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INTERVIEW WITH PAUL HENDERSON

by David Hazzard and Kevin M. Johnson

I know I will always need people in my life to hold me accountable and ask me the tough questions. Iron really does sharpen iron. Men need each other to grow and mature.
Enrich recently sat down with Paul Henderson as he shared how he was discipled as a new believer and went on to experience the benefit of having a solid Christian mentor. Today, Paul is passionate about evangelism and discipleship and is in a contest for the souls of men across the nation. Paul and Eleanor, his wife of 46 years, have three married daughters and seven grandchildren. He started his men’s ministry in 1985 with three men in one group; this has now grown to over 90 groups and approximately 700 men.

Enrich: Were you a Christian when you thrilled the nation with that incredible goal for Team Canada back in 1972?

Paul: No, I was not. I didn’t become a follower of Jesus until the fall of 1975. Mel Stevens, who directed Teen Ranch in Orangeville, Ontario, spent two years trying to convince me that Christ was who He said He was, and that I could have a relationship with Him.

Enrich: Did Mel Stevens disciple you?

Paul: He got me started in a Bible study, but it was John Bradford, a businessman in Birmingham, Alabama, who really showed me how to become a disciple of Jesus. He became an incredible mentor to me. I met with him for three years and developed my spiritual disciplines while in his group. We memorized Scripture weekly, studied the Bible and discovered the value of having a devotional time with Christ every day.

Enrich: How did you get started leading a men’s group?

Paul: John and my pastor actually asked me to start leading a group. I had many excuses for not wanting to. They showed me that sometimes all it takes is someone showing confidence in you and pointing out the gifts they see in you that they think would make you a good group leader and mentor. I started my first group with nine men and basically tried to replicate what John had done in my life. John and I were polar opposites in how we led, but I knew I had to be myself. To my surprise, the guys responded to my leadership. Obviously, my enthusiasm and confidence to lead increased as a result.

When I retired from hockey, I attended seminary in the States. During that time I felt God was telling me to return to Canada and find people like myself who were successful but spiritually skeptical. I certainly understood their fears and worries and felt that I knew how to reach out to them. So that’s what I started to do.

Enrich: Can you tell us how you disciple men?

Paul: I believe it’s all about developing a relationship with the individuals. There has to be learning, training and getting them to step out of their comfort zones. They need to know that you love them and believe in them, and that everyone has gifts which God wants them to use. I know I will always need people in my life to hold me accountable and ask me the tough questions. Iron really does sharpen iron. Men need each other to grow and mature. The bottom line is that we can never be satisfied with where we are; we can always go deeper. God has taught me that discipleship has no finish line.

Enrich: I understand that you are an avid reader. What have you read recently?

Paul: I just read a good book called the The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership by Steven B. Sample, who is the dean at USC. Very thought-provoking. I also just finished one on the Quebecois titled, A Window of Hope and Reconciliation by Donald Gingras. It helped me understand the francophone mindset and appreciate why they feel such a sense of betrayal. Reconciliation is so powerful.

Enrich: Do you and Eleanor do much ministry together?

Paul: For the past dozen years, Eleanor and I have spoken at marriage conferences. These are three-day conferences put on by Family Life Canada. We are doing one in Winnipeg and another in Jasper this spring. I just love being able to work with her. I know how much the material has challenged us. Teaching it has taken our own marriage to a much deeper and more intimate level.

Enrich: What are some of your spiritual disciplines?

Paul: I start every day praying as soon as I wake up. Then I move to the Bible and a hymnbook. I journal every day and I continue to memorize Scripture. Every Sunday morning I pray for several hundred pastors and missionaries around the world whom I have met over the years. I count it a privilege to be a part of their team. And I am always asking people for suggestions on good books that have deepened their walk with the Lord.

Enrich: Are there any guys who put a smile on your face when you recall their spiritual progress?

Paul: I can probably think of at least 100 men who have profoundly changed their lives from having no spiritual background to now being effective and gifted leaders in their own Christian communities.

Enrich: How can we get some of the material/resources you recommend?

Paul: We have an excellent website – www.leaderimpactgroup.com. e
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