“He Said… She Said… & You?” Guest Interview with Blogger and Author Paul Sohn

'He Said, She Said, and You' - Paul SohnIf you haven’t picked up my good friend Paul Sohn’s revised edition of “He Said… She Said… & You? A Pitstop for Inspiration”, then you need to immediately. This is an incredible resource that Paul is offering, simply as a service and blessing to others. While I am glad to have endorsed the book, I am even more grateful to call Paul a dear brother in faith. He has a genuine heart for equipping a generation to be Christ-centered and intentional world changers. This book is a perfect example of how he is doing it. One of my favorite quotes that Paul mentions in the “C” chapter is a statement made by D.L. Moody : “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.” This book shows how Paul’s reputation, and character, precede him. Below is my guest interview with Paul. Way to go! I’m proud of you brother.

1) Your book “He Said, She Said and You?” is full of inspirational quotes for intentional living. But I’m curious, what is your all time favorite quote?

One quote that has made a profound impact in shaping my life and worldview comes from C.S. Lewis. He said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” As this quote percolated through my mind, I could appreciate the richness, depth, and beauty behind this truth. This is my first encounter of a quote that has made a lasting, life-changing transformation in my life.

2) Similar to the quote question, what is your favorite Bible verse or Scriptural passage?

In the season of my life today, the Bible verse that God seems to have planted in my heart comes from Job 8:5-7 which says, “If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation. And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.”

3) You and I are both avid readers, would you mind explaining your book selection process?

I’ve always believed that reading the “right” books matter. Franz Kafka said it best: “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” First, I generally focus on several topics that interest me most that align with my passion and purpose. For me, that would be leadership, purpose, growth, and Christianity. Then, I usually search for books that thought-leaders in these respective areas recommend as “must-reads.” I also follow magazines and periodicals in these areas for book reviews, which is a great source of reading great books. I also tend to rely on Amazon reviews for selecting the right books as well. I use Amazon.com Wish List to catalogue all the books I need to read based on each category. There are other great books currently in the market that serves as an excellent resource to help find read great books such as, “The Best 100 Business Books of All Time.”

4.) Besides the Bible, what three books have had the most impact on your life?

I can’t forget the time I finished reading Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” The book was written by holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl who observed that people who survived were those who had a laser-like focus on living which was undergirded by a sense of hope. The narrative Frankl writes in his story utterly changed my perspective on how I appreciated life and the importance of finding purpose and meaning in life. The second book which were formative in my development as a leader is John Maxwell’s classic “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” I learned how leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less. Leadership is a mindset, lifestyle, skillset that needs to be intentionally cultivated to fulfill the purpose God has given me. Lastly, I have been profoundly impacted by the ministry of Ravi Zacharias. “Walking from East to West” is a biographical account of his life story. His passion to serve the Lord through articulating his faith through philosophy and science helped me strengthen my faith.

5) What is God currently teaching you?

God is teaching me to build a strong foundation in this season of my life; that is, to build a godly foundation by cultivating the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I’ve experienced and realized the seduction and lure of attaining power, money, and status. Without a strong sense of character, it’s so vacillate back and forth and succumb to the flesh. Everyone has vices that are like “thorn in the flesh” that must be overcome to fulfil God’s calling in our lives. For me, it’s a sense of pride in myself and the work I pursue. I need to always remind myself to surrender myself, crucify my flesh and let God take the reign. I believe God is leading me instill a sense of unshakable foundation so that as John the Baptist said, “He must increase and I must decrease.”  

Paul Sohn blogs at www.paulsohn.org. Paul’s an organizational chiropractor, kingdom-minded influencer, and intentional leader and works for The Boeing Company. He writes about his perspectives on intentional living, growth, leadership, and the Christian life. You can also find him on Facebook. For a limited time, he is offering his new quote book, “He Said, She Said, and You?” for FREE. To download his book, click HERE.

