7 Questions with Graham Joseph Hill
Name: Graham Joseph Hill
Current title: Principal
Current organisation: Stirling Theological College (University of Divinity)
Graham Joseph Hill is the Principal of Stirling Theological College (University of Divinity) in Melbourne, Australia. His author website is
Graham has planted and pastored churches and been in theological education for over twenty years. He is the author or editor of ten books including "Holding Up Half the Sky" and "Hide This in Your Heart" (co-authored with Michael Frost). Graham also directs TheGlobalChurchProject.com
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
The church has a problem. Often, even when someone is honest about their struggles, they still may not receive the support they expect from the church. Many leave the church because it took a lot of courage to be open about their mental health issues and they felt they didn’t receive the support they needed once they had opened up. This comes from a lack of understanding about how to help someone, along with a lack of willingness/knowledge about the need to travel with someone for the long term (perhaps also some unrealistic expectations on the part of the person who is struggling).
This will take a shift in how we care for those who suffer among us. It’ll require a change in how we conceive human brokenness and flourishing. We’ll need to allow Christian leaders to be open and transparent. The wounded healer can assist the wounded and understand healing. If any group should understand what it means to be human and forgiven and healing, surely it is the church.
Throughout my ministry, I’ve struggled with varying degrees of depression.
Most of the time, it’s a low-grade depression and easily managed. Sometimes it’s more significant. This depression comes and goes, but lately, it hasn’t been so frequent.
Thankfully, my church and college leadership teams have been supportive and open to human struggles, and I encourage other church leaders to be open and honest and provide a supportive, caring, transparent community.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was 18, and a church planter approached me and asked me to help with a new church plant. For the next 6 years, I was trained to lead in the dynamic, challenging, thrilling context of church planting.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I lead a reasonably disciplined life. I usually write for a couple of hours before 10 am (I've written 10 books), then answer emails for a couple of hours, and then spend the day in meetings (I lead a theological college). At around 5 pm, I'll often walk 5 to 10 km for exercise. The evening is spent 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?
"The Very Good Gospel" by Lisa Sharon Harper. A truncated, individualistic, formulaic gospel isn’t good news. Our gospel must be good news to all people, otherwise, it isn’t the gospel at all. The gospel must reflect the full biblical witness. Lisa Sharon Harper challenges us to see that “Shalom is the very goodness of the gospel.” As we live into God’s shalom, we experience restored relationships with God, with self, between genders, with creation, within broken families, between races, and between nations. When we pursue and express God’s shalom we are living out the very good gospel. And we serve as witnesses to the presence of the kingdom of God in a broken, conflicted, and troubled world. Jesus offers a way back to God’s shalom. Lisa Sharon Harper changed the way I see and live out the gospel.
Here is a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, with the 5 (really 6) books that have changed my life:
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Jesus reveals himself in the weak and unexpected places and people. And he calls us to use what power, privilege, wealth, and status we have to enrich others, care for those most vulnerable, address injustice, usher in peace, and support human flourishing. Jesus invites us to confront the status quo and to offer another way. Such serve, humility, and justice is at the heart of great leadership.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
By pouring our lives into a small group of disciples, who follow our example, and become servant leaders in their thoughts and attitudes, heart and spirituality, and skills and competences (head, heart, and hands). Jesus poured his life into people – his whole life. The way to develop leaders and disciples is to do the same.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
The great joy for me in leadership has been playing a role in seeing hundreds of people go into Christian leadership in churches, seminaries, NGOs, non-profits, businesses, missions, counselling, and other fields – mostly through my roles as pastor and ministry college educator. I will sometimes bump into people who have been inspired and equipped for leadership due to processes of leadership identification, training, and release that I've had a small part in, and that brings me great joy and satisfaction.