Leading for God’s Sake

SUCCESSFUL LEADERSHIP; SUCCESS ON THE COURT
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Lightfoot served as both a friend and mentor for Gongwer. In their 11 years of coaching together, they led the Pilots to three NAIA National Championships. And though Gongwer is no longer coaching, he has maintained close ties with Lightfoot, serving alongside the Pilots on a task force trip to the Dominican Republic this past spring.

When Todd Gongwer ’99 set out to write a book about leadership, he had no idea that it would turn into a best-selling work of fiction. In fact, Gongwer, a self-described “sports guy,” didn’t even like fiction! “Lead for God’s Sake,” a parable about finding the heart of leadership, came out of eight weeks of inspired writing that culminated in a 244-page book.

While Gongwer initially self-published 12,000 copies in 2010, Tyndale picked up his book in the summer of 2011. Since then, it has sold more than 75,000 copies and has topped best-seller lists on Amazon.com for leadership, team management and evangelism. It continues to grow in popularity, with endorsements from notable coaches, including Lou Holtz and Urban Meyer.

Its universal message about leadership speaks not only to the sports world, but to the corporate world as well, receiving accolades from business leadership expert Ken Blanchard, author of the “One Minute Manager.” There is even talk about turning the book into a movie.

The inspiration behind the book came out of teaching leadership for five years at a large, public company. Gongwer noticed that 80 to 90 percent of people were missing what he calls “the foundation,” and he wanted to show them a better way.

“It’s about the people in your life first — living your purpose, your relationship with God and others,” Gongwer says.

Gongwer is no stranger to having to balance life and leadership. Throughout his career, he has held executive-level positions in companies ranging from entrepreneurial startups to public entities. From 1992-2003, he served as assistant coach for the Bethel men’s basketball team, part of that time simultaneously earning his bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Bethel and, with his wife, Traci, raising two children.

Since writing “Lead for God’s Sake,” Gongwer has traveled across the United States, speaking at schools, colleges and companies. The book’s universal leadership appeal has given him a platform to share his leadership principles — and his faith — with largely secular audiences.

What started as a book has turned into a movement of sorts. “It’s been growing continuously. It’s barely scratched the surface of the Christian industry,” Gongwer says. “But I’m trying not to get ahead of what God has for me.”

To learn more about Gongwer’s book or to schedule him to speak at your organization, visit LeadForGodSake.com.

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