Blog and Podcast

Book news

It’s just over a month since the book was officially launched (though it was already finding its way out before that). Recently it’s been on sale at several of the summer events, including New Wine Ireland and Keswick at Portstewart. I’ve seen a photo of it alongside a statue of Paddington Bear in Lima, Peru and on a beach in Spain. It’s also made it to Switzerland and Portugal. Thirty copies went to a conference with church workers in Central Europe and copies also went to a group of Christian workers as they came together for a prayer retreat in Ireland. Copies will be going to Nepal later in the year and a church leader in Fermanagh has taken twenty copies for some emerging leaders in his church.

Here are a few ideas about ways you could use the book in coming months:

  • Read it yourself – you could read the whole thing in about 4 hours and that helps give you an overall idea, but there is also value in reading it chapter by chapter and using the questions at the end of each chapter for reflection.
  • Gift a copy to your minister/pastor.
  • Gift a copy to a young, developing leader or a student.
  • Consider using the book with a group of leaders in your church or organisation. What about using it to help with team building over the autumn/winter months.
  • Use it as training material for a developing leaders’ group.

If you are in Northern Ireland, several well-known bookshops are selling the book – including The Evangelical Bookshop and The Book Well in Belfast. If you would like to purchase a quantity of books to use with a group, get in touch with me and let me know what you are planning and we may be able to negotiate a group rate.

Paul Turner (and Paddington) in Peru

If you are travelling to somewhere exotic or iconic this summer, why not send in a photo? You could win a prize!

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Gilbert Lennox and David Scott (Keswick Portstewart)

Last week, in the context of the Keswick at Portstewart Convention, I chatted with two of the speakers – David Scott and Gilbert Lennox – about their leadership journeys. David leads the ministry of Inshes Church of Scotland, while Gilbert (who has been on the podcast previously) is known for his teaching ministry in Glenabbey Church.

**There was a technical issue with David’s microphone at the beginning of the conversation: it gets sorted about 4 minutes in.

If you would like to watch the conversation rather than just listen, follow this link.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Book Launch Edition

This episode of the podcast is a bit different. We have a guest interviewer, Gemma Brown, and she’s talking to me (her dad) about my new book, ‘The Crucible of Leadership’ which has been officially launched this week.

As well as talking about some of the processes and ideas behind the book, we even have a surprising intervention about dinosaurs!

The book is now fairly widely available. Make a start with your local Christian bookstore and if you can’t get it there, then it will be available from some of the usual online sources, or you can contact me via this website and I will send you a copy. Otherwise I will be at several of the summer conferences and copies of the book will be available – you can even get your copy signed!

In July I will be recording a special live edition of the podcast at the Keswick at Portstewart Convention, when I will be chatting with David Scott and Glen Scrivener over Wednesday lunchtime.

Launch day for ‘The Crucible of Leadership

Although the book has been in circulation for a few weeks, today is the official launch day. You can read the publisher’s official announcement on their website.

In recent years, there has been a craze for all things ‘leadership’, with one fad after another promising dramatic change. But as headlines have proven in recent months, just what constitutes good leadership is very far from settled. So if the quick fixes don’t work, where can we turn to discover how we might lead well, in church or in the workplace, when our time comes?

Read more here.

The Leadership JOurney Podcast: Patrick Regan

Patrick Regan is CEO of the charity, Kintsugi Hope, a charity that exists ‘to make a difference to people’s well-being’. Previously he founded and led a youth charity called XLP. He’s written six books – including his most recent one, ‘Bouncing Forwards‘ which looks at the subject of resilience, and he has travelled to over forty countries.

In our conversation we talk about some of what led Patrick into leadership, what it was like to hand over the leadership of XLP, the charity that he had started, and about the nature of Kintsugi Hope. Along the way we talk about resilience, about the stigma that often seems to be attached to issues of mental health, and – of course – about what Patrick would say to his 20-year-old self.