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[Book Review] “People-Pleasing Pastors” by Charles Stone

people-pleasing pastorsThe subtitle of this new book says it all: “Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval-Motivated Leadership“. The author is Charles Stone, lead pastor at West Park Church in London, Ontario and founder of StoneWell Ministries.

There is definitely a need in the Body of Christ for this very important book. I know first-hand from church consulting, that often because of their public position; pastors and ministry leaders feel they can’t be open about their weaknesses, past wounds, or sense of inferiority. Unfortunately, those without any appropriate accountability and encouraging relationships, often have the tendency to fall into a rut of confusion, frustration, and potentially an extremely immoral sin or crime.

Hopefully, with the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the findings presented in this study, more pastors will seek inner-healing and will be able to serve the Bride of Christ fruitfully and faithfully.

People-Pleasing Pastors” is part pastoral care for ministers, part personal discovery and self-awareness, and part psychology and neuroscience. The author describes his work as a “3B” approach: the first B is for the “Bible”, the source of all written truth. The second is for the “brain” and corresponding functional MRI research. And finally, the third B is for “Bowen” as in Dr. Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist who developed a perspective on how people process their internal world, as well as relational issues and dealing with difficult emotions like anxiety.

The seven steps Stone provides for a solution can be remembered with the acronym “PRESENT”. In sequence they are “probe your past”, revisit your values”, “expose your triangles” “search for your gaps”, “engage your critics”, “nurture your soul through mindfulness”, and “tame your reactivity”.

Stone has a pretty extensive family genogram exercise that he recommends, in chapter 4 “The Rearview Mirror Look”. For me this was the most helpful chapter of the book and has surprisingly stayed in the background of my thinking, far longer than I thought it would. This process of reflection is especially helpful when it comes to analyzing your family’s history and how that shapes your personality. It is also eye-opening when the topics of unhealthy generational cycles and the effects of ancestral sins are exposed. Some of the questions Stone suggests pastors work through include asking “what effect did birth order have on your family?” “Do any addictions run in your family?” and “How did your family handle anger and conflict? The good news is that Stone also offers advice on how to find freedom in Christ, and reminds pastors that they are not imprisoned by the negative events of their past. These unresolved issues however if not addressed, are typically the main contributing cause for the desire pastors have to please congregants and avoid confrontation.

Statistically backed up by a large survey of one thousand pastors done through LifeWay Research, Stone presents his “PRESENT” solution with relevant findings, sound biblical reference, and helpful practices for moving forward, listed in Appendixes’ A and B: “The Seven-Day Personal Development Plan” and “The Eight-Week Team Development Plan”, respectively. In the first addendum, Stone unpacks two more acrostics, “BEETS” and “RIPE” and explains how each can help pastors move from trying to make people happy, to ministering to their felt needs.

Each section of the book has a “chapter snapshot” and includes a “take away” list of comments and questions. Included are snippets of advice and wisdom from some well-known pastors, such as Dave Ferguson, Pete Scazzero, Lance Witt, and Dr. Elmer Towns. With a foreword by Ed Stetzer, and supported by strong endorsements from Thom Rainer, Larry Osborne and Aubrey Malphurs, I highly recommend “People-Pleasing Pastors” and the lessons it teaches on the inner-workings of a leader’s life. That’s why I am so thankful to Charles Stone for producing this study and to IVP Praxis publishing the book and providing this reviewer with a complimentary copy.

For further reading on the inner health of pastoral leaders, I’d suggest Kevin Harney’s book “Leadership from the Inside Out: Examining the Inner Life of a Healthy Church Leader” (2007), “Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: The Paradox of Personal Dysfunction” (1997) by Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima, and “Leading with a Limp: Take Full Advantage of Your Most Powerful Weakness” (2006) by Dan Allender.

