch Administration Handbook, A Revised And Completely Updated Edition

  4. There are so many … but here's a start …
    Lencioni – 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
    Stanley – Choosing to Cheat
    Cloud – Integrity
    Sanders – Spiritual Leadership
    Gallup Press – Living Your Strengths
    MacDonald – Who Stole My Church

  5. Building the Bridge As You Walk On It – Robert Quinn
    Spiritual Leadership – Oswald Sanders
    In the Name of Jesus – Henri Nouwen

      • Great reads so we grow in spiritual leadership, passion for God, and the daily commitments that make us effective spiritual leaders. R.A. Torrey is a classic. Anything from Willard is going to go right to the soul.

  6. Switch ~ Dan and Chip Heath | Leading Change
    Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands: Lessons in Non-Linear Leadership ~ Nancy Ortberg | Leading in the context of Ministry

    • Dan and Chip Heath's new book Decisive is also amazing. Leaders must make decisions and the weight of our decisions are regularly weightier than others in our organizations. Knowing how to filter good suggestions and even make the best decisions with a fresh 30,000' perspective is what this book is all about.
      Twitter: raystrauss

      • Yes. I read that on vacation. Incredible. Also their book Switch. I read anything they write. —Sent from Mailbox for iPhone
        Twitter: Ronedmondson

  7. Some of my choices:

    — It's your ship – by D. Michael Abrashoff
    — The Bible and Leadership – by Lorin Woolfe
    — Straight from the Gut – by Jack Welch
    — The making of a leader- by Robert Clinton
    — Leaders – by Warren Bennis & Burt nanus
    — The Leadership Challenge – James M. kouzes & Barry Z Posner

    • Don't know most of these….The Leadership Challenge is great. It was a textbook in my master's in leadership program.Thanks
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

    • I'd second Billy's suggestion here. Read numerous times and been a constant help through leadership challenges and opportunities.
      Twitter: raystrauss

  8. Awesome list, I will have to read more. I benefied from Henry and Richard Blackaby's, Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God's Agenda, Revised and Expanded.

  9. Two more that have been really influential for me are:
    Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders
    An Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus
    Twitter: leadership__101

  10. Great list.
    I also like Patrick Lencioni's books – 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and Death by Meeting.
    Also, a Classic – Leadership and the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard
    I have not read a few of those, onto my list they go

  11. I like the list;not sure about the secret. I would add God is my CEO. Its for businesses but it shows how to let God be the head and not the person. It also gives real life examples.
    Twitter: mrsceo

  12. I like the list;not sure about the secret. I would add God is my CEO. Its for businesses but it shows how to let God be the head and not the person.
    Twitter: mrsceo