Who is your greatest influence?Whenever this question is asked in those interviews that routinely crop up with Christians of note, either in magazines or now on blogs, the routine response is to refer to great theologians or writers of the past.
Whilst I completely agree that we greatly benefit from the influence of great preachers, missionaries, writers, thinkers, doers from our Christian heritage, I can't help but think that I personally benefit hugely from great men (and women) of God around me right now.
I'd like to take this opportunity to honour a few of those influences who are right now shaping me and my ministry and at the same time advocate that we recognise the great people in the present without ignoring those from the past.
Stu Gibbs - my current church leader at Emmanuel is a great man of God whose thinking is provocative and who regularly challenges me to be a better disciple of Christ, a better husband, a better father and a better leader (in that order). He's not perfect but he is not happy to settle for a routine personal or church life and so, sometimes frustratingly, is constantly searching for the right/best way to work out his faith and to shape our church. I genuinely feel privileged to serve alongside him.
Steve Tibbert - another great leader who, by virtue of sharing the offices at Kings Church Catford, I get to see in action and spend some time with. Steve has also been part of my leadership training this year, sharing his experience of leading a large and still growing church. Steve is big on 'know yourself' and we come out almost identically on all sorts of personality profiles which means I identify hugely with him. This guy is inspirational in his mix of vision and faith alongside his thorough, practical approach to leading causing me to ask lots of questions about how and why we do things in church without excluding the Holy Spirit from the equation.
His current blog on 'rest' has been very helpful as has his views on protecting his marriage. See
Mick Taylor - another of the leaders at Catford who also heads up theological thought with New Frontiers. Mick is perhaps the cleverest man I know yet has that unique ability to communicate to us novices so clearly without in any way being patronising (as does an old friend - Mark Heath who has a great blog). In the last 6 months there have been countless times when I've picked Mick's brains or benefitted from his supervision of my leadership training. This guy more than anyone (even C.S. Lewis!) has inspired me to study the word and take it seriously in order to make a real difference in my Christian walk.
My wife! - Beki is my daily inspiration who forces me (sometimes literally) to examine who I am, what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. In our marriage she is the one who leans towards the spirit whilst I lean towards the word so we end up both complimenting each other and challenging each other to redress the balance in our personal faith.
Without her influence there is now way that I would be the relatively good man that I am today and would almost certainly not have been used by God as I have without her support, prayers and confidence in me.
I should now do the obligatory mention of influences who I don't know personally so I read a lot of Piper, Keller and Hybels. I find Driscoll challenging (although sometime repetitive) and am in awe of Andrew Wilson's (I have met him a few times) perspective on the gospel. As a new believer I devoured all things C.S. Lewis and am now intrigued by early theologians such as Augustine and newer ones like Luther.
Hope to blog again soon.