THE LEADERSHIP JOURNEY PODCAST, SEASON 2, EPISODE 13: DAVID DUNLOP (part 2)

David Dunlop

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.

 



If you would like to know more about the Arrow Leadership course you can find out more on their websites: the international site is here, and the Irish site is here.

And you can find out more about Windsor Baptist Church here.

Here are some of the books and authors mentioned in the podcast:

Carson Pue: Mentoring Leaders;

James Lawrence: Growing Leaders;

Mark Buchanan: Your God is too Safe,

Mark Buchanan: The Rest of God;

Burns, Chapman and Guthrie: Resilient Ministry.


For your own reflection:

  • What are you doing to guard your heart?
  • Do you follow any kind of rule of life?
  • If your leadership involves preaching, how do you ensure that you allow the Scripture to speak?
  • Are you clear about who you are as a leader, without needing to try to be someone you are not?
  • What is your rule of thumb about what can be held lightly and what needs to be held firmly?

Exploring your leadership journey

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I’m working (again) with the story of Moses and ways in which it provides us with a paradigm to explore the concept of a leadership journey.

Here are ten themes you might like to explore:

Key stages

For Moses, there were three stages (formative, exile, leadership), delineated by both geography and the nature of what he was doing. Think, for example, about places you have lived, stages of education, jobs, training or changes in family.

Turning points

These are hinge points that move you from one stage of your journey to another. In Moses’ life, being found out for the killing of the Egyptian propelled him rapidly into the second (exile) stage of his life.

Defining moments

These may not be unlike the turning points, but are other moments that help define your primary identity and your sense of mission.

Important people

Each season of Moses’ life included the involvement of important people: from his mother and sister in the formative years, his wife and father-in-law in the exile years, to Joshua in the leadership years. It’s worth reflecting on the people whose influence has contributed to who and where you are today.

Crucial decisions

Leaders need to be decision-makers and some of the decisions have major significance in shaping their journey. What major life-shaping decisions have you taken? Have there been times when you have had to draw a line in the sand over some issue?

Times of testing

Christian leaders never graduated from the tests and temptations that everyone else faces, but they often have to face a new, or intensified set of tests. Much of Moses’ leadership phase was marked by tests and challenges. What are some of the seasons of testing (both personal and in terms of your leadership) that you have faced?

Notable successes

It can be tricky to talk about ’success’ in Christian leadership. However, are there times you can see that God has been working through you (Moses had the Red Sea!) and there is evidence of fruit?

Regrettable failures

Leadership is not always going to be an unbroken series of success stories. The reality is that leaders fail – both in terms of their leadership and, sadly, in their personal lives. What have been some of your failures and what have you been able to learn from them?

Life lessons

What have you been learning along the way in terms of God, yourself, the nature and challenge of leadership?

THE LEADERSHIP JOURNEY PODCAST, SEASON 2, EPISODE 12: David Dunlop

David Dunlop

This week’s guest is David Dunlop, pastor of Windsor Baptist Church in South Belfast (yes, another South Belfast Baptist Church) – a diverse church which can count 15-18 nationalities on a Sunday. He has just celebrated his tenth anniversary as pastor of the church (and not so long ago, his 50th birthday).

David describes how he came to faith in Christ as a child, so beginning a journey that has continued (with some bumps in the road) for over 40 years. He describes a stage of ‘going through the motions’ in terms of church, and reaching a point of recommitment at 18 – not least through involvement in an event that many Northern Irish Christians (of a certain age) will remember: Mannafest.

In terms of early influence he describes the example of the pastor of the church where he grew up (though David had no pastoral aspirations at that time) and some teachers he knew at school.

In his early 20s he was given the opportunity (along with his wife) to lead the church youth group. He talks about one of the key lessons from his work with young people – the importance of building trust and earning the right to speak: something he believes was ‘caught, not taught’. They underwent training  on a youth ministry course with Oasis Trust in London.

At the end of the training, there was an opportunity for both David and his wife to work as the youth pastoral team in their home church in Ballynahinch – where they served for 13 years (though their roles changed after 8 years). David describes the enjoyment of working in a team, but the highlight was working with the young people and the privilege of journeying with them through various stages of growth and development.

He also talks about the journey of moving from Ballynahinch to Windsor Baptist (despite having resolved that he would never be a pastor). His experience of ‘calling’ is a little different from how others have experienced it!

For your own reflection:

How do you respond to David’s thoughts and experience in the lead up to moving to Windsor Baptist? Does this challenge what you have tended to think in terms of ‘the call’? What about the role of other people in helping us to discern in our decision-making?

 

Lessons along the way

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Over the past few years I have spent some time interviewing Christian leaders: some of the interviews were part of my doctoral work on crucibles of leadership, and some are part of my ongoing podcast series. I recently wrote an article for the Evangelical Alliance in which I talked briefly about some of the leadership lessons from these interviews.

Here’s a quick summary:

1. Surround yourself with good people

In recounting their stories, many leaders look back to people who have helped inspire and encourage them. Biblical examples include Jethro and Moses, Moses and Joshua, Mordecai and Esther, Jesus and His disciples, and Paul and Timothy.

2. Team matters

Avoid being a maverick: team matters, just as it did in the work of Jesus and Paul.

3. Culture beats strategy

It’s the old adage that ​‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’.

4. Be reflective

The value of being reflective – perhaps something that comes with time and perspective – is that it makes it possible for other leaders to learn from good practice. The goal is not to create conformity or uniformity, but to help share good practice and to allow others to learn from a seasoned leader’s experience.

