On a Wing and a Prayer: Faithful Leadership in the 21st Century uses the language of aviation to look at the principles of leadership and apply them to congregations and other organizations. Concepts such as visioning, strategic planning, calculated risk-taking, flexibility, and discovering the gifts of others are included. The book also will encourage lay readers to consider how these principles can shape their daily lives and arenas where they live their Christian vocations.
1. It's the Wind above the Wings
2. Preflight Planning: The Key to Success
3. Cleared for Takeoff
4. Flying the Airplane
5. Crew Resource Management: Team Piloting
6. Landings Are the Hardest Part!
"Michael Cooper-White knows church leadership. In On a Wing and A Prayer, he generously shares his varied experiences and wisdom. Much leadership literature is deadly dull or monotonously obvious. This book is neither. The use of an interesting metaphor—leadership is like flying an airplane (the author's avocation)—is more than clever. The metaphor becomes a rich learning tool yielding significant and often surprising insights, not only for church leaders but for leaders in the public, private, and social sectors as well."
—The Rev. Dr. Robert Bacher, former Assistant to the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
"Good pilots and effective leaders make a plan and have a destination. The reflections in On a Wing and a Prayer will help you earn your wings as a leader."
—Barbara Hafer, Pennslyvania State Treasurer
"Cooper–White takes us behind the scenes of pilot training and draws engaging parallels with the preparation of a leader. Citing biblical examples and his own wide experience as pastor and executive, he develops a checklist that will help any leader to pilot an organization toward its goal. I learned something on every page."
—H. George Anderson, Former Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Among the valiant pioneers of aviation, especially those who fought in the skies during the first and second world wars, a saying became common: "I made it back home on a wing and a prayer." With their already somewhat unreliable aircraft severely damaged in dogfights or by anti-aircraft artillery, it often seemed an impossibility that they would survive to fly again another day. Some of these heroes of the battles in the sky would nurse one crippled craft after another back to their home runways, or at least to safe landings in friendly territory. How did they do it? Many of these frightened flyers who lived to tell their stories testified to the power of fervent prayers. Entrusting their fate into God's hands gave them the courage to keep their cool under extreme duress.
While pilots flying modern aircraft in peacetime environments have far greater life expectancies than their pioneering predecessors, the world of aviation continues to require skill, discipline, planning, and occasionally a measure of derring-do. The domain of flight can be a great teacher, if one is open to learn its lessons.
Here at the beginning of the 21st century, leadership in any arena is challenging, complicated and exercised in a complex, constantly changing environment. While day-to-day organizational leadership—in business and commerce, in government and community, or in the church and other non-profit service sectors—normally is not a life-threatening venture akin to that of aviation's pioneers, it is demanding and stressful.
For more than a quarter century, the author has pondered questions of leadership. What makes good leaders tick? Are there really "born leaders," or can leadership be taught in some systematic ways, as is the case with science, languages, accounting, medicine, or other disciplines? Is leadership an inborn charisma or an acquired set of skills and mastery of processes and interpersonal dynamics? For leadership to occur, must there not be followers, and can "follower-ship" be taught, or does it just happen?