Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Richard Foster
Title: retired Senior Pastor
I am a husband, father and grandfather who is recently retired from my role as a senior pastor. I have previoulsy served as lecturer and academic adviser to business students, businessman and public servant. While I have served in pastoral ministry for many years it has mostly been bi-vocational, which is my preference. My passion, apart from my family, is to integrate faith and work and to see vocation as worship.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Leadership in secular and religious organisations or NFPs present different challenges. Ths includes managing or leading volunteers compared to employees. Communication vision and inspiring others to own it and intentionally pursue it without ignoring their personal aspirations and needs is always a significant challenge.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have not intentionally sought leadership, but like many others have fallen into it by being recognized by others. Being willing to take responsibility and show initiative has been funadmental to that. My vocational career began in public administration which doesn't always lend itself to either initiative or risk taking and demands a more managerial approach. On leaving that field of endeavour I took risks which were not always well thought through and didn't always produce the desired outcome which dampened my enthusiasm somewhat.
However I have always had the desire to do something different, to seek altenative ways to achieve a desired outcome and the encourage others to come along for the ride. I have started businesses,planted churches and begun not for profit organisations. Not all have been succesful but all have been invaluable in preparing and educating me to assume leadership when opportunities arise. I think good managment is fundamental to leadership and my early training and continued development in that field has been of significant benefit.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am retired now, but previously it beagan at 5:30 with a few household commitments. Between then and 7:00 I edit and send a daily post (still do that in retirement). Arrive at my office at 7:30 and attend to daily tasks: admin, preparation, writing new posts, planning, meeting people, counselling as required and mentoring. Finish for the day about 5:30 unless there is an evening meeting, board or other (one fixed evening meeting per week) Sometimes work from home, and no two days are ever the same. Friday a non work day after 7:30. Sunday (as a pastor) start at 5:30 , arrive at church building 7:30, return home or meet with others from around 12:00noon. Evenings are for relaxation unless a meeting is required: TV, reading, sleep around 10pm
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Watch out for mission drift and time stealers
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
No one book (apart from the bIble) stands out. The Prophetic Imagination by Bruegemmann has been impactul in clarifying the task of seeking an 'alternative imagination' for future, and Marriage, Marketplace and Revival by Jack Serra had a profound impact personally and as a leader in reminding me that my frst responsibility was a t home; there is no credit in saving the world or building a business on the ruins of a broken marriage. Even in retirement a lesson I am still learning
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
"A shepherd leads the sheep, a butcher drives them'' Take your people with you, don't ask them to do what you wouldn't do and be crystal clear about where you are leading to and why you want to go there.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I began a project in Kenya to support a school and community through building sustainable outcomes (triple bottom line of sustainability - economic, societal, and environmental) on priciples drawn from the Bible. It started well, but stumbled and eventually failed in many ways due to the effect of covid but also my lack of personal presence (unable to travel etc). The team was enthusiastic, and still are and driven by need. But they were in a hurry and jumped at opportunities without adequate assessment of risk and knowledge of their intended markets.
Consequently they used their resources, energy and enthusiasm and became disillusioned. The lessons included ensuring capacity for mentoring and physical presence in start up, and beyond. Enthusiasm and skill cannot replace proper planning and risk management and expectations need to be managed even though high expecation is needed to ensure continued motivation.