Jim Martin: An Interview about Life and Work
I’ve been thinking lately about some Christian leaders I would like to interview on this blog. I have learned so much through the years by overhearing others reflect on particular questions. I decided to do a test run by conducting a self-interview. (Yes, I know. It feels a little odd!)
Perhaps the following six questions and the replies will interest you.
Who are the people who have influenced you in the way you both do and think about ministry?
I have had many people contribute to my life in some way. Two people who have been important influencers are Charles Coil and Lynn Anderson. Charles Coil was a longtime minister and preacher, as well as my father-in-law. I had the opportunity to hear him preach, go to him for counsel, and witness his life before his family. I was deeply impressed by his integrity, sincerity, and passion for God. Lynn Anderson has taught me much through his preaching and numerous conversations over the years. In his preaching and teaching, Lynn has taught me much about God’s love and his grace. Through his life and conversations, I have learned much about keeping my soul alive in the middle of ministry.
How do you keep abreast of contemporary events, cultural shifts, etc.?
I glance at the front pages of “The New York Times,” “The Washington Post,” “CNN.com,” “USA Today,” and one more source that I rotate periodically. (Right now, I’m perusing ”The Guardian” each morning.) From Tim Keller, I have learned the value of paying attention to book reviews. Once a week, I look at “The New York Times Sunday Book Review” and several other book review sites. I regularly read “The Atlantic Wire” series “What I Read.” I pay attention to apparent shifts or themes that seem to be surfacing. I try to at least be aware of new movies that have just been released. I do this by skimming reviews. In particular, I try to pay attention to any reoccurring themes in these releases.
If you could visit with one of your favorite authors who is now deceased, who might that be?
I would probably like to visit with Henri Nouwen, Charles Simeon, or John Stott. Years ago, during a particularly difficult time of ministry and life, a friend suggested that I read Nouwen’s The Way of the Heart. There was something about that little book that was particularly meaningful to me at the time. The following six months, I read most of Nouwen’s books. I found him extraordinarily helpful and encouraging.
How do you organize your life/ministry for the week? What seems to be beneficial?
I have been helped a great deal by David Allen’s Getting Things Done. In particular, the concept of having a weekly review has been incredibly useful in not letting particular pieces of my life fall through the cracks. In earlier years, I read Stephen Covey and found his work to be practical. Some of his concepts, such as “Begin with the end in mind,” have benefited me. Finally, Michael Hyatt’s blog has been a helpful resource for these matters.
What do you do intentionally to keep your soul alive?
This is a huge challenge for me. Years ago, I talked about this need and attempted to address it in my life. Now more than ever I recognize just how critical this is. My work (like the work of many) has a way of devouring spiritual and emotional energy. After a while, one can become numb to either joy or pain. So at this point in my journey, I continue to learn from those who have finished strong and have remained fully alive throughout their lives.
What about your ministry brings you joy?
I find a lot of joy in seeing people change to become more like Jesus and fully human. I am especially encouraged by people who are gradually experiencing spiritual transformation right in the middle of being a parent, a businessperson, or a student at the university. I have also learned to find joy in the little things. Someone may move one step forward while another might be moving forward by leaps. Yet, one step really is significant.