I reviewed this book when it first came out on my personal blog @ jeremymavis.com. I thought it would be helpful to re-post that review here.
You’re going to enjoy reading this book! Really, you are!
I know, I know, I’m reviewing the book so I supposed to say things like that, right?! Well, I typically have to trudge through books, particularly on leadership, because they are boring. Some people enjoy lists of principles and can easily see how to apply those principles in their given context.
Well, I am not one of those people! Perhaps this is why I’m a kids pastor. I enjoy stories… especially a really good story.
And The Eric Trap: 5 things every leader has to get right is a great story!
Patrick Lencioni wrote a book a while back called, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Lencioni wrote this leadership book in the style of a fabled story. A good 2/3 of the book is a story about how team dynamics work themselves out in the context of a fictitious company. As you read this book, especially the story part, you don’t realize your learning leadership principles because you’re so caught up in the story. The last 1/3 of the book is a sort of debriefing of the story and a distilling of leadership team principles.
The authors of The Eric Trap seem to have borrowed this successful and enjoyable literary device and applied it to a ministry context – particularly a children’s pastor’s ministry context.
From one children’s pastor to the next, you will really appreciate this book because almost at every turn you will relate to the “fictitious” Eric Newman and his struggles as a children’s pastor (I know I did!). The pressures to produce, disciple, lead, create, and relate is on full display in Eric’s story. Without giving away the plot of the story, Pastor Eric has to deal with delegation issues, submitting to authority, engaging with and resourcing parents’ discipleship mandate, how to measure success in ministry, and what priorities a person (in or out of ministry) should have with their vocation and family life.
Eric Newman has to deal and encounter some real issues that he isn’t fully prepared to handle. Haven’t we all found ourselves (and will find ourselves) in situations where we cannot figure things out alone? I know I have. I think the authors’ hope is that this book will really engage with our human tendency to go at things alone or power through problems without dealing with the underlying cause.
Whether you are a children, youth, executive, or senior pastor… whether you are a pastor or a carpenter… whether you are male or female, in Houston, TX or Hayward, WI… this book will challenge the way you think and address some deficiencies you might not even know that you had.
I highly recommend this for anyone attempting to lead anything. After page 146, you’ll wind up a better leader than before you cracked (or swiped) the cover.