While Protestants do not canonize saints ,we do honor great Christian leaders and hold them up as examples for the next generation. In The Humble Leader Julia Cameron presents the late, great John Stott as part of Christian Focus Trail Blazers series. This is a series of biographies profiling notable Christians for young audience (published under their CFP4Kids imprint).
Author Julia Cameron, director of publishing for the Lausanne Movement and the series editor for the Didasko Files, wrote this book in the hopes that readers would come to know more about John Stott, be moved by his love for Christ and would benefit from his writings. The portrait she paints of the man unfolds chronologically. She describes his birth and early family life, his schooling, his conversion and call to Christian ministry under the influence of E.J.H. Nash (AKA “Bash”) and his involvement with Bash’s camp ministry, his student days at Cambridge as a conscientious objector during World War II, his curate and appointment as rector at All Souls, Langham (the church he grew up in), his influence on the World Evangelical Movement, his writing at the Hookses, and his strong sense of personal call which caused him to turn down bishoprics, professorships and marriage in order to devote himself more wholly to the task God had given him.
John Stott remains one of my favorite biblical commentators and I have read several of his books but there are parts of his life story I didn’t know until I read this book. I also appreciated several aspects of John Stott’s ministry which have had an abiding influence on me which Cameron explores here. I love his dedication to the life of the mind, beginning in his student days, his involvement with Tyndale House at Cambridge, his involvement with University and college ministries and his many publications. He also dedicated his life to evangelism and promoted social activism and care for the poor. When Evangelicals (particularly American Evangelicals) were failing to thoughtful engage or offer practical care for their world, John Stott was a prophetic voice.
This is a ‘youth biography’ and therefore not a ‘critical biography.’ It is written to commend Stott’s life to the young so it does not offer much in the way of historical analysis; instead its tone is sympathetic and appreciative of what Stott accomplished. But that doesn’t mean that Cameron does not challenge her readers toward deeper engagement. The chapters are broken up by ‘fact files’ which share interesting tid-bits and noteworthy aspects of John Stott’s life and challenge readers and she closes the book with suggestions of further reading, thoughts to ponder and ideas to put into practice having reflected on the life of John Stott. My kids are too young to appreciate this book but I enjoyed it. I have not read Timothy Dudley Smith’s two part biography or Roger Steer’s more recent biography. I imagine that they would be better for an adult audience, but if you want to introduce your young ones to John Stott, this is a good choice.
I received this book from Christian Focus Publications in exchange for this review.