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7 Questions with Paul Davis
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Paul Davis
Name: Paul E. Davis
Current title: Sr. Pastor
Current organisation: Saint James Missionary Baptist Church
Faith: Professed Christian called to serve by God as Preacher/Teacher
Married over 38 years to Cora J. Davis
Three children, Joy, Kendrick and Vanessa
Nine Grandchildren –
Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, Ohio – Master of Christian Education (Honor Graduate)
Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas – Bachelors of Science Animal Science (Honor Graduate)
Tyson Foods Inc. (May 2007 to 2018)
Vice President Customer Development (Global Walmart Team)
Vice President Sales Operations Procter and Gamble Company: (Oct 2005 to April 2007)
Associate Director Shaving Products
The Gillette Company (19 yrs)
Johnson & Johnson Company ( 5yrs)
Monsanto Company –Agrichemicals (2yrs)
St. James Baptist Church, Fayetteville, AR – Associated Pastor and Director of Christian Education
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity – NWA Alumni Chapter – Member
Current Board Member
State of Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr Commissioner
United Way Fort Smith Arkansas
Mercy Hospital Advisory Board
Arvest Bank - Fort Smith
Northwest Arkansas MLK Planning Committee – Board Member
NWA 1st Tee – Board Member
Foundation of The Mid-South – Board of Directors (Member)
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
People accepting Change.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My journey into Christianity began at an early age as one of my brothers (Robert), my twin sister (Pauline) and I tagged along with our grandfather (Spencer Davis) to Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church located off F.M. Hwy 149 in a small country town called Montgomery Texas. Montgomery has a population of about 55,000 people and is one of the oldest cities in Texas and is considered to be the birthplace of the Texas flag.
My grandfather served the community in several capacities. He was a bus driver for Montgomery Independent School District for many years, a business man (owner/operator of a small BBQ restaurant), served as key influencer for the black community and faithfully held the positions of deacon and trustee at Mount Pleasant up until his death in the fall of 1979. Since our church held worship service (back then) only on first and third Sundays, my grandparents were the designated host for the Pastor, as he would travel from Houston, Texas and needed a place to rest and eat between services (on special days) before taking the hour and half drive back home.
As a young boy, I can vividly remember having to arrive at the church early Sunday mornings (with my grandfather) to start the fire in the old cast-iron wood burning stove, located in the back corner of the small wood framed church. I can also remember chairs being dragged across the floor in preparation for deacon’s devotion, which was led mostly by my grandfather. His favorite song leading up to prayer was “ Master, Hold My Hand While I Run This Race”. I can still hear the toe tapping (rocking from heel to toe and back again) in perfect rhythm with the beat of the hymn. Near the end of the hymn, he (or one of the other deacons) would kneel on one knee, with head in hand, elbow in chair as they prayed to our God for forgiveness, thanks, provisions and protection.
It was settings like this that kindled my passion to serve in the church. As a matter of fact, my brother, sister and I would often play imaginary church on the front porch of our home. On Sunday evenings, each of us would take turns pretending to either be a deacon, preacher or Sunday School Teacher, while our other siblings would serve as the congregation.
It was at the age of twelve that I, along with my twin sister (Pauline) and brother (Robert –one year younger) decided to speak to our grandfather about being baptized. On the very next Sunday, during the invitation of discipleship, the three of us answered the call, walked to the altar and confessed Jesus as Lord and gave our life to Christ. A few Sundays later, we were baptized in a small creek located not too far from our church. That was a defining moment for the three of us and to this day, we each continue to serve the Lord in a variety of positions.
My journey took me on the Sunday School route, where at age fifteen I was selected to the role of assistant Sunday School Teacher for my age group and by age sixteen was the Sunday School Superintendent at Mount Pleasant. My primary responsibilities were to maintain the attendance logbook, manage quarterly reports, collect money and report out during quarterly business meetings. About a year later, I was nominated and selected as Junior Deacon; meaning that I could stand with the Deacon’s (on third Sundays), read scripture, lead the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer and maybe lead a congregational hymn.
In later years, there was one particular encounter with God that changed my life and set me on a divine course for the Kingdom of God. During the fall of 1975, as a junior in high school, three of my best friends (Wilbur Edwards, Ronnie Marze and Frank Malik) and I were on the Montgomery Bears’ varsity football team and were to play one of our top rival teams (The Groveton Indians of Groveton, Texas) for the district championship. After football practice, Calvin Pope (our head coach) led us in prayer (prayer was acceptable back then) for a team victory. To take it a step further, Wilbur (African American), Ronnie, Frank (both Caucasians) and I decided that during bible study (at each of our respective churches), we would go to the altar in prayer asking God for the victory.
On that Wednesday, Mount Pleasant was supporting another church’s (Church of God in Christ) revival. Holding to my commitment, I attended the revival, at the appropriate time, I approached the altar for prayer (again for a high school football victory), but left the altar with a “request” from God to preach His word. “Man! I was not expecting that.”
What I can tell you is that I struggled with God for what appeared to be eternity, when in fact it was about only thirty to forty-five minutes. What I remember is that the revival continued on around me, while I lay stretched out on the floor, unable to get up for being constrained by what appeared to be the finger of the Angel of God on my chest. I can recall being half in a battle with the Angel of God and half listening to the preacher sharing the Gospel. Although my eyes were open, I could not see. A brilliant bright light completely surrounded me and I was blinded by the brightness of its glow. The light was a radiant white light that was more intense and brighter in the center. In my struggle with the Angel of God, I was helpless, as it appeared that the finger of the Angel actually penetrated my chest and attached itself to the wooden floor. As I struggled to get up, the Angel’s finger would flex similar to that of a rubber band, only allowing me to pull upwards a few inches off the floor before being pulled back down, flat to the floor. I can only imagine how Peter, James and John felt while on the Mountain of Transfiguration. As I think back on it, my encounter was somewhat like Jacob as he wrestled with the Angel of God and to some degree; it was somewhat similar Saul’s experience, before becoming Paul. I was knocked on my back, blinded by the glory of God and being spoken to by the Angel of God from the mist of His Glory. What an experience, it surely was like none other experience I have ever had.
