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.’
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.
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.
During our conversation they talk about the experiences of burnout that led to them writing the books. They emphasise the importance of living with a greater understanding of grace, and a sense of our own limitations as we live for God. We discuss the relationship between the physical and spiritual sides of our lives and the concept of self care. We also talk about the difference between the well planned life and the summoned life and the relevance of life stages.
This week’s guest on the podcast is Stephen Cave. Stephen is Senior Vice President for Translation with Biblica (The International Bible Society). He has also served as a Baptist pastor in Northern Ireland and has had leadership roles with the Evangelical Alliance where he is a member of the UK board.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone involved in the work of Biblica, one of his strong ministry passions is his desire to help people engage with the Bible: another is his heart for the wider Church.
In our conversation we talk about his early relationship with the Bible, the role of some people who were key influencers, how his faith was affected by an experience of tragic loss, and how his leadership journey has allowed him to combine his ministry passions.
Along the way he discusses some of his convictions about leadership, including the idea that a leader is someone who is prepared to have a tough conversation.
As you listen to the conversation, you might like to reflect on some of these questions:
1 – As a leader, how easy is it for you to delegate responsibility to others? What might prevent you from doing more of this? 2 – As you listen to Stephen talking about foundational ministry passions, can you identify the things that are key in your calling? 3 – How do you experience God speaking to you? 4 – How easy it it for you to have ‘tough conversations’ with people in your church or organisation?
I’m making a couple of changes to the podcast:
Each interview will be one episode rather than two (or occasionally three), previously.
Rather than a new episode every week, I’ll be aiming for two per month.
While you can always listen to the podcast via this blog, remember that you can also subscribe via Apple Podcasts or Castbox: just search for The Leadership Journey Podcast. Subscription costs nothing and you will get each new episode arriving automatically on your phone/tablet. New episodes will appear on Friday afternoons – hopefully in time for some weekend listening.
The guest on the next episode will be Peter Lynas from the Evangelical Alliance.
Russell Birney is back this week, continuing his story (you can listen to the first part here).
In this part of the interview Russell talks about his ministry in three of the four churches where he has served, starting with two years in Carrickfergus where he was somewhat pitched in at the deep end before moving on to the challenging environment of Newry where people were feeling the weight of the Troubles: he stayed in Newry for 9 years.
He then spent over 20 years in High Kirk, Ballymena, where he faced the challenge of bringing change to a church whose previous minister had been there for 36 years.
In this context he talks about key influencers that helped shape his thinking about and his excitement for the Church: David Watson in York, and Ray Stedman in California. (You can still pick up copies of David Watson’s book, I believe in the Church).
Questions for your own reflection:
Have you any examples of being pitched in at the deep end in leadership? What happened and what did you learn?
Russell talks about his view of the importance of pastoral visitation: if you are in church leadership, how do you react to Russell’s view? What is your own practice?
In this week’s episode we resume David Dunlop’s story.
David describes some significant conversations that took place while on sabbatical including how he was introduced to the programme of Arrow Leadership and their work on issues of character, calling and competence in leaders. Arrow proved to be a huge formative experience for David.
Another key encounter during his sabbatical was with someone who asked him what he was doing to guard his heart (see Proverbs 4:23). Such was the impact that this verse has become David’s life verse.
From there David goes on to talk about spiritual disciplines/holy habits and describes a number of practices including a rule of life that includes spiritual disciplines, self care, use of time, and silent retreats.
As a leader he recognises the importance of being aware of perceived expectations and avoiding becoming proud when he’s praised and crushed when he is criticised. He also talks about the role of other people in his life, including the importance of his wife in helping him to guard his heart.
David also talks about his journey as a (reluctant, not unwilling) leader in Windsor – not least in his preaching ministry. We also talk about team and how David has experienced that in Windsor Baptist.
He also gets the opportunity to speak to a young version of himself and shares advice he would give which includes this: ‘If you want to be in leadership for a short time, knock yourself out’, and the advice to hold some things lightly.
This week the podcast takes something of an international turn as the guest is Clive Atkinson, chaplain of All Saints Anglican Church in Switzerland. Clive is originally from Northern Ireland (he and I attended the same secondary school, though a few years apart), and has been living in Switzerland for over 15 years.
All Saints Church is a vibrant expat church, part of the Intercontinental Church Society, serving the English-speaking community around Vevey in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. While the church is anglican, various denominations and nationalities are part of the community.
In this first part of our conversation Clive talks about the early influences on his life, growing up in Northern Ireland and his coming to faith as a teenager and the formative years at university where he had some ‘deep end’ leadership opportunities with the Christian Union. He also talks about some of the people who had a big influence on his life, including Harold Miller – a previous guest on the podcast.
