7 Questions with Megan Powell du Toit
Name: Megan Powell du Toit
Current title: Publishing Manager
Current organisation: Australian College of Theology
Megan is an ordained Baptist minister, currently working in academia. She pastored for 17 years. She has also had experience as a lecturer, editor, writer and speaker. On the side, she co-hosts a podcast with Michael Jensen for Eternity News, called With All Due Respect. This has given birth to the joint initiative, The WADR Project, which promotes respectful gracious conversation. She is married to Anton and they are raising three teens together.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
Expectations of others - there is a lot of baggage we have around church leadership roles, whether pastor or other kinds, so I have had to learn how to be an authentic person within that.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I felt called into pastoral ministry at 18 years old - a complete shock to me. My father is also a Baptist minister, and I definitely had not intended on following in his footsteps. So, God had to persuade me. God is persuasive! I initially worked as an editor when I left university as I felt it was good to get some work experience outside pastoral ministry, but after a couple of years felt strongly called to theology study and on into vocational ministry.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am someone who struggles with structure. Going to the office or to somewhere else to study helps me - so lockdown wasn’t great for me. I usually start with a brief devotion (courtesy of my co-host!) - having one sent in my email is really good for me as a prompt. Other than time with God, and my work/study, I try to fit in family time, social time, exercise time and alone relaxing time - sometimes one of these gets squeezed out. I’m usually juggling heaps so I don’t think I’m a great example here to be honest!
4. What one book had the most profound impact on your church leadership? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Choosing one book - is difficult. And honestly, if I chose one, it would be the picture of Jesus we are given in the New Testament - I think we still struggle to have Christlike leadership in the Church. One recent book which resonated was The Vulnerable Pastor by Mandy Smith, because of its treasure in clay jars approach. I discovered it after deciding to preach on vulnerability in a sermon to students at my theological alma mater, Morling College. I had been thinking, hmm, how can I impress in this context, and then I really felt God lead me to talking about the precise opposite!
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
How important my own formation as a follower of Jesus is to being a leader. I cannot lead without continuing to allow God to transform me in the Spirit. Other skills, training, experience, can all help, but in the end it is my character formed in Christ which is crucial. And therefore, dependence on God - because I’m a flawed human being.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
First thing is to encourage people into leadership who aren’t the usual suspects. We often subconsciously value the same qualities as the culture around us, but God often sees people differently. You need to make a conscious effort for instance, to encourage women, people from different cultures, quieter or humbler people.
Once people are starting into leadership, encourage that inner development - reflection, prayer. This can be helped by one on one mentoring, or small groups which do this in depth work together, or suggesting resources which foster relationship with God and personal transformation. Being real and approachable yourself as a leader helps - be open to admitting your failures and quick to apologise.
7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a church leader so far?
Don’t know if this is the most meaningful story, but one that comes to mind that may help people - when I left pastoral ministry, I think I was in a place akin to burnout. I didn’t feel like I was answering a call of God somewhere else, I just felt God was graciously allowing me to walk away from my call for a while. However, since then, God has given me different avenues of ministry - God led me to make different connections and opened up new spaces - and I now have a more public ministry I never imagined having. God is more imaginative than we realise - and can use our weakest moments for his glory.