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Publisher's Summary

What type of leadership is needed in a moment that demands adaptive change? Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains, is uniquely positioned to explore the qualities of adaptive leadership in contexts ranging from churches to nonprofit organizations. He deftly examines both the external challenges we face and the internal resistance that holds us back.

Bolsinger writes: "To temper describes the process of heating, holding, hammering, cooling, and reheating that adds stress to raw iron until it becomes a glistening knife blade or chisel tip."

When reflection and relationships are combined into a life of deliberate practice, leaders become both stronger and more flexible. As a result, these resilient leaders are able to offer greater wisdom and skill to the organizations they serve.

©2020 Tod E. Bolsinger (P)2020 Two Words Publishing LLC

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  • Hamish
  • 11-10-20

Need some help leading adaptive change?

As a Pākehā (white) pastor in my mid forties, based in Aotearoa, New Zealand, at the tail end of 2020, I have come to be convinced that the Church is relying on many assumptions that are no longer valid. I am held by Jesus, and I love his Church – but in all honesty I think we are failing both those who are in the church and those who are not. Māori in Aotearoa have a saying, ‘Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua’ (I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on the past.) If the Church is to rise up to its calling, then we will have to revisit our DNA in light of where we are walking to. We need to know our identity as established and affirmed by Jesus and then recognise that the form of how we live that out needs to meet the pain points of our neighbourhoods. (Loving God and neighbour!) This journey requires things of us that we don’t yet know how to do. Bolsinger, in his latest book Tempered Resilience, addresses the problems leaders face when trying to lead their organisations or churches into this kind of journey. He rightly acknowleges that we have a lack of stamina, strength of purpose, and perserverance needed to lead adaptive change. But he also provides a solution – the formation of tempered resilience – in order that we might become both stronger and more flexible. He writes with an authority that comes from having lived this journey, sharing a number of personal stories that enhance the readers connection with the content. This book is filled with wisdom from many different voices, something that is in my opinion gravely needed by the church for this journey. Bolsinger utilises ideas from blacksmithing, business leadership, psychology, US history, personal interviews, many informal conversations with leaders from around the world, as well as Christian leadership, Christian scripture and Jewish scholarship. By doing so he teaches us how to listen and learn from those typically outside of our mono-voiced echo-chambers, and shows us how our leadership will be enriched by doing so. Another gem from this book is the acknowlegement that leadership formation occurs while leading. 2020 has been a very difficult year, but many of the teens in their final year of high school have found it especially hard. I was very impressed with the courage displayed by one of our church based teens recently as she shared with our church ‘2020 is not a write-off, it is part of the journey.’ Bolsinger likewise, normalises the pain of leadership and acknowledges the necessity of it. Do I encourage the formation of the next generation of leaders by giving them space to lead and feel the pain within the safety of strong relationship? Or do I prevent tomorrow’s church from having leaders by writing-off unformed leaders, or by sheltering people from the pain that forms us? Of course, most of the content in the book is focussed on the leader giving themselves to this process, but I found it also raised these useful questions for me. There is much to be learnt from this practical and insightful book in which Bolsinger adeptly draws many disciplines into a conversation that is miraculously timely for the modern church.