A common question I’ve been asked since releasing Grab a Towel is, ‘why did you write the book?’ Clearly asking why is always a great question before embarking on an enterprise or project. Simon Sinek has written a book called Start with Why, and argues that knowing why we do something engenders the passion necessary to motivate action and change.
So maybe it will help you to understand why I wrote Grab a Towel and encourage you to not only read the book, but consider how the concepts in the book should not remain words on a page, but motivate you towards action and change.
Why I’ve written the book can be summarised under three headings:
1. Provoke a conversation
In spite of the plethora of leadership books, courses, conferences and even graduate study programmes, there appears to be a dearth of exemplary leadership. In Grab a Towel I’ve grappled with the question, ‘what kind of leaders does God want us to be?’ This question provides a foundation for a second question, ‘what kind of leaders are worth following?’ Ultimately, Jesus Christ is the central character and hero of the book… providing an example for servant leaders to follow. Grab a Towel considers the model Jesus has given us and has been written with the intention to spark dialogue and interaction to enable his followers to develop a biblically based philosophy that can shape their approach to leadership.
2. Provide a critique
It doesn’t take depth of research to recognise that we are faced with huge leadership challenges in the 21st Century. Umar Haque says, ‘We need a new generation of leaders. And we need it now… Leadership – true leadership – is a lost art’. I agree!
I live, serve and work in South Africa, and the country is reeling from a regime of self-interest and corruption that has permeated the leadership structures in this country. Clearly, a critique of contemporary leadership is required. Grab a Towel provides a metaphor for servant leadership that enables us to question, and reject, the prevalent leadership culture that drives pragmatic leaders towards unethical practices due to an “ends justifies the means” approach to leadership. I wrote Grab a Towel to present a biblical alternative that may empower Christians to have the courage to stand as an example that there is another way.
3. Present a context
Finally, Grab a Towel is written within a specific context – my own journey of leading The Message Trust in South Africa. We are an organisation that seeks to identify leadership potential where others don’t see it… in former gang members and ex-offenders… and in young people seemingly trapped in tough neighbourhoods. Together with my team, we seek to provide an environment for emerging leaders to flourish in faith and in life. That is our context… and Grab a Towel presents the lessons I’ve been learning.
But what is your context? Leadership does not happen in a vacuum. Ultimately, I have written Grab a Towel to help you grapple with how you can become a Christ-centred servant leader within your environment… and, if the book in some ways helps you serve God better, then I’ve accomplished my why!
Umar Haque https://hbr.org/2013/07/how-and-why-to-be-a-leader-not