Blog and Podcast

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.’

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Ruth Garvey-Williams

Ruth and her husband, Andrew, have been living in Buncrana, Donegal for the past 17 years where they have been involved in a range of ways with their local community and have recently facilitated the start of a new fellowship. Ruth is also the founder and editor of Vox magazine and has recently published, ‘Gloriously Ordinary’ which she has written with Andrew and several other people involved in mission.

‘Gloriously Ordinary’ sets out several principles that Ruth believes are key to incarnation mission in Ireland: you can order a copy of the book from Teach Solas, an Irish Christian bookshop in County Cork (Teach Solas is Irish for Lighthouse).

In our conversation we talk about Buncrana’s ‘Amazing Grace Festival’ (are you aware of the connection between Donegal and John Newton?), about team ministry, incarnational mission, and signs of hope for the Church in Ireland.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: ‘Canoeing the Mountains’ with Tod Bolsinger

This week Tod Bolsinger returns to talk about his book ‘Canoeing the Mountains’ (he previously talked to us about his more recent book, Tempered Resilience). The title is a metaphor for the situation church leaders find themselves in when what lies ahead of them and their leadership looks very different from what they have been trained for and grown accustomed to: leaders need to be aware of the changes that have happened in the Western World and of the need for ‘technical competence, ‘adaptive change’, and ‘relational congruence.’

We also get the opportunity to hear a bit about the man behind the books, including what Tod would like to say to his 20-year-old self.

Feel free to add your own caption!

The guest on the next episode of the podcast will be Ruth Garvey-Williams, editor of VOX Magazine.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Tod Bolsinger on ‘Tempered Resilience’

In this (shorter) episode of the podcast the guest is Tod Bolsinger from Fuller Seminary in California. Tod is the author of several books, including his most recent book, Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change.

It’s a follow on from Tod’s previous book, Canoeing the Mountains in which he discusses what it means for Christian leaders to lead in the uncharted waters of a rapidly-changing culture.

In Tempered Resilience, he walks us through a blacksmith’s forge and compares the steps in preparing a metal tool with the spiritual formation of a leader who is being prepared to ‘hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope’ (quoted from Martin Luther King).

The smithing process involves working (‘leaders are formed in leading’), heating (‘strength is formed in self-reflection’), holding (‘vulnerable leadership requires relational security’), hammering (‘stress makes a leader’), hewing (‘resilience takes practice’), and tempering (‘resilience comes through a rhythm of leading and not leading’).

Next week Tod will return to the podcast to talk about his previous book, Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: David Cupples

This week’s guest on the podcast is David Cupples, minister of Enniskillen Presbyterian Church in County Fermanagh. David had been minister there for over 30 years, having arrived in the town in September 1987, just weeks before the community was devastated by a Remembrance Day bomb.

In our conversation David talks about some of his experience as a minister at that time. He also talks about some of what he has found to be important in sustaining a long ministry in one place. he shares a bit about his time on the Camino Santiago and, as with other guests on the podcast, has some advice for his 20-year-old self.

David has written a book on his Camino experience and you can order a copy by contacting him via Enniskillen Presbyterian Church.

The guest on the podcast in a couple of weeks will be Tod Bolsinger who will be talking about his most recent book, Tempered Resilience: How Leaders are Formed in the Crucible of Change.

The Crucible of Leadership: Learning from the Story of Moses

This week I have signed a contract with Instant Apostle for the publication of a book I have been working on. The book is The Crucible of Leadership: Learning from the Story of Moses, and it should be available in May/June of next year.

His formative years were spent in Egypt where he had been born into a family of Hebrew slaves but remarkably ended up being raised as a member of the royal family. A failed attempt to lead a liberation movement resulted in his being pitched unceremoniously into the wilderness years – forty years spent in the Midianite desert where the peak of his career appears to have been taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep – quite a contrast with some of the traditional understandings of his time in Egypt which tell tales of military prowess! Finally, after a remarkable encounter with God on the edge of the desert, his life takes another dramatic turn and he becomes a reluctant leader, going on to spend the next forty years navigating the highs and lows of leadership in the desert.

The Crucible of Leadership explores the life-shaping journey of leadership by weaving together a series of reflections and framing them in the context of the remarkable story of Moses as it has come down to us in our Bible.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Chris Green on ‘The Gift’

This week’s guest on the podcast is Chris Green. Chris leads a church in North London and this month IVP has published his most recent book: The Gift.

I’ve already written about the book, so you can get a quick idea of what the main ideas of the book are. In our conversation, Chris talks about some of his other work, including other books he has written, including The Message of the Church, a biblical theology of the Church, part of the Bible Speaks Today series, and Cutting to the Heart, on application in preaching.

He talks about the key ideas of The Gift, including some cautions about whether and how we should think of Jesus as the Model Leader, why church leaders could think of their work in terms of the twelve slices of pizza, and what he means when he defines church leadership as ‘Corporate Application’.

Along the way we mention the work of Patrick Lencioni and his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which is well worth your while checking out.

And we have a discount code: you will pick up the code if you listen to the podcast and it will give you IVP’s best price when you order from their website.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Justyn Terry on The Five Phases of Leadership

This week’s podcast episode features another author interview. My guest is Dr. Justin Terry and the book is The Five Phases of Leadership, recently published by Langham (you can order a copy from their website). You can read a quick overview of the book on the blog and the podcast conversation will allow you to get a bit more detail.

The basic premise, as the title suggests, that there are five phases to a leadership assignment. You could almost call them stages, but thinking of them as phases allows for some overlap between them.

  • Establish trust
  • Cultivate leaders
  • Discern vision
  • Implement plans
  • Transition out

Justyn Terry is Vice-Principal at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford. Previously he served as Dean/President of Trinity School of Ministry in Pittsburgh and as Minister of St Helen’s Church in North Kensington.

The guest on the next episode of the podcast will be Chris Green, and he will be talking about his book The Gift: How your Leadership can Serve your Church. The book will be launched next week and you can read my review on the blog.