7 Questions with Julian Ham

Name: Julian Ham

Current title: Creative Ministries Pastor

Current organisation: CityLife Church in Australia

I'm married to my best friend Bek and we have three amazing boys. I've been involved in church ministry for fourteen years, currently at CityLife Church in Melbourne.

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1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?

Learning to embrace my weakness. It's so easy to put the pressure upon myself as a leader that I should know the answers or have everything in order, and I often fumble, falling back into doing things in my own strength. I think part of leading from the strength and wisdom of God means welcoming my own shortcomings and recognising my utter dependence on Him and His grace. Paul boasted about his own weaknesses because it meant there was more room for God's perfect power.

2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

When I was still in primary school, I had someone in the church put their hands on my shoulders and say to me, "Julian, you have the call of leadership all over you". At the time, I'm not even sure I knew what a prophetic word was - I thought this person was just encouraging me or being nice. I grew up and was able to discern the call of God towards ministry and leadership. I was very blessed to have early opportunities in the worship team, which laid the groundwork for what was to come. But I also had a lot of incredible leaders around me who invested a great deal in me. I stepped into ministry as an intern and over twelve years, God continually unfolded more opportunities to step up and voices of influence to shape my understanding and capacity.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I have a tough time waking up in the mornings, so first things are usually a shower and coffee. Breakfast is spent doing bible and prayer with my wife, and a game of monopoly deal with my oldest son. This year I've been working harder at making sure the tasks for the day are clearly identified before starting work, which involves lots of lists and checkboxes. If I can help it, I'll try to keep 9am-1pm as meeting-free as possible.

The mornings by myself allow me to focus, and then meetings in the afternoon help to keep the energy levels up. If it's the other way around, it's hard to get good work done. It's a nice plan… but doesn't always work out that way. During lockdown, I've been taking as many opportunities throughout the day to walk around my block. After work, it's usually an hour of play with my boys, then dinner, bath, bed… and my wife and I get some time on the couch by ourselves. She'll go to bed about 90 minutes before me, so that's my time to do something just for me… or finish off some work or study.

4. What one book had the most profound impact on your church leadership? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Chapter One by Daniel Flynn. It's a great leadership book, cleverly disguised as the origin story of Thankyou.

5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

The "perfect opportunity" to start something rarely comes. If something matters to me, I usually want to carve out a decent amount of time without any distractions to do it really well. But those moments are becoming fewer and fewer. Unfortunately, I find that it's often the most important things that can stay sitting on my to-do list, rolling over from week to week. I'm learning that if something is important to me, just get it started! Even if it's not perfect, do something about it.

6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?

It's often said that you should "start with the end in mind" - the same applies to raising up leaders. I want to raise up others who aren't just great leaders themselves, but they also know how to identify and raise up others after them. I used to be much more secretive about this, thinking that I didn't want to scare off budding leaders by sharing too much too quickly. But I was challenged by the way Jesus called His disciples. His first words to them were, "follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men". That reframed a lot for me. It's a bit counterintuitive, but often the first step into the pipeline is telling someone the kind of leader they will be and the leaders they will raise.

7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a church leader so far?

Not too long ago, God called my family and me into a new season with another church. It has been the most incredible privilege to hear stories from my previous church about how the next generation of leaders have stepped up to pick up where I left off, but also that they are doing a far better job than I ever could have done.