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The Most Excellent Way to Lead: Discover the Heart of Great Leadership

The Most Excellent Way to Lead: Discover the Heart of Great Leadership

by Perry Noble


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Speakers often use the words vision, boldness, and influence to describe the characteristics of effective leaders. Perry Noble, in The Most Excellent Way to Lead, makes the case that the heart of great leadership lies elsewhere. Perry, despite “winning” the label “least likely to succeed” in high school, beat the odds against him. Today, he inspires thirty-five thousand people every weekend to live for something greater than themselves. He credits this achievement to the leadership principles he has learned from the Bible. Surprisingly, the essence of leadership that produces genuine growth is buried in a Bible chapter often read at weddings. In this groundbreaking book, Perry walks us through that leadership chapter, describing the fifteen qualities of an inspirational leader.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or a new parent, this book will encourage you to see every opportunity in life as a chance to lead in the “most excellent way.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496402639
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 815,099
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church and author of Unleash! and Overwhelmed. NewSpring is one church with many locations across the state of Sound Carolina. While Perry's primary responsibilities are being a servant to Jesus Christ; a husband to his wife, Lucretia; and a father to their daughter, Charisse, Perry is passionate about seeing people meet Jesus, leading his church staff, and pouring into other church leaders on local and global levels. In 2015, Perry won the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award.

Read an Excerpt

The Most Excellent Way to Lead

Discover the Heart of Great Leadership

By Perry Noble, Stephanie Rische

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2016 Perry Noble
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0263-9



I love to shag, and if you've ever done it, I'm sure you love it too.

I once hired a guy onto our staff who had moved to South Carolina from the northeastern part of the United States.

During one of our early conversations, he was trying to figure out more about the area, and he asked me what people in our community do for fun.

I told him that a lot of people like going to the lake, hiking, fishing, or playing golf. But then I said something that caused him to look at me like someone had punched him in the throat: "And a lot of people around here love to go out in groups and shag."

Silence — dead silence.

My new employee looked at me like I had lost my dang mind. So I felt the need to continue to explain how awesome shagging is.

"A lot of people in our church shag."

His jaw dropped.

"I'm not that good of a shagger myself," I continued, "but my wife took shagging lessons in college, and she's really good at it."

At this point he thought he'd agreed to work for one of the most perverted pastors in the country!

I should let you know that in South Carolina, our state tree is the palmetto, our state bird is the Carolina wren ... and our state dance is called the shag, which after my conversation with my new staff member, I learned means something different in other parts of the world.

This exchange with my staff member reminded me of something a friend had told me years ago: "Words don't have meanings; people have meanings." So when we say certain words or phrases, they may mean something completely different to the person we're talking to than they do to us.

Based on my twenty-five years as a leader, I think there's no word more often misunderstood than leadership.

That's not because there's a lack of information. New books come out on the topic every year, and new blog posts pop up every day. I recently came across an article from CNN about the qualities that make a good leader. The article featured input from various leadership experts, and it's amazing how many different opinions are out there. The list included twenty-three attributes, some of which included confidence, vision, and influence.

Let's take a look at the following three viewpoints on leadership, just for starters.

I have a hunch many people would agree that leadership equals confidence, and I think there's some truth to that.

A leader has to be able to make tough decisions.

A leader has to be willing to go against popular opinion.

However, while confidence is important, I don't believe it's the most excellent way to lead.

Joseph Stalin was confident. He made tough decisions. But because his confidence was self-centered and cruel, millions of people lost their lives. Or consider Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt who was so stubbornly confident about his own power that he allowed his people to suffer under ten plagues (see Exodus 7–11). He was confident, but he certainly wasn't great.

People may also argue that leadership equals vision — and again, I believe that's true to a certain extent.

Leaders have to be able to focus on a task with a laser-like intensity to avoid getting distracted by things of lesser importance. And not only do they have to have a clear vision themselves but they also have to be able to communicate that vision to the team.

The trouble is that visionary leadership apart from the proper focus can result in disaster. Adolf Hitler was a visionary. He had a clear plan, and he refused to allow anything to distract him from carrying it out. However, since his goal was rooted in evil and self-centeredness, the world experienced one of the worst atrocities in history — the Holocaust.

In Jesus' day, the religious leaders, the Pharisees, had a very focused vision. The problem was that they were so worried about their own legalistic rules and their positions of power that they made an enemy out of Jesus, the Messiah they were supposed to be waiting for.

Some people think that true leaders simply have the gift of influence.

When people think of leaders, they look for the people who walk into a room and have what I call the "it factor" — the ability to get a group of people to catch their vision and follow them. If leaders don't have influence, then they won't be effective long term.

A leader has to be able to produce passion in people and compel them to action.

A leader has to be able to unify a group of people who may not have much in common besides the goal they're trying to achieve.

However, while I believe influence is essential for leadership, I don't think it's the best way to lead.

Bernie Madoff had influence — so much that he was able to convince thousands of people to invest in his Ponzi scheme to the tune of $65 billion. Until his world came crashing down in 2008, he was one of the most respected financial experts in the world. He was highly influential, but I have a hunch no one today would call him a great leader.

So if great leadership is not defined by confidence, vision, and influence, as most of the world would say, then what is the most excellent way to lead?

It's simple: the most excellent way is leadership by love.


