7 Questions with David Elvery
Name: David Elvery
Current title: Director of Pastoral Services
Current organisation: Queensland Baptists
David is the husband of one wife and the father of 3 teenage children. He began life as a Mechanical Engineer preparing for ministry as a tentmaker in a closed country in our worldwide mission field, before being redirected into Pastoral Ministry. He then spent 16 years in local church ministry before moving to Queensland Baptists to take over the role of overseeing the registration, formation and pastoral care of Baptist pastors in Queensland. In his free time, David, is in his happy place if he is his shed building or fixing something.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
The most challenging thing as a church leader is having to work with people who don't want to change or to take God's call on their lives seriously.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Originally I felt the call of God to use my engineering as a platform to minister for God in a closed country. My wife and I wanted to see people have the opportunity to know Jesus. I began to prepare for this eventuality and spent 13 years in the Engineering world preparing for this. But then I was challenged to think about how I could be used most effectively for God's kingdom. I could go overseas myself and see God work in and through me or I could work within a church to try to mobilise a whole congregation to become missional. This began God's work of redirection into local church work. Now he has me in a role where I have the privilege of speaking into the lives of pastors in many local churches and I am looking forward to seeking what God's ultimate plans and purposes are for me.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Normally my day starts with praying with my wife, breakfast and often a trip to drop kids off at school before hitting the office somewhere between 8 & 8:30am. Spending time with God when I get to the office and Staff devotions are a great way to start the work day and the rest of my day is spent in meetings, connecting with Pastors around our state (typically by Zoom these days) or working on systems and projects. My calendar is always pretty full and there is always a lot going on. Typically my work day finishes at about 5 when I go and pick up my son from his part time job before getting home and having dinner with the family. I am lucky that I don't have too many night meetings these days, but often need to catch up on some emails after dinner. I guard my days off fairly carefully and generally have Fridays & Saturdays as my weekend off. Sunday is spent typically visiting various churches and with my family.
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?
I don't know if I can narrow it down to one book. I think various books have been used at various times to challenge and direct my thinking.
A couple which have been influential at different stages of my journey are books like
Jerry Bridges - The pursuit of Holiness,
Henry & Richard Blackaby - Spiritual Leadership
J Oswald Sanders - Spiritual Leadership
Herrington, Creech & Taylor - The Leader's Journey - (a good introduction to systems theory which was really helpful to understand how things work together)
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The most significant leadership lesson I've learnt is to follow God's lead even if it doesn't make any sense. Because God can see the big picture, he wants to use us in various ways to achieve his kingdom purposes which may or may not be apparent or make any sense to us at any given point in time. We need to trust in our good God that he knows what he is doing and learn to hear his voice and obey him no matter what.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
I've been influenced by a lot of Mike Breen's work in Building a Discipleship Culture. I love Jesus' model of walking with people in life and doing the life on life work of discipleship. It relies upon leaders catching principles rather than just being taught principles and so it is time consuming and slow. Healthy leadership pipelines need leaders committed to investing in other leaders. The ultimate aim is to develop leaders who become self replicating.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
Being a church leader means being a spiritual leader, learning to listen to God's voice and stepping out in obedience to Him. I remember a time when I was desperate to install a children's playground in our church, but money was tight. Over the years, I had managed to put away several thousand dollars to seed this project. But when I was ready to launch an appeal to make it happen, a request came from an Indian orphanage that we had a connection to asking for funds to provide a playground for their children. I felt compelled to give what money I had saved up to this appeal and bless others. Within weeks of making this decision, I came across a commercial playground in Sydney that had never been installed that was up for auction on Ebay. We ended up buying this for just $1000 and God then provided a Buddhist monk driving to Brisbane to pick up a car who was willing to bring it up on his car trailer for the cost of fuel. God provided some Council funding for soft fall and with a couple of other unexpected donations, our amazing playground that was as good as any you would find in a park or school was installed for the grand total of $500 cost to the church. God is good and when we put Him first ahead of our own dreams and wishes, His blessings are just astounding. God taught me as well as our whole church family a wonderful lesson about obedience and faith through these events.