Here are three of Patrick’s top tips for resilience:

  • Go gently
  • Be kind
  • Stay connected

You can visit the Kintsugi Hope website to find out more about what’s involved, and if you are interested in starting a group: you can also pick up copies of Patrick’s books (as well as your own Kintsugi kit).

On the next episode of the podcast, I will be talking about my new book – ‘The Crucible of Leadership: Learning from the story of Moses‘ which officially launches this month.

Guest post: The Crucible of Leadership – Three Key Takeaways for Ministry Leaders and Christian Professionals

I’m grateful to Kevin Anselmo, whom I met several years ago when we were both working in Switzerland, for writing a review of the book. Kevin lives in Florida and works as a communications consultant. You can find out more about his work and see some of his own writing on his website.

For all the leadership content available, I don’t think we spend enough time thinking through the leadership lessons of those from history. Perhaps it is our sense that the leadership challenges from those in the past can’t compare to our current times living in our technological age. Such thinking is short-sighted. The environments in which we live differ across time periods, but certain human needs remain constant and require effective leadership. There are important lessons to be gleaned from those in the past that we can consider today.

Case in point is Moses, considered to be one of the most important prophets in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Dr. Alan Wilson, my former pastor from when I lived in Lausanne, Switzerland, is coming out with a great book later this month entitled The Crucible of Leadership – Learning from the Story of Moses. I was able to read an advance copy and very much enjoyed it. Here are a few important practical takeaways. (Note that I believe we are all leaders, whether we manage a team of hundreds or, as is my case, run an independent consulting company with no employees).

Grapple with the wildernesses of life.

Scholars Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas have noted that we all go through intense and transformational experiences that they termed crucibles. Among the different types of crucibles are periods of isolation. Moses experienced this during his 40 years living in obscurity in the wilderness of Midian. This occurred during what one could consider the prime of his life.

At the conclusion of chapter 2, Alan asks: “Have you ever experienced a sense of being in a wilderness: for example, when there has been a gap between what you had planned or hoped for and where you actually found yourself?”

For me, the answer is yes. I know that I haven’t always responded as I should. Alan’s analysis helped me draw out implications. I particularly appreciated that the period of wilderness can often feel like God is absent, but yet can also be encountered. Wilderness times of life are also unique opportunities for personal growth and to benefit from unexpected circumstances.

Heed wise advice.

As a consultant, part of my work involves providing advice around an individual, team or organization’s communications strategy. I also have frequently called upon others to provide me with advice about different personal and business topics. When it is the right fit, such opportunities for feedback and external perspective can have quite an impact. Sometimes paying an expert makes the most sense. Other times, we can have those “ah-ha” moments through chance interactions with a family member or friend.

Alan brilliantly details the application of how Moses leveraged advice from someone outside his community. In his case, it was the input from his father-in-law, Jethro. As judge, Moses was hearing the disputes from the people. Jethro noticed that Moses was handling too many of these disputes and advised Moses to delegate. This was in the best interests for Moses and the people he was leading. Moses acted on this counsel.

Alan writes in Chapter 4: “The picture that Jethro observed is what it looks like when a leader becomes a bottleneck. When it happens, no one benefits. In Jethro’s terms, both the leader and people will wear themselves out (Exodus 18:18). The leader is overburdened and in danger of burnout, while the people who are forced to depend on the leader for every decision are also liable to be worn out waiting for them to give them a hearing and make a decision.”

Criticism is part of life.

As a consultant, I have worked with many organizations over the years. They represent different industries and have been located in various parts of the world. One constant across these organizations is discontentment with colleagues. This is something prevalent today, was a reality in Biblical times and will be a constant in the future. Chapter 6 of the book focuses on how Moses had to continually deal with criticism and grumbling.

There was a very interesting anecdote in this chapter of an individual who stormed out of church when a guitar was used during a worship song in the 1970s. It definitely seemed like irrational and bizarre behavior. Nevertheless, the pastor sought to understand what had upset this gentleman. It turns out that upset parishioner had donated an electronic organ to the church in memory of his late wife. When the guitar was introduced, the man assumed that was the end of the electronic organ and triggered intense grieving over his wife. This illustrates that sometimes behind an irrational outburst is the opportunity to meet someone who is in deep need of support.

