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7 Questions with Leonard Johnson
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Jonno White
7 Questions with Leonard Johnson

Name: Leonard Johnson

Current title: Senior Pastor

Current organisation: Progressive Baptist Church

Pastor Johnson is a native of Dallas, TX. He studied at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, TX where he graduated in 1991. Pastor Johnson was called to preach in 2004 under the leadership of Dr. C.W. Wallace, Pastor of the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church where he served as the Youth Pastor for 10 years. Pastor Johnson has been married for 21 years, he and his beautiful wife Tammy have six children together. Pastor Johnson was called to Progressive Baptist Church in May of 2014 where he currently serves as the Senior Pastor.

An effective communicator of God’s Word, Pastor Johnson is known for his practical and dynamic teaching style that breaks down the word which helps people apply the timeless truths of Scripture to their everyday lives.

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

The most challenging part of being a church leader is gaining the support for the vision that God has placed on you as the Shepherd. Often it is your relationship with people that bring you the most success and failures. As a church leader, you are called to influence people for their support of the church at large. Without this support, your resources are diminished and your territory becomes limited. Doing this with the expectation that all parties involved have a spiritual demeanor and godly motives are somewhat of a challenge. With this being said so many church leaders are caught between working with the carnality of man while trying to fulfill the purpose of God for the church.

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

As a child, I was always listening to the words of the Pastor and longed for the day that it would all make sense to me because the people seemed so excited. Once I became of age I begin to become inquisitive about the life of Jesus Christ. This made me unpopular very quickly as a youth and as a result, I spent most of my youth trying to please my friends and God. It wasn't until I went to College that I began to understand my calling. I was a teacher by nature and now I know that it wasn't just a talent but it was a gift from God that I would use to help spread the Gospel to a dying world. After school, looking for work as a Senior Pastor grew long and frustrating. Joining Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church as a Youth Pastor was a learning experience. I felt within my heart that I was called to be a Senior Pastor but God had other plans. I know in my heart that this experience humbled me to faithfully serve in the role that I am currently in today.

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

My workdays had to adjust amid Covid-19. Waking up in prayer to prepare for a challenging day in this pandemic has become my everyday routine. As church leaders, we are called to encourage people to be the best in a bad situation. We are called to carry out Jeremiah 29:4-7 and let the people know that God does not want us to put our lives or his praises on hold just because we are in a pandemic. Although I can't wait to get back to the physical church building technology has opened up a new connection for the structure of the church and we must use this to our advantage. My church conducts a food pantry every week which allows us to keep the people encouraged through our words and service.

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 360 degrees Leader by John C. Maxwell has enhanced not only the way I conduct church business but how I conduct business in my everyday life. John C. Maxwell teaches you how to stay spiritual while staying focused on your mission. I have had my staff to study this book while we refer to the bible to validate the leadership style that he is expounding on and it has been a huge eye-opener.

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

I have grown to admire his quote "learn to lead despite the restrictions that others have placed on you." This is the perfect quote for ministry in the midst of a pandemic. There are so many leaders who want to give up and throw in the towel. As a leader, I refuse to give up my God-given position just because the world is focused on social issues instead of Spiritual guidance.

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

When I first became a Pastor I deemed it necessary to put together a leadership training curriculum where all of our church leaders had to go through and be certified. "Leaders developing leaders" is our motto as we face the challenges of bringing together different personalities under the Holy Spirit to do work in the community. With a focus on godly integrity, while having a mindset of leadership, we have developed continual training for current and aspiring leaders that keep us relevant as we preach to an unchurched often rebellious community.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?

My meaningful story comes from being a Youth Pastor at the start of my career. This job was so important that I worked twice as hard because I had to instruct, train, guide, study and be a role model as a church leader. I had the privilege and challenge of ministering to today's Millennials and as much as I was teaching them I was learning at the same time. I have developed a style that reaches a broader audience through my experience of working with the youth.