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Monday, June 25, 2012

"The Humble Leader - John Stott" (Julia Cameron)

TITLE: John Stott: The Humble Leader (Trailblazer)
AUTHOR: Julia Cameron
PUBLISHER: Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus Publications, 2012, (ebook).

This book is an attempt to piece together the life of the late Rev Dr John Stott using fictional storytelling with facts gleaned from his life. From childhood, his early exposure to Christianity, his beginnings in Christian ministry, and the opportunities he were given and how he managed to become one of the world's most powerful evangelical leaders, the book gives readers an intimate look at the ups and downs of the humble man.

Recognized by Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential persons, awarded six honorary doctorates, well-loved by the evangelical communities all around the world, Stott remains humble about it all. Born in 27 April 1921, he has a special fondness for little animals. At a young age, he loves to write, especially about birds. This hones his literary skills, and forms the bedrock of his communicating skills later on. What is remarkable is that at a young tender age, he is not only a curious little boy, he is gentle. Well liked by his teachers and friends, he is also a competitive person. He admits that what stood out for him in his childhood is his meeting with John Bridger and Eric Bash just before he turns 17. Stott has admired Bridger for his "clear and confident faith." Bash challenges the young Stott to either "reject" Christ or to "follow" Christ. There is no such thing as "neutral." Stott made a choice that changed not just his own life, but many others too.

Stott goes on to Cambridge University and joins the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union. Bash continues to encourage and disciple the young Stott through prayer and giving Stott an opportunity to serve as Camp Secretary. Stott does well in his studies, and was soon studying theology at Ridley Hall in Cambridge.  He is a very disciplined person, making the best of his time to study, to read, to manage his life methodically. Stott is a Pacifist, and refuses to endorse war. For him, it is clear that Jesus is first and State a distant second. Instead of simply saying no to war, he assures his family of his commitment to be loyal to the family and to do the best he can in other matters. After WWII, Stott gets ordained at All Souls Church in Langham Place. It is at this place, Stott serves faithfully, blessing the Church community, students at campuses all around the world, and evangelicals everywhere.

There are several reasons in the book on why Stott is a humble leader. Firstly, he hardly boasts about his own skills. Instead, recognizing his family privileges and good background, he is particularly sensitive to the plight of the poor and the marginalized. Once, he reaches out to the local children by personally taking them camping, taking care of their camping details, borrowing tents, shopping for food, etc, all for the sake of stretching the minds of the young boys. Secondly, he learns willingly. For example, he is always having an eye on how best to do evangelism, learning from those with new ideas for evangelism. Thirdly, he ministers among the poor by living like a poor. Once, he avoids shaving and cleaning, so that he can walk through the streets to be among the beggars on the streets, personally experiencing what it means to live like the poor. Sometimes, he will offer up his own bed and sleep on the couch instead.

Stott's most lasting legacy is his knowledge and exposition of the Bible. He believes, "We need to give time to understanding ideas. Ideas shape the way we think, and the way we think shapes the way we behave."

My Thoughts

It is always a pleasure to read about John Stott. Even though the book is put together by another person, it presents to readers the many highlights of the great evangelical leader. The world may have lost the powerful preacher and gifted teacher, but memories of his  life and influence will be etched in the hearts and minds of many, for a long time. May God raise up more men like Stott.


This book is provided to me free by Christian Focus Publications as part of the blog tour from 25-29 June 2012, without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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