[Book Review] “Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians”

SentnessAbout a year and a half ago, I got the pleasure of meeting with about two dozen other young leaders at 11:00pm at night…in a hotel room… in downtown St. Louis. This impromptu gathering of student leaders had been organized to take place after the first day of one of the largest mission assembles in North America – the 2012 InterVarsity Urbana student missions’ conference. As I walked into the hotel room, my eyes made contact with a very gentle and very gregarious Australian man named Kim Hammond. He noticed me in part because I was carrying a newly purchased copy of one of his friend’s book’s, “Movements that Change the World” by fellow Australian mate, Steve Addison. Kim was quick to pull out his smartphone and ask for a picture of me holding the book so he could post it to his Instagram (Ha Kim, I’m still waiting for that photo tag). That’s the story of my first interaction with Kim and the lessons he presents in his new book, coauthored with Darren Crownshaw, “Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians” (IVP, 2014).

What I like most about this book, is that both men are missional practitioners and church planters from the land down under. They also serve with Forge Missions Training Network, so these thoughts aren’t merely empty theories. But rather they have been “forged” in the frontline trenches of ministry and years of experience.

In commenting on his Urbana experience, Kim writes in the introduction to his book “We need to help emerging leaders dream again about mission in the West. Forge functions like that– we gather living prophets and apostles and evangelist, along with pastors and teachers, to share their stories and learn from one another… The challenges of contemporary Western society demand that our paradigms for mission change (p.24).

“Sentness”, therefore is essentially a collection of stories meant to help Christians dream with God again. Stories come from the author’s personal lives as well as the lives of various missional churches across the globe. These first-hand accounts illustrate the shifts that need to take place in order for the Western Church to partner with the Holy Spirit in fulfilling the missio Dei. These testimonials, and the six postures they represent, are sure to spur the missional imagination required for a radical and incarnational approach to the grassroots, Jesus movements of the future.

After advocating that the Church repent and move beyond consumerism to begin believing the Good News of Jesus again, and living that belief out in behavior for Kingdom contribution, Hammond and Crownshaw show how biblical sentness also means Christ-centered servanthood. This high emphasis on a Christological focus to mission shows how an attitude for equipping the saints instead of entertaining spectators, releases Christians, or “little Christ’s” to partner in the mission of God.

What follows then are the six chapters that identify the corresponding practices of effective missional living. In brief, the six postures are 1.) Sent people, 2.) Submerged ministry, 3.) Shalom spirituality, 4.) Safe places, 5.) Sharing life, and 6.) Standing in the gap.

While each section contains a wealth of frontlines experience, my favorite parts of the book were chapters 7: “Standing in the Gap” for empowering pioneering leaders and the conclusion titled, “Starting Something New”. In this last portion, the authors state that “Like patches and wineskins, new moves of God, Jesus implies, need new forms and frameworks to make the most of them. Jesus’ lesson inspires us to ask what new patches and wineskins God might be calling us to imagine. And how can we empower a new generation of out-of-the-box practitioners to start something new?” (p.182).

Integrated among the personal stories are movie vignettes from popular films like “The Blind Side”, “Remember the Titans”, and “Dances with Wolves”. Examples from other current movement leaders like Dave Ferguson and the New Thing Network, Neil Cole of CMA, and Mike Breen from 3dm are also shared.

While Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost, cofounders of Forge, wrote the foreword to “Sentness”, their presence is felt all throughout the book, via quotes and chapter epitaphs, that include references to Hirsch’s mDNA and Frosts BELLS method.

In the endorsement section to “Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians”, house church expert Felicity Dale references the Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich’s remark about changing a society by telling an alternative story. The effects of my hotel room meeting with Kim Hammond and Beau Crosetto, discussing the missional postures needed for American churches, sharing stories, and releasing the APE, has already changed the story of the city in which I live, and has replaced an old and helpless drama with the life-giving Gospel story of Jesus Christ.

Don’t just read “Sentness”, but assume the six postures of a missional Christian that this book preaches in your life, starting today!