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As we mark the beginning of a new year, I asked our contributors to share some best-loved books from the past year or ones they’re currently reading. In alphabetical, but no other particular order, here is a selection of our favorites with a brief reason why we recommend them.

Better Together: How Women and Men Can Heal the Divide and Work Together to Transform the Future by Danielle Strickland (2020, Thomas Nelson)—“I appreciated the practical approach Strickland takes to this topic, and the models she provides for moving forward.  She grounds her writing within a Christian perspective and provides reflection questions at the end of each chapter which would make this a great book to read with your leadership team.”

From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle (2019, Simon & Schuster)—“I have been trying this year to read books about stories that are different than mine and Thistle tells a compelling, tragic and ultimately hope-filled narrative of his life.  As a Canadian, I appreciated his insight into a part of our country’s history and present, as he poignantly describes the heart-rending ways we fail our First Peoples.”

Holding Up Half the Sky: A Biblical Case for Women Leading and Teaching in the Church by Graham Joseph Hill (2020, Cascade Books)—“Graham’s book outlines, in a most readable yet scholarly way, a biblical case for women leading and teaching in the church. I highly recommend this book for people (men and women) who want to develop their understanding of what the Bible actually says about women in leadership and have an informed understanding of the scriptural case for equality. The last part of the book provides a clear picture of what this Biblical equality might look like in practice. I especially love the Biblical Egalitarian Manifesto outlined in the appendix.”

Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges, and Phyllis Hendry (2008, Thomas Nelson)—“Part 3 of this book, The Being Habits, does not contain anything particularly new but such great reminders on how important the creation of the right habits are to leadership. Leaders require good habits, some that are not intuitive to everyone, but several spiritual habits that we know and don’t always do, can really support our serve.”

Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life by David O. Taylor (2020, Thomas Nelson)—“In this challenging year with its emotional ups and downs, this book has helped to reframe them through the joy, sorrow, anger, lament, doubt, and thanksgiving as expressed throughout the Psalms. It is a very timely, comforting, and grounding book during a global pandemic.”

Quiet Girls Can Run the World: Owning Your Power When You’re Not the “Alpha” in the Room by Rebecca Holman (2018, TarcherPerigee)—“Traditionally ‘Alpha’ characteristics are often touted as great leadership skills: decisiveness, boldness, outcome focus. But ‘Alphas’ aren’t the only people who make good leaders. Holman highlights many ‘Beta’ strengths—she also notes common weaknesses and offers ways to overcome them—as she encourages quiet, introverted leaders to step into their power and lead with confidence.”

Seed Falling on Good Soil: Rooting Our Lives in the Parables of Jesus by Gordon King (2020, Cascade Books)—“Gordon is a colleague of mine at Tyndale Academic Press and has decades of experience in community development in the Global South. Reading the parables of Jesus through the lens of the those who live on the margins is like hearing them for the first time; the cry for justice and healing is inescapable.”

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything by Patrick Lencioni (2012, Jossey-Bass)—“What I love about this book is that it focuses on team leadership and communication. With all of the communication school leaders are doing these days, it’s been a great reminder of how to be clear and focused on priorities both individually and corporately.”

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker (2018, Riverhead Books)—“This book challenges the often vague and unthoughtful ways we approach gatherings of various kinds from dinner parties, to staff meetings to conferences. Some really brilliant strategies and examples to make you think more deeply about the purpose behind your gatherings and how you might intentionally match your strategies to achieve these. A great read for anyone who is in the habit of bringing people together and wants to do so in more effective and meaningful ways.”

The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Live of Intentionality, Openness, and Faith by Dr. Irene Kraegel (2020, Fortress Press)—“Dr. Kraegel reclaims mindfulness from its secular definitions to focus on building it as a tool in our faith to experience God’s peace in the midst of turmoil. Kraegel provides ways to create practices that can be especially helpful for adults and students experiencing anxiety over things that are out of our own control.”

The Power of Us: How We Connect, Act and Innovate Together by David Price (2020, Thread)—“This is one of the first books on innovation to emerge during the time of COVID, and Price draws lessons from what it looks like to harness collective innovation and ingenuity to face challenges and thrive into the future.”

Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference by Timothy Keller and John Inazu (2020, Thomas Nelson)—“Tim Keller, John Inazu, and a host of great writers, artists, and thinkers consider how we can live faithfully and represent Christ in winsome ways in a pluralistic society, including how we can promote peace, justice, and reconciliation in the midst of racial tensions and other societal divisions.”

Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons by Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (2020, Random House Australia)—“This book explores the experiences of a number of high profile and extraordinary women leaders through the lens of the academic research around women in leadership. It’s part scholarship, part story making it engaging, inspiring, encouraging and highly relatable.”

Women in a Patriarchal World: Twenty-Five Empowering Stories from the Bible by Elaine Storkey (2020, London: SPCK)—“Elaine Storkey is an award-winning author, academic and former director of the world relief organization Tear Fund. Her research on gender, particularly on the place of women in Christian leadership, has been an essential guide as I’ve navigated the disparate worlds of academia and church; this latest book is less of a scholarly read and more of a devotional, it inspired me with some lesser-known stories of women in the scriptures.”

Do you have any favorite books, either from the past year or that you’re currently enjoying? Please share them in the comments below. We always enjoy new recommendations!

Author Becki Rust

Becki Rust is the Thought Leadership Project Manager at the Association of Christian Schools International, where she leads project management for a wide variety of innovative and timely initiatives, programs, and events. She also serves as editor for the ACSI Blog and the WLCE Blog. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from The King’s College in New York City.

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