7 Questions with Magnus Linder

Name: Magnus Linder

Current title: CEO

Current organisation: Churches Housing

Magnus is the CEO of Churches Housing, a peak body working in the space between government and church social service organisations with the aim to increase the supply of social and affordable housing. As a professional firefighter Magnus decide to commence some studies at Bible college and surprised everyone when he graduated a decade later, taking the prize for the slowest learner in the college's history.

After 17 years as a "firey" Magnus worked for two different international missions organisations as their State Director, first with OMF International and then Operation Mobilisation. After a decade of living by faith it was time to find a job that paid a little money and Magnus worked with Anglicare Sydney as the State Disaster Recovery Coordinator and also as Assistant Director for Advocacy and Partnerships, prior to moving into the role of CEO of Churches Housing where he has been for the past seven years. Magnus is married to Karon and they have three adult daughters, two of whom are married.

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

Dealing with people who feel they have been given a task by God, but who forget to love.

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

With my arm twisted behind my back. My brother and his wife were missionaries in Thailand for many years and were asked to come back to run the state office. We prayed about this and began to feel a righteous indignation that we would call people back who could speak and teach at a level of language most foreigners never got to, in a country with so few Christians. When I was then tapped on the shoulder and asked to consider this my immediate reaction was to say "Here am I God, send ... Fred". I started a running argument with God about why I was dreadfully under-qualified, but He then started answering me with very specific words and promises of scripture until I relented.

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

I am an early riser and love physical exercise so start the day either running with my two dogs, swimming or cycling. I'll most days manage to have a coffee if not breakfast with my wife, before spending a little time in reading and reflection before getting to some email correspondence. I have tried to keep this to an hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon, which sometimes works.

At the moment many of my days, like yours, are often filled with the zoom meeting. My family love having meals together and we will often have our married kids over but if not my wife and I most always make the effort to sit down and share a meal together at the table. By 9:30 it is time for me to sleep and we try and avoid TV in the evenings.

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?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey was a book I read fairly early on and therefore made a profound impact. Although not profoundly Christian, it certainly has been a groundbreaking book for me and many others. How do we take knowledge, skills and desires and turn them into life changing habits?

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

That leadership is much less about being in charge and much more about finding ways for everyone to cooperate and collaborate towards outcomes.

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

I have never been "pastor" of a church but have certainly worked alongside many, seeking to send some of their best and brightest to different corners of the globe. I see a healthy leadership pipeline as one that really does disciple people into the kingdom, which is much broader than the local church.

How many churches out there actually identify people who have potential for ministry outside of the local church? Unfortunately the pressure of running the youth groups, small groups and Sunday schools sometimes takes away from discipling someone to surrender everything to God and doing what He wants, when He wants, wherever He wants.

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?

I have been so blessed to be working as part of the Sydney Alliance, which has brought together faith groups, community groups and trade unions at the same table working together for the common good of the city. Forging partnerships and being a blessing to people outside of the church, yet still seeing God use them to help transform this city into one that cares for the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalised... has opened my eyes to see how ineffective we are as a church if we hide ourselves away in our holy huddles.