Stephen W. Smith
IVP, 2015, 207 pp., $12
Leaders are human. Leaders have physical limits and need rest. More importantly, they need rhythm in their lives. If you are wearing your never-stop pace as some kind of badge of honor or feel that pressure from others, you need to pause and read this book. If you seek an accurate understanding of sabbatical and its value, Stephen Smith has created a wonderful apologetic for rest.
His book begins by redefining success and the crises in the souls of leaders who hang on to the old definition. In part two, Smith uses the eight inner virtues listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7 (faith, goodness/moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love) to provide the scaffolding for inner transformation. Part three is dedicated to resilience in leadership.
Among the issues addressed in this book are stages of burnout, Sabbath, five stages of rest, listening and balance vs. rhythm. I found myself resonating with Smith’s concern that leaders listen. He cites Solomon’s response to God’s amazing offer in 1 Kings 1:9 “Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead Your people well.” Leaders listen.
The issue of balance vs. rhythm is found in chapter seven and is worth the price of the book. Balance seeks equity. Rhythm seeks energy. Balance is a constant struggle to manage categories and redistribute the pieces of the pie. Rhythm finds small, regular times daily, weekly, monthly and annually to respire and care for your soul.
The book is well-researched, bathed with scriptural support, filled with pithy quotes from well-known leaders and wonderful anecdotes. Inside Job is definitely a spiritual-formation-soul-care book. However, the extensive application to leaders who often neglect this vital part of their inner health will place it in my personal leadership library.