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7 Questions with Arnaldo Santiago
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Arnaldo Santiago
Name: Arnaldo Santiago, Jr
Current title: Lead Pastor
Current organisation: Anchor Church South West
Puerto Rican, born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. found himself madly in love with Katherine, a beautiful Greek-Egyptian Sydney-sider. Migrated to Australia in 2007 and has been married to Katherine for over 14 years. They have three beautiful children, Anthony, Jonathan, & Evangeline. We take our commitment to joy and silliness very seriously. After serving within several different roles over the past 6 years at Anchor Church Sydney, Arnaldo & Katherine felt a strong call to plant a new church in the South West of Sydney.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
I have found most challenging the need to remain close to the people you love and lead during times of high anxiety. In a word, I've found it most difficult to remain a self-differentiated leader during the tumultuous early days of a church plant. (I hear it doesn't necessarily get any easier)
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Through a lot of trial and error. But at the end of the day, there were men and women who believed in what God was working in me and gave me a shot. Alongside that was Katherine (and a few other friends) who constantly and consistently called out the calling and gifts the Lord had placed in me long ago. I explore vocational ministry in my early 20's to realise it wasn't for me. But the Lord had other plans! After a student ministry position at a church plant in the inner west of Sydney, I went to SMBC and spent about (8) years there whilst working full-time in warehousing. Along the way, the Lord continued to open up opportunities to lead in greater capacities; up to the point now where we've planted a new church.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
The day begins for me with bedtime. If I fail to sleep early, the next day won't be as productive as it could be. So I try to get to bed no later than 10pm (but 10:30pm is acceptable!)
Wake up around 6:30 and spend a short time in Scripture and silence.
Get the kids ready for school while my wife gets ready for work.
Finish school drop offs by 8:50 and I am back to the office (garage) by 9.
At this point I should have already looked at my iCal, and set a few tasks/goals for the day (in between burning the toast and screaming at one of my kids as to why it's taken so long to put their shoes on)
Then every day is different. Every two weeks I block out a three day consecutive block to have no (or minimal) meetings. But on the weeks where I have meetings (and they are most as one of my primary tasks as a pastor is to "waste time with people") I try to get my sermon done by Wednesday/Thursday which means I have half a day on Friday to re-work it.
So I am head down from 9-3 with various tasks.
Pick up the kids and Katherine from work and get another hour in between 4-5.
Dinner, bath, bedtime, an occasional evening board meeting but then I'll try to tie up my day and have an idea of what tomorrow holds.
As coherent as this answer sounds ... is as coherent as I experience my days.
4. What's one book apart from the Bible 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?
Steve Cuss - Managing Leadership Anxiety
This book came at the right time.
I was experiencing some tension from some unmet expectations from a team member and this book helped me identify where my own anxiety was coming from and how to address the issue not redirect to the person. It was an invaluable lesson, among many others from the book.
Honourable mention: Scazzero - The Emotionally Healthy Leader
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
self-differentiation is absolutely vital for a healthy gospel-centred expression of leadership
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
1. Work on the structure with someone who may be better at structures than you are.
2. Make the structure flexible and attainable.
3. But never budge on character and values.
4. Make it visual to help your people see where everyone sits.
5. Make leadership development a part of every leader's role, not just your own.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
Several but one is the time when we were able to deliver nappies, toilet paper, and baby wipes (this was at the height of the toilet paper crisis here in Australia) to a new mum who gave birth during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was one story of the embodiment of grace and holding all things together.