4 Books That Help Me Lead at Food for the Hungry

Recently our entire marketing team set out to do a strengths finder test. This assessment is made up of a set of timed questions forcing you to choose how you identify with a range of identifying characteristics. It can be quite telling when you look at a grid of your team’s strengths all in one place. You can quickly see where you can best use each member and how to best maximize the gifting of each individual person. I’ve also found that it can help you gain perspective on how others are different from you.

I wasn’t surprised to find that my test results showed my top five strengths were: activator, achiever, maximizer, futurist, and competition. My personality is really active and always thinking about something. It’s always go, go, go for me so I have to intentionally remind myself that sometimes it’s okay to do something just for enjoyment and without any other measurable outcome.

Even when I’m traveling and finally have some time to check out from email and conversation, I prefer books that give some kind of value I can bring back to Food for the Hungry. Since I prefer to read from experts in theology, marketing, humanitarian work, and leadership, I’ve selected one read in each category to share with you. Because, if you’re like me, you appreciate the application. If you typically pick up fiction titles, these might help you stretch outside your comfort zone.

Theology:

Book: Generous Justice

Author: Timothy Keller

Quote: “In Isaiah 29:21, when the people are charged with ‘depriving the innocent of justice,’ God’s conclusion is that these people come near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

The takeaway: The Bible is the fundamental source of any justice work. Serving the orphan and the widow is foundational to Jesus’ teaching. Regardless of how people have tried to use it to justify hate and things such as slavery, it has always been about compassion and love. This fits in with our view of broken relationships as the source of poverty. We believe it starts with broken relationships. Broken relationship with self. God, creation, and others all lead to human poverty.

Marketing:

Book: Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

Author: Seth Godin

Quote: “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”

The takeaway: It’s old school, but it’s forcing people to ask what they have and what makes them different. The concepts have come up multiple times, and it’s good advice. We’ve been exploring that at FH for a while. The last few years especially. Instead of being vanilla and instead of trying to create something for everyone, we’ve aligned the heartbeat with what we do differently, which is graduate communities from extreme poverty.

Humanitarian Work:

Book: When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself

Author: Steve Corbett

Quote: “If we reduce human beings to being simply physical—as Western thought is prone to do—our poverty-alleviation efforts will tend to focus on material solutions. But if we remember that humans are spiritual, social, psychological, and physical beings, our poverty-alleviation efforts will be more holistic in their design and execution.”

The takeaway: Humanitarian work is about walking with people. This book resonates with the FH model for doing work. Realizing that the people we serve bring something important to the table is a game-changer in how you approach that service. We join arms and walk together. No amount of money can change a problem. We have to change hearts and minds. We empower them to create their own future.

Leadership:

Book: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Author: Patrick Lencioni

Quote: “If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”

The takeaway: Leaders have to build trust and lay the groundwork for the team so that they can be productive. The Advantage is a good practical guide that accompanies the book. It helps leaders to build the right team and then help them to create clarity, communicate clarity, and reinforce clarity. Everyone in the organization should be able to talk about it in the same way. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity. For FH, this is our heartbeat. We say we’re after these things and then we actively show up to put them into practice.