5. God loves you

As Henri Nouwen wrote: ​”You have to listen to the voice who calls you the beloved, because otherwise you will run around begging for affirmation, for praise, for success. And then you’re not free.”

And, if you want to put some meat on the bones, click here for the article.

Photo by Brett Patzke on Unsplash

THE LEADERSHIP JOURNEY PODCAST, Season 2, Episode 11: Edwin Ewart (part 2)

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This week, Edwin Ewart, principal of Irish Baptist College,  continues his story (you can catch up with part one of the interview here).

We talk about Edwin’s ministry path, with pastorates in several Baptist churches, starting with Letterkenny, in Donegal, then Belfast (Mountpottinger) and Coleraine, before his move to the Baptist College.

As principal, doesn’t see himself as pen-pushing principal (though there is admin to be done), but his greatest joy in the work is its teaching. We discuss some of the challenges faced by Bible Colleges (Edwin is part of the Association of Bible College principals), including the tension between the residential model and the in-service model of training (IBC has a couple of ministry placements – one local and one cross-cultural) as part of the course).

Along the way we discuss preaching (how long should a sermon series run?), the old pastoral chestnut of the extent to which the pastor/minister should have friends in the congregation, and how easy it is to be sure of the will of God in terms of a ministry calling – not least in the context of trying to determine when it’s time to move to a new situation.

We also talk about books: Edwin shares some of the influential books he has read and some of the things he has learned along the way.


As is becoming custom on these interviews, I gave Edwin the opportunity to talk to his 20 year old self: what advice would he give?

While he reckons he would not change anything (you can’t put an old head on young shoulders), he highlights these points:

  • Immerse yourself in Scripture
  • Memorise the BIble
  • Read good Christian books
  • Get a good circle of friends and maintain those friendships

Listen to the podcast:


For your own reflection:

  • If you are involved in a preaching ministry in your church, what criteria do you use in planning the variety and length of sermon series?
  • What books have most influenced you on your own leadership journey?

THE LEADERSHIP JOURNEY PODCAST, Season 2, Episode 10: Edwin Ewart

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This week’s guest on the podcast is Edwin Ewart, principal of the Irish Baptist College, the training college for the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland.

Among the early influences, Edwin talks about his involvement in a Baptist youth fellowship and the influence of the church pastor, an early mentor. He also talks about some of his first steps into preaching – delivering epilogues alongside a music group.

He describes the formative influence of his involvement with the Christian Union during his time at university. University years were formative – not least in that it was here that he met his wife, but also because of a significant group of friends.

The opportunity to be involved in speaking that had begun to shape his thinking in terms of a sense of call to vocational ministry, and his pastor gave him strong encouragement to pursue theological training. We discuss the opportunity for leaders to encourage people in this way.

After studying at IBC and entering pastoral ministry, Edwin maintained his contact with the college as a visiting teacher before eventually joining the staff full time.

We talk about the challenge for Bible College students to maintain both an academic approach and a devotional approach.

For your own reflection:

  • As you listen to Edwin talk about the influence of his pastor, what are some of the things you have noticed about mentors?
  • Would you describe yourself as a reader? What are some of the books that have most helped you?
  • Would you agree with what Edwin quotes from Charles Spurgeon in relation to the importance of earnestness in preaching?
  • What do you make of Edwin’s advice to approach the devotional life with both discipline and variety?

You can find out more about the Irish Baptist College – including the opportunities for study they offer – on their website.

The Leadership Journey Podcast, Season 2, Episode 9: Clive Atkinson (part 2)

Clive

This week there’s more from Clive Atkinson from All Saints Church in Vevey (if you missed part one, you can catch it here).

Following his training in Dublin, Clive served his time as a curate in North Belfast followed by his first incumbency in West Belfast, in an ‘interface’ part of the city (listen for the account of the exploding bread van!).

From Belfast, he moved to his current church in Switzerland, and describes some of the challenges around the move.

He describes some of the ways he sensed God calling him to move (including the Sunday when he made his first visit to All Saints – a Sunday when there just happened to be a Northern Irish preacher in the pulpit!).

He discusses the ‘vertical’ learning curve that awaited him in arriving in Vevey – a learning curve that has continued throughout his time there. As well as the challenge of living in a new culture and parenting their children through a French-speaking school system, there was the challenge of leading a church full of strong leaders. He shares some of the ways he felt he was able to build a team, including the importance of emphasising relationships.

We also discuss some of the factors that contribute to a leader staying fresh – with particular reference to life in a ‘revolving door’ type church: Clive mentions some of the factors that have been helpful to him.

I asked him what advice he would give to a young 22 year old version of himself, heading out in training and his leadership journey. Here is the summary:

  • Leadership is a long term journey, so be patient, expect to change and to grow.
  • Your highest calling is to Jesus (not necessarily to his church), so never short-change your devotional life.
  • The Lord is faithful: trust him!
  • The Lord loves the Church more than you do!

For your reflection:

  • Clive talked about the sense that God was speaking to both him and his wife in relation to their move overseas: how important do you think it is for a leader and their spouse to be on the same page in discerning God’s call?
  • The move to Switzerland had implications for Clive and Yvonne’s young family: how can churches and agencies support families who move overseas, with the particular challenges that brings?
  • What are some of the ways you have found to be effective in building a team?
  • As you listen to Clive talk about some of the factors that have helped keep him fresh along the way, what are some of the things you have in place to help you? Should you be putting some things in place?

Next week the guest on the podcast is Edwin Ewart, principal of the Irish Baptist College.