When the words of the Pastor were silent to my ears, all I could hear was a voice continuously asking me to preach God’s word, and I would answer (not sure if aloud or not) “I’m Not Ready”. The only other thing for certain that I remember is these words of the Pastor “This is how God chastises those He Love”. I also must add, that nearly forty years later, I had the opportunity to attend Church of God in Christ (Montgomery, Texas) with my father-in-law (Rev. Frank Deveraux). The pastor had since gone to glory, but his wife was there and as I gave my testimony, she remembered my experience and was proud that I had yielded to God’s calling. My wife and I took a picture with her to remember my “Road to Damascus” experience with God. I can truly identify with the word of Deitrick Haddon in his song titled “He’s Able” - “God Won’t Give Up on You”.
Fast forward a few years, I’ve graduated from Prairie View A&M University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Animal Science, working with a Fortune 500 company and married with three children. My encounter with God had never faded from my memory, but I did not hear the voice of God, asking me to “Preach His Word” anymore. Actually I yearned to hear from Him. I certainly would have responded differently this time, because I had a burning desire to preach and teach His word. As time passed, I found myself wanting to serve God more and I developed a deep passion and thirst for teaching God’s word.
God took me on several journeys (both professionally and spiritually). Regardless of the city or state (seven different states in 20 years) I was transferred to, God placed me with Pastors that needed a dedicated servant, mentor and a person with the passion for correctly teaching and preaching the Gospel. I was eager to serve and did serve (regardless of the role).
It was not until the spring of 2000 that I heard that audible distinctive voice of God again. My family and I were living in Shelby Township, Michigan at the time. It was a Sunday morning, just before leaving to teach Sunday School at Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church, that I overheard a preacher of a mega-church (on TV), speaking to the congregation, but not preaching Jesus Christ or the bible. I stopped what I was doing, gazed at the TV and said to God, “WHY DO YOU LET THAT HAPPEN?” His reply, “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT”. My Response, WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE A DEGREE. God’s response, “IF THAT’S WHAT YOU THINK YOU NEED, GO GET IT”. I said ok and was enrolled in Ashland Theological Seminary by fall of 2000.
Answering the call of God, I approached my father-in-law (Rev. Frank Deveraux) and two other Pastors (Rev. Otis White Jr. and Rev. Thaddeus Shore) and shared my calling. I was placed in a ministers training and preparation for approximately eighteen months, before being ordained on October 27, 2002.
As only God can do, he keep his promise and made provisions for me by putting a wonderful team of folks around me to successfully manage my career, family and church-life while obtaining my Masters of Art in Christian Education from Ashland Theological Seminary. These were some of the most challenging periods of my career due to the customer I managed. As Director of Sales for The Gillette Company, I was responsible for an office of about twenty-five people and about $300 Million in revenue. The Kmart Corporation was in the middle of filing chapter 11 bankruptcy and The Gillette Company had millions of dollars at risk. Under God’s guidance and favor, my Team and I were able to minimize Gillette’s financial loss to less that $1 Million. The Team was recognized as best in class for our overall management of the situation. Shortly afterwards, I was promoted to Gillette’s World Headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts as National Business Development Manager overseeing approximately 200 Team Members across North America. Praises to God for His favor.
Upon moving to Boston, God directed me and my family to an inner-city church in Framingham, Ma (New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church) under the pastoral leadership of Sr. Pastor - Percy Garrett. An eighty-two year old master carpenter that not only constructed and restored building, but also the lives of those under his care. Pastor Garrett had a heart to serve those rejected by others, those that fell upon hard times, those abused by loved one and many had succumb to the vices of this world (violence, alcohol and drugs). At New Jerusalem, I learned the skills needed and the difference in ministering in an urban environment versus a suburban environment (I’ll have you to know, there is a difference). While at New Jerusalem not only did I teach Sunday School, but ministered to the homeless, the convicted and to those transitioning back to society (after being released from prison or drug rehab center). Due to God’s grace, I was selected as Assistant Pastor at New Jerusalem and served the community via monthly meal programs which become weekly during the winter months. Served as the financial administrator and contract manager for building improvements.
As God would have it, my season came to an end in Massachusetts and my family and I were headed to Fayetteville, Arkansas. After serving at New Jerusalem for more than three years, God saw fit that I be promoted to Director of Customer Development on the Walmart Team at Proctor & Gamble Company, as part of the integration/merger of P&G and The Gillette Company. Again God directed the timing, as the Sr. Pastor of St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas had passed away a few months before my arrival and before joining the church. My God’s design, I was one of two ordained ministers on staff; therefore I was immediately chosen to lead communions, baptism and to preach God’s Word. This role continued for about twenty-four months as the church completed their pastoral search. At St. James, I am able to use my acquired skills and training to build our Sunday School attendance and increase participation in Mid-Week Bible Study. Additionally, my wife and I were tasked to develop and lead a six-week study session for St. James’ Marriage Ministry. Using my training from Ashland Seminary and with God’s directions we were able to successfully accomplish their request, averaging weekly attendance of approximately fifteen couples. A few years later, upon the request of Sr. Pastor-Curtiss Smith, I was asked to develop several mini-study sessions for the Singles Ministry, the Faith Forward Capital Stewardship Program, Deacons Training, Youth Engagement, Ordination for New Ministers and serve as facilitator for our Ministers Training Program.
Now I feel God is leading