CALLED : A Digital Magazine For Adventist Clergy

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LEADERSHIP: A HINGE by Ivan L. Williams, Sr.






Vic Areola, Brenda Billingy, Jose Cortes Jr, John Grys, Donna Jackson, Esther Knott ADVERTISING ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Brad





12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904 301-680-6418 DISCLAIMER Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of NAD Ministerial.

COPYRIGHTS CALLED, copyright 2016, North American Division Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists, All rights reserved.

NAD MINISTERIAL MISSION Empowering the ministerial community in leading churches to reach their world for Christ with hope & wholeness.

NAD MINISTERIAL VISION Throughout the NAD the ministerial community is valued, connected effectively supported and equipped with training and state of the art resources. Every church exudes hope and wholeness with significant spiritual and numerical growth.

ne of the most saturated and studied subjects is leadership. Quite frankly, it is because leadership really matters, and in the world of ministry everything is impacted by the way or how one leads. Spiritual leadership however, unlike many other expressed forms of leadership who’s bottom line is solely for profiteering, requires dependence on someone Greater than yourself. It requires dependence on God. This alone has a huge impact on the effectiveness and spiritual insight of the leader. I see leadership as the hinge on the door through which every facet of ministry goes through. Without this hinge, the role of adaptation, change, growth, empowerment and many other aspects of ministry moving forward will be impeded. The bible is replete with examples of the importance of the leader/leadership and clearly states, it is the Lord who initiates the calling and equipping of leaders and their leadership. Exodus 3:1-4, 1 Samuel 16, Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16. The scripture also reveals through the life of Jesus the importance of servant leadership. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NIV) In this edition of CALLED, our focus is on this very subject, leadership. This is one area of ever-relevance, meaning, and importance to pastors and leaders in the church. While leadership in ministry should be delegated and even dispersed, it should never be abrogated. The neglect of leadership is peril to the leader and the ministry process. Leadership without a leader is antithetical to the whole progression of kingdom building, and this should make the desire to keep growing the consuming reality for pastors and church leaders. Leadership and growing to be a better leader is an ongoing process from which you one should never graduate. Dr. Stanley Patterson, professor and chair of the Christian ministry department at the Andrews University Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan has a great passion for leadership and has written two articles. They creatively deal with leadership through two areas. He writes about leadership through the veins of preaching and authority. He has also helped us gather some important topics on the subject. Dr. Skip Bell, Professor of Leadership at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary addresses a most important matter of presuming the place of God through a man in the bible named Uzzah. Also, in this edition several pastors focus on the dimension of leadership through their own experiences. They address leading through conflict, and the importance of the call, and our own John Grys, NAD ministerial associate director, writes about his leadership through his relational experiences. We are certainly glad you’ve downloaded this edition of CALLED. If you are interested in leadership, this will be a great resource for you.

A Visit to Church of the Valley (18:59)



John Masigan


atch John Masigan, a pastor for the Kamloops, Barriere, and Clearwater Adventist Churches, as he takes a break from his district to visit Church in the Valley in Langley British Columbia. As we get to know him we discover that he would like to learn how he could help lead his churches into the gospel of compassion. He has accepted the invitation to spend a few days with pastor David Jamieson and Mike Dauncey at one of the most developed compassion evangelism cultures in the entire North American Division.


Editor’s Notes: David Jamieson (DJ) has been senior pastor at Church of the Valley for fifteen years. In this interview he sits down with Pastor John Masigan (JM), pastor of the Kamloops, Barriere and Clearwater district, to understand how leadership works in a church that is known for its Acts of Kindness. This is a transcript of that interview.



It’s a privilege to hang out with you because you’re one of the busiest guys that I know, especially in this conference. I do have a couple of questions for you. How did you end up becoming a pastor?


I grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and I was baptized on September the twelfth, 1981. I attended a camp meeting, and Elder Jerry Karst was the conference president in Newfoundland at the time, and during one of his sermons at camp meeting he asked if God was moving on the heart of anyone to be a teacher, a pastor, so on. The next thing, I felt my body moving forward and going down to the altar call, feeling that God was calling me into the ministry.


Oh, wow.


Shortly after that, the conference gentleman encouraged me to enroll at Canadian Union College and enter into the ministry. My grandmother, who had been an Adventist for most of her life, had been praying for me to become a pastor. And so that was my leading into pastoral ministry.


So how did you get to where you are today?


I was an associate pastor in Marystown, Newfoundland, a little church of 30 people. The lead pastor was so overwhelmed with what was happening there that he burned out, and I became the lead pastor, the building contractor, the bulletin secretary, the treasurer. And then the conference wanted us to have an evangelistic series, which we did. And no one came.


I began to ask myself, ‘can I do this for forty years?’ And I came to the conclusion, ‘no.’ So we began to innovate and dream and vision and to look for a better way to package the most wonderful message in the entire world. That led us into this kind of a vision and journey here. My goal has always been to see an ‘Acts Chapter Two’ church in my lifetime.


So how, how do you lead Church of the Valley toward this vision that you have accomplished at this moment?


I’ve been following a step by step journey in ministry, and we have utilized those steps here and in previous churches that we’ve pastored in.

Step One The first step in that evangelistic process is that the pastor needs to own, model and prioritize his relationship with God. God has to lay a vision on the pastor. Step Two The next step in the process is to be used by God to instill that evangelistic vision and those values in the congregation. For example we have put a banner up every year, and it’ll say “2002 – Our Year of Discovery,” or, you know, “2007 – Our Year of Adventure.” And there’s nothing on that banner, just those words. JM:

So year 2016, what does Church in the Valley’s year look like this year?


We’ve named 2016 our Year of New Beginnings. Brand new beginnings all around us in this facility, and brand new vision to come on stream in 2016 as we tweak it move forward. Every time there’s a baptism, every time someone passes away, every time there’s a sermon series or a special event we highlight that in the banner. Every baptism is a dove with someone’s name on it. And then at the end of the year we’ll spend 30 minutes in the worship service and highlight everything that God has done in the congregation.


I think that differentiates people from just regular pastor to extraordinary pastor.


It’s not the difference between an ordinary pastor and an extraordinary pastor. That’s not the issue at all. It’s understanding how to cast vision. Every single week in this congregation for 15 years now we get up in the middle of the worship service, and we would say, “Good morning, and welcome to the Aldergrove Adventist Church, where we believe in sharing the Christ who cares together, with lost men and women and boys and girls in Aldergrove. Step Three The next step in the process for us was to innovate high-impact outreach events. I find that when a pastor moves into a congregation the members just see him or her as another pastor that’s just showing up, and they’re going to be there for three or four years and they’re going to be gone. They don’t really believe that anything is going to happen.


A pastor has to be used by God to demonstrate to the congregation that if they step forward in faith and they innovate a high-impact event that the church is able to move forward under the banner of Christ successfully. So we’ll have a Police Appreciation Day or a Firefighters Appreciation Day, and we’ll invite the mayor to come, and the federal politicians, the provincial politicians, and community people to come. And it’ll be the largest worship service ever in the history of that church. And when that happens, it changes the morale of people, they begin to say, wait a minute, something different is happening here, and they begin to shift from “seeing is believing” to “believing is seeing.” And it’s at that point that they’re willing to follow this God-given vision and actually begin to believe that something’s going to happen.



So, Pastor Jamieson, how did you start your vision for this church? And I know there’s a beautiful story behind this facility, and it all started supposedly in a restaurant.


It started in a Tim Horton’s restaurant. We met a gentleman who was selling some land, and it was quite expensive, $2.8 million dollars. We didn’t have any money. We offered him $2.2 million without really having any money, and a tax receipt, and he took all of that. He said he would sell us the property.

Around the same time another congregation merged and asked if they could merge with us, and they sold their church building for $1.2 million, and we quickly raised $1.0 million in about three months and bought the property. Then we began a journey to build on that property, and the government of British Columbia decided that they needed that piece of property for a park-and-ride and rapid busing transit system, and so they basically expropriated the property. And it took us five years to receive our funds, but God was leading the whole time, because every year that they waited, the pricing for land continued to rise. And so when we sold the property we actually sold it to them for $7.2 million.


Oh, wow.


One of the leaders of our church put an ad in the newspaper asking if there’s someone who’d like to sell their land to the Aldergrove Adventist Church, and to our Acts of Kindness ministry, so we could expand both. And a couple phoned back and said, “We want to sell you the land.” And he said, “How much?” And they said, “$1.45 million.” And we said, “How many acres?” And they said, “Five point one.” And we bought it faster than you could say John Masigan.

So we’ve had the privilege of building this facility now on this property. But it was an eightyear journey to get here.


One of the things that fascinates me is that there’s just so many moving parts in this church. As a lead pastor, how do you lead when it comes to Acts of Kindness, and Fusion, and Connect Now. And you have to maintain and make sure this building is going. There’s just so many things happening and you know if it was me, I would probably ask for a smaller church, because it is a lot of things to manage all at the same time. How do you lead at this moment in your ministry?


Step Four Well, the fourth step in the process, interestingly enough, is to recruit evangelistic champions. The pastor can’t do it alone. The pastor has to be led by God to find individuals, as many as he can in the congregation, who can become champions of the cause. You begin to cast vision more deeply with these champions, and they become leaders themselves.


Step Five The next step in the process is that you begin then developing diversified evangelism teams. These evangelistic champions become team leaders of teams. And so we have an extreme home repair team. We also have a Breakfast Club and a worship arts team. We have a cars for moms’ team. We have leaders leading each team.

Step Six Now you need to invite everyone in the congregation to be a part of a volunteer revolution. And you invite them to come into these teams. You can watch the ministry fair here on Sabbath morning. I’ll be preaching and inviting people to now join some of these teams so that we can expand them and have more people in the congregation involved in reaching out to lost men and women and boys and girls all around us.

A volunteer revolution is when you’re inviting everyone to be involved. We want a hundred percent of our members to be involved in ministry in some way, shape or form in this congregation, because as a Christian, as a follower of Christ, it’s not just lip service, it’s life service. It’s not just worshiping on a Sabbath morning, it’s living out your experience with Christ weekly.


The way you’re pastoring is going to be very different from a lot of other pastors, because of how you’ve created this. So what are you doing as a pastor to lead this charge?


My role is to relentlessly cast a vision to the congregation to be outward-focused, to seek the lost for Christ. That’s what we’re about. And to do the preaching, to be the lead pastor, for board meetings, finance, school board, those types of things. I still have a large role in the visitation of members who are in hospital or in need, and I certainly utilize my associate pastors to take care of some of that, because as the church gets larger it becomes less feasible to be able to cover the bases. In fact, it becomes almost impossible. And to just continue to try and reach evangelistic champions and to build more teams.


You know, there’s been rumors around something about you and an airplane and this building.


We knew way back around 2005, which is ten-plus years ago, that we needed to build a new facility because we outgrew the other one. So we decided to do some research, took a team of about eight individuals to select churches in the United States, Adventist and non-Adventist churches that were using innovation and creativity in ministry. We visited those churches and learned an immense amount about ministry and how a building could be used for ministry.

And on the way back, three of us were sitting together on the flight. We asked ‘does God wants us to do this?’, ‘does God wants us to do that?’. We didn’t really have any paper, and so the stewardess brought us some napkins. And when we got off the flight, this was going to be our building plan.

So when we met with the architect again we brought him the napkin, and said this is what we want to build. And he looked at it and he said, “You serious?” You know, because a napkin doesn’t look too impressive to an architect. But he essentially took that napkin and built a building quite similar to it.


You’re telling me that this building was dreamed up on a napkin?


Yes, absolutely.


Now that you’ve hit your goal, what is next? How are you going to continue on casting vision and casting excitement and casting these great things for your congregation here in Church in the Valley?


