Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change, By Tod Bolsinger

Tempered Resilience

How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change

by Tod Bolsinger

Tempered Resilience
  • Length: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: November 10, 2020
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4164
  • ISBN: 9780830841646

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Christian Book Award Finalist

What type of leadership is needed in a moment that demands adaptive change?

Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains, is uniquely positioned to explore the qualities of adaptive leadership in contexts ranging from churches to nonprofit organizations. He deftly examines both the external challenges we face and the internal resistance that holds us back.

Bolsinger writes: "To temper describes the process of heating, holding, hammering, cooling, and reheating that adds stress to raw iron until it becomes a glistening knife blade or chisel tip." When reflection and relationships are combined into a life of deliberate practice, leaders become both stronger and more flexible. As a result, these resilient leaders are able to offer greater wisdom and skill to the organizations they serve.

Also available: Tempered Resilience Study Guide

"Tod Bolsinger eloquently compares the growth we experience through trials and the crucible of leadership experienced in the midst of organizational change. The strong pull of historical inertia too easily negates forward progress in far too many ministries. Tod's insightful understanding of leadership effectiveness skillfully delves into the core character traits necessary for a leader to prevail through both the rejection of and resistance to transformation. As a thoughtful, innovative leader, Tod's acumen makes Tempered Resilience a critical read for every leader seeking to navigate an organization through an ever-changing environment."

Santiago "Jimmy" Mellado, president and CEO of Compassion International

"In Tempered Resilience, Tod Bolsinger cuts to the core of why so many gifted leaders struggle in periods of transition and how leaders can position themselves to thrive amid the chaos of change. Full of scholarly analysis and personal anecdotes, this book will both encourage your soul and challenge you to embrace the extensive life transformation that accompanies leadership."

Linda A. Livingstone, president of Baylor University

"Once again Tod Bolsinger has written a book for our times. With his incredible capacity for storytelling that allows principles to shine, in Tempered Resilience Bolsinger has spelled out a pathway for leadership and leadership development for this era of unprecedented change. This will become a classic that I'll refer to over and over again."

Jim Herrington, cofounder of The Leader's Journey: Coaching for Wholehearted Leadership

"In Failure of Nerve, Edwin Friedman named a crisis of leadership that dominates our cultural context. In Tempered Resilience, Tod Bolsinger provides a vision and language for how we address that crisis head on, cultivating leadership not just to survive but to thrive in the midst of change. Built on decades of personal experience, broad engagement with the stories of significant leaders, and keen insight into the intersection of factors and practices necessary for the formation of Christian leadership, this book is indispensable for those who wish to faithfully lead in church and ministry contexts."

JR Rozko, national director, Missio Alliance

"Tod Bolsinger is brave enough to admit that leadership is grueling. If you want to be a good leader, he teaches, prepare yourself for emotional pain, sacrifice, and the very hard work of becoming a more grounded, mature, and humble person. But accompanying this bracing challenge is a refreshingly practical guide to the kinds of disciplines the aspiring leader can exercise to become that kind of person. Those pursuing pastoral ministry will especially benefit from Bolsinger's insights and candid reflections on his own experiences. Tempered Resilience is neither abstract nor academic. It's a relentlessly honest book of wisdom from a devoted Christ follower that's meant to be applied in the real world."

Amy L. Sherman, author of Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good

"This book stands apart from many others on leadership because it has a strong beating heart of love and hope. There is love for organizations, baffling and stubborn as they can be, yet there is hope that they can grow and heal and transform. It is a book that roots down deep into a biblical and theological bedrock and then branches out into possibility. It is seasoned with realistic, even mournful acknowledgment of the difficulties and griefs of leadership. But for leaders who are discouraged and exhausted, this is, ultimately, a joyful book."

Leanne Van Dyk, president and professor of theology at Columbia Theological Seminary

"With Canoeing the Mountains, Tod Bolsinger gave us a practical guide to leading through the uncharted territory of our times. Now with Tempered Resilience, Bolsinger takes us into even more difficult and dangerous territory—the leader's own life. Drawing on his long experience as a premier organizational leader and coach, the author lays bare the struggles that block so many of us from greater influence. He then shows us how the very forces that are often the undoing of leaders can become the ones that make us. If you are looking for a resource to propel you to the next level of leadership character and effectiveness, read this book."

Dan Meyer, senior pastor of Christ Church of Oak Brook, Illinois, and chair of the board of trustees at Fuller Theological Seminary

"Tod Bolsinger has written another gift for the church and her pastors and leaders. As the world around us rapidly changes, churches are faced with their own adaptive challenges. The toll that change takes on a leader has the potential to shape the leader for the better. With a pastor's heart and a wealth of experience, Bolsinger tells us how resilient leaders navigate change with grit. Every church leader needs this in their library!"

Tara Beth Leach, senior pastor of PazNaz, author of Emboldened and Radiant Church

Read an Excerpt


Introduction: The Smith's Forge
1. The Crises of Leading Change: Failures of Nerve and Failures of Heart
2. Resilience: The Raw Material of a Tempered Leader
3. Working: Leaders Are Formed in Leading
4. Heating: Strength Is Forged in Self-Reflection
5. Holding: Vulnerable Leadership Requires Relational Security
6. Hammering: Stress Makes a Leader
7. Hewing: Resilience Takes Practice
8. Tempering: Resilience Comes Through a Rhythm of Leading and Not Leading
Epilogue: Why Is This So Hard?


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Tod Bolsinger

Tod Bolsinger is the founder and principal at AE Sloan Leadership Inc., the executive director of the DePree Center Church Leadership Institute, and associate professor of leadership formation at Fuller Seminary. He is the author of Canoeing the Mountains and Tempered Resilience. Tod and his wife, Beth, split their time between Pasadena, California, and Ketchum, Idaho.