Hold on — don't throw this book across the room. I know this sounds countercultural and maybe even a little touchy-feely, but I promise I won't ask you to sit in a yoga pose around a campfire while you share your deepest feelings with your team.

This isn't just some idea I came up with one night after eating a Meat Lover's pizza with extra cheese and having a weird dream. The place I get this idea from is the Bible. More specifically, from a guy named Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament.

Paul was an excellent leader. He started at least fourteen churches (possibly more) at a time when the church was less popular than it is today. In Paul's day, church wasn't merely a social gathering but a place where people who followed Christ came together, knowing it could cost them their lives if they were caught doing so.

If you've ever started a business or a ministry or any kind of organized group, you know the challenges associated with building something from the ground up. And there was Paul, starting churches all over the Mediterranean rim with no technology, no leadership books, and no apps on his smartphone.

One of the churches Paul founded was in a place called Corinth. He wrote letters to the church there, and we have two of them recorded in the New Testament: 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 12, the emphasis of Paul's writing to the church is on spiritual gifts, leadership, and the importance of working together. In 1 Corinthians 14, he continues this line of reasoning as he encourages leaders to sound a clear call for their followers.

But right in the middle of these two chapters we find 1 Corinthians 13. It's a short section (just thirteen verses), tucked between these two leadership chapters. At first glance, these words seem to be more like advice for newlyweds than instructions for the conference room. The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is, after all, commonly known as the "love chapter," and if you've ever attended a Christian wedding ceremony, you've likely heard a verse or two quoted from it.

For years, the placement of this chapter puzzled me.

It seemed like Paul was writing about leadership, and then he paused and thought, Hmm, maybe I should write something Christians can use in their wedding ceremonies one day! After he penned 1 Corinthians 13, he picked up the subject of leadership again and continued to talk about it in chapter 14.

But the Bible wasn't originally separated by chapters and verses (those were added later to help people find certain Scripture passages). Once I had that realization, it hit me like a brick in the face: 1 Corinthians 13 is primarily a chapter on how to lead, not how to have a great marriage.

In 1 Corinthians 12:31, Paul says, "I will show you the most excellent way."

The most excellent way to what?
To be a great person?
To be a great spouse?
To be a great date?

I don't believe so. Paul is continuing his discussion about leadership here, and when he says he's going to show you the most excellent way, I believe he's saying, "I will show you the most excellent way to lead."

I guarantee that the principles from 1 Corinthians 13 will help you become a better leader.

It doesn't matter if you're a single mother trying to lead your family, a student organizing a group of people to fight for a cause, an entrepreneur trying to get a start-up off the ground, a pastor trying to lead your church, or a CEO leading a business — if we practice leadership by love, we will become leaders other people actually want to follow.

Let's take a look at the first few verses from this chapter through the lens of leadership:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (emphasis added)

Make no mistake about it: loving others is a really big deal — not just in personal relationships but also any time there is a leader-follower relationship. Most people think love should be left out of the workplace and other leadership settings, but as this passage shows ... love is more important than casting great vision, being extremely intelligent, or even working hard for a cause.

The way we look at other people is important — and when we see them through the lens of love, our capacity to lead significantly increases.


Jesus was the most excellent leader who ever lived. He was once asked which of the commandments was the most important, and this was His response:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 22:37-40

"Love God; love others," He said — and notice that He didn't separate the two. If we want to be excellent leaders, then loving other people is not optional. It isn't something we do only on the days it comes naturally or when we feel like it.

Loving people isn't easy.
People will hurt you.
They will disappoint you.
They will turn on you.
They will gossip about you.
They will fight you.

Leadership by love doesn't sound sexy on the surface, but it's the most effective — and most rewarding — way to lead in the long term.

When it comes down to it, people don't need a flashy leader who can quote inspirational lines or has the most carefully constructed vision statement or has the charisma to charm a bunch of followers. They need someone who cares enough about them to come alongside them and help them become the best version of themselves they can be.

They need someone who guides them with patience and kindness, without insecurity or vanity. They need someone who helps them climb higher through grace and honesty, who takes bullets for mistakes, who gives the benefit of the doubt. They need someone who offers hope when others won't, who perseveres when others don't. In short, they need a leader who loves.

Those who lead through love don't just change the culture they're in; they change the world.


Excerpted from The Most Excellent Way to Lead by Perry Noble, Stephanie Rische. Copyright © 2016 Perry Noble. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Introduction: Before You Read This Book, Please Read This xiii

Chapter 1 What Does It Mean to Be a Leader? 1

Chapter 2 Patient 11

Chapter 3 Kind 25

Chapter 4 Does Not Envy 39

Chapter 5 Does Not Boast 53

Chapter 6 Not Proud 67

Chapter 7 Does Not Dishonor Others 83

Chapter 8 Not Self-Seeking 97

Chapter 9 Not Easily Angered 117

Chapter 10 Keeps No Record of Wrongs 131

Chapter 11 Does Not Delight in Evil 149

Chapter 12 Rejoices with the Truth 163

Chapter 13 Always Protects 183

Chapter 14 Always Trusts 199

Chapter 15 Always Hopes 217

Chapter 16 Always Perseveres 233

A Final Word: Never Fails 243

Acknowledgments 249

Appendix: Meeting Jesus 253

About the Author 259

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