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The End of Many Books

Leadership and Emotional Sabotage

by Joe Rigney

In this book Rigney riffs on Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of Nerve and weaves in significantly more Scripture than does Friedman on the nature of leadership.

Nerve has moved into my list of top 5 books of any kind/subject/genre, and has to be the first pull from my leadership shelf when I’m looking for a boost of encouragement. That said, Friedman was not a Christian and that’s evident in his message. Rigney aims to redeem, so to speak, what Friedman sees that is true, even if Friedman doesn’t see all that is true.

I’m probably not the target audience for Rigney’s brief book. I didn’t need an introduction to the problems of chronic anxiety – in families and churches and cultures. I also didn’t need an introduction to leaders leading with strength, or to the potential of sabotage when leaders lead well. So I was hoping for more, not just an introduction or reframing, but for advancing. And with all that said, I can see myself recommending Rigney first and then possibly Friedman to others in days to come.

One thing that doesn’t affect whether or not Rigney’s work is max-edifying (which it is), is that where Friedman argues for nerve Rigney argues for biblical sober-mindedness. I think that’s interesting, but I’d argue that sober-mindedness and self-control belong more with what Friedman calls differentiation. Nerve has much more heart, much more courage. The title of Rigney’s last three chapters apply Courage to different spheres of life (Courage in the Home, Courage in the Church, Courage in the World), but he still seems to talk about nerve as sober-mindedness. The answer to problem passions is proper passions (which I’m sure Rigney would agree with, it’s just not how he describes it in these pages). We do need clarity, but some clarity is not a cause but a result of ordered affections.

Should you read this? Well, if you have not read A Failure of Nerve, you should have ordered Rigney’s book yesterday and finished it within hours of the Amazon truck driving away from your house. If you have read Nerve, you should still read Rigney, a probably a couple times.

4 of 5 stars