The Trench Versus the Stage

The most effective ministry doesn't always happen in the spotlight.

This week I attended a retreat as part of the Leadership Media Group of Christianity Today International. I was responsible for posing a warm-up question to the group before we tackled the day's itinerary. Since we are all in the business of equipping church leaders, I asked each person to name the Christian leader who had made the profoundest impact on his or her spiritual life.

The answers surprised me. I expected to hear about best-selling authors and big-time preachers. Instead, most members of our team cited virtual unknowns: youth pastors and teachers, parents and siblings. We have a bookish team, which includes editors and authors, so thinkers such as Henri Nouwen and G.K. Chesterton were also mentioned. But for the most part, my colleagues talked about ordinary people that influenced them during critical phases of their lives: a youth leader who took a special interest in a student, a college roommate whose habit of Bible-reading made a lasting impression, a father who challenged ...

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