Lead – Ascend Offer

Pages: 216
ISBN: 978-1-910012-15-4
Publication Date: 27/01/2017

RRP: £12.99
Price: £10.00

A special offer for Ascend readers - get Lead for £10

The moment Jesus kneels with a towel and bowl to wash his disciples’ feet. The point where he looks Peter in the eye and predicts betrayal. That intimate, urgent prayer to the Father for the disciples. That resolute strength before the Sanhedrin, before Pilate, before the crowd. The cross. The talk with Mary in the Garden. The walk with Peter at Galilee.

The later chapters of the Gospel of John form what is for many the deepest and most moving accounts of all Scripture. They also form a detailed description of Jesus’ final days and hours on earth, Jesus final instructions to his team as he prepares to hand on his ministry. Karl Martin mines this incredibly rich vein of Scripture to draw lessons for leadership, leadership in Jesus’ way, and shows that leadership in the way of Jesus is about humility, about investing your life in your team, about facing betrayal, about dying to self, about handing on, about succession. Ultimately, Karl argues, true leadership is not about seeing others serve your dream – it is about seeing others released into the dreams, the gifting and calling that the Lord has placed on their lives. It is about something beyond you.

This deceptively profound, honest and practical book gives great insight for leaders – challenge for younger leaders, encouragement for mid-life leaders, and refreshment for the mature leaders – and what may be some of the most significant lessons of their leadership life.

What People are Saying

Anyone can preach a message, but living that message can be another matter entirely. I have seen Karl preach, But I have also stayed with his family in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have written songs in his living room. I have shared meals with him. He has prayed for me during some of the most crucial times in my life. In all of these things I can say that I have experienced the message of his life far beyond what he pens on a page. I know this book will impact you, but I really hope you get a chance to meet him.
Pat Barrett, Housefires

Karl Martin is the kind of leader who replicates leadership in others. He is brilliant at identifying talent, getting alongside others and equipping them to lead. This book flows from years of experience, more from the heart than the pulpit. Packed with biblical inspiration and practical, hard-won insights – I recommend it highly.
Pete Greig, Founder 24-7 Prayer

It was like being catapulted into the future God had for me. Karl called out leadership in me by constant, garishly optimistic encouragement. I led before anyone should have followed me, preached before I could preach, was listened to when there were wiser, more experienced voices to be heard. I’ll forever be thankful for the leadership Karl gave me and inspired me to take hold of, and even more grateful for the friendship that has remained.
Tim May, Ordinand, St Peter’s Bethnal Green

What I know of Karl completely qualifies him to write about leadership. In this book are principles and material that will help leaders of all ages and at all stages of their leadership journey. Digesting it will be well worth your time, and if you are fortunate enough to get this material in your twenties, you are the better for it.
Brian Tome, Senior Pastor, Crossroads, Cincinnati


Karl Martin has given us a real treasure in this book, it is very readable, and unlike many books on leadership it is very human. Karl shares the lessons that he has learnt in his ministry without holding back on the difficult patches and the failures. He often reminds us that “we are the project” putting our spiritual growth and discipleship at the centre.

Some of the life shapes are recognisable for anyone who has read Mike Breen, but even here it didn’t feel as if Karl was reading someone elses script. It felt that here was someone who had lived the theory into practice and was sharing his life.

I will take away the brilliantly simple shapes that define leadership. The line, the circle and the stake.Looking forward to reading more from this author.
David Baker, Prayer Space Dundee

Lead is a book to inspire and encourage! Karl’s personal, sometimes hard won, experience demonstrating that first you get yourself right with God and then He will use you to grow those around you. Encouragement to prioritise God and then invest in those around you whether you are called to lead many or few. This book also emphasises the importance of bringing on just a few, allowing them to learn from close access to your life and beginning to release them to pursue the visions and dreams God has called them to. It will inspire you to pursue God and to enter into the adventure he has called you into!
Louise Wright

I think Lead is a helpful articulation of how to lead, based on principles found in the bible, particularly John’s gospel. It is important that every generation reiterates truth for this place and this time, and Karl Martin’s perceptive eye on Scripture as well as culture means the principles apply very relevantly. Applied more so due to his own experience. These are truths that have been fought and won on his own battlefields. He uses cultural markers fluently yet challenges popular perceptions of leadership: This is not leadership for a fleeting moment of personal glory but leadership for God, for others and for a lifetime.

I found the principles were brought down to earth through personal experience. The author makes himself vulnerable in his honesty. This honesty captures some of the atmosphere of John’s gospel. This vulnerability captures what it means to take up one’s cross. This one of my biggest challenges. Am I this vulnerable with those I lead?

