I've been reading Michael Bull's book God's Kitchen since a kind brother bought it for me recently.
Presentation matters: It's a very well designed paperback book - Bull is a graphic designer as well as a theologian. Words should be delivered with music appropriate to their subject. It's build with short chapters on big themes in the Bible, and in particular themes around food. A most noble subject to write a book about! There are hints along the way about how to make the most of food, about how knowledge is eating, and the place of food in mission.
Disclaimer: To be honest, I'm still trying to get my head round large sections of his thought and ideas and I'm not sure if I ever will. Bull builds on the maximalist interpretation of Peter Leithart and James Jordan. I find them a little outlandish in places and priceless in others. They love story, and images, and really love what the Bible says and I like that. As with every meal: eat the meat, spit the bones.
Good meat: In any case, in the middle of it all are some brilliant observations about leadership.
A few brief quotes to give you a taste...
"If we endure faithfully, we bring gravity with us out of the grave. Life is suddenly more rich, more dense and our words more commanding. True gravitas comes in no other way, even in the life of Christ."
"Great leadership comes from cruciform [people]; from those who have been broken as bread so that others may come and eat."
"Men go to Bible College and they know it all. Then the Lord brings poverty, a marriage difficulty, a sick child, bereavement, betrayal... and Gandalf the Grey is torn apart. God, why are you smashing up everything you built me for? Because I am frankincense, or garlic at the very least. Like these, and olives and grapes, I was made to be crushed... this is why novices are vulnerable leaders...."
"The change we long for arrives in trials. As we suffer our moral stink lessens. We become health to others instead of a canker. For the soft-hearted, every trial is an opportunity..."These are similar to the thinking I expect to find in Paul Tripp's Dangerous Calling, a book waiting on my bookshelf.
They're also the kinds thoughts I see when Paul writes, as a spiritual father to his son in the faith, Timothy. The young need older and wiser voices who will walk ahead of them. Bull suggest we need less Alpha Males and more of the Omega variety. Paul - aged, bruised, tempered, refined, scarred, imprisoned, mortal, on death row - calls Timothy to wisdom following him in Christ, through the fire of persecution and the ongoing exposure of his heart to the Scriptures... instead of the brash overconfidence of fools who sabotage themselves with their bold moves.
Brokenness and vulnerability alone aren't what's needed. Anyone can confess their sins, though few dare. Rather we need broken people who come empty - like Naomi - saying I've got nothing but Christ was broken for me. So too as Timothy is broken with Christ he'll be able to feed others. And though he wont look impressive an intangible quality will authenticate his persuasive words.
Such people, as they limp, can lead us where we need to be. And can lead us through the messy middle of our journey, where we mostly find ourselves. The gospel is best told by cruciform people.