Well, you have to reinvent yourself as a leader and you have to tweak the model or the vision phrase. And every three years, in my opinion, you have to recalibrate the vision. And so for us here now, we’re no longer the Aldergrove Adventist Church. We are Church in the Valley, a Seventh-day Adventist church. We’ve been tweaking our motto, and we are


about to revision again. Our three-year term for vision ended in 2015, and so I’m already talking with some of our leaders about a vision summit, a vision weekend again, to recalibrate the vision for the next three years.


And personally—and I’ve shared this with the congregation twice—personally, my goal in the ten years of ministry that I have left if God sees that he wants me to stay in this congregation, is to see this facility fill up twice. So it seats 900. We would like to see 1,800 men and women and boys and girls attending here as soon as can possibly happen. We currently had last Sabbath 580 here. So let’s say there’s an average of 600. Our vision is to see another 1,200.


Wow. Nothing’s impossible with God [laughs]. Are there any other steps that we’ve missed?


Step Seven The next step in the process is to anchor the new approaches into the culture of the church. And so we have developed a cyclical calendar so that the congregation knows that every May we’re having an EHR, which is an Extreme Home Repair, like the television show Extreme Home Makeover. So far we’ve done 15 houses for families, single moms, or families that have experienced a tragedy or their home is just dilapidated and falling down, the roof is leaking— we’ve done 15. It’s every May.

We have another team that’s involved in their single moms’ oil change every April and every October. And we have other ministries that are happening five days a week, like the breakfast club, so it’s ongoing in a public elementary school. We’re doing the breakfast club at a public elementary school five days a week, and we have a team of individuals that are involved in that ministry.

And so we anchor all of these new ministries into the calendar of the church. We do a dramatic musical at Easter, a dramatic musical at Christmas. And so the church becomes accustomed to a well-organized, outward-focused, evangelistic, visionary program to reach the lost, and it’s all anchored into the calendar.


And then all hundred percent of the members can choose an anchor point where they feel like they belong and where they can best serve the church.


And the interesting thing about it is that we don’t do a lot of training. We try to get people involved in their area of passion, with the skillset that they already have, the knowledge that they already have, with the gifts that they already have, and we just invite them to get on a team and use those gifts. So believe it or not, we had a whole lot of people that were interested in golf. And we said, let’s golf for Jesus. And so we got those golfers to start a golf tournament every year to raise money for our Acts of Kindness community services initiatives. And, you know, in the last 11 years, they’ve been able to raise over $500,000.


Oh, wow.


So whatever it is that people are interested in doing, whatever they have a passion to do, I’ve discovered that they’ll trample the pastors to get out of the way so that they can use the passions that they have and the skillsets that they have. I don’t need to train someone to hammer and saw at an EHR. They can train me.

JM: Yeah.



I don’t need to need to train a mechanic to change the oil in someone’s car at the Single Moms Oil Change. They already know how to do it. And they have a passion to do that, maybe more so than to stand up and preach.


How do you find the balance between seeking those who are lost and meeting the needs of your congregation in a spiritual sense? Sometimes the people who are lost want to be a part of the church service, but as you know, in our Adventist world, there, it seems like in order to do it you must first be baptized, or you must be first gone through at least a set of Bible studies.


I believe that the inward and outward focus go hand in hand, just like a set of gloves. And yet, to be quite honest with you, my focus has always tipped toward an outward focus. Why? Well, I’ve had the privilege of being influenced by people like Mark Finley, Henry Feyerabend, Russell Burrill, all of these individuals who had a total passion to reach the lost. And so that was my ministerial training. And so any congregation that I’ve pastored has had an evangelistic focus.

And at the same time, we’ve recognized, you have to be able to minister to people inside the congregation as well. So along with our Acts of Kindness community services ministry for folks outside we’ve developed a Helping Hands ministry to assist people with needs inside the congregation.

We’ve tried to balance both approaches, but there is no question that, for me as a pastor, I believe our mandate is Matthew 28:19-20, “go ye therefore into all the world and preach the gospel unto all nations, and to baptize people for Christ.” That becomes our driving force. I believe if we have a focus that is inward, we do settle. And we do get comfortable, and we do church for us. And it becomes more of a social club rather than what Christ intended it to be, which is an army of disciples who are going to come when the rabbi says come, stay when the rabbi says stay, and go when the rabbi says go.


So how do you find that balance of a father, a husband, a friend and a pastor?


My whole principle for life and ministry, as simple as it may sound, ‘God first, family second, church third.’ I know that sounds trite. But that’s what I try to live out. To give you an example, I was in the office as a conference president at the age of 37. I was traveling to various committee meetings and gone for maybe ten to fourteen days all at one time. When I returned home, my family had been sick with a flu bug, my wife had taken all four kids to the hospital, and the doctor said, “Where’s your husband?” “Well, he’s traveling.”

When I got back we agreed that we would bring it up at our weekly family council. So at the council they said “Dad, you know, we want you to go back into the pastoral ministry.” And I said, “Let’s take a vote.”


And my youngest was just several months old, so my wife held up his hand, I guess, or the kids did; we had the vote, and it was five to one that I go back into pastoral ministry. I was the only one who voted to stay in administration.

I’m giving that story as an example that when it came to my role, God first, family second, and office third. So I left administration and moved here. I thought I would be here three or four years; I’ve been here fifteen years. My youngest son has gone kindergarten through twelfth. The family has stability, balance and strength.

For me personally, when you’re involved in a building project and pastoring at the same time, and doing a little bit of traveling and things, you’ve got two jobs for the price of one. So I do long for the building to be completed so that we can focus totally on ministry. We strive to have a relationship with the Lord every day.

And if you can involve your children in the life of the church at a young age and make it fun it makes an incredible difference. When they turn 17, 18, 19, 20 and older, if it’s been fun, if it’s been real, if they know that family is a priority, they remain in love with the Lord and stay in the church.


You just talked about how ministries should be fun, but some people see ministry be like solemn. How do you deal with that kind of attitude?


Yes, ministry has to be fun. If a pastor can minister out of his/her area of passion, skillset, experience and knowledge, as well, then he or she is able to avoid a lot of the issues of burnout, of working too hard because when you’re doing what you enjoy doing, when you are working in your area of passion, you have strength to be able to carry out ministry and to enjoy ministry.


Well, thanks, Uncle Dave, this is a pleasure. I may need to watch this again, because I think I’m going to learn a lot from our conversation today. So thank you so much.


All right, God bless. DISCUSS THIS ON



Editor’s Notes: Mike Dauncey (MD) has been an associate pastor at Church of the Valley for five years. In these interviews he talks with Pastor John Masigan (JM), pastor of the Kamloops, Barriere and Clearwater district, to understand how leadership works in a church that is known for its Acts of Kindness. The first interview took place during the Extreme Home repair. The second interview was conducted following the Moms’ car giveaway. 14



So here we are with the coordinator and the main man for what we call Acts of Kindness.


Extreme Home Repair.


Extreme Home Repair. So it’s like you’re the advertising king, because every time I see you with a shirt, you have some kind of AOK, Extreme Home Repair.


Marketing that.


How long have you been doing all of this?


I came in 2010. In fact, when I came to Aldergrove Adventist Church at the time, that’s what it was called, I came right during the program. It was May 16, 2010, I started being a pastor here, and I dove right in, raking someone’s lawn the first day on the job!


How did you progress from being just a guy raking the lawn to becoming the coordinator of not just Extreme Home Repair, but AOK?


They were looking for an outreach pastor to help coordinate these things, and there’s so much to do, it’s like a full-time job, man. But I love doing the organizing, but I also love getting my hands dirty. I’m not afraid to get in there and smash some furniture up, right? It’s lots of fun but this stuff takes so much coordinating. So I was hired.


They were looking for a guy, and you were the one that fits.


Well, in 2010 it was only Pastor Dave. All the pastors had left to go to do their Master’s degree or whatever. And so he was looking, he was looking for several different pastors, and he’s like, would you be interested? And I said, yeah, I’d be interested in coming to Aldergrove. And so there were a bunch of selections, but when he talked to me he realized that I was passionate about outreach and video and that sort of thing. And I kind of fit the mold of one of the positions they were looking for.


How do you guys do the selecting process (for an AOK recipient)? So how does that work?


We have a website and we also have a good relationship with the newspaper. We open it up to the community. If they know someone who could use an extreme home repair, and someone who needs the help, like, maybe it’s a single mom who can’t do anything, she’s working full time, or maybe it’s a family where someone’s disabled. Last year we did a project where we changed a person’s house into wheelchair accessible, because he had this rare disease, and he was now bound to a wheelchair.

So we look for not only a house that needs work, but the story behind the house, the reason that they can’t do it. So we put that out there, and people will get on our website, and they will nominate a person, put their name, their address and phone number, and the reason why they could use an extreme home makeover. And then we take that information and we go and we visit every nomination. We walk through their house, we hear their story, and then we come back to our church and we pray over it, we pull out the whiteboard, we put notes all over it and really pray about it, and it takes time. We really want to select the right person. And this year we feel God has put Sarah in our laps.


What is the average number of people that are nominated per year?


I would say maybe ten to twelve. That’s where we like to keep it. Because if we had thirty, it would be too overwhelming to go through all the houses, and we’d have to say, I’m sorry, we’re limited, we can only do so much. So it’s been pretty good that way. Some years when there hasn’t been enough nominations, then we’ll put an article in the newspaper, we’ll put posters around Aldergrove, and, we will say, if you know a nomination, go to this website.


So we’ve never had a problem. You know, God has always made sure that we had the right recipient. This year is no exception. We went through six, eight, ten homes, and still did not have that perfect house.


The ‘it’ factor?


All of a sudden a late entry came in on my email. I said, guys, before our meeting tonight, let’s just go by and see this house. Bam, all of us were thinking the same thing. This is it, this is it. Not only is the house in great need—because sometimes people have stories, but their house isn’t that bad. But she had a house that really needs some help, and her story was perfect.


How does the volunteer coordination work? Like, do you set up a specific number, by this day we need, like, this amount of volunteers, on this day we need—because I know that you guys have different days and different things that you need to do. So how does it work?


It’s a logistical nightmare, to be honest with you. We’ll have up to a hundred to two hundred people working on this project over the span of two weeks and three weekends. But we do our best to categorize it. I’ve gone to the extent of actually taking emails down and categorizing them. Here’s the painters, here’s the framers, here’s the demo people, and coordinate through email. But sometimes we just go with who shows up. Some days it’s pretty thin. And some days, like a Sunday or something, we’ll have lots of people. And so you just take it as it comes, and the project always gets done. It’s amazing.


How many surprise visitors?


I wouldn’t say it’s a lot of people. A lot of our people are return volunteers. That means they are coming back every year because they love it. And these people are not part of the church. Some of the most committed volunteers we have are people from the community that love what we do. They don’t attend our church, They have their smoke breaks. But they are out there every day for fifteen days. It’s amazing to me.

We do have some people—one year, some of them are just walking by, and they’re like, “what are you guys doing”? And we told them, and they’re like, well, “we want to help”. They’re there every day helping the rest of the project. So we do have some drop-ins. But we have a regular database. I’ve got an email address, extremehomevolunteer@gmail. com, and get people to sign up, and I communicate. And we have not only volunteers but local businesses will just out of nowhere, hey, “I own a window store. I want to donate windows to this project.” “I’m an electrician, I’d really like to help out.” So once the community sees what’s going on, they want to jump on board.

And so we do have surprises, every year. And we sometimes have surprises in that, oh, surprise, “we’re not donating this year.” And so it’s like, sorry, we’re not going to donate six thousand dollars’ worth of cabinets. And all of a sudden, we’re like, oh, man, we need, we need to find some cabinets. Because, you know, that stuff ’s expensive. When this renovation’s done, it’s worth $150,000 plus.

JM: Wow.



After labor and materials. So we try our best to get as much materials donated as possible. In the end we’re still having to donate ourselves from the church about ten to twelve thousand dollars to pull it off. But we get a lot of it donated. So we got lots of surprises every year, and donations-wise, volunteer-wise, and that sort of thing.