Of course that doesn’t mean we should respond to every grumble and complaint from those in our circle of influence. I resonated with this implication that Alan shared: “Leaders need to learn to distinguish between the kind of conflict and critique that are probably necessary if they are to grow as leaders, and harsh, personal criticism from professional fault-finders. If we don’t get this right we will either be crushed and our leadership will become anemic (if indeed we remain in leadership), or we will become stubborn and our leadership will be blinkered.”

There are many other lessons from the book that I think are particularly useful for those leading ministries or who are Christians working in the marketplace. Alan does a great job drawing upon the Bible, personal stories and analysis from leadership research.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Gary Burnett on ‘Paul Distilled’

Gary Burnett

Gary Burnett is the author of ‘Paul Distilled‘, an accessible introduction to the theology of Paul. He has previously written The Gospel According to the Blues.

In our conversation we chat about Gary’s own story as well as discussing some of the themes from his book.

You can check out ‘Paul in Ten’, a series of ten-minute videos that Gary recorded, covering the themes of Paul’s theology.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Sharon Garlough Brown

This week’s guest on the podcast is the author, Sharon Garlough Brown, well-known for her ‘Sensible Shoes’ and ‘Shades of Light’ series of books.

Sharon will be visiting Northern Ireland towards the end of the month, leading several retreats, including a morning for people involved in leadership and ministry.

In our conversation Sharon talks about her writing, but also about her own journey of faith. We talk about some of the themes of spiritual practice that occur in the book and discuss why men are probably more likely to attend an event promising ten principles for effective leadership than a spiritual retreat!

Sharon also answers the regular podcast question about what she might say to her twenty-year-old self (she’s not sure that her younger self would have known how to take the advice).

Details of Sharon’s visit to Northern Ireland can be found on the Cleopas website and leaders may be particularly interested in the event at Edenmore on Monday 23rd May (not Monday 24th as incorrectly stated on the podcast).

The Crucible of Leadership: Immersive Reality Edition

As we are now well past noon (in the UK), much of what appears in the original post is no longer relevant!!

It is, however, true that ‘The Crucible of Leadership’ is set to hit the shelves in June. You can stay up to date with news via the dedicated Facebook page.

There is exciting news about a special edition of ‘The Crucible of Leadership’ which is to be published in June. In an innovative step, there will be an ‘immersive reality’ edition of the book. Readers who purchase this edition (retailing for £22.99) will be able to use a code printed on the back page of the book to access a virtual reality experience that will bring the book to life. The code can then be used with one of the new immersive reality headsets to access a host of extra features related to the book. The headsets are sold separately but can be used to access other immersive reality experiences such as major sporting events and seminars led by world-renowned experts in a range of fields.

While publishers have been excited for some time about the prospect of immersive reality fiction, the idea of an immersive reality version of a non-fiction book is something of an innovation.

The immersive reality edition of ‘The Crucible of Leadership’ will allow you to relive details of Moses’ story as if you were there. Among other things you will be able to walk (virtually) around the Midianite desert and cross through the Red Sea. As well as bringing aspects of Moses’ story to life, this special edition of the book will allow you the opportunity to participate in virtual seminars with Jewish and Christian scholars who will throw further light on the setting of Moses’ remarkable story.

You will have to hurry, though. This edition of the book is only available if you order it before noon today!

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Richard Venable on ‘Worship Leading Essentials’

This week’s guest on the podcast is fellow new author Richard Venable. Richard and I connected via our publisher, Instant Apostle.

Richard has written Worship Leading Essentials, a thoughtful and extremely practical book that explores a range of areas related to leading corporate worship. Join us as we chat about Richard’s own story and about the topics in his book.

To get hold of a copy of the book, you can follow some of the links on the Instant Apostle page: if you are anywhere near Southampton (where Richard lives), call in with the folk at Oasis Christian Centre in Romsey.

