He shows how leaders must cultivate trustworthiness, cherish the teams they put in place, and insist on accountability for themselves and others. He writes about stewarding money well, communicating clearly, and fostering just the right kind of culture. He continually uses the turnaround at Midwestern as an illustration of these principles in action. I have long observed that some of the most effective books are those that describe principles through the lens of narrative, and in this book Allen does that with great effectiveness.
There are a lot of people in the world who are in positions of leadership, but there are not a lot of true leaders. There are many people who achieve positions of prominence, but few who can back up that position with the ability to lead. And though the shelves of bookstores are groaning under the weight of all the books dedicated to the topic, and though they seem to sell in such vast quantities, still few of us can say we are being led well.
New to those shelves—the shelves, at least, of stores that sell Christian books—is Jason Allen’s Turnaround. For the past 10 years, since he was 35 years old, Allen has been the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He took on the position at a time when the seminary was in grave peril—it was mired in controversy, burdened with debt, and financially upside-down. Its campus facilities were in a state of disrepair and its faculty undistinguished. Little wonder, then, that there was talk of closing it down.
Today, though, MBTS is a thriving and world-class institution that is financially solvent, that has strong campus morale, that features some lovely new buildings, and that is the envy of many other seminaries.