Why do you do what you do here, not just for EHR but AOK?


It’s so awesome to make a difference, to see the difference you make in people’s lives. I mean, EHR is a big one. This is one our largest projects. But to just see their tears of joy, whether we’re giving a van away. Yesterday that lady was just blown away that we were going to send her child to summer camp for free. And it’s rewarding. There’s a lot of hours that goes into this. But the rewards are so great. Just to make a difference in that person’s life is just so rewarding and it makes it all worth it. So I love what I do. You have to love if you’re going to put in 50- to 60-hour weeks doing ministry, you better be having fun doing it. Otherwise you’re going to burn yourself out, and it does get busy. Then you try to take it easy some other weeks. But it’s worth it because you see the results.


One of the benefits that you have is being able to work with your family for specific projects that you are involved in. So how does it feel knowing that year after year that you’ve been doing this, you’ve been working not just with this awesome church that you have, but actually your own family?


It was really interesting to come and pastor at a church where my own family attends. But it is a large church and there’s four of us pastors, so it does work out. And, to be honest with you, as a kid, my dad and I didn’t do a bunch of stuff together. But now as an adult, to be working alongside him is awesome. I mean, his a contractor, it’s what he does. In fact, my dad was not in the church at all most of his life. And to see him being passionate about making sure prayer happens before the project, and he’s become this spiritual guy, and to see the way God has changed this man’s life is amazing. And so I’m making up for lost time. I never would have predicted this. It’s cool that we can do something together, make a difference in people’s lives.

JM: [laughs] MD:

…and, but, but yet he’s taught me a lot. And so, uh, it’s very rewarding to, to be able to work alongside my dad and do something together. It’s, it’s great, it really is.


So what advice would you have to people or churches that are interested in doing a ministry like Acts of Kindness?


I am constantly answering emails and phone calls of people that want to start this in their own church. And that’s what we wanted this to be. We wanted to kind of inspire other churches to do this stuff.


So what I would say to them would be, you need a committed team of leaders. We’ve got a crew of ten to twelve people on a committee because it’s a big thing. So if you’re going to do this, do it right, get a committee of committed people, people who you can count on who are going to follow through, who are willing to meet. When it gets close to project time, you’re meeting every week for several weeks leading up to it.


You need a team of people, doing different things. We have a landscaper on our team. We have a framer on our team. We have a decorator on our team. And then that decorator gets several teams working under her. It doesn’t have to start off huge. It can start off as rebuilding someone’s deck or porch, or landscaping a yard. But it could grow. We now have up to 120 companies that come alongside us and help us do this.

There’s been a turnover with our volunteers. Some have given eight years, and they’ve got to change and move on to some other ministry. So then we get new people involved. That’s key, having a good team behind it. Extreme Home Repair especially has a lot of that organization involved. But other ministries, say a church, some churches call me up and say, “We want to do something. We don’t know what.” And so I’ll give them ideas, and maybe you want to start with something a little simpler, like cars for moms. You got mechanics in your church? You start finding vehicles, donations, and fixing vehicles and giving them to people in need.


What is the percentage of people in HER that aren’t a member of your church, that actually come to volunteer?


Last year, 54 percent were from the community. Tell me what ministry a church does where they have, you know, a hundred unchurched people helping you.


Yeah, that’s awesome.


There’s all sorts of positives with Extreme Home Repair. It’s also the relationships you’re making on the project with these people that don’t know Jesus, and I could tell you stories. When someone who isn’t a Christian, when there’s a death in their family, they call me up. This is an Extreme Home Repair volunteer, who doesn’t go to church and doesn’t have a pastor, but wants to talk to a pastor. I’m his Extreme Home Repair pastor, and he calls me up, and we go out for coffee.


And I’ve heard about a story from Sarah about her son and how as long as he gets to hang out with Dauncey, that’s fine with him. How does that feel to make an impact on a young individuals like that?


Levi’s a great kid and I’m looking forward to getting to know him more. That makes my heart soar, that he would say that about me. And it’s going to be great. And you know what? Just talking right here with the P.E. teacher we’re already planning on what we can do to give him an area where he can take slap shots, shoot hoops, even a batting cage. We’re going to take his skateboard, we’re going to have it refinished and we’re going to put his name on it, and we’re going to mount it above his door. We’re going to take care of him, right?


How do you guys follow up? Do you guys constantly follow up and see how they’re doing, even the ones that you’ve done in 2004?


So that’s our goal is to, we want to make sure we maintain relationships. At the beginning we weren’t the best at this, to be honest with you. But over the years we’ve discovered, we’re not doing this just to fix up someone’s home and then walk out of their lives, never to see them again. That’s not right, that’s not proper, that’s not what Jesus would do.


So we want to maintain relationships. In fact volunteer works every year on the project. We did her house in 2010. And every year she shows up to help. We maintain that relationship. And now she’s coming to church, and now she’s given her heart to the Lord. And it took six years. But because we maintained that relationship, it eventually has happened.

So we want to maintain those relationships and keep the follow-through happening, even if it’s just coming by to see how people are doing, and just to say hi. Give them, maybe a gift at Christmastime, and maintain a relationship. Because you never know in the Lord’s timing when those people will need to come to him.


Is there a specific team of people that you set that does the follow-ups to these different projects you have?


We don’t have a distinct plan to follow up, and maybe we should. But when another project comes we’ll contact former Extreme Home Repair recipients and ask them, “would you be willing to come and donate some time at our Charity Golf Classic?” And they’re like, “yeah, anything for AOK”. You know, we changed their lives. And four, five, six, seven years later they’re still coming out.

So whenever we think of something—oh, we could maybe get someone from the past to help us with this—that’s one way we follow up. Or if we’re doing an Easter drama or a Christmas drama, we’ll say, “hey, we’re doing this at our church. Would you like to come”? We just invite them. So it’s kind of a casual kind of follow-up thing. Most of these people that we’ve done projects for and do ministry to are not Christian people, so we don’t want to be too pushy. We do this no-strings-attached. But we want to also invite them. To invite them to a dramatic musical is not a ‘too-pushy’ thing.


So Dauncey, what, what just happened in, like, the past hour?


Well, we made a difference in someone’s life. And that’s what we do at AOK. No strings attached. But it’s an introduction. Did you hear what she said?


No, I didn’t.


She said, “I’ve been thinking recently about maybe getting back to church.” So if she actually follows through with that, where’s she going to go? She’s going to go to Church in the Valley. Because of this gift she’s been given. By the way I found out her sister lives next door to our church.

JM: [laughs] MD:

I know, that’s pretty cool, eh?


That’s awesome, man.


Just right there. I could go knock on the door. Hey, why don’t you come to Fusion tonight? Bring your son. So all the AOK things work together, right?


Today was a pretty cool where you literally surprised her. Where do you want to see AOK go in the next five years?


We just want to expand it. We want to affect more lives. We also need to do some more visioning. I want to do relevant stuff. So, if we’re doing a program that isn’t meeting needs anymore, it’s time to move it aside and get something new. We’re sitting next to the hockey ring. Kids can’t afford to play hockey; it’s expensive. We want to go out, buy equipment, pay for the ice time, and teach kids hockey

. JM: MD:


That’s cool. I would want to see us expand. I would want to see us doing Big Brothers/Big Sisters. This town is in need of Big Brothers and Big Sisters. This town’s asking for it and there is not a single organization doing it. We want to pick up that torch and do it. We’ve got a gym now at the church. We’ve got a space where kids can come after school. There’s just so much more we could do.



I know.


But we need more volunteers because I can’t do everything, right? So we need to get people who are passionate about it. But it goes beyond church members. I know a hockey coach. He’s a very secular individual. But he says, “Dauncey, you get that program going, I will help. I will be there and I will coach.”


How does it feel to have a facility like yours and doing ministry with the kind of stuff that you already have, rock wall, gym, worship, auditorium, a place for kids.


I am so stoked. It’s still sinking in. We’ve only been in the facility for like six months. Already we’re just seeing this facility being used for so much. It’s just the tip-of-the-iceberg here. And we God the glory, okay? That is a facility that we will be used for his glory, and we always give him credit for it.


What do you think of Dave Jamieson, Pastor Dave Jamieson?


He’s a one-in-a-million. I have never worked with someone that has such vision and passion, you know. He constantly reinforces the vision to the congregation the importance of reaching lost men and women, boys and girls, for God’s kingdom.

He’s got a business background, so he’s good with lots of things. The finances of the church, keeping things running, he’s balanced, right? I mean, we work hard under him, but he also allows us to have balance in our life. If we have a family issue he will understand. I like, I love working here. I’ve been here six years almost. I’ve never been that long in a district, because it’s working. I love working with him, we’re a good team, because we’re like-minded, I’m not jockeying for his position, I don’t have to be lead pastor, I’m happy being associate, because he is directing the church, it’s going somewhere. He’s got the vision. I’m just here to hold his hands up.


So you’ve been working with Dave for six years. What kind of lessons have you learned working with a one-of-a-kind pastor, as you have said?


Well, one of the things he said once is when someone’s upset at you, they’re angry, and they’re raising their voice and stuff like that. He says “Now, would you like me to respond to you up here, the way you’re responding to me, or should we take it down and answer down here? Which would you like? Right?” And that diffuses the situation.


For sure.


Under his leadership I just learned that you have to deal with things, you have to be confident, you have to lead. You don’t just back up and take a back burner. If you’re a leader, you lead. And I’ve just become more of a leader under him. There’s a fine balance. You don’t want to be a dictator. But, but you do need to, people want to be led, right? People, everything rises and falls on leadership.


How has Pastor Dauncey changed before Aldergrove and now, Church in the Valley?


I’m just more confident, I’m not like a pushover. I want to be loving. I don’t like conflict. But what I’ve learned is, you have to deal with it. And right away. You don’t wait two weeks. You deal with what you have to deal with and nip it in the bud. Because it just gets worse, it just grows, it just snowballs.

JM: Yes. MD:

I’ve become more of a leader and willing to chair board meetings. I’m the AOK chair, and you have to be prepared, understand the financials before you come, and all that stuff, right? So I think just watching him, I’ve learnt a lot.


Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you so much. This is awesome. Whatever this is, is awesome.







by Stanley E. Patterson


n April 2006, President George W. Bush clarified his presidential authority by declaring himself as follows, “I’m the decider and I decide what is best.” This declaration was largely an oversimplification of the decision-making authority of the President of the United States. The president certainly has and is expected to exercise decision-making authority, but his role as “Decider” has limiting boundaries imposed by the Constitution of the United States, which checks and balances presidential authority by means of the Legislative and Judiciary branches of government. He has terminal authority, the final word, within the limits set by the Constitution. These limits have been an ever-present point of challenge and debate in American politics. Since this article is intended for pastors and those associated with pastoral ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it follows that we should ask where terminal authority lies in our church organization? Who are the deciders and what are the structures that balance and limit the exercise of power in the church? Does the church grant terminal authority as a function of leaders—pastors, conference officers, union and General Conference leaders? The history behind this question is long, complex, and, at times, painful. The early Advent believers initially rejected formal organization largely because of the treatment meted out by organizational leaders in the various churches toward these awakened believers who saw beyond the established belief structures. In 1860, James White articulated the attitude toward organization of those early days: “When we commenced to labor in this work, when the cause was young and the individuals who embraced it few, we did not see the necessity of any such steps [naming and organizing]. But it seems to me that the child is now so grown that it is exceedingly awkward to have no name for it” (J. White, 1860, p. 170). This resistance to formally organizing their new movement began to subside as they faced the complexities of identity, growth, property ownership, and the maintenance of order, which resulted in the naming of the church and the adoption of a basic organizational structure in 1860 (Schwarz & General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Department of Education, 1979, p. 95). What was not settled was the issue of the personal authority of the leader. Who has permission to exercise power? This elemental question was left to be pondered in the crucible of actual leadership and administration. The pounding and grinding resulted in conflict and pain to a degree beyond what most of us are aware. In the midst of a particularly difficult administrative argument with GC President, George Butler, in Battle Creek in 1873, James White suffered a life-threatening stroke that required immediate bedrest and separation from his leadership duties (Burton, 2015, p. 52). Even in this serious state of illness, James White was badgered the next day for his opinion and guidance on pending decisions for both the church and the publishing work. The practice of viewing James White as the final word on almost every aspect of decision-making reflects the historical tendency of humanity to formally and informally consolidate power in one or a few, as opposed to trusting in the collective opinion of the community. In the move to dominate and surpass his father’s legitimate heirs, Abimelech, the son of Gideon by his Shechemite concubine, articulates this clearly in a question to his mother’s family, “Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s (Gideon’s) sons rule over you, or just one man” (Judg 9:2)? This tendency toward consolidation of power has been a challenge throughout the history of God’s people. Divinely appointed organizational structure with rare exception begins as a distributed model, but through human effort it moves toward consolidation. The calling of the firstborn followed by that of the Levites, the confederacy of Israel under the Judges, and later


the priesthood of all believers are offset by the insistence of having a king and the establishment of the papacy. God empowered these communities by broadly distributing authority, only to have the community surrender that authority to a centralized leader.

