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Leadership After Empire


While the Exodus dates back thousands of years, the imprint of the pyramids - and the coercive power they represent - continues to influence us all these generations later. Leadership models built in the image of the empire - with organizational charts shaped like the ancient pyramids - reflect capitalist cultural traditions more than our deepest theological convictions. They encourage the consolidation of power at the top at the expense of the freedom of those below. They facilitate institutional burnout, abuses of power, and missional malpractice.


In Picking Up the Pieces, McShane and Babchuck propose a more generous model of leadership for today’s religious leaders. A model where power is shared out rather than shored up, and where every person can stretch toward the fulness of their God-given gifts regardless of where they land on an organizational chart.  


Through an innovative exploration of Moses’ biblical narrative, the authors suggest that Moses struggled mightily with shedding the empire’s model of leadership, having been raised inside of it. It is only in his later years - after decades of stumbles and course-corrections - that he begins to understand what liberation looks like. Picking Up the Pieces pairs Moses’s journey with stories of contemporary innovators and changemakers who have adopted a more generous model of leadership, and whose communities are thriving as a result.


This book is a provocation to religious leaders who seek out a more expansive path forward - for themselves and for their organizations. It will speak to leaders who are longing to shift from leadership habits that demand over-functioning, and instead lead with the faith that power shared is power multiplied.

From the Book

This book is about unlearning the lessons of leadership gleaned from a culture obsessed with control and certitude.

Does the shape of your organization elevate the giftedness of every person, including yourself?

Most of us will work as hard as we can, give as much as we’re able to give, and pray that it’s enough—pray that we are enough. But what is enough in our day?


Rabbi Elan Babchuck serves as the executive vice president at Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and the founding executive director of Glean Network, an incubator for faith-based entrepreneurs. A sought-after keynote speaker and writer, Elan invests much of his professional and volunteer energy in efforts to build bridges across generational, ideological, and political divides, in America and abroad. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and their three children. Elan is an avid rock climber and constant gardener.


Rev. Kathleen McShane is a serial intrapreneur, always pushing the edges of faith-based institutions and organizations toward more creativity, risk-taking and attentiveness to the unbounded, liberating movement of the Spirit. 
Kathi co-founded the Changemaker Initiative, which began in Silicon Valley and is now a small national movement of churches committed to empowering lay people to become compassion-driven changemakers like Jesus. That work has led her toward multiple projects that are re-imagining leadership for a Church faithful, hungry and agile enough to find its place in God’s hope for creation, always just beyond our view. 
Kathi lives on a vineyard on the Central Coast of California.

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