This afternoon I had the privilege of spending about three hours with Dr. Gary Collins. Previously I've got to know this Christian counseling pioneer through his big books I've been required to read for class. But reading the books can't quite compare to conversation with the author.
Several things struck me as we sipped our lattes.
Gary (the name he insisted I use) redefined for me what it means to be seventy-three years old. He works out several times a week. He published a new book last year and revised an old one. He actively seeks out opportunities to hang with young men. He constantly asks great questions. And he's extremely well informed regarding current trends in ministry. Three of his most recent reads: UnChristian, Off Road Disciplines, and The New Christians.
Dr. Collins also shared the backstory to much of the criticism he's had to face as a pioneer in his field. He began writing several years ago, at a time when psychology was really looked down upon by the majority of Christian leaders. It was fascinating to hear how he braved a fierce debate and blazed a trail for hundreds of Christian counselors.
Some of the nuggets of advice that will stay with me:
- Your wife will usually feel the criticism you receive more than you will.
- Respect is a key to building a healthy relationship. Never move ahead with a major decision until she is in absolute agreement.
- Keep laughing together.
- Help your wife develop her own, unique identity.
On Life and Ministry:
- Don't travel alone. Use your trips as opportunities to journey with someone.
- Never stop asking questions or wrestling with tension.
- When I get depressed I ask myself, "What am I angry about?"
On Getting Published:
- Answer two foundational questions: What do I have to say? Who am I saying it to?
- Read. All the time. Especially from those authors who would have similar answers to the previous two questions.
- Write as often as you can to develop the skill.
- Be prepared to explain to a publisher what makes your book different.
- I don't always write because I'm an expert on the subject. I also write to learn.
- Watch for opportunities to publish articles. They have the potential to give you credibility with publishers.
Toward the end of our conversation, Gary asked me how he would be able to continue to learn from me. Yep, you read that right:) My response:
I might be willing to coach you, but I'm not sure that you can afford my rates.
OK, not really:) But he did ask the question. And when he did he reminded me that good teachers become great teachers because they never stop learning...
from anyone they can:)