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7 Questions with Dr Myk Habets
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Dr Myk Habets
Name: Dr Myk Habets
Current title: Senior Lecturer Theology, Associate Baptist Pastor
Current organisation: Laidlaw College, Albany Baptist Church
Myk is Senior Lecturer in Theology at Laidlaw College. Myk lectures in Systematic Theology and Ethics and has lectured in theology and ethics at the University of Otago and other theological institutions in New Zealand and abroad. He is co-editor of Pacific Journal of Theological Research (Archer Press), Associate Editor of Participation: The Journal of the Thomas Torrance Theological Fellowship, past Co-editor of Journal of Theological Interpretation (Penn State University Press), past Chair of the New Zealand Association of Theological Schools (NZATS), and past Vice-President of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools (ANZATS). He has published articles on constructive systematic theology in international journals and has published over twenty books.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
The task of translating the Gospel in all its fullness to an entire congregation. The task required is to deprogramme people and then reteach them theology from Holy Scripture and Tradition in ways in which they can comprehend, and ways in which they can see the practicality or livability of the Gospel in its fullness. This is a challenge but also an invitation as people need and want the truth and Jesus is exactly that - the way, truth, and life.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
After a lot of trial and error, I worked out where my gifts and passions collided and that was in teaching (not primarily missions or pastoral leadership). Having worked that out by God;s grace, I earnt theological qualifications up to doctoral level and was called into the task of being a theologian: but a theologian of and for the church. So a regular preaching and teaching ministry ensued, along with serving as an elder and then laterally as an Associate Pastor (my wife is the Senior Pastor!). When I graduated with a doctorate in theology I took to myself a motto to define my vocation: Doctor serviens ecclesiae ('doctor/thinker in service of the church'). I take this unofficial office (styled after one of Calvin's many good ideas) seriously and in this role my vocation as theologian and pastor coincide.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Different seasons call for different rhythms6.30 am wake but basically:
6.30 am Wake and breakfast with family
8am work on emails or read from home
9am more emails in the office
10am write, research, administration
1pm meetings or lecture
7.30pm Church Meetings/or work
But different seasons call for different rhythms and so this routine can change a lot through a month.
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 generally read a lot of leadership books as I use that time to read theology or biblical material. I don't have any leadership gurus at all. So nothing comes to mind initially, but things like Covey 'First things First,' or Kouzes and Posner, 'The Leadership Challenge,' have been helpful. I find works like 'to Kill A Mockingbird' or 'Tuesdays with Morrie' teach more about leadership than most so-called leadership books. Mark Labberton's book on leadership is a fine exception, though.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I guess it is a very common thought but it's common because it is true, it takes time to make people matter most and that means fighting the tyranny of the urgent to prioritise what is actually most important.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
Invest in training and have a mantra that is worked out daily, monthly, and yearly: create and sustain leaders not simply Christians or congregants. Church leadership involves a lot of key tasks and they are all important but leadership development is more important than many pastors seem to think. We set the bar too low when we don't invest in leader development.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
After serving on a leadership group for several years I found myself in an especially difficult meeting which involved some conflict between certain church members. I was speaking on behalf of the leadership team with some confidence when another leader spoke up and said I was not expressing the leadership team's ideas at all. I was shocked and confused. I excused the congregants we were dealing with to clarify what was going on. It turned out that the rest of the leadership group (with the exception of my wife who was also on the group) shared a common worldview and perspective that was largely unspoken and so what I thought were decisions we had made as a group over 18 months turned out to be more informal discussion and not decisions at all, according to the rest of the group. I learnt that it is crucial to clarify the terms of reference for teams, and to clarify such terms on some sort of regular basis to ensure there is a common and shared understanding of our roles and how we work together. Since then I have gone out of my way to establish the terms of reference, the rules of engagement, and the scope and authority the group has before acting. Sounds simple but I learnt I couldn't assume anything and people (all of us) need to continually clarify who we are and what we are doing.