Apart from this huge challenging take away, I find myself challenged to articulate what God has me here for. What is the plan for me here and now if God wants to use me to lead others into leadership?
Steve McLeister

Karl shares his heart for developing leaders which I have seen him live out in practice over the past eight years. As part of his staff team I had the privilege of seeing him lead, seeing him invest in others and have him invest in me.

“You need an environment of security if you are ever to lead a life of adventure.” He displays genuine vulnerability in this book, readily admitting he is still a project but taking us with him on the journey he is also on, becoming more like Jesus and leading like Jesus leads his disciples.

This book is full of stories, teaching, memorable one-liners and piercing insight. It is written in his own unique communication style: engaging, interesting and insightful. Karl makes us think and challenges our learned behaviour and expectations in a good way. I thoroughly recommend reading this book.
Kenny Roy

I had an early read of Karl Martin’s new book, Lead – it is a brilliant book on leadership in the church today. Thoroughly immersed in Scripture, it is based around John’s gospel chapters 13 through to 21. Karl uses his experience leading churches in Leeds and Edinburgh, so it is entirely practical, and enlivened with stories and anecdotes, some amusing, all relevant and telling.

It isn’t all about success, either. Karl works through learning from your failures, and how to help upcoming leaders who make mistakes. In that section he talks about people who leave his church for various reasons and notes, “I will probably have others leave after reading this book”. I think that is unlikely! Rather the book endeared the writer, his team …. and indeed his family, to me!

Amusing, thoughtful, full of helpful insight, this is Karl Martin at his best. He draws you in, so you think of working it out for yourself – the advice to get a dog (for more thinking time!) may not work for you …!

By the way, the foreword is only 2 pages, and is worth reading in its own right – it certainly resonated with me. And be sure to add 
Lead to your ‘must read’ list for 2017!
John Storey

Having been involved in the church that Karl leads in Edinburgh from before he arrived, a lot of the themes in this book are very familiar but, of course, they remain as important as ever. Based on the closing chapters of John, it is clear that Karl has delved into Scripture for the thoughts that he presents, so that this is not just a good management and leadership handbook – it is a study on God’s approach to good and godly leadership. Karl is engagingly open and honest about things that have not worked in his own leadership and where he has struggled, and I found that level of vulnerability to be particularly helpful.

This is an easy and accessible read – and a book that once read can be dipped into again and again. The pen line drawings and diagrams and useful headings make it easy to find one’s way round it and it will become, I am sure, a useful reference point for all future leaders.
Pam Lyall

There is something about a book with a single word title, such as Lead, that along with the bright yellow cover, seems to be saying to any prospective reader ‘if you think you’re up to it, bring it on’.

Yet as soon as I delved into the two prefaces of the book, Stake and Set, it was clear from the start that Karl Martin is someone who isn’t seeking to point out what’s not being done, or how current ways are just wrong. Instead he writes with a passion that wants to see leaders rise up, to see them fulfil their potential in Jesus, and a longing to see people led in a way that enables them to be all God has created them to be.

Clearly putting the onus on the leader to play their part, Martin, Senior Pastor of Central in Edinburgh, speaks to the reader with the phrase ‘You are The Project’. It’s an ongoing rallying-cry to be the leader God has called us to be.

Taking the last nine chapters from the Gospel of John, Martin seeks to explore what it means to lead as Jesus led. This concept of Jesus-leadership is carried and unpacked throughout the book.

Unpacking the themes serve, secure, source, school, synchronise, skirmish, sacrifice, succession and shepherd, he manages to balance contemporary and relevant references with substantial exposition of the text. It’s neither heavy nor overbearing, nor light and fluffy. The experiences he shares don’t appear forced in any way. Here’s someone who is sharing something of the journey he is on, hoping it will help light the path of others around him.

There is a clear simplicity to the way that he writes, enabling what he shares to be easily understood. Yet this does not mean the content within Lead is in any way shallow or basic. There is a depth and a challenge that cannot be skimmed over or added to a to-do-list, only be easily crossed out in due course.

One of the great things in how Martin has crafted his book is the way he’s stayed clear of the pattern similar Christian books fall into, namely presenting a set number of questions to work through or steps to tackle as each chapter and subsection of the overall topic concludes. Here each chapter concludes with its own style of reflection and question. Some more blatant and obvious, other not so much. All fed off the flow and the topic that has just gone before.

Lead was a book I could neither put down, nor rush through because of the exciting challenges within. One to read as a leadership, one to work through where you are at. Not a book to pass on to others leaders mind you, because you’ll want to go back over it and dig into it afresh yourself!

Certainly one to recommend to any minister, pastor or leader passionate about leading in Jesus’ way.
Ed Jones, minister of Battle Baptist Church

About the Author

Karl is the Senior Pastor of Central – a church with a big vision. He is also the founder of Cairn, a movement of mission and discipleship, involved in training and building relationships with churches across the Celtic nations. He is passionate about equipping, encouraging and releasing individuals in leadership.

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