Michael Hyatt – a Modern Day Hero of the Faith (Part 1)

In this week’s installment of my series on my Modern Day Heroes of the Faith, I’m interviewing Michael Hyatt (Blog | Twitter).

Michael is the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian book publisher in the world. He is also a husband, father, devoted Christian, author and avid blogger.

Although I have never met him in person, online I have found him to be a great leader, a great example of what a mature Christian should look like, an excellent teacher and an inspiration to me to step further in my Christian walk than I ever have before.

If you’re new to this series, then let me explain that my ‘heroes of the faith‘ are maybe not people who would traditionally be referred to in that way but are people who I have found exemplify how to be in the world and yet still live lives which I believe God would find pleasing to Him.

These are not perfect men and women, because nobody is perfect except God, but they are people who I think we all can learn from. I have interviewed them to hopefully glean some of their wisdom so we can all learn from their experience.

The interview is split into two parts. Today, Michael will answer questions on standing up for your faith online, being a Christian in the workplace and whether it’s possible to overcome denominational boundaries.

Tomorrow, we will go more in depth with how to blend your faith and ‘normal’ life.

Enough explanation though, let’s hear from Mr Hyatt himself:

The Interview

Michael, you have over 81,000 twitter followers, over 3700 Facebook ‘fans’ and thousands of readers of your blog. Some, if not many of those must be non-Christians. Do you ever pause before posting something overtly God related for fear of losing some of your non-Christian followers?

I definitely pause, but not because I am afraid of losing them. I am very conscious of my Christian witness, and I don’t want to say something that would ultimately turn them off to the Gospel. This is a fine line, but I approach it prayerfully. I try to avoid Christian jargon or saying things that could be misunderstood. I also specially avoid political comments, because I don’t want someone to think that being a Christian involves joining a political party.

You are the CEO of a very successful Christian business. How do your faith and your beliefs affect the way you manage and interact with your staff?

My goal is always to lead and interact like Jesus. Submitting to his Lordship over my life is comprehensive. I am accountable in every sphere of my life, including my work life. For example, James says that we are to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). This means that as a leader, I must be a great listener, allow others to speak, and be very careful not to take offense or be quick-tempered. I want my faith to inform and guide every aspect of my interactions with others.

You tweet and post about good times of fun and friendship that you spend with quite a wide variety of different people. We live in an age of denominational boundaries with people often unable to get along with others who are not from their same denomination. You are members of the Orthodox Church, if I remember rightly, how do you manage to spend time with and even publish the books of people who worship God in a quite different way to you? Can we all be friends, even if we have theological differences?

Absolutely. I think you have a choice on these kinds of issues: you can focus on where you are the same or similar or you can focus on where you are different. Both have their place, but I think there is a spirit of polarization that characterizes our age. It is driven by the media and its continuous need to create drama. I find it much healthier to be inclusive and focus on where we share in common.

I believe I can learn from anyone, even non-Christians. I don’t get hung-up when I disagree. In fact, it stimulates me to learn more and ask questions. I have several friends who are not Christians at all, and I love engaging in dialog with them. This flows out of my belief that they are made in the image of God and inherently worthy. If Christ died for them, they deserve my respect. I don’t have it all figured out.

To be continued tomorrow…