Review: The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters

Albert Mohler, Bethany House, 2012, 225 pages, 4 of 5 stars

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-6-14-00-amMohler argues that far too much of what passes for leadership today is mere management. “Without convictions you might be able to manage, but you can never really lead.” (26-27)

The author has room to talk. At 33 years old, Mohler took over as President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary–an enormous but theologically sinking organization. Since then, he has led the school through one of the greatest institutional turnarounds in modern history. Seminaries almost always move left. Rarely do they become more conservative, but that is exactly what happened at SBTS. In the book he pulls often from what he learned through those difficult years and how it has helped him as a leader. He does a great job throughout the book of creating ethos.

This would be an excellent book for the church leadership to read through. Anyone who knows Mohler immediately recognizes his rare intellectual acumen. He is biblical, courageous, and relevant. As I read, I found myself greatly motivated to become a better leader in my church and home. 

Chapter 21 (“The Digital Leader”) was fascinating, if not controversial. After going through the various media forms, Mohler says, “If you are not on Twitter, and if you are not working and following it regularly, you are missing a massive leadership opportunity.” (180). I don’t use Twitter because I have concluded that the cons outweigh the pros, so I bristled at this sentence. Surely this must be over-speak. Yes, Twitter has great value, but how does one balance this with other nonnegotiables for pastors like prayer, Bible reading and hospitality? Still, his comments on media made me think and caused me to reassess if my views on digital forms are actually glorifying to God.

This was one of the rare books I listened to on Audible. On 1.5 speed, it takes about four and a half hours. I feel bad even saying this, as the book took Mohler a lifetime to write–not to pen the words themselves but to glean such insight on leadership.


  1. “Leadership happens when character and competence are combined.” (82)
  2. “The effective leader cannot afford to lose credibility–in fact, he needs to stockpile it and build it in reserve. When the leader enters the room, trust and confidence must enter with him.” (90)
  3. “Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing.” (117, from Bennis)
  4. “Indecisiveness is one of history’s greatest leadership killers.” (142)
  5. “Churchill reminds us that leaders often seem to make their best decisions by what can only be called intuition.” (146)
  6. “Do you have any idea what [your] legacy with be? Answer that question honestly is part of what it means to have the conviction to lead.” (214)

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