January 2021 Resource

Tempered Resilience
Tempered Resilience: How Leaders are Formed in the Crucible of Change


Tod Bolsinger


IVP Books, Downers Grow, IL

Book Review By:

Melvin Amerson

Premise of the book:
Developing resilient leadership is a necessary quality for clergy and other leaders, who are leading and guiding congregations/organizations through radical challenges in an ever-changing world.

What this book does:
“Tempered Resilience” is part of a series of books written on the topic of leadership and adaptive change by Tod Bolsinger. His previous resource titled, Leadership for a Time of Pandemic, centered on a chapter taken from this book, offered to address immediate leadership challenges amid a pandemic. This book is a great resource for clergy and executive leaders for any season because it interweaves a person’s life: spiritually, personally, organizationally and professionally. In this resource, the author uses a metaphor of how leaders are formed much like how steel is formed and tempered in blacksmithing. The process includes working, heating, holding, hammering, hewing, and tempering. Throughout this resource, the author includes sections called “Consider” and “Some Disciplines for the Practice of…”, provide questions, thoughts and practices as part of the leadership formation/tempering process.


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

What are some important insights:
Throughout Tempered Resilience, you will glean insights and thoughts for reflection. Character qualities of grounded leaders: teachable, attuned, adaptable, tenacious, and resilient. “Nothing creates more resilience within a leader than to be surrounded by and work with resilient people toward missional goals that inspired the need for change in the first place.” “The group needs to be led through the change by a resilient leader who regularly practices and demonstrates the value of learning, listening, looking, and lamenting.” There are many more timely insights and processes throughout this excellent resource.

Possibilities as a resource for churches:
Great resource for clergy, laity, denominational leaders, and directors who want to effectively lead in the future and during times of radical change.

Melvin Amerson

The Rev. Melvin Amerson is a member of the Texas Annual Conference and serves as a Resource Specialist and Area Representative at TMF. His experience and passion lie in encouraging and developing generous, faithful leaders and congregations.

Amerson is the author of Celebrating the Offering, Fruit for Celebrating the Offering, and Stewardship in African American Churches: A New Paradigm, as well as several articles covering topics from generosity, leadership, and visioning. He served as a board member of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center until it was dissolved in 2021 and is currently serving on the Texas Annual Conference Church Leadership Team. He is a nationally recognized generosity consultant known for his engaging presentations. Beyond strengthening congregational leaders, one of his favorite ways to use his skills is to empower Wesley Foundation staff to effectively fund their college ministries.

Melvin obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, an M.Div degree concentrating in Christian education from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, an Executive Leadership certificate from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and a certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University.