I was searching for resources on leadership development that resonate with the studies I have done throughout the past 13 years or so. This is not easy to do. Most Christian authors seem to write with a particular paradigm that does not seem very compelling to me, let alone Christian. Then, one day, I happened upon a new book published in May of 2016, Transforming Pastoral Leadership: Reimagining Congregational Relationships for Changing Contexts by Quentin Kinnison. I was stunned and captivated. I could not stop reading. I think I found what I would call a truly excellent theology of leadership. The first part of the book shows where the other main paradigm fails miserably. The rest of the book shows another way. I was so grateful to finally find a book I could wholeheartedly endorse for leadership from a Christian perspective. Curious, I wondered, who is this author? Upon further investigation, I discovered he is an Associate Professor at Fresno Pacific University. This was astonishing because I was sitting in Fresno at the time! I was at Link Care for rest and Link Care is in Fresno, California! So, I emailed Quentin and he was gracious enough to host me on his campus for a lunch and visit. We share so many common passions around this topic, and I implored him to consider how this book might be adapted for the African context. To be continued...
I Forgive You...I Think...
When someone hurts you, what do you do? What is the Christian response? There are many great resources on forgiveness. This is one that spoke to me recently: The Book of Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu. They outline a fourfold path that I found to be useful: Tell the story, name the hurt, grant forgiveness, renew or release the relationship. This book is embellished with many riveting personal stories the authors tell about how they forgave even in the face of extreme injustice or trauma.
Having spent over 25 years in higher education now, I am always interested in the intersection of faith and academics.
This book, Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaira Butterfield, fascinated me on that level. It is written by a woman who was a tenured Associate Professor of English and Women's Studies at Syracuse University and who was also in a lesbian relationship. She served as the faculty adviser for four gay student groups. She was intrigued by why Christians seemed to hate gays, so she decided to do her own research. I won't spoil the story for you, but I will say that the book includes a speech she gave to incoming freshman during which she "came out" as a Christian. The speech is thought-provoking, intelligent, and compelling. The speech itself is worth the cost of the book.
Book Club Time!
My daughters and I all own this book now (25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Spiritual Classics, edited by Julia L. Roller. We intend on reading some of these books (or at least excerpts from them) and discussing them even while I am in Africa. I can't wait.
In fact, we read the last one first, or at least I was the first one done. It is The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. This is a spiritual look at the story of the prodigal son, with layers of insight. I loved it.
The last two I'll mention in this post are books I read to understand the change in culture. Peter Enns, in The Sin of Certainty, calls us back to the mystery of God. We do not have to have all the correct knowledge to be vibrant followers of Christ. I am afraid the modern era, with all its enlightenment and scientific method, led Christians to think they had to prove everything. This book calls me back to the mystery of God, and it is freeing.
Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith by Josh Packard with Ashliegh Hope
Perhaps an unintended response to the book called the Rise of the Nones (referring to people who select "none" for religion in a survey), this book explores the growing phenomenon of the increasing numbers of people who are just "done" with church, but who still follow Jesus. This is a must read for anyone in the US.
That's it for my reading summary. I promise to write about something other than books next time...
Thanks for reading.