Archive for April 20, 2011

Apr 20

Getting to Know Carl Trueman, Part 1

2011 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Clarus 11

On Monday we began our series of speaker introduction posts with a post introducing you to G.K. Beale. Now it’s time to introduce you to Carl Trueman.

Thankfully, C.J. Mahaney has done much of the work for us. About a year ago, C.J. conducted an interview with Dr. Trueman (part 1, part 2).

Here are a few excerpts from Mahaney’s interview:

Carl, thanks for your time. Please describe your morning devotions. What time do you wake up in the morning? How much time do you spend reading, meditating, praying, etc.? What are you presently reading?

My children have to be at school by 7:30, so I rise at about 6:15 to 6:30. I usually wait until I arrive at work, ca. 8 a.m., to have devotions. Westminster offices do not open till 8:30 so this gives me a half hour of peace and quiet. I typically read four chapters of the Bible. I read continually from Genesis to 2 Chronicles; from Ezra to Malachi (excluding the Psalms); from Matthew to Acts; and from Romans to Revelation; I finish with a Psalm or two, reading continually through the Psalter. At this precise moment, I am in Numbers, Job, John, and 1 Corinthians, with the daily Psalm being 143. Prayer then involves adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. The simple ACTS pattern that I learned at college.

Carl, what single piece of counsel (or constructive criticism) has most improved your preaching?

From my wife, my most faithful supporter and most astute critic: be aware that when you preach, there are children in the congregation and I must neither make them stumble nor preach over their heads. I think particularly of a time when I preached on 1 Corinthians 1 and referred to the church in Corinth as probably containing the first century equivalent of “pole dancers.” My wife rebuked me afterwards for using a term which could have provoked embarrassing conversations for parents over a Lord’s Day family lunch. Point taken. Never done it again. Other times I have used pretentiously technical vocabulary which kids (and some congregants) would not understand. At such times, I did not preach Christ, I preached Trueman and how clever he is. I now try never to do this, and confess it when I think I may have slipped. As a professor, this is always a temptation, so now I assist my wife in teaching the 4 year olds in Sunday School. That has helped me—and humbled me—more than anything with regard to how I communicate in the pulpit.

What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your leadership?

Again, I have to plead to be allowed to break the rule and list four things.

(a) Pick your battles. Not every hill is worth dying on; and not every battle is something you are competent to fight. As a younger man, I wanted to fight all comers and win every battle. Neither necessary nor possible.

(b) Be part of a team who care for you and whom you trust to tell you when you are going the wrong way or crossing a line that should not be crossed—and listen to them. Yes-men are fatal to good leadership. A trustworthy colleague who is prepared to oppose you to your face is worth his weight in gold.

(c) Understand that leadership is lonely; being liked by everyone is a luxury you probably cannot afford. Deal with it and get on with the job. If you want to be liked, be a circus clown; if you want to lead and lead well, be prepared for the loneliness that comes with it. This is why, for me, a happy home has been crucial for it has been a place where work is, as far as possible, kept far away. Home is the one place I can go each night and know that I am loved, and I guard it fiercely. I have even banned my kids from Googling my name—if there is nasty stuff out there about me, I deal with it at work; I do not allow it into my house.

(d) Don’t waste time defending your own name for the sake of it. If Christ’s honour is at stake, or the innocent are made vulnerable by some attack on your character, you need to respond; otherwise, let it be. If I responded to every wannabe crank who thinks I’m arrogant, hypocritical, lying etc. etc., I’d never have the time to do anything else. The secret is not caring about your own name except as it impacts upon others.

Do you exercise? If so, what do you do? If not, why not? (Please be specific.)

Fanatically. I spin, cycle, and especially I run distances. I’m a consistent sub-4 hour marathoner (but only on Saturday races—I am a Presbyterian, after all!), and hope this year to run a 50k ultramarathon with a friend who is a Presbyterian pastor in Colorado.

Currently, what sport do you like to play and/or watch?

I run. I love to watch rugby. Every summer, I spend three weeks watching the Tour de France on television (even had to switch my cable provider this year when the Tour switched channels!). Above all, I like to watch my sons compete in their sports, particularly middle distance running.

You can read the whole interview here and here. Tickets for Clarus are available for purchase online at the Clarus site.