Watch out for future podcast episodes with literary agent Tony Collins, theologian Gary Burnett (talking about Paul on leadership), author Sharon Garlough-Brown, and Patrick Regan, founder of Kintsugi Hope.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Nicki Copeland

Nicki Copeland is an author, editor and speaker: she leads the team at Instant Apostle, a Christian publishing house that is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

In our conversation Nicki talks about her interest in books and her journey to being a writer as she discovered how God had created and gifted her. We talk about some of the history of Instant Apostle and get an overview of what is involved in the publishing process. Of course – as is customary in these conversations – Nicki shares some of what she would say to her twenty-year old self.

Nicki has written two books: Less than Ordinary, in which she tells her own story, and Losing the Fig Leaf, in which she discusses ways we hide ourselves behind such things as possessions and perfectionism.

I’m grateful to Nicki and the team at IA for giving me the opportunity to publish my first book – The Crucible of Leadership – which will be available in June.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Hwa Yung on ‘Leadership or Servanthood?’

This week my guest is Hwa Yung who joins me via Zoom from Malaysia. Hwa Yung has served as a minister and a bishop in the Methodist Church, and was principal of Malaysia Theological Seminary; since his retirement he has remained active, giving himself to working with the Malaysian Church, to writing, and to working with leaders in the Majority World.

As well as talking about his own – sometimes very moving – story, we talk about his book, ‘Leadership or Servanthood’ (which I summarised in a previous post). The book is a challenge to the Church’s tendency to follow the cultural understanding of leadership – something that easily leads to a neglect of foundational biblical themes like discipleship and servanthood.

The book is published by, and available from Langham on their website.

Leadership is the result of practicing genuine servanthood wherever we are and whatever position we are called to by Christ. By living and ministering as servants, our loving and humble service will impact those around us as great leadership.’

Hwa Yung, in ‘Leadership or Servanthood?’

Leadership or Servanthood?

I’ve been reading this recent book from Langham and next week I hope to have the author, Malaysian church leader, Hwa Yung, as my guest on the podcast.

As the title suggests, the book sets out to question the Church’s fascination with leadership. It’s not that Hwa Yung denies the importance of leadership per se, his concern is the way the Church speaks of it ‘in terms that are not very different from the way the world around us does.’ In contrast, he argues, ‘it appears that the key emphasis in the Bible’s teaching is that we are called first and foremost to be servants and not leaders.’

The book consists of nine chapters and follows a clear path. The starting point is the focus on servanthood (‘the fundamental nature of the ministry and leadership to which [leaders] are called is defined by servanthood, and not by position, status, and power.’) From there we move to a discussion of authority: after all, if we are servants, what authority do we have? The answer is found in a spiritual authority that is founded on submission to the Father, as seen in the example of Jesus.

Just as the path of true spiritual greatness lies through humility and servanthood, so the path of genuine spiritual authority lies in submission to the Father.

Hwa Yung, Leadership or Servanthood, p50.

Next is the question of where we are to find confidence and again the answer is seen in the example of Jesus who was sure of his identity as the Son of God: he lived ‘in the security of his Father’s love and protection’. We are called then to face our own insecurities and live in the security of the Father’s love.

From this we are led to consider the importance of character and spirituality for those called to leadership – and this is illustrated from what we can learn from Paul in his farewell message to the elders at Ephesus as he reflected on how he had served with humility, compassion, faithfulness, sacrifice, and a lack of self-seeking ambition.

Chapter 8 uses the examples of Jacob, Moses, Peter, and Paul, to illustrate God’s transforming work in the lives of those whom he calls. The book concludes by revisiting the relationship between servanthood and leadership (note: ‘Servant Leadership’ won’t really cut it!). It’s well-summarised in these words:

Leadership in the cause of Christ does not come from our striving to be leaders but is the by-product of a life of humble service to him and others.

Leadership or Servanthood, p129.

There is some rich and challenging material in this. The question is a vital corrective to the lure of power and status.

