I’ve Got Your Back: A Leadership Parable
By James C. Galvin
Tenth Power Publishing
29 September 2012
I like stories. I like learning things from stories. You’d think that I’d like this book, which purports to be a parable about leaders and followers. It’s split into two sections: the parable (140 pages), and the reference guide (62 pages). In the introduction, the author says, “You can read either section [of this book] first. Some will want to start with the story and others will want to start with the final section. It’s not cheating to read the final section first. It’s not wrong to only read the story.” Well, with permission like that, what have I got to lose, right?
So, because I like stories (and I honestly wasn’t sure if I could get through the second section if I read it first), I dove right into the parable. It follows four twenty-somethings (Randall, Valerie, Brad, and Lynette) who meet up with a former Army Special Forces sergeant and former missionary, Jack. All four of these young people have issues with their respective bosses, and when they start learning from Jack about the principles of biblical leadership (and “followership”), things go from bad to worse.
I was first disappointed less than 25 pages into the story. While at a Bible study, the four young people are discussing the difference between submitting to authority and being a submissive person, and how to deal with bad bosses. Valerie flips back her hair and, smiling, says, “I’m no militant feminist, but…” and I wanted to just throw the book across the room and be done with it on the spot.
When I could pick up the book again without possibly damaging my wall with it, I began reading more closely. Randall says, “We can also agree that we should obey the laws of the land. But we are all having trouble with the idea of submitting to a bad boss.” And I thought to myself, The ‘laws of land’ really means the entity that enforces those laws, and that means the government. So what happens when the government is the ‘bad boss’, then? And/or visa versa. There’s so much that can be unpacked just in these two sentences, and I was already put off by the “militant feminist” comment. Honestly, even if you find nothing wrong with these two tiny excerpts, it just gets worse from there.
I agree that if Jesus wrote a book about leadership today, he’d write a parable. But Jesus didn’t even write the book (or, the Book, if you prefer) when he was alive; he left that to his followers for much later. (The Book of Matthew, for example, was probably written sometime between 70 and 110 CE, at least forty years after Jesus’ death. The Book of Luke could’ve been written as early as 60 CE, but that’s still almost thirty years after the crucifixion/resurrection is supposed to have happened.)
So, I’ve Got Your Back‘s main premise, that Jesus would write a parable if he was living today (with the implication that this is the parable that he’d write), is flawed already. Jesus, as far as anyone can tell, just lived it, and other people wrote about it. He didn’t have time for writing about it, apparently. There is something to be said for the people who did write it down, though, since without them, Jesus’ story might well have been lost. (Which, I suppose, may not have have been that bad, but that’s neither here nor there in relation to this review.) As with many books I read, I think the idea is a good one, but the execution is less-than-stellar.
DISCLAIMER: I received I’ve Got Your Back: A Leadership Parable free from Handlebar Central for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.