7 Questions with Joan Macpherson
Name: Joan Macpherson
Current title: Business Manager
Current organisation: St. Paul of the Cross
I have worked for the catholic church for over 15 years. My experience has allowed me to witness the evolution of the role that lay employees play in the running of a parish.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
Working as a team. My experience in ministry has been that we often work in silos. Ministry leaders often only see their ministry and what their ministry needs. Ministry leaders also often become territorial and protective of their ministry.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was asked by the pastor to lead the Parent Teacher Organization. I had never been involved in church work before. I discovered that I had strengths that could benefit my church and eventually I became a paid employee.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I try to follow Stephen R Covey's guide and work on what is important/urgent and important/not urgent for the first part of my day when I have the most energy.
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?
Book of Ruth.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The lesson I have learned is that you cannot put off difficult, candid conversations.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
You develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church by showing respect for every ministry. Gossip and trash talking about staff and volunteers is off limits.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
The former convent on our campus housed our Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. The Adoration Chapel was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Chapel was not accessible by elevator and accessibility was very important to this community. In 2019/20 I oversaw the installation of an elevator. The process was long and difficult. In addition to the project being difficult I was also undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer. During the construction the leader of this ministry took up much of my time and legitimately so. When it came time for me to leave St. Paul he wrote the following email. It means the world to me:
"We saw your comments about your impending departure from St. Paul of the Cross Parish. This is going to be a big loss for us.
It takes so long sometimes, to become acquainted with new people. When you came here, I thought to myself, "Who is she? What is she going to do here?" Now I am saying, "What are we going to do without her?"
I never got to know you very quickly, but through your ordering candles for the Adoration Chapel, I guess that is when our friendship began. Then, when you started your "medical adventure" and then you and I spent a "day in court," I thought to myself, "I think that she is worth keeping." When I took over the Adoration Chapel we began to work a lot closer. I became enamored by your business style, your attention to detail and your cooperating spirit. You know Joan, when I was in business, I always followed a management style of trying to capture people instead of conquering them. This is what I sensed of you.
Margaret and I wish you the best of luck, great satisfaction and a successful makeover of the homestead. You have been in our prayers since your medical issues and will continue to be there."
God Bless you and your family,
Margaret and Vince Ross