Paul Tripp on ‘The Crucible of Leadership’

“I am drawn to leadership books that reinforce the truth that successful leadership is about more than how many people follow you or what you have accomplished, but rather, about who you are becoming. Christian leaders need to always remember that they are being called and crafted by God, are in an ongoing process of spiritual growth, and are dependent on the gifts of others. Leadership doesn’t belong to us but to the One who has called us and loves us. Employing the story of Moses, The Crucible of Leadership is a powerful, personal, and practical reminder of all of these things. There is no leader who wouldn’t benefit from this book.”

Paul David Tripp, Author, Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church and New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional

‘The Crucible of Leadership’ is scheduled to be released in June.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Debbie Hawker on Resilience

This week’s guest on the podcast is Dr Debbie Hawker. Debbie is a clinical psychologist who works along with her husband, Dr David Hawker, to support mission partners and humanitarian workers. Their work includes providing assessments and reviews as well as retreats and training. The organisations she has worked with include Tearfund, Latin Links, Interserve and YWAM. Debbie has provided training or consultations in a significant number of countries, from Argentina and Australia to The US and the UK.

In addition to her contributions to specialist publications, she has written a couple of recent books that are aimed at a wider audience – including ‘Resilience in Life and Faith’, which she has co-authored with Tony Horsfall, a recent guest on the podcast.

In the podcast we talk about the book and Debbie shares about a model for thinking about resilience that she sums up with the acrostic SPECS.

  • Spiritual aspects of resilience;
  • Physical aspects of resilience;
  • Emotional aspects of resilience;
  • Cognitive and Creative aspects of resilience;
  • Social and systemic aspects of resilience.

If you’d like to get a copy of the book Debbie and her family have written on creation care, it is ‘Changing the Climate: Applying the Bible in a Climate Emergency’.

For more information on Kintsugi Hope, which we mentioned in the conversation, you can list their website.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Ajith Fernando

My first guest of the year is Ajith Fernando. Ajith was National Director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka for 35 years and since his retirement from the post has continued as a mentor to the organisation and young leaders.

In our conversation we talk about his leadership journey, including the early influence of an Irish Methodist missionary in Sri Lanka, and Ajith talks about one of his earliest challenges as a young leader and how it helped to shape his ministry approach. He shares some thoughts on the state of the global Church and reflects on some of the things that have helped him to stay fresh over several decades of ministry.

We also talk about Ajith’s writing. Among the significant number of books he has written are his NIVAC commentary on Acts and his reflections on ‘Jesus-driven ministry’.

The next episode of the podcast will feature a conversation with psychologist and author, Debbie Hawker when we will be discussing resilience in Christian ministry.

Here is the conversation with Ajith:

The Leadership JOurney Podcast: Tony Horsfall

Tony Horsfall describes himself as a writer, a retreat leader, a mentor, and a friend. He is based in Yorkshire. Tony has had several decades of experience in Christian Ministry – as a church-planting missionary in Malaysia, a pastor in England, a missions trainer, and a retreat leader. He has been involved in membercare, and serves under the auspices of Charis Training: their website will give you links to books and articles he has written – some of which we talk about in the podcast, including Spiritual Growth in a Time of Change, and Rhythms of Grace.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Simon Stuart (A rocha)

Simon Stuart is the Executive Director of A Rocha International, a family of Christian organisations involved in conservation projects around the world. Simon has worked in conservation for many years and in 2020 was awarded the prestigious Blue Planet Prize in recognition of his work.

Simon has also been a personal friend of mine for over 30 years. He worked alongside me as an elder in Westlake Church in Nyon, Switzerland, before he and his family moved to the United States.

Simon’s work with A Rocha brings together his love for God and his concern for the wellbeing of what God has made.

In our conversation we talk about Simon’s journey in the world of conservation and how he integrates faith and science. We touch on the issue of climate change – to know more Simon recommends you visit the website of Christian climate scientist, Katherine Hayhoe, and Simon shares some of what he would say to his 20 year old self.

We’re planning one more podcast episode before Christmas, when the guest will be Tony Horsfall. Tony is a teacher and trainer; he has worked overseas and has authored several books, including ‘Resilience in Life and Faith’, and ‘Working from a Place of Rest.’