This past week has been a whirlwind for all of us. One of the redeeming qualities of a global pandemic is it disrupts our normal routines. For me, it's disrupted the routine of "I don't have time to read that right now." So last week I cranked out four books that had been sitting in the pile to read.
Since I'm a big believer in the idea that "leaders are readers" I want to pass on each of these four books as a commended resource for you. They're helpful. Challenging. Engaging. And I think you'll be blessed by each of them in unique ways.
For me, each of these books was one that I read to enjoy, not to mine for every nugget of content or salient point. I did that for over 12 years of postsecondary education. I like reading and enjoying/appreciating what's written. So these reviews will be more surface or skimmed.
Devoted by Tim Challies is a walk through the lives of some of the most prominent Christian figures in both recent and far off history. But the lens by which their lives are explored is unique in that it looks through their mother's influence. For moms, life can be an unending cycle of laundry and tasks and work and responsibility before putting kids to bed and starting all over the next morning. In the lives of each of these people many would call "heroes" stand (or kneel) women whose impact is being felt across continents and generations. Mom, take heart. God is working in your exhaustion, stress, and worry. And the imprints of Christ you leave on your children will be felt for generations.
Why Should I Trust The Bible by Timothy Jones is an attempt at exploring the case for the Bible through an evidentiary approach. Jones, an accomplished apologist, pastor, professor, writer, and my wife's PhD supervisor, does an incredible job of working through the issues behind the reliability of the Bible and how it is shaped by contemporary debate. What I appreciated most from Jones' work was that he didn't try to skip or end around the difficult passages and parts of the Bible, but recognizes that if we're completely comfortable then we're not reading deep enough. In many ways his faith journey shows up in the book, from a fundamentalist upbringing to an embrace of classic theological liberalism to a return home to historic confessional orthodoxy. That faith hinges on the Resurrection, and is recorded in Scripture, which speaks through the ages to us.
I Am A Leader by Angie Ward is written specifically for women who may sense a call to ministry and want to understand their responsibility in following that call. I expected this to have a much more decidedly egalitarian leaning than it did. One of the things I have always appreciated about Angie is that the gap in our theological conviction has never been an issue for our friendship, joy, community, and our mutual disdain for Duke. She loves Jesus. She loves the church. And she wants nothing more than for Jesus to be glorified in her and her family's life. As a pastor, I appreciated so much of what Angie had to say in this. So many times, at least in my complementarian tribe, we focus on building walls around what women can't do. In doing so, to "stay faithful to the Word," we have created a climate that stifles the areas of ministry, leadership, and responsibility that are found in a flourishing and vital way. So much of what I've read on calling (and even written!) has been centered around the pastoral office and function. But what about those who aren't called to pastoral ministry by qualification or by perception? How can they thrive in leadership in the church? Through influence. Positional leadership ≠ influence. Influence = influence. To the sisters in the room, we need you. We need your influence.
Walking With Giants by Harry Bush is a powerful personal memoir of a missionary couple and the relationships they made along the way. For many of us who are home-side pastors and church leaders, we hold the rope for the real heroes in Christianity: our missionaries. They are the ones who sacrifice the comforts and familiarity of home to chase after God's call among the nations. Not all of them live in a hut (although I think a few times Harry and Barbara would have preferred a hut to their accommodations!) but all of them know they have received a shouting call from God. For those on the field, their heroes are the national believers. And we don't hear much from them, if ever anything. That's what I've told Harry repeatedly since he shared about his dream for this book, that by publishing this he has ensured the names, stories, adventures, and testimonies of these national believers are preserved. I cannot wait to meet these giants, and hear more from them about God's work.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.