. . . all major decisions regarding mission, finance, and personnel were designed to be made by the body—not by individuals.

The secular historical parallel to the Seventh-day Adventist Church during the latter half of the 19th century was the remarkably centralized authority of secular institutions and organizations of the Industrial Revolution. Leadership of that period was symbolized by “barons” such as John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil), Andrew Carnegie (U.S. Steel), and J.P. Morgan (Wall Street), among others (Goodwin, 2013). Secular leaders during this period exercised leadership more as kings than as mere men. The abuses and the extremity of greed for power leave us with tales of violence and cruelty almost beyond belief in civilized society. The Church during these years mirrored the leadership model of the industrial period “Great Man” model and moved toward what Ellen White consistently referred to as “Kingly Power” (E. G. White, 1985, p. 49) where decision-making was consolidated in one or a few leaders. This likewise resulted in autocratic abuses. In an attempt to bring order and unity out of the ambiguity of leader authority plaguing the church in the early 1870s, George Butler authored a pamphlet entitled Leadership (1873), built upon the premise of “authority centralized in one person” (Burton, 2015, p. 69). He presented it at camp meetings and preaching appointments to rave reviews by hearers who were acculturated to the “Great Man” model of governance. The essence of this tract communicated that “one person was in charge and other leaders were subordinate to that person.” All were to acquiesce to the decision of one man. The aggregate positive reception encouraged Butler to present the paper to the General Conference Session of November 1873, where it was affirmed by majority vote as reflecting the view of the General Conference on leadership. This strong positive response to Butler’s views was not shared by James and Ellen White. A telling excerpt of Ellen’s response to him follows: When this power which God has placed in the church is accredited to one man, and he is invested with the authority to be judgment for other minds, then the true Bible order is changed. Satan’s efforts upon such a man’s mind will be most subtle and sometimes overpowering, because through this mind he thinks he can affect many others. Your position on leadership is correct, if you give to the highest organized authority in the church what you have given to one man. God never designed that His work should bear the stamp of one man’s mind and one man’s judgment. (E. G. White, 1874, p. 496)


This leadership controversy debate ultimately resulted in a rescinding of the business action to adopt Butler’s essay, Leadership, by the Seventh-day Adventist Church on the basis that it pointed the church in the direction of a papal model. It should be noted that Butler never appears to have advocated for himself as the person who exercises terminal authority, but rather his view was that James White held an apostolic role in the church that set him apart for this unilateral privilege of authority regardless of the office James might or might not hold. This conflict set the stage for the next 30 years of leadership stress in the church. Those who championed what became known as “kingly power” advocated for terminal authority apart from deliberation by representatives of the body and held to the idea that leaders were to exercise judgment over members who were by assumption “subject” to their authority. The 1901 General Conference in Battle Creek saw Ellen White actively involved, following her 1900 return from Australia, in promoting a distributed leadership and governance model. She clearly rejected the kingly power model and the consolidation of authority in one or a few in favor of a broad distribution of authority among the members and clergy alike. She references these difficult years in the following words that establish the degree of seriousness attributed to violating these principles: In the work of God no kingly authority is to be exercised by any human being, or by two or three. The representatives of the Conference, as it has been carried with authority for the last twenty years, shall be no longer justified in saying, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we.” The men in positions of trust have not been carrying the work wisely. (E. G. White, 1985, p. 29) Though most Adventist history texts reference the 1901 General Conference Session as marking the reorganization of the church, it should be considered that the act to reorganize the church was not the primary focus or common purpose but, rather, 1901 in Battle Creek was a battle between two ideologies of the practice of leadership. The hierarchical model common to men down through the ages faced off against a flat organizational model rarely seen in ecclesiastical structure. Historically, it paralleled the successful secular effort in America to dismantle the abusive corporate giants ruled by Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, etc. (Goodwin, 2013, pp. 297-300), which emphasizes that it was not just the church that was dealing with abusive leadership practices, but at this time in history society at large was reacting to this dysfunctional model.

. . . our position does not establish our value. . . What emerged in the 1901 General Conference Session that was affirmed again in 1903 and 1908 was an organizational structure that was designed to ward off the human tendency to consolidate authority and attendant power in a few rather than distributing it broadly among the whole. Though it is possible and even appropriate to graph the structure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in pyramidal form, it should be understood that the structure created in 1901 was a hierarchy of order as opposed to a hierarchy of power. Leaders at each successive level cooperated with the leaders at the next lower level, but they did not and do not have a superior/ 27

subordinate relationship because their accountability was to their respective constituencies. Leaders were chosen by the people through their delegates and these leaders were empowered to lead on a limited basis of both time and scope. Consequently, leaders in the Church operate on loaned authority rather than owned authority. Formal authority was deposited with the membership and leaders were to serve as stewards of that authority. A further inoculation against the creeping influence of kingly power is revealed in the absence of terminal authority for its elected and appointed leaders. Seventh-day Adventist leaders are empowered to analyze and recommend, while terminal authority is committed to the various executive committees—church board and business sessions at the local level, and executive committees and conference sessions at the conference, union, and General Conference levels. This part of the SDA structural system disallows unilateral decision-making for strategic decisions by elected or appointed leaders, which flies in the face of what secular corporate or political leadership assumes in society. Leadership literature assumes that leaders make decisions. In an effort to hedge against the re-emergence of kingly power, our brethren, under the influence of the Holy Spirit and the inspired counsel of God’s servant, envisioned a system where all major decisions regarding mission, finance, and personnel were designed to be made by the body—not by individuals. Matthew 18 sets the standard for terminal authority, though it is best known for counsel on conflict and discipline, but the underlying issue of the chapter is authority. The point of terminal authority relating to conflict and church discipline is the church—not the accuser, not the pastor or elder, not the church board, but the church, collectively, arbitrates the final decision (vs. 17). And that decision of the body is honored by our God in heaven as “binding” (vs. 18). In Matthew 20, Jesus announces that His followers would not assume superiority over one another. That condition is not negated because of conferred position. Leaders in the Seventh-day Adventist Church serve their constituencies—they do not rule their constituencies. 1 Peter 5:2 places leaders among rather than over. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, our position does not establish our value, but rather it defines our responsibility. Our value is the same for all—“Let us labor with a perseverance and energy proportionate to the value Christ places upon His blood-bought heritage. Human souls have cost too much to be trifled with, or treated with harshness or indifference” (E. G. White, 1985, p. 7). The creeping influence of the leadership assumptions and practices of the world we inhabit remain a grave danger to the church. Kingly power tagged along with the appointment of a king in Israel. It raised its head to cause grief and misery for Jesus and finally cost Him His life. Kingly power was gradually conferred upon the Bishop of Rome and in the process nearly destroyed the church that Jesus died to plant. This same infection produced pain and grief for our pioneers in the late 19th century that has yet to be fully described, though recently more has been written to mark those tragic periods. The 21st century church is not immune. The corrupting influence of power can lead us to forget why the church was structured as it was. May the Holy Spirit reminds us of who was entrusted with authority—the Church, the Body and Bride of Christ. Leaders serve the process with creativity, careful analysis, and God-inspired recommendations, but the “Decider” is the Church.


Burton, K. (2015). Centralized for Protection: George I. Butler and his Philosophy of One-person Leadership. MA in Religion, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI. Goodwin, D. K. (2013). The bully pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of journalism (First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition. ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. Schwarz, R. W., & General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Department of Education. (1979). Light bearers to the remnant: Denominational history textbook for Seventh-day Adventist college classes. Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press. White, E. G. (1874). Testimony to the Church (Vol. 3). Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press. White, E. G. (1985). Christian Leadership. Washington DC: Ellen G. White Estate. White, J. (1860). Business Proceedings of Battle Creek Conference (continued). Review and Herald, 16(22). DISCUSS THIS ON

Stanley E. Patterson is a Professor of Christian Ministry at the SDA Theological Seminary.



by Hyveth Williams



he church of Jesus Christ is His Body, Bride, Temple, Army, Flock and Family. It is a vibrant community sometimes referred to among Christians as a great ship traversing the stormy seas of life where Satan, like the titanic iceberg, threatens to derail and destroy it’s designated mission to seek and save the lost. Preachers are divinely appointed pilots of this ship while the congregation is the anointed crew. There’s perhaps no greater privilege or responsibility than to be called to be a leader or captain of this great ship. While the Bible provides some challenging requirements for Christian leadership, Ellen White noted that, “The Lord does not leave the ship one moment to be steered by ignorant pilots.”1 When it comes to preaching as an essential, central, spiritual leadership dimension, “What is needed today is not a new Gospel, but men and women who can restate the gospel of the Son of God in terms that will reach the very heart of our problems. Today people are flinging the truth overboard as well as the terms. Why should we not become workers who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth to our own people? The majority of orthodox ministers are hopelessly useless, and the unorthodox seem to be the only ones who are used. We need men and women who are saturated with the truth of God who can restate the old truth in terms that appeal to our day.” 2 There are times, for the spiritual leader, when deconstruction is helpful to create reconstruction of a new life in the Word. Familiarity with a theology of preaching: 1 helps the preacher decide what significance should be attached to research, sermon preparation, and delivery; 2 shows the methodology of “how to” preach, under which most preachers are trained, seldom, if ever, answers the question, “How can or will they preach and lead unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15:a); 3 clarifies for the preacher what leadership does for theology and vice versa, so that sermons are not endless methodological rules and formulas or rhetorical gymnastics and 4 “Theology’s exposition of the faith and its openness to the world corresponds with preaching’s dual responsibility to the word and the world.”3

There are “Major issues within a theology of preaching, including the authority [or leadership] responsibilities of the preacher, the relationship of the Bible to preaching, and the historical, social, and liturgical contexts of preaching.”4 Additionally, expectations of leadership in preaching range from proclaiming the word of God; to liberating the oppressed, to providing pastoral counseling on a group scale. Although this range is broad, some experts suggest three major groupings: a preaching principally is to play a role in the sanctification of the people of faith; b preaching’s primary role is in the justification of human beings before God;5 and c good preachers are also good leaders although the reverse is seldom expected.


David M. Greenhaw suggests that, “The office of the preacher is ideally preserved for those who are capable of careful and faithful interpretation of the traditions of the church. He or she is to have enough training and character to promote a fitting Christian style of life, to explicate the sources of the Christian faith and apply them meaningfully to the present setting.”6 Preachers who are called to these responsibilities are also expected to be human and holy, but tend to be either human or holy. Both extremes are detrimental to potential spiritual leadership and the growth of a congregation. What It Means to Be Human and Holy Jesus calls us to follow Him and He was human and holy: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are” (human) and “yet without sin,” (holy). Being human, “Jesus did not die a death with dignity but a death endured, screaming to a God who did not answer. Jesus paid the price. He became utterly poor. In this total renunciation, Jesus professed what it means to be human. He endured our lot. He came to us where we really were and stood with us, struggling with His whole heart to have us say yes to our innate poverty.”7 But it’s not a material poverty, but in spirit (Matthew 5:3) that drives one to total dependence on God. “How does this poverty of spiritism [sic] reflect itself in day-to-day living” asked Brennan Manning? He answers with an invaluable description of a great leader: “In conversation, the poor man always leaves the other person feeling, ‘My life has been enriched by talking with you.’ And it has. He is not all exhaust and no intake. He doesn’t impose himself on another; he doesn’t overwhelm him with his wealth of insights; he doesn’t try to convert him by concussion with the sledgehammer blow of the Bible after another. He listens well because he realizes he is poor and has much to learn from others. His poverty enables him to enter the existential world of the other, even when he cannot identify with the world. Being poor, he knows how to receive and can express appreciation and gratitude for the slightest gift.”8 To be holy is one of God’s commands (Leviticus 11:44). Because holiness is to the spiritual life what breathing is to the natural, it wasn’t a principle to be observed only by Moses and the Israelites during their exodus, for this injunction is repeated in 1 Peter 1:1 & 15. Despite these biblical admonitions for holiness, some who claim Christianity as their faith, and leadership as their gift, have little or no concept of what it means to “be holy.” In fact, a survey conducted by the Barna Research Group found the idea of holiness baffling to most church-attending Americans—both preachers and congregants. It concluded that they are and remain confused, if not daunted, by the concept.9 The biggest challenge to practicing holiness is the “self.” Jesus said: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, He/she must deny [say no to, absolutely repudiate] self and take up his/her cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34 – amplification mine). According to A. W. Tozer, this “Self is the opaque veil that hides the Face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by instruction. As well try to instruct leprosy out of our system. There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us” because “Self can live unrebuked at the very altar. It can watch the bleeding Victim die and not be in the least affected by what it sees. It can fight for the faith of the Reformers and preach eloquently the creed of salvation by grace, and gain strength by its efforts. To tell the truth,” he emphasized, “it seems actually to feed upon orthodoxy and is more at home in a Bible Conference than in a tavern. Our very state of longing after God may afford it an excellent condition under which to thrive.”10 However, “Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life in hope ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust. We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life, and then reckon it crucified.”11 Two practices for the repudiation of the self-life can be named among Christian leaders. First is a negative autosoterism, This is a combination of two Greek words: autos – self and soter – salvation or the spiritual and eternal deliverance granted by God alone (Revelation 12:10) without human participation or intervention, unlike sozo, the temporal, human and divine partnership of deliverance from sin. It is a naturalistic religious belief that one can save one’s self, based on one’s natural powers to accomplish everything God requires for salvation. Preachers who practice autosoterism, this most perni-


cious false religious doctrine that proposes humans are capable of doing what only God can do are also authoritarian leaders. Second is the prayer of relinquishment. “We learn the Prayer of Relinquishment in the school of Gethsemane. Gaze in adoring wonder at the scene. The solitary figure etched against gnarled olive trees. The bloodlike sweat falling to the ground. The human longing: ‘Let this cup pass.’ The final relinquishment: ‘Not my will but yours be done’ (Luke 22:39-46). We do well to meditate often on this unparalleled expression of relinquishment.”12 This type of prayer is a giving up of all rights to oneself to God. It “is a bona fide letting go, but it is a release with hope. We have no fatalist resignation. We are buoyed up by a confident trust in the character of God. Even when all we see are tangled threads on the backside of life’s tapestry, we know that God is good and is out to do us good always. That gives us hope to believe we are the winners, regardless of what we are being called upon to relinquish. God is inviting us deeper in and higher up. There is training in righteousness, transforming power, new joys, deeper intimacy.”13 This can be the source of strength for a spiritual leader. How Being Human and Holy Affects the Preacher as a Leader First, the preacher should be as intense about worship as she or he is about preaching. If and when “Worship lies lower down the priority list behind preaching, leadership, pastoral care, and administration . . . Hubris plagues the act of preaching; rightly convinced of preaching’s importance, preachers can wrongly become self-important.”14 This trend can tempt preachers to think more highly of themselves and usurp the role of God among His people instead of plumbing the depths of Scripture to bring out the beautiful gems of wisdom to transform worshippers. According to Jeff Crittenden, Walter Brueggemann passionately declared that it captures their imagination and reshapes their experience of the world in such a way that justice, compassion, right relations, and hope abound. Crittenden also referred to Augustine’s statement that the preacher’s responsibility, as leader, is to educate, to delight, and persuade. Affirming this, Karl Barth is reported to have said the preacher should have the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other in order to function legitimately as a human and holy ambassador of Christ. Second, the preacher should show that he or she is human by preaching hope and practicing grace with loving understanding through life’s many transitions. “Preaching through transitions demands that the preachers be carefully tuned into the context of the community they are serving.”15 Times of grief and loss are some of the most difficult and dreaded responsibilities of pastoral leadership. They should be used to: a honor the memory of the loved one with authentic vignettes of his or her life; b comfort the bereaved in their loss with a homily or short sermon, not with long evangelistic sermons to capture the minds of people who would not otherwise come to church; and c avoid controversial theological discourses. A good leader points to the biblical promises of Jesus Christ that death will one day be overcome (1 Corinthians 15:26). While visitation and homilies are important tools, counseling and compassionate conversation also bring relief to those going through painful transitions.

Weddings are happier occasions, but they are transitions that require as much sensitivity and preparation as a funeral. “The celebration and blessing of a marriage presents the preacher with a unique opportunity. The ambiguity of the marriage ceremony, in which secular and sacred elements combine, challenges the preacher’s imagination, pastoral skills, and powers of communication.”16 Weddings are also great opportunities for a spiritual leader to demonstrate that they are both human and holy. 33

What we need now, more than ever is spiritual leadership through preaching that helps hearers make transitions “from what was toward what is emerging in their personal lives.”17 1. Counsels to Writers and Editors, p 2. Oswald Chambers, Approved Unto God, p. 19. 3. Richard Lischer, A Theology of Preaching, p. 5. 4. Ibid 5. Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching, pp. 477-8. 6. Ibid. p. 478. 7. Souvenirs of Solitude, p. 90. 8. Ibid. 9. 10. The Pursuit of God, p. 45. 11. Ibid. p. 47. 12. Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home, p. 49. 13. Ibid. p. 52. 14. Preaching As Worship: An Integrative Approach to Formation in Your Church, p. 28. 15. Ibid 16. Ibid. p. 426. 17. Three Goals for Preaching in Our Context, pp. 41-42. DISCUSS THIS ON

Hyveth Williams serves as Professor/Director of Homilitecs and Acting Seminary Chaplain at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University where she is also founder and Senior Pastor of The Grace Place, a community church plant in South Bend, Indiana.



Uzzah Effect




serious trip through the Old Testament takes you through some rough neighborhoods. Battles ending with the death of thousands, mass killing of women and children, adultery hidden by murder, and impudent village children killed by a bear are a few such chronicles. A case in point is this text in 2 Samuel 6, a narrative inserted within David’s transfer of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. “And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.” 2 Samuel 6:6-7

all of us face the lightly regarded temptation to take matters into our own hands and act independently.


Why the outburst against Uzzah? Like King David we may be offended by God’s act. “And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzzah….” 2 Samuel 6:8 Why is the narrative preserved in scripture? Is there a lesson for us in the death of Uzzah? There is; but it is often dismissed too hastily, or not deeply considered. Since the Exodus the ark had provided assurance of the presence of God with Israel. It remained a symbol of His providence when Samuel was recognized as a prophet of God. In that time, wanting to assert power and sovereignty, Israel initiated battle with the Philistines a short distance from Shiloh. Having not sought the guidance of God the army suffered defeat. In that desperate moment the elders of Israel seized on a bright idea; removing the ark from the sanctuary in Shiloh they hastily transported it to the place of battle believing it would bring them victory. Rather than humbly and prayerfully waiting for God’s direction, they took matters into their own hands. They trusted in their own plans, their own strategy, rather than God’s providence. Israel suffered defeat, and the ark was taken from them by the Philistines. The events surrounding the eventual movement of the ark back to Israel take place against this backdrop of presumption; humanity ignoring the providence of God in favor of their own control. The ark brought plague to the Philistines and destruction to the symbols of their gods. So they released the ark. A team of cattle was hitched to pull the cart bearing the ark, and though unfamiliar with their burden and separated from newly born calves they made their way directly to Bethshemesh, a Levitical city of Israel. Later the ark was repositioned, this time to the house of Abinadab where Eleazar, apparently a descendent of Aaron, cared for it. It remained there through the years of Samuel’s judgeship, Saul’s reign, plus the early years of David’s reign; a time span of about 60 years. Then we pick up the story of the ark’s transition in 2 Samuel 6.

Uzzah’s death occurs within the story of David’s determination to bring the ark to Jerusalem. David saw Jerusalem as the new capital of Israel and the focal point for the restoration of Israel to its appointed place in history. He possessed some conviction that it would revive the faith of the nation. It was also a politically astute thing to do. David prepared a ritual dedication, grand procession, and magnificent ceremony to sanctify the city hoping the presence of the ark would assure the success of the government and the welfare of the people. Aglow with a vision of his own kingly success mixed with a longing for restoration of God’s glory, he led the procession himself with the pomp and ceremony fitting a king.


Kings and religious leaders often act on their own. In a similar way, all of us face the lightly regarded temptation to take matters into our own hands and act independently. Sometimes we cannot discern our own motives for doing so. The ark, either by David’s instruction or that of the religious leaders, had been placed on a cart. Certainly the priests of God knew better; it was supposed to be carried on poles borne on the shoulders of the sons of Kohath. The ark, thus transported, began what was suppose to be its last nine mile journey. Things are going well enough; David is notably leading the procession in his kingly garb, a military escort goes before and after, musicians and priests add to the ceremony, and it seems the entire nation is celebrating. Then it happened. The ark approached a hidden rut on an old threshing ground. Covered with chaff, the rut was hidden from the oxen. They stumbled. Uzzah, whose name ironically means strength, and who was apparently a son of Abinadab on whose property the ark had been for many years, did the responsible thing. He had been around the ark as a child; grown up with it. He felt responsible, and had in fact been assigned to walk beside it as a security measure. Now sensing the ark might fall, he reached out to steady the ark. Just in case. For his action of apparent stewardship, he is struck dead by God.

Sometimes a spontaneous gesture discloses a great deal. 38

What are we to make of this? Poor Uzzah. Isn’t this a prudent, thoughtful, responsible action? True, Israel had disobeyed God’s instruction regarding how to transport the ark. But all Israel did not perish for that disobedience to God’s instruction. Why Uzzah? Would it be a good thing if the cart tipped and the ark fell to the ground? God’s instruction “they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die” (Nu 4:15) is helpful. Perhaps we can dismiss this event as a simple reminder to not touch holy things. The story is so troubling that we are tempted to assume that first apparent lesson, and speed our way out of 2 Samuel 6. God wants us to treat holy things with reverence and holy fear - now let’s move on. Right? We can slide past chapter 6 in preference for chapter 7. The ark, after resting for some months after the Uzzah incident, makes its way happily to Jerusalem. It is borne with greater regard for God’s instruction, it is not touched, and no one dies. But pause for a moment. Pause to seek what God is saying to us in the experience of Uzzah. The fascinating narrative that accompanies the taking up of the ark again provides a deeper insight into the meaning of the narrative. David abandons his kingly robes in exchange for a linen ephod, a common priestly garment, and dances before God as one rejoicing among the congregation. He is not acting like their king. He has humbled himself. His behavior outrages Michal, one of his wives and the daughter of Saul, but David defends himself; “And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight.” ( 2 Samuel 6:22) Humble in my own sight. The first utterance of David in his prayer of thanksgiving in chapter 7 provides another clue. David says; “Who am I, O Lord God?” (2 Samuel 7:18). I am intrigued by the decision of Ellen White to focus on the contrast of the final procession to the first in her commentary on the narrative of the death of Uzzah. Describing David’s decision to wear a linen ephod she comments: “But in this holy service he would take his place as, before God, on an equality with his subjects. Upon that day Jehovah was to be adored. He was to be the sole object of reverence.” (Patriarchs and Prophets p.707) Commenting on Michal, the daughter of Saul who rebuked David for laying aside his kingly garments and position, she comments on the contrasting pride and arrogance of Michal. (Patriarchs and Prophets p. 711) Uzzah demonstrated in his spontaneous gesture self reliance; he needed to keep the ark safe on its course. It was up to him. He did not trust the care of the ark to God. Sometimes a spontaneous gesture discloses a great deal. Some years ago I took up the process of teaching our daughter to drive. Allow me to dramatize one experience to illustrate the point. She quickly progressed from country roads and study for her driver’s permit to the day she would back our shiny un-dented and un-scratched minivan out of our driveway onto the residential roads of our neighborhood. I was in the passenger seat. Things were going smoothly, and my conversation about school and friends was intended to demonstrate my trust and ease with her in the driver’s seat. Then it happened. I am going to provide some exaggeration of the details to emphasize my point. Noticing a car quickly approaching the intersection from our right, sensing both cars, driven by teen drivers, would simultaneously arrive at the intersection, and noting no awareness on my daughters part, I did what any responsible father would do. “Brakes!”; I loudly demanded. Screeching to a halt she looked at me with disappointment and asked this question; “You didn’t trust me, did you?” Well, no. I had to act. Just in case. You see, I had to intervene just in case she could not handle it.


Uzzah confessed his faith with a spontaneous gesture. More than that, he symbolized the dependence of a king (David) on his own designs. Every time in our spontaneous gestures we presume the role of God, failing to trust God, I see Uzzah. When in leadership we exercise kingly control, asserting authority to keep the church on course I see Uzzah. When in stewardship of the worship service we criticize people who sing or preach differently than we do I see Uzzah. When we argue theology with judgmental tones toward those who differ I see Uzzah. When we harshly condemn the couple visiting the church who live together before marriage I see Uzzah. When we reject our children for dress or music different than our own I see Uzzah. When we use positional authority to keep the church on the course we presume to be right I see Uzzah. In all these scenarios and countless others when we could choose to patiently and humbly seek God’s providence together as a church but rather choose to take matters into our own hands - I see Uzzah. We make ourselves king. We critique, point out the error, even search for it. Like Uzzah, we consider it good stewardship. But in so doing we fail to rely on God and allow His providence to do it’s work. We humans easily presume the place of God; the Uzzah effect I call it. Just in case. Does God depend on us or we on God? Why do we fear humility that leads us to prayer, reflection, biblical study together, and patient conversation with one another and the next generation? Why do we choose instead to fill the air with judgment on others, leaders, teachers, and the church family? Why can we not wait on God? Dear Seventh-day Adventist Christian leader, life contains more trust and joy than we first knew. May God deliver us from thinking the world depends on us - the Uzzah effect. God may steady the ark at a certain moment, or He may choose to let trials do their work in His church. Trust, obey, pray, pray some more, talk peaceably with one another, reason together, let God work in His church. Considering poor Uzzah, isn’t that safer? Just in case? DISCUSS THIS ON

Skip Bell serves as Professor of Leadership at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary and makes his home in Berrien Springs, Michigan with his wife, Joanie.


CALLED. . . but

WHY? Perspectives on the call to leadership


by Samuel Indreiu


ave you ever wondered why…? Why did God call you to a role of leadership? Whether you are a pastor, an elder or a church administrator, why did God call you specifically? If you are anything like me, especially when I have committed a great blunder in ministry, in exasperation you would have asked: “Why in the world did God call me to leadership? Lord … what are you getting out of it?” I invite you on a journey to explore a few different perspectives on our calling. I am not saying that I know why God called you, but I hope that this journey will help strengthen your confidence in God’s call in your life, more specifically, in the basis of God’s call in your life. Furthermore, I would like to suggest that often times, God calls leaders to spiritual leadership roles for their own sake and sanctification as well as his mission. Perspective 1: My Obedience We will start our journey with an extreme understanding of one’s call. In Exodus 19:5 we read: “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples.” So one can conclude based on this scripture alone that my obedience is the basis for God’s call in my life. God calls spiritual leaders because they have a proven record of obedience. When I was growing up I remember thinking that God would never call me to a leadership position since I am quite rebellious and nonconformist. Now … if we are to be faithful to the context in Exodus 19, the preceding verse says: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.” God had already brought them up from the land of slavery and as such they were already called.

Perspective 2: The Goodness of My Heart Moving on in our journey, we come to 1 Samuel 16:7 in which God, speaking of the anointing of a successor to King Saul, tells the prophet Samuel: “Do not look at his appearance … for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 42

As a leader, this can be very reassuring. It tells me that God knows that my heart is good, it’s ok … or will eventually be good and ok, even though I may still have some small “heart” issues now. Furthermore, we discover God’s perception of David in Acts 13:22. “I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.” So … God knew David’s heart and He knew that David would do all His will. This is a very high standard! As God looks at my heart and chooses me to be a spiritual leader, He is affirming the goodness of my heart and my commitment and ability to do His will. How wonderful to receive this affirmation by which God says: “Well done good (hearted) and faithful servant!” But let’s ask: in David’s case, how well did this work? We know that David had major moral falls – David had major “heart” problems. Additionally, in Jeremiah 17:9 we read that “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Am I, a spiritual leader, an exception to this? Let’s not kid ourselves … for David himself begs God in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God;” David recognized that His heart was impure and evil. Problems with Perspectives 1 and 2 At this moment let’s take a detour and discuss some problems with the first two perspectives. First of all, in perspective 1 and 2, the focus is on our obedience to God, or the goodness of our hearts and our ability to do God’s will. There is plenty of Biblical support to the contrary. Secondly, there are hints of legalism (perspective 1 is legalism) as we can summarize the perspectives as: my doing leading to God’s calling. Thirdly, perspective 1 and 2 lead to pride. Since God chose me to be the leader based on the goodness of my heart, it follows that the hearts of those I am called to lead must not be as good as mine. After all, God called me to be a pastor but he called Johnny to be an elder only … so my heart must be better than Johnny’s heart. From here, it is very easy to come up with a ranking of people’s goodness levels. Also it would be easy to acquire domineering attitudes towards those I am called to lead.


“Leaders who are gripped by a call from God do well to remember that they serve the call. The call is not given to serve them. The initiative and substance of the call belong to God. The leader is an instrument in the Lord’s hand to help others have the opportunity to live their lives with greater significance and in relationship with God.” (McNeal, 2000, p. 27) Fourthly, perspective 1 and 2 fail miserably during the storms of leadership. As we look at ourselves we have no solution. Moreover, when we are inward focused we see no support. We look at ourselves and we begin our guilt trip. “It must be a problem with my obedience or a problem with my heart” we might say. Ask yourself, “What happens when problems arise? What happens to your anxiety? Can you remain calm and trusting? Do you continue leading as a non-anxious presence?” If you answer yes to these questions, what is your secret? Could it be found in our third perspective? Perspective 3: God’s love and promises When we recognize that our call is not based on our obedience, the goodness of our heart, or our ability to follow God, we will accept and embrace the fact that God’s call is solely an act of grace to us based on His love and promises with the goal being our sanctification and ultimately our glorification. In Exodus 6:8 we read “I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Furthermore, Deuteronomy 4:37 states “Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them” while Deuteronomy 7:7,8 adds “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers ….” I invite you to consider the following illustration: Moses has been up on the mountain for quite some time by now, receiving the instructions regarding the sacrificial system. In Exodus 29:4-9 God is giving Moses detailed instructions for the ordination of Aaron and His sons. God basically says that Moses has to wash his brother, dress him, put a turban on his head and pour oil to anoint him.


As the High Priest, one of Aaron’s duties was to represent God to the people. What kind of character would be required of the person chosen to do this? If you were God, what kind of person would you chose? Why did God call Aaron to be the high priest? Was it because of His obedience or his good heart? Or was it purely an act of God’s love, mercy and grace? Moreover, let’s discuss the timing … specifically, what was Aaron doing even as God was giving Moses instructions for his ordination? We find the answer in Exodus 32 in the shocking story of the golden calf: Aaron was leading God’s people into rebellion and idolatry. “Such a crisis demanded a man of firmness, decision, and unflinching courage; one who held the honor of God above popular favor, personal safety, or life itself. But the present leader of Israel was not of this character.” (White, 316) “Aaron feared for his own safety; and instead of nobly standing up for the honor of God, he yielded to the demands of the multitude. … he made a molten calf, in imitation of the gods of Egypt. … He did more. Seeing with what satisfaction the golden god was received, he built an altar before it, and made proclamation, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” (White, 317) We should remember that God is omniscient and He certainly knew what Aaron was doing even as He was giving Moses those detailed instructions. What would I do if I was God? How about you? Given Aaron’s blatant apostasy, a change of plans would certainly be recommended, even required. There is no way that Aaron could continue as God’s representative to the people. There wouldn’t even be a need for discussion! It is a very clear situation. And here God shows that His ways are not our ways! May He be praised forever! 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 states For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”


I suggest to you that God doesn’t call us for the many benefits that He will get from our service (after all … if the stones can cry out they should be able to lead as well), rather He calls us for the many benefits we will get from our service. He calls us to spiritual transformation, to grow in our knowledge of Him. He calls us to sanctification through spiritual leadership. “God appoints leaders. People may apply for various leadership positions, but God is the one who ultimately determines which leadership roles they will have. Leadership development comes through character development, because leadership is a character issue.” (Blackaby 2011, p. 81) I see this very clearly in my life and in Scripture, in his love, God knows that I have the best chance at sanctification if I am called to the role I am performing right now. He wants to be with me for eternity and He knows that my call to leadership is the best chance He has to make this happen. In closing, my prayer is that you will see the following verses in a new light. “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:12-17) All Bible verses are from the NASB. Blackaby, H. T., & Blackaby, R. (2011). Spiritual Leadership: Moving people on to God’s agenda (Rev. & expanded ed.). Nashville, Tenn.: B & H Pub. Group. McNeal, R. (2000). A work of heart: understanding how God shapes spiritual leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. White, E. G. H. (1913). The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets: The Conflict of the Ages Illustrated in the Lives of Holy Men of Old. Pacific Press Pub. Assn. DISCUSS THIS ON

Samuel Indreiu


serves as the pastor for the Burbank and La Grange - Brookfield Churches close to Chicago, IL. He lives in Willowbrook, IL along with his wife, Sladjana, his sons, Simon and Noah, and two border collie dogs, Cy and Rocky.





ou might think it’s just you against the bad guys in the “OK Corral” as you confront destructive conflict in your church, but those you love at home often face the consequent damage and injury to an equal or greater degree. The pastor’s spouse and family often suffer painful and lasting effects of collateral damage even though they may not be on the front lines of such conflict. This was true particularly in one of the conflicts I encountered in ministry awhile back. When I began to engage in a process of resolution for this conflict, I found that very quickly the pressure on me became intense and stayed that way. For a period of about six months, as I and several others worked hard toward peace and well-being in our fellowship, the conflict became the all-absorbing subject of my thoughts and conversations. It became almost everything to me—it nearly crushed me. Toward the end, I found my usually sound sleep was shortened or disturbed almost nightly; my appetite for food, usually robust, decreased so much that I ended up losing about 25 pounds on an already fairly lean frame. And at one point, I felt so low and overwhelmed, and so completely exhausted, that I seriously considered leaving ministry entirely.

So what do you do to stay sane, to be faithful to your calling, and to hold yourself and your family together? But beyond these significant consequences in my own life, the conflict had serious negative effects on my wife and children. The fallout for my wife was the most substantial. One of the most hurtful elements in the conflict for her were the things that people said directly to me or to others about me. She remarked, “When I would hear some of the things people said to my husband or were saying about him to others, I was shocked, hurt and even angry. I know him as a kind, generous, compassionate and sympathetic person and here they were representing him as something completely different.” Along with the things that were expressed openly, were the things left unspoken. My wife noticed that many friendships cooled even among people who did not seem to share the negative opinions of the few in opposition to me. This direct and indirect toxicity impacted my wife’s relationship with many of the church members and made her uncomfortable attending services at the church for a long time. The experience has made her very guarded about forming friendships with church members to this day. Finally, the sheer length of the conflict was draining her emotional reserve as well as mine. The resolution of the conflict seemed so far off, so impossibly difficult. She often expressed thoughts about moving away, or even quitting ministry. Her outlook on life was very bleak. Our grade-school children were aware of the general contours of the conflict, and as the process of resolution ground on, they also became aware of the anxieties and tensions that weighed on their mother and me. We did our best to shield them from the worst of the negative communication and emotion, but they were definitely affected by what was on our hearts and minds so much of the time during those months. 48

In addition, there were several instances of bullying from some of the kids at church who were from families with adults who had feelings against my leadership. Beyond the sporadic intimidation from their peers, there were a couple of instances where a few of the adults who had issues with me, picked on them unnecessarily, seeming to see them as my surrogates. This was very hard on kids who as PKs already live in the church ‘fishbowl’ where their behavior is often commented on and scrutinized more than the average child kid. And, it made my wife and I angry, pressing us even further to consider moving on, or quitting ministry. After prayer and counsel, I decided not to confront the bullies, either the juvenile or the adult. We did keep a close watch on what was happening with our children, looking for repetition, or escalation, but mostly helping them to process what was going on. Short of finding a magic wand, or a complete divine deliverance on the order of Jericho’s walls come a tumbling down, managing and resolving conflict sucks precious time and energy that in the best of times are in short supply. So what do you do to stay sane, to be faithful to your calling, and to hold yourself and your family together? We found a number of practices to be helpful. Number one, keep talking. Keep talking to each other, to your kids and to God. Keep expressing feelings, and encouraging one another. Let your spouse hear your heart, even some of the edgy stuff where you are not so strong, not so confident, even where you are angry and fearful. And hear their stuff too. Help your kids to understand the dynamics of what is going on, and express their thoughts and emotions. But point them all to God, to His presence and power. You go there to. You won’t feel like it sometimes. Go anyway. Number two, more talking. Seek godly counsel. Talk with people in your ministerial department. Talk to other pastors of experience. Most of them will have been through something similar. We found that talking to friends and colleagues who were nowhere near to the situation gave us a larger frame to think from, a wider perspective to view our situation. As we would pour out our hearts to them, especially to the ones in ministry, a story from their past would touch us, a word of wisdom would refresh us, or a point of clarification would bring us hope and strength to keep going. Number three, and especially, but not only, for the kids, get away from town, go away for even just a couple of days, to the mountains, to the beach. Go somewhere, preferably, that gives you uninterrupted contact with the natural world. Yes, you will continue to think about the situation, the cloud of concern will follow you. But you will find that somewhere on the hike, or playing in the waves with the kids, that you will have had a moment of forgetfulness, the intensity and the struggle will seem distant for a few seconds. The cloud of concern will float away just a little, and you will breathe a bit deeper. And if that is true for you, it will be more true for your spouse, and more still for your children. We got away a couple of times even when we didn’t think we could because of time and obligation, and even when we thought it wouldn’t do us any good. It did. Four, for the children in particular, but for you too, pay special attention to maintaining structure and schedules. Get up at a set time, and go to bed on a regular schedule too. You might not sleep well, but you will rest some. Plan for fun times too. You will have to force yourself, but get out and toss the football, play a board game, ride bikes around the neighborhood together. It will help them and, really, it will help you too. Five. Claim the promises. I know, you do this anyway. But now, especially in the intensity, the unrelenting anxiety of conflict, you will live or die on the basis of your connection or disconnection from God’s assurances. Much of the book of Psalms and many other areas of scripture have emotion and language that fits a ministry conflict situation in a way and to a degree that you will never perceive until you read them, cry through them, and cling to them in the midst of a ministry upheaval. Our God was David’s God before, and He has lost none of His interest and sympathy for the overwhelmed, or His power to sustain and deliver. “O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8 (NLT). 49

Resources: There are materials and people that can help pastors and their families who experience church conflict immensely. The SDA Theological Seminary has a distance education course available on Conflict Management taught by Dr. Stan Patterson. Also, it is possible to schedule an Intro to Conflict Management training for pastors at annual pastors’ meeting by inviting either Stan Patterson or Skip Bell (contact through the seminary). There is a 6 hour minimum of time necessary for these presentations. One of the best “how to” books for expanding your functional knowledge of conflict intervention techniques: Furlong, G. T. (2010). The Conflict Resolution Toolbox: Models and Maps for Analyzing, Diagnosing, and Resolving Conflict: Wiley. ISBN: 0470678496 Improve your own conflict strengths: Steinke, P. L. (2006). Congregational leadership in anxious times: Being calm and courageous no matter what: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN: 1566993288 Before things heat up (and they will, sooner or later) try understanding yourself better: Assessment instrument with short explanation of conflict styles available: Leas, S. B. (1997). Discover your conflict management style: Alban Institute ISBN: 1566991846. Preeminent group training: Peacemaker Ministries Lastly, I suggest a thorough read of Friedman’s book, A Failure of Nerve. His analysis of the actual mechanism between leaders, the people they lead and dysfunctional system actors in conflict is the best I have ever read. Especially wrestle with his idea on empathy and pathogens, it will seem to run counter to everything you know, but it’s actually dead on with how things actually work. Friedman, E. H. (2007). A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix: Church Publishing Inc.. ISBN: 1596271671 DISCUSS THIS ON

Monte Robison 50

pastors the Ocala Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ocala, Florida.




s a pastoral candidate interviewing at a new church, I was asked to preach for the congregation as part of the process. After the message, I was given the opportunity to engage in a Q&A with the congregation. As someone who does contract graduate and post-graduate teaching, I always enjoy that kind of repartee. Following the brief interaction, I met a few of the congregants. One man, about my age, came up to me afterward and inserted into my world a new reality for interviewing and preaching, “Pastor, I just wanted to let you know while you were preaching, I was Googling your name.” Wow! I quickly did my own mental Googling to see if I could remember writing, posting, publicly saying anything that would get me into trouble with this man. “And you don’t need to worry,” he added (was it that obvious on my face?), “I thought your message was spot-on and we’d love to have you here.” Whew…air once again filled my lungs. This new context defines the world in which pastors now roam the earth. And when you combine this context with leading, the mixture can potentially lead to unbelievable pain. I would like to suggest the following as a working definition for what leadership can be: Leadership is a transforming relational process involving two or more individuals who are freely associated in the pursuit of a common purpose. Three words provide sufficient cause for examination in light of this shifting context: “transforming,” “relational,” and “process.” This transforming relational process within the context of a Googling world and church serves as a particular mixture contributing to the suffering leader. The contextual sources of suffering can be many: a betrayal by a longtime supporter who cannot bear the tension they feel; the spouse who must navigate between their own identified career and the weighted expectations of congregants; the children who don’t quite understand why it is that people are not nice to mom; the conference leaders who drive the pastor instead of leading the pastor; the church elder who would rather place more stock in what an Internet site says about the leader than what they actually know after six years of life together; the financial constraints arising from exorbitant school loans and a wage scale that can’t possibly make up the difference; other congregants who now determine your value not by who you are but whether you comply with their internal litmus test; the attempted leading of the congregation to pursue mission without the employing agency providing coverage to that innovative pastor; the weighted expectations of congregants based upon what they can watch on YouTube versus what they find in the leader’s preaching— all these and more can supply an endless storehouse of sources that can bring any pastor worth their salt to a dark night of the soul. Now, while all these may contribute, it is precisely this transforming relational process that brings a weight to bear in the very soul of the leader. “The Word became flesh” provides the biblical language describing the relational nature of leadership. Leadership 52

is relationship. The Word was not satisfied with a leadership defined by positional authority. The Word descended from His position. The Word got his sandals muddy, His robes dusty, His hands bloody. Relational leadership is just plain messy. Pastoral leaders are asked to engage this transforming relational process within a world suspect of leaders, even more of leaders from more traditional social institutions. Authority in the past resided in the position, in the expert, in the specialist. This is no longer the case, especially among the younger generations. And this shift has radical implications. Specific to the suffering leader, however, the shift is extremely significant. Authority now resides in relationship and not solely in position. The bonds of trust (the largest denomination in the currency of leadership) are anchored in this transforming relational process within the social context of distrust and anxiety. Leaders can easily revert to one of two defaults in this context. The first will be for positionally authorized leaders to dig heels in and shift (unconsciously) to a driving model of leadership. The shift away from a model of leadership that builds the relationship now pivots to a model of pushing through an agenda that leaves in its wake broken souls and communities. The agenda may arise victorious on the other side of the introduced chaos—but the capability of the people to engage with the victorious agenda has been significantly reduced. It is to this Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke, “He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”1 The second can be equally as devastating. The leader can begin to hide in plain sight. The pastor no longer seeks to lead but more significantly seeks to keep his head down. The leader begins to organize the life around the prevention of one more phone call, one less email, one fewer text. Over a long period of time, the leadership mantle of the pastor has been suffocated by the necessity of less connection and more retreat. There is a third way and it tends to be the way less traveled for one very good reason: the third way can be described as the suffering leader. To resist the urge to fight, force, and drive or to hide in plain sight and abide in this transforming relational process requires more than people possess within themselves. The suffering leader cares as much about the people he leads as the vision he pursues. The delicate balance between vision pursuit and leadership as relationship invites an unsettling tension. The suffering leader resides within this tension. Why? Because it can be precisely within this tension where the ongoing work of transformation occurs. As Andy Stanley suggests, “Tensions are not to be resolved or solved, but managed to leverage the dynamics for progress and growth.”2


Why would I write so much about this? Behind all the bro-hugs, back-slaps, and handshakes extended in our pastoral gatherings, there stands a silent cultural presence eroding the soul of pastoral ministry in the North American Division. A joint study by the General Conference, North American Division Ministerial and Family Ministries Departments examined the question of pastoral seminary training, the demands placed upon pastors by congregants, and the impact this has upon the pastor’s family. Their conclusion? “The front-line leadership in the Seventh-day Adventist church, pastors and their families, experience levels of stress that are not sustainable for the future health of the Church.”3 The silent suffering that many pastors carry cannot be ignored. The transforming relational processes bear a strong resemblance to someone swimming through an ocean of peanut butter. And for a pastor to pursue a model of leadership as identified above, the suffering is real. Ultimately, this is not the end of the story. The suffering, while real, is not unique. There is a trajectory to the suffering, to the leading, if leaders are willing to remain in the third way. This trajectory is captured powerfully by the writer of Hebrews when he wrote, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”4 Tracing this trajectory can be crucial for leaders to thrive and not merely survive in the suffering. And central to the trajectory for the suffering leader will be focus. As Jewish rabbi, Harold S. Kushner, asserts in the preface of the Viktor Frankl classic, Man’s Search for Meaning, “Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way we respond to it.”5 The suffering leader finds meaning primarily through a laser-like focus on this Jesus who is the prototypical Suffering Leader. With all that swirls around the life of the leader, pursue the focus on this Jesus. Do whatever is necessary. Do not wait. The temptation in the moment will be to regurgitate the conversation, to relive the feeling, to hold on to the bitterness, and to allow the bitterness to turn into a quiet anger. For myself, this refocus to Jesus takes on various forms. No doubt, my first response is a return to the life of Jesus and to study (not read), to consider, to reflect, and to make a matter of prayer. Of course, it would be better for me to make this a daily routine as a preventive action. But when the sense of suffering shifts from chronic to acute, a strong response is required. My favorite passages to return to is the story of the wilderness temptations and the scenes surrounding the end of his life. I camp there. No sermon prep. No Bible study to share. No devotional to prepare for a school board meeting. It is just God and I. Meaning. Secondly, there are certain songs I return to again and again as part of this re-focus. My wife and I recently traveled to our first district where the wife of a head elder who had adopted us in our early years was dying. We were traveling to say good-bye…for now. 54

I found a song meaningful to me in moments from the past and replayed that song over and over. And suddenly, meaning in Jesus arose from a heart of pain. I listened until my soul found rest in Him. Third, I return to certain writings as a means of transporting me from the current ocean of peanut butter to a place where I experience my current story against the backdrop of a metanarrative. My go-to passage is the chapter from Desire of Ages entitled, “Gethsemane.” I also return to the aforementioned Man’s Search for Meaning, specifically resting in the passages I’ve highlighted on my Kindle. But, here is the point, whatever draws you back to a focus on this Jesus…do it and don’t wait. Focus firmly planted in Him can protect the leader during the suffering that naturally occurs between the “joy set before” and “enduring the cross.” All the while, there is this knowing that the trajectory will finish at the throne next to Him. The suffering leader must remember there is a wider community (“a great cloud of witnesses”) that endures as well. Jesus developed a band of twelve that would be His human support through His suffering. Suffering leaders today can do no less. Find the community. It can be a formal community like a pastoral small group. It can be an informal community like a set of life-journeying friends. Whatever it is, know that the suffering leader cannot endure isolated. And yes, know that when it is all said and done, the suffering leader will not be defined by the suffering but by the position next to Him on the throne given to her by the Suffering Leader. The trajectory does not end with last night’s board meeting, last week’s betrayal, or last year’s departure of key leaders. The trajectory ends next to Him who is present now. 1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1954, p. 27. 2. Facebook Post, The Global Leadership Summit, January 2, 2016 3. David Sedlacek and Duane McBride, “Seminary Training, Role Demands, Family Stressors and Strategies for Alleviation of Stressors in Pastors’ Families: Final Report to the North American Division Ministerial and Family Ministries Departments in conjunction with the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists,” unpublished paper, September 8, 2014. 5. Hebrews 12.2, New International Version. 6. Harold S. Kushner, Preface, Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, Location 28, Kindle Version. DISCUSS THIS ON

John Grys


serves as the associate director of North American Division Ministerial Association with specific duties of Pastoral Professional Development.





by Shane Anderson

angerous though it may be, it can be entertaining—and sometimes, even educational— to make sweeping generalizations. So with only my experience and energetic imagination to back me up, here’s how I would describe the career path of many an Adventist pastor in North America:

The “Green-But-Golden” Years

(when a pastor is roughly 24 to 30 years old) This group is relatively small among Adventist clergy. But what they lack in numbers, they make up for in energy. The ministry gig to them is new, fresh, and engaging. Even Nominating Committee is exciting! Each visit with a church member is a dramatic experience, each Sabbath School class taught is an adventure, and each sermon preached is a holy missile fired squarely into the devil’s territory. Ministry rocks, and it’s a hoot to spend time with this young crowd.

The “Get ‘Er Done” Years (about 30 to 40 years old)

This group has been around long enough now to know a fair amount about how ministry works best. Maybe they’ve cracked the code about how to survive and even thrive in a multi-church district, or perhaps they’re reasonably successful senior pastors of a single church. They’ve probably been commissioned or ordained by now, and feel a sense of ownership and command of ministry skills that was not yet formed in their younger years. Good things can happen in these churches—things that are innovative, many of them fruitful, and nearly all of them personally meaningful.

The “Where’d It Go?” Years (40 to… ?)

Numerical success in pastoral ministry (such as increasing tithe figures, baptismal numbers, etc.) is a curious thing: it’s great when it first comes. But in my experience, it seems to hold most pastor’s attention for a limited time. It’s almost as if they started 15 years ago in a system that in many ways valued numerical success, only to find that once they’d learned to generate those numbers on a consistent basis, the party seemed to gradually be over. They feel that ministry is still good, yes… but there’s no denying that it has also become a routine. The thrill that once helped spur them on is now elusive. The spiritual adrenaline of doing and daring for God seems to have quietly slipped away, and in its place there has settled a mind-numbing predictability. Pastors in this phase of ministry know what certain church members will say at the next board meeting. They know what issues will be raised at the school constituency session. They can predict with somnolent accuracy what their congregations will expect of them in the next 12 months of ministry. All of which can quietly drive them inward…


…And here lurks both great opportunity and great danger. If properly dealt with, this turning inward can be the beginning of a growth process that will not merely reinvigorate a pastor professionally, but most importantly, spiritually, socially, and mentally. The exuberant dreams of ministry past can become the mature, sustainable, and transformative reality of the pastoral present. Conversely, if handled wrongly, this turning inward can be destructive. A stale pastoral vision at best leads to stale pastoral ministry, potentially inhibiting the growth of those the pastor ministers to and with. At worst, unrectified boredom with ministry can lead pastors to profoundly question their calling, themselves, and the love and power of God Himself. (I’ve even seen it drive some pastors into making moral decisions they later deeply regretted.) So if you’re reading this, and you’re a “Where’d It Go?” pastor—or if you want to avoid becoming one—what can you do to avoid the dangers of boredom and instead embrace the opportunities boredom represents?

Why Not Move? It’s tempting to say that when substantial boredom sets in, the proper pastoral response is simply to move: take a call to another church, move into administration, move to another conference, etc. And true, this can help alleviate pastoral boredom. (It is interesting to note that the New Testament church as well as early Adventism insisted on keeping their full-time clergy—aka, apostles—regularly on the move. While this is foreign to the culture of North American Christianity today, the growth and vibrancy of the early apostolic and Adventist churches would suggest that our forebears were on to something. They were courageous, fruitful, mobile—and rarely bored.) But many times, a move is simply not the answer. Instead, in my experience, pastors have often moved on to another assignment to (among other things) alleviate their boredom, only to discover that the change of scenery didn’t equate to a change either of method or of heart. It turned out that the boredom was a result of stagnancy in them and not in their surroundings. The source of that stagnancy? For many, it came because they had ceased to learn what God had called them to learn—a cessation that I believe has led countless pastors, teachers, and administrators to become unmotivated and ultimately ineffective in their spheres of influence. And please note: This stagnancy is not merely about ceasing to learn new methods for doing ministry, though such learning is crucial to ministry success. It is also about something more important: our hearts. We are not merely ministry machines; we are instead God’s sons, God’s daughters! He is more concerned about the shaping of our hearts than merely accomplishing important, but ultimately secondary, ministry tasks more efficiently. Instead, God uses the lessons about ministry methodology to shape our hearts and minds. We grow in Christ as we help others to grow in Christ, and thus a cessation of learning about how to better minister to others inevitably leads to a cessation of growth in ourselves. All of this means that there is a single mandate that pastors in every phase of ministry would benefit immensely from fulfilling: never stop intentionally learning.


A Multitude of Ways How can we as pastors continue to intentionally learn? How can we continually find fresh grist for the ministry mill that will keep ourselves challenged, growing in Christ, and engaged in the work God has called us to? There are a multitude of ways. In addition to the obvious discipline of a daily devotional life, here are a few more: • Read, read, read. Read widely and regularly (including in disciplines outside of pastoral ministry—astronomy and physics are two of my favorites). The point is to regularly expose yourself to topics that will stimulate critical thinking skills and feed your ability to see situations in your life and ministry from new, fresh perspectives. (In my opinion, this ability to “reframe” is an excellent defense against pastoral burnout.) The North American Division Ministerial Department’s homepage contains links to a vast array of clergy-specific reading material. And by the way: As enjoyable as it may be, your favorite sports website probably won’t fill the reading bill, here. You need material that will engage your brain rather than merely distract it. • Get a mentor. You’ve heard this one before, haven’t you? But if you’re like most pastors I know, you still don’t have one! Yet a good mentor can keep you and your ministry fresh and growing in ways unachievable on your own. Prayerfully search for someone whose ministry and life you genuinely admire. Ask he or she to be your mentor (in my experience, most are honored to be asked!). Clearly convey what you’re looking for and why, specifying whether you’re looking for a general mentor or one to help you with a particular facet of your life and/or ministry. A oncea-month meeting (face-to-face is great, but video conferencing or even just by phone works, too) for 30 minutes is a standard arrangement that’s worked well for many. You bring the questions; your mentor will supply the answers—answers that in my experience provide excellent opportunities for growth. • Start a peer-mentoring group. Some local conferences already have this in place. If so, make full use of it by coming to meetings prepared with good questions and enthusiastically engaging in the group’s conversations and activities. If you don’t have a peer-mentoring group, start one. I recommend you do this with other Adventist pastors in your area, or start a video conferencing group online. For content, the group can choose various books to read and discuss; assign different members to present on topics pertinent to their ministry; determine as a group a list of issues relevant to pastoral ministry and discus them each month; or something else that fits their needs. When these groups work as they should, iron really does sharpen iron, and boredom is regularly busted.


• Write an article for publication. “But I’m not a writer!” you might say. And true, writing an article does not guarantee its publication. But whether it is published or not, there are few things that will help you clarify your thoughts on a particular challenge in your life or ministry than writing about it for someone else’s consumption. Other forms of writing (such as keeping a personal journal), while potentially good practices, lack the accountability that writing for publication does. Consequently, your thoughts are much more likely to be refined and (hopefully) accurate when you write for a professional journal, online blog, your local union magazine, etc. Such writing is also potentially a double win: the process will help you learn valuable lessons about the issues you face, and your potential readers may also learn from your experience. • Intentionally engage in new learning experiences. Most areas of the United States have continuing education classes for clergy that are within reasonable driving distance. For others, online courses are available, and a brief web search should reveal a host of possibilities. Again, the NAD Ministerial Department website is helpful here, as it includes a number of archived webinars they most pastors will find helpful (see • Get your Doctorate of Ministry (DMin) degree. Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? After all, everyone knows that if you’re bored in ministry, the LAST place you should go for inspiration is to a doctoral class—the ultimate spiritual Nyquil, right? But if you feel this way, my guess is that you are not familiar with some of the astonishingly rich experiences such a degree can offer. The days of stultifying lectures that drone on for hours are thankfully shrinking in the rearview mirror, as DMin providers have begun to realize that post-graduate degrees really ought to be the most relevant and qualifying degree a minister can achieve. In fact, allow me a shameless plug: The DMin program at Andrews University is a cohort-based doctoral program that has transformed my life and my ministry. It really is that good. I have grown more in the last four years and successfully navigated more key issues in my life and ministry than the previous 16 years of pastoral work combined. The experience has been life-changing. You owe it to yourself, your family, and your church to revisit the possibility of obtaining your doctorate. Leave the “Where’d It Go?” Phase Behind Too often, the uncorrected natural course of a pastor’s life can lead to stagnancy. But a consistent pursuit of genuine learning can keep the boredom blues at bay. Will it take time out of your daily schedule? Absolutely! In fact, my guess is that the time factor is one of the top reasons so many pastors don’t pursue a life of intentional learning. But for those who are brutal with their calendars and insist on making time to engage in ongoing and challenging learning practices, they are the ones who are most likely to stay fresh, relevant, and engaged in ministry for and with Christ—and what price can a pastor put on that? What is your next learning step? DISCUSS THIS ON

Shane Anderson 60

is the Senior Pastor of Senior Pastor of New Market Seventh-day Adventist Church.







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