When he was an infant, Gordon MacDonald survived two close brushes with death-a near-drowning and being close to a fatal plane crash. His mother viewed these as providential sparings of his life. From his earliest days, she often told him, "God is raising you for something special."
His reaction? "Throughout childhood and even my somewhat rebellious adolescence, I had an awareness that God had this stake in my life and was going to claim it one of these days. It made me very aware that my life is not my own. Every decision I made had some sort of spiritual implication. God wasn't going to let me run free."
God didn't, and Gordon eventually entered seminary, accepted his first pastorate in tiny St. Francis, Kansas, and now, some twenty years later, serves Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts. He is also chairman of the board of World Vision. LEADERSHIP interviewed him about what distinguishes spiritual leaders.1