Sustaining Leadership by Paul Swann

sustaining leadership book - front coverSUSTAINING LEADERSHIP by Paul Swann

Many books on leadership and ministry are written from the point of view of success and strength. In Sustaining Leadership Paul Swann writes out of the raw experience of failure, getting to the heart of who we are as leaders rather than what we do. From this, he offers both hope and practical resources for sustaining effective long-term ministry, looking at self-care, balance and healthy ministry, feasting on divine love, and more. As he says, this is the best gift we can offer those we serve.

paul swann - book launchPaul Swann trained for ordination in the Anglican Church and served in two growing parishes in the Diocese of Worcester. In 2008, Paul was forced to retire early and spent four years in the wilderness of total fatigue. Since 2012, Paul has begun to offer a new ministry from this place of weakness. He has served as diocesan adviser on spirituality, offers spiritual direction and leads retreats. The insights of this book are drawn from these experiences.

(Pictures, right: Paul Swann at the launch of his book, July 2018)

Review by Revd Canon Steve Coneys, Mission and Growth Advisor, Canterbury Diocese

What happens when you realise that the work you love is making you sick? This gem of a book traces the story of how a capable Christian leader experiences such physical and emotional disintegration that he hears himself saying to his bishop, 'I can't do this any more'.

paul swann - book launch - 3Lucid and concise, Paul Swann's book is an essay in practical spirituality, one that is based on grace rather than our own attempts at self-justifying significance. The central argument is that, with a proper understanding of our belovedness as God's children, and a clear view of God's loving character, we can be freed to care for ourselves and live healthy, grateful lives. How many of us, not just Christian leaders, need to learn this lesson?

It is the way the writer communicates the reality of grace in the midst his own sense of failure and weakness which distinguishes this book: 'One day, as I was struggling with low self-esteem and the battle to recover... I complained to God, 'This is too hard for me to do!' Swiftly and firmly, but with extreme gentleness, came the response: 'Is it too hard to be my son?'

Insights from films like Wonder Woman, spiritual writers like Margery Kempe, storytellers such as Lewis Carroll and theologians like Walter Breuggemann, combine with Paul Swann's own experience of reintegration to make the book a compelling read. The lesson that every Christian minister - every human being - needs to hear is brought home with elegance and power: you are more important than what you do. Get hold of this book and read it slowly. If I could, I would buy a copy for every church leader I know.

Revd Canon Steve Coneys, Mission and Growth Advisor, Canterbury Diocese


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