In talking about the life of the church, Clive describes the way they have a vision that involves being intentional about sending people out into their regular jobs – referencing the work of LICC.
Next week, Clive will go on to talk more about the journey of ministry and how he came to be in Vevey.
For your own reflection:
Can you name people who have had an influence in your life in the way Clive discusses the role of Harold Miller? Are you in a position to speak into the lives of people you mentor?
Clive talks about the work of LICC and their emphasis on whole life discipleship: for those of you in church leadership, is there something you can learn from the way Clive’s church has adopted the idea of ‘this time tomorrow’ and their vision of sending people out into their Monday to Friday work?
By the way – here is that photo we talked about!
Also – you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Castbox.
This week Phil Emerson, from Emmanuel Church in Lurgan is the guest on the podcast one more time.
If you’ve missed the first two episodes, you can get them here (part one) and here (part two).
In this week’s episode, Phil talks about the devastating loss of his first wife – one of a series of losses experienced in his church family around the same time, and the questions about healing that are raised when people are not healed.
He also talks about his wider ministry and some of the challenges and opportunities that come at this season in life and leadership.
And he shares these three pieces of advice for younger leaders:
Give God everything
Don’t go alone
Get around godly mentors
For your own reflection:
What have been some of the things that have most struck you from Phil’s story of his leadership journey?
What’s your reaction to the three pieces of advice Phil shares in this episode?
This week Paul Reid is back on the podcast. If you missed the first part of his story, you can catch up with it here. This week’s episode picks up Paul’s story from his appointment as pastor of CFC in Belfast.
Among the things Paul discusses during the podcast are issues of church autonomy and his approach to remaining open to outside voices; the influence of John Wimber and his own emphasis on a message of grace; his – and CFC’s experience of the Toronto Blessing; and how he has sought to maintain a balance of Word and Spirit in his ministry.
As you listen to the podcast, here are some things to think about:
If you are a church leader – especially if you are in an autonomous church set-up, how do you and your church keep your leadership open and accountable to others?
Have you thought through a theology of prayer and healing?
‘There is no small print in the message of God’s love and grace’: how do you respond to what Paul says about grace?
If you are a church leader, how have you gone about ensuring that your ministry is about both Word and Spirit?
In next week’s podcast, Paul will be reflecting on some of what he has learned through the course of his leadership journey.
The guest this week is Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore in the Church of Ireland.
In this first part of his interview Harold talks about his conversion experience and the early stages of his growth as a leader while involved in the Christian Union at Trinity College, Dublin (his years there coincided with a remarkable batch of future leaders and missionaries).
He also talks about the role of an Anglican Bishop and the importance of leaders having other people around them.
Here are some questions for you to reflect on as you listen to Harold’s interview:
Harold mentions a number of key mentors: what mentors are helping to shape you, and are you building into the lives of other, younger leaders?
Harold talks about ‘holes in the cheese’: as you think about your own church tradition, where are some of the gaps?
Alistair Bill has been minister of Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church in Belfast for almost 24 years. In this week’s podcast – the first part of a two-part interview – Alistair talks about his early years, including how he came to faith through the ministry of Arthur Blessitt (remember him carrying his cross around Northern Ireland in 1972, and the smiley face stickers? – he is now into his 50th year of carrying the cross!) and how he began to sense God’s call into vocational ministry.
In part 2 of the interview (next week) Alistair talks about his years of ministry in Greystones, Monaghan, and his current church – Saintfield Road: he also shares some of the important leadership lessons he has picked up along the way.
The guest on the next two episodes of the podcast is Dr Derek Tidball. Derek’s leadership roles have included ministry in a couple of Baptist churches as well as being Principal of London School of Theology: he is also the author of many books, including his most recent book, Lead Like Joshua.
One of the ways you might like to follow up with this week’s podcast on the leadership journey of Moses is to reflect on some of the things that have contributed to your own leadership journey.
Keep in mind that while Moses’ story fits neatly into three stages, your journey may have more phases. Look out for events and times that have marked turning points between phases. Use the second template (or your own variation on it) to reflect on your own story.
The idea of a podcast was first mooted some months ago. It’s been a slow project to get off the ground, but the wheels are starting to turn: in fact, the content of the first episode was recorded yesterday. The plan is to bank a few episodes before launching a weekly podcast that will be available on this website and (once we get the technicalities sorted) available for you to subscribe.
Each episode will be an opportunity to reflect on some aspect of the leadership journey. Some of the episodes will be me, talking (hopefully not just to myself!) but a lot of them will consist of interviews with a range of Christian leaders who will be reflecting on their own stories and things that have shaped them along the way.
Hopefully the first episode will be available for listening in the next few weeks. In it, I’m being interviewed about my recent research on crucibles of Christian leadership.