Practical Leaders Use Reason, Tradition, and Context

Practical Leadership Lessons From Richard Hooker

Richard Hooker was a 16th century theologian in the Church of England. He is the inventor of the Anglican idea of the “middle way,” which is also referred to as the via media. It is the idea that somewhere between Roman Catholics and Protestants there is an area in the middle where all Christians agree on the important parts of the faith. This idea is what has carried the worldwide Anglican church to ecumenical dialogue unseen by other groups. Their example is one that leaders in any field can use to improve their leadership.


Hooker’s teachings were based in reason, tradition, and an understanding of historical context. He believed that one should exercise reason when reading the Scriptures, which meant that we can apply Scripture through intent rather than the letter of what they read.

Practical Leaders apply policy and procedure understanding its intent. Semantics are the reasons why we write and apply policies in ways that don’t make sense. Instead of parsing every word, consider the meta-narrative of the policy and apply it according to its intent.

Hooker believed that tradition should maintain a high level of importance for the church. He argued that we could look at the traditional application of biblical texts to better understand their intent.

Practical Leaders use traditional applications to better understand and execute intent. That is not to say that you will accept, “Because we’ve always done it this way” as an acceptable reason for why a particular procedure exists, but you will accept the merits of precedent in the application before reinventing the wheel.

Hooker understood that the Scriptures were written to a specific audience in a specific time that isn’t our own. To that end, he understood the importance of building a bridge from the intended audience and historical context to the current population of culture.

Practical Leaders learn the historical context of procedures and update their application to modern practice and technology while maintaining intent. Sometimes you have to deal with policies that are antiquated and don’t apply anymore. You should consider the reason it was put into practice and adapt the execution of it to your current context.

Practical leadership comes from a wide variety of examples. Richard Hooker was an Anglican theologian who is counted among the ranks of Calvin, Luther, and Aquinas. His church affiliation, however, does not limit his ability to impact your leadership in the nonprofit, public, or private world.

Look for people outside of your context to give you insights that will improve your ability to lead practically.

Question: How do you use intent to apply policy in your field? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


I am an author, speaker, and leader with a passion for developing people into practical leaders who put their principles into practice. I am the co-author of the acclaimed book Faith Acts with best-selling author Dillon Burroughs, the Chief Operations Officer at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, and an independent leadership consultant to up and coming leaders and start up nonprofit organizations. My greatest joy, however, is serving Christ and his Church. I am the proud husband of Shay and father of two great boys. We live in Chattanooga, TN. #NoogaStrong

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or downright annoying.

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