Tony McLellan is known in many circles – in the real estate and business community, in the resources sector and in the Christian community as one of the guiding forces behind the Australian Christian Lobby and a number of Christian non-profit organisations.
However, his CV will not prepare you for the myriad of anecdotes and encounters with the rich and famous with which this book is littered. The first part is the classic Australian country-boy-makes-good tale, where the good keeps getting better and better. Then comes the surprising twist, which will resonate with Christian readers, as Tony McLellan has his Damascus Road experience in an Atlanta loungeroom.
As I read the book, I was certainly enjoying the stories but I was also thinking “Who can I give this book to?”, perhaps as a Christmas gift. It's the kind of work that people who read biographies of famous politicians and businesspeople would love, but it’s much, much deeper than that. The inspirational biography section of bookstores are full of self-centred corporate types showing how they were the smartest in the room, but there are not too many books like this.
Writer Nick Cater says, "My aim was to ensure that Tony's decency, warmth and selfless devotion is illuminated on the printed page as brightly as it shines in the flesh”. Cater's journalistic expertise makes this a reality, assisted by what appears to be McLellan's prodigious memory and note-taking ability.
Those who remember the business world or Sydney's real estate scene in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s will know some of the backdrop of the book but the canvas is wider than that, segueing into the international scene with business moguls such as Adnan Khashoggi and George Herscu.
It's not a Christian book but a book about a Christian. Liberal party identities such as Robert Menzies and John Howard feature prominently, but I hope the appeal of the book might reach across the political spectrum. I pray that the non-Christian reader will be drawn in by the first part of the story and stay for the benefits of the second half of the book – where Tony McLellan goes into more detail of his Christian experience and draws in a wide range of practical leadership wisdom.
The last chapter is devoted to things that McLellan, now 81, wishes he could tell his younger self: "The way we react to the call of Jesus on our lives does not determine who Jesus is. Rather, it determines who we are... and, consequently, what sort of people we might become".
Leaders of the future need to hear such wisdom.