One tip I was given to grow in my faith was in addition to reading the Bible (primary source of development) read biographies of Christian leaders. That’s why Neil Anderson’s memoir, Rough Road to Freedom grabbed my attention.
Neil writes not of an easy road, not 5 steps to get to freedom, but rough road to freedom, that led me to wonder why? What lessons could I learn through the journey of his life for my life? Turns out there were plenty.
The book is about how Neil and his wife Joanne were called into ministry, dealt with struggles to grow and serve, and how the “rough road of freedom” they followed God used to lead them to be in a ministry that sets captives free and heals their emotional wounds.
Neil starts with life on the farm, and being a city boy he almost lost me. Yet the farm part of life sets the stage for the ministry God would call him to, a work ethic that he develops.
I identified more with his time in ministry. The lessons he learned. The conflicts he dealt with. The blessings he experienced.
Even more as he shared the ups and downs of ministry life I sensed the humility of his leadership. He doesn’t name names of members, but he is honest with situations, circumstances, painful encounters, being wronged and responding with love, grace and forgiveness.
He lays out some great leadership principles worth remembering:
“Never doubt int he darkness what God has shown you in the light.”
“The proper order in life should be character before career, maturity before ministry, and being before doing.”
“Wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective.” Neil also demonstrates in his story wisdom is also living life from God’s perspective.
“God keeps showing me that He is bigger than my expectations.”
“Every time we help another person, we help ourselves.”
In the crisis moments of life from career change to health issues with Joanne, Neil uses the image of God dropping them into a funnel that gets narrower along the way, and how when dropped out on the other end God had led them to a better place.
The parts I enjoyed the most in his memoir were his processing the best and worst of ministry. He did so with humility and transparency. He was gracious, yet honest in his perspective on the situation. Reading through the progression of his faith walk and how God continued and still continues to shape and mold his growth provided a great reminder for my own growth. Also, it reminded me of that tip to read biographies of people of faith.
I was a bit disappointed that there was not much written about his transition from leadership to emeritus status in the ministry he leads. I thought that would be in the last chapter, but it provided more of an overview of the materials Freedom in Christ provides and his critique of recovery programs.
I give Rough Road to Freedom 4 out of 5 stars. The faith and ministry stories compelled me. Those in ministry will readily identify with his experiences and learn well to be ready when challenges come and to trust God in those “funnel” moments. Followers of Christ will enjoy the book because of the progression of faith and the power of God at work. They will see the best and unfortunately at times the worst the church has to offer. Yet in his gracious approach, Neil gives more of the best, and is willing to admit worst. There are some great forgiveness stories as well as the freedom in Christ we have when we live out our identity with Him.
My thanks to Monarch Books for a free copy to review. I was not required to give a positive review. I am glad I invested the time to read his story and to grow in my own.