THE LEADERSHIP JOURNEY PODCAST, SEASON 2, EPISODE 18: Brendan Healy

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This week’s guest is Brendan Healy. Brendan is a retired Lt Colonel with the Irish Defence Forces. He lives in Mullingar, in the centre of Ireland, where he has played an influential role in Mullingar Christian Fellowship.

In this first part of our conversation talks about growing up in a traditional Catholic family in the West of Ireland, and his early desire to serve God as he felt his heart stirring towards Christianity. His parents were a big influence on him in terms of leadership as a way of making a contribution, and kindness.

Brendan had originally wanted to be in the police (after abandoning the idea of the priesthood), but accidentally (!) found himself joining the officer training programme for the Irish Defence Forces – he describes some of the demands of military discipline.

His sense of wanting to serve God had faded until someone he knew had had an experience of God and invited Brendan to a Christian event (the ‘craziest’ event he had ever attended). However as he explored more listened to a challenge from a priest who had been invited to speak at a mission, he came to the point of accepting Christ: his life was immediately transformed.

Remarkably, several of Brendan’s military colleagues also came to a transformational Christian experience: eventually they discovered that a group of women had been praying regularly for Irish Army officers, and this was the answer to their prayers.

He talks about the change from being a military leader to being a Christian military leader and describes some of the places where he was tasked with leading, including Lebanon and Jerusalem, as well as some of the leadership lessons he learned along the way.

He makes the point that military leadership goes beyond simply giving orders, but involves taking responsibility for the people in the leader’s charge.

(Irish Bible Institute, where we recorded the podcast, has a buzz about it on a Wednesday morning: you will hear some of the atmosphere in the background!)

 

THE LEADERSHIP JOURNEY PODCAST, SEASON 2, EPISODE 17: ROZ STIRLING, part 2

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Roz Stirling of Cleopas Ministries is back this week. She picks up her story from part one, talking about her work with the youth and children’s department in the Presbyterian Church, and how she went about helping the Church to engage with the changes in youth culture.

She also talks about her sense of call and about a life-changing retreat she she experienced in the US where she realised she was ministering out of her own sense of what was right and wrong rather than from a deep walk with God: this experience was the genesis of Cleopas, even though Cleopas was not developed for some years.

The beginnings of Cleopas brought new challenges as Roz became ill: she talks about how her illness removed her sense of self-sufficiency – developing a high sense of value, but a low sense of importance.

She also talks about the challenge of singleness, and the loss of her dream of motherhood, and challenges the Church about the need for a theology of singleness (and careful practice).

She highlights the following challenges for leaders:

  1. Character: we need to know our weaknesses and seek God’s power for character transformation.
  2. Be honest with yourself!
  3. Enjoy God through and through! Our relationship with God must be central: are the rivers of living water flowing through you?

Questions for your reflection:

  • What are some of today’s challenges in connecting the unchanging gospel with a changing culture?
  • Would you say that you are driven or that you lead from the fulness of a rich relationship with God?

The book Roz mentions is When the Heart Waits, by Sue Monk Kidd.

To find out more about Cleopas, you can visit the website, from where you can contact Roz if you would like to know more about some of the opportunities the ministry offers for spiritual refreshment.

 

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?

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?

 

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.

 

The Leadership Journey Podcast, Season 2, Episode 7: Sir Nigel Hamilton (part 2)

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Sir Nigel Hamilton, former head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service is back this week (if you missed the first part of Sir Nigel’s story, you can catch up here).

In this week’s episode Nigel talks about how Christian leaders can live out their values in their workplace, and talks some more about his career path, a path which ran in parallel with some significant events in the history of Northern Ireland. He talks about the power of leadership moments, including what might be considered relatively simple gestures as a way of establishing an organisational culture. He also discusses the inspiration of biblical characters such as Joseph and Daniel (and the relevance of Psalm 71:18 in his current season of life).

A few years after retirement from the Civil Service, Nigel underwent significant surgery, and he talks about the significance of Stuart Townend’s song, There is a Hope, and how it helped him to share his faith with fellow patients.

Among other things, he talks about his involvement with New Irish Arts and their recent Greater Love presentation.

His top leadership lessons (and he feels that the Church could do better in terms of leadership):

  1. Have a clear understanding of what you are aiming for
  2. How will you go from where you are to where you are going to go?
  3. Be aware of the role of each individual
  4. The importance of a value base

Listen to the podcast:

For your own leadership reflection:

  • What steps can you take to develop the culture of your organisation?
  • Which biblical characters have you found to be particularly relevant in your leadership journey?

Next week the podcast takes something of an international turn as the guest is Clive Atkinson, chaplain of All Saints Church in Vevey, Switzerland.