We asked 35 Christian leaders, “Who is the influencer with the biggest impact on your life and ministry?” Most of these leaders listed several influential thinkers, writers, innovators, and leaders more of us should get to know. This response is from Randy Harris, spiritual director with the College of Biblical Studies, Abilene (Texas) Christian University.
If I confine myself to largely contemporary figures, the list might look something like this . . .
Non-Christian: Thich Nhat Hanh is, in my opinion, the greatest living Zen master, whose very presence brings peace. He is an example of what one can become if one has the discipline to develop mindfulness for decades.
Christian: I have been very influenced by the writing of Dallas Willard. I believe no Protestant has made a greater contribution to our understanding of how one grows into Christlikeness.
Atheist: Though dead for 30 years, Michel Foucault continues to be crucial in how I understand power to work in subtle ways and provides the foremost challenge in trying to understand what a truly cruciform existence might be.
Spiritual direction: Gerald May and Tilden Edwards.
Silence: Martin Laird.
Decision making: Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow—book of the decade.
Scripture: N.T. Wright.
But the single continuing greatest influence in my spiritual life is The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross.