If you read this blog often, you know that my heart is for the Church to get healthy, from the inside out. It is what it will take, for us to truly influence the world.
So when I come across something to help build a healthy Church, I share it. Such is the case with my posting today, in a rare interview style that is not typical to this blog. But what I share here and today over at Catalyst Leader is something I believe will benefit every leader and pastor and has a message for us all…about listening to the voice of God, learning what it means to truly be humble, and getting over ourselves to be about Kingdom work.
Every place I travel, people leave an imprint on my heart.
But I admit, some divine assignments make the deepest of indelible impressions.
Such was the case with a group I spoke to not long ago from beautiful Boise, Idaho.
It was not just that they were a praying group or that we were seeking God together in the serenity of the mountains.
It was that they were healthy – in a palpable way I could sense and feel.
So when the women began to tell me about how their pastor was willingly handing over his pulpit to a younger pastor…and it was not done out of scandal or conflict or being forced out…I determined to know more. It was clear: the healthy leadership of this man was having an amazing trickle down effect to his people.
I came home and determined to pick the pastor’s brain. I needed to know…how a guy who was the visionary implementer of this church, grew it, served in it, shepherded it from the ground up for 23 years…could lay it down in such a healthy way.
I admit, in all my church experience, it’s something I’ve never seen.
*Tri Robinson, the pastor of whom I write, graciously allowed me to interview him to give me a glimpse into the leadership journey of he and his wife, Nancy. One of the things that struck me the most about Tri in talking to him is how he has, for years, dedicated 1-2 hours to the discipline of solitude every day.
I must say…in his spirit, it shows.
Most of my interview, you can read on the Catalyst Leader site.
Here is the remainder of our conversation.
LW: Tri, what obstacles did you come up against in this process and how did you overcome them?
TR: Well, the first thing I had to deal with was my own insecurity, of course. But beyond that, I had to help the people of the church learn to trust a new leader, after the years we had built together establishing trust between us. I had to wean them off of me and deal with their fears of “what if it doesn’t work?”
To tell you the truth, I thought everyone would be excited as I was about the idea, but the baby boomers in the congregation felt a bit devalued and not as important, anymore. I talked to them at great length from the perspective of a parent and grandparent, reminding them about how we always want more for our kids than for ourselves, and how this was important for the future of the church. This was not just about transferring from one leader to another; it was really about handing down from one generation to another. When they understood it that way, they got on board.
LW: What was the #1 reaction of your people when you told them what you were going to do?
TR: As I mentioned, overwhelmingly, the reaction at first was fear. We experienced visible pushback on the idea, some people left the church [most have since returned], and many people had a hard time being convinced I was ok and was not retiring but transferring the bulk of where I focused my time. For that reason, we started implementing my new ministry focus simultaneously so people could tangibly visualize what Nancy and I were moving into, which helped them feel more secure.
LW: How are you helping people who don’t want you to move on accept it?
TR: I think one of the most important things you can do as a leader transitioning is to help people see your inner security and conviction about it. When they do, they will not only feel more secure themselves but will also see it as the right plan. It’s important to spend time with people, let them hear you consistently say the same things, and have them watch you move toward your new thing. That is why taking time with the transition is vitally important.
LW: What has God revealed to you in a sweet way during this time?
TR: He’s given me an amazing second wind – the vitality to do a new thing, which I greatly appreciate. He’s also given me a huge respect for the guy taking my place…he’s younger, yes, but I have learned in a new way how to be under someone’s authority and even more surprising…a willingness to even prefer someone else’s leadership than my own. God’s been good to orchestrate that.
*Tri Robinson [along with his wife, Nancy] is the founding pastor of the Vineyard in Boise, Idaho. With a growing fellowship over 2500, Tri has a passion to see Christians become not only authentic in their walk with the Lord but outward focused both locally and globally. In this season of transition, Tri’s new focus will be the i-61 Ministry, promoting Kingdom ministry that addresses seven areas of world crises: spiritual confusion, undeveloped leadership, educational inadequacy, environmental decline, world hunger, poor health/disease and human injustice.
**For more of this interview, including how to put personal feelings aside for greater good, counsel for transition, and what makes for healthy church leadership, visit HERE.
*Conversation: Have a question or comment for Tri? He’d love to hear from you…and so would I…so leave your thoughts!