Author Spotlight: Ruth Esau
We are pleased to introduce author Ruth Esau. Ruth recently published Shifting Perspectives, which is now available through the Word Alive Press Bookstore, and everywhere fine Christian books are sold. We asked Ruth to share a little bit about her writing and her new book. But first, a little bit about her.
Ruth Esau (nee Johnstone) is the founder and president of Inspired to Lead, a ministry focused on leadership development that grew from over forty years of life and leadership. In that time, she volunteered in her local church and community, co-managed and developed people in the retail sector for ten years, and served for ten years at Centre Street Church in the role of Pastor of Life Transformation. She was also the principle lead with Executive Directions, a Calgary non-profit, from 2007 to 2021.
Inspired to Lead provides opportunities for leaders to develop, network, and grow through relevant workshops, leadership development cohorts, and one-to-one coaching. The essence of Ruth’s work is to intentionally inspire leaders to focus, reflect, and take bold action.
By nature of the era in which Ruth was born and raised, the words woman and leadership were rarely used in the same sentence. She lived and experienced what it meant to hear how valued she was as a leader, yet she lived with old stereotypes that were challenging to navigate. This has led her to serve leaders wherever they are called, helping them to focus on the one thing in front of them they can do: to choose the important over the tyranny of the urgent. She encourages leaders to be values-driven.
Ruth has a BRE in Christian Education and is a certified Executive Coach focusing on emotional intelligence, human resources leadership, and deepening people skills.
Ruth and her husband Brian have shared life and love together since 1972. They have been blessed with a loving and faithful family, including Melodie, Joy, Brianna, Rebekah, Stacy, Rob, and Jas.
In addition to her work with Inspired to Lead, Ruth is also an Urban Pastor with the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada. She serves on the boards of The Mustard Seed and New West Music and Arts Society, volunteering in various capacities with her church, denomination, and community.
Ruth and Brian are known in their community for their friendship and hospitality. In addition to taking long walks in their neighbourhood and by the Bow River, she enjoys gardening, water-colour painting, reading, and studying.
Ruth fell in love with Jesus at an early age and has been blessed to have Him as her best friend and faithful companion throughout life. So many rich stories tell of His faithful love, healing, companionship, and grace over a lifetime.
Q: What made you consider writing a book?
A: I never saw myself as an author, yet I always loved words. In the preface to Shifting Perspectives, I share the story of when I probably first became aware of words and the power they had to be so much more:
“Curiosity killed the cat; satisfaction brought it back.” How often I heard these words as a nine- or ten-year-old.
We had recently welcomed a new minister to our church. Although I was well-versed in faith and Bible stories, Reverend McPhee used language and ideas beyond my ability to grasp. I constantly wanted to put my hand up and ask, “What does that mean?”
One Sunday on the way out of church, I approached Reverend McPhee. He was intimidating in his long, black-pleated robe with puffy sleeves and a hard white circular collar that seemed to hold his head high.
In spite of my intimidation, my curiosity was strong. As I reached to shake the hand he held out to me, I timidly asked, “Reverend McPhee, you use a lot of big words that I don’t understand. If I wrote them in a notebook, would you write out their meaning for me?”
At Woolworths, I bought a new little flip wire notebook. I could hardly wait for Sunday.
When Sunday finally arrived, I was sitting up straight, my notebook open and my pencil sharpened, waiting for the first big word I didn’t understand. Words like covenant, dogma, ecumenical, infallible, inerrant, metanoia, inductive, deductive, and relativism. There were many. So many.
After the service, I was no longer intimidated, just excited to hand my questions to Reverend McPhee. He graciously shook my hand and accepted my little notebook.
On Wednesday evening as my family arrived for the prayer service, he handed me back my notebook. I quickly opened it and saw his handwritten answers.
I don’t remember how long we kept up our Q&A. What I do remember is my thirst to know more, and that my minister didn’t turn me away, young as I was.
Curiosity killed the cat; satisfaction brought it back.
That persistent thirst to know more, be more, and live more has been an integral part of my leadership journey. Searching out great resources that resonate with my heart and thereby create opportunities for my thoughts to shift and move forward has become an important part of who I am as a leader.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: Shifting Perspectives started as I was blessed to lead a wonderful team of women invested in working with and through other women. I wanted material that would focus on growth in addition to knowledge.
Then, some twenty years later, I had a realization about the power of the book of Mark and what it revealed about my facilitating style, which was focused on creating a safe place for teams to embrace change and growth and keep moving forward.
Shifting Perspectives provides readers the opportunity to humbly see where we need to grow in order to walk together (rather than compete) while we lead others to fullness and fulfillment.
Q: What is your book about and why was it important for you to write?
A: Shifting Perspectives presents the challenge to read the book of Mark with leadership eyes rather than theological or philosophical eyes. We are to watch how Jesus worked with people in the situations He faced and gain a new appreciation for how He handled conflict, resistance, pushback, and the unreasonable expectations of those who followed Him. It is not an easy, breezy read if you want to experience growth in yourself. The Kaleidoscope Reflections at the end of each section are intended to make you dig deeper, to discover more of who you were created to be.
Q: What do you hope others gain from reading this book?
A: I hope and pray others will embrace the gift of reflection and invitation to growth. I hope and pray they will catch a glimpse of the greatness of the Kingdom that is far beyond our church walls, far beyond our petty differences. I hope and pray we will move beyond our need for others to embrace what we believe. I hope and pray that eyes will be opened to see who Jesus is and why He calls us to follow Him and Him alone.
I want hearts to be captured by the beauty, faithfulness, wisdom, and way of being that Jesus modelled to us who are called to lead.
Every leadership book that moves us forward has roots in the biblical teachings of Jesus. Jesus has given us reign and scope to enrich the leadership world by all that He has invested in us. We are to become agents for His transforming power as we pour into others.
Q: What challenged you as you wrote Shifting Perspectives?
A: I was challenged to use my words! Now, that sounds weird for an author to say, but my whole life has been about teaching and facilitating in-person. At times, being in the present moment with people means that a nod of the head will allow another to finish your sentence. But when it comes to communicating myself in written form? Well, I was challenged to be evocative and emotive with my language so others could be drawn into the heart of what I needed to say. And I am continually challenged to trust the Holy Spirit to speak as people read, to meet each reader where they are at and draw them to the heart of Jesus so they can embrace His refining and gentle touch.
As the spring 2022 unfolds, Ruth intends to host Zoom book launches, which will include time for discussion and Q&A. Two are already scheduled for February 22 and March 16.
She also plans to host a facilitation workshop on April 27 about how to use Shifting Perspectives to help your team grow and become more strategic and intentional in their thinking.
You can learn more about these events by emailing ruth[at]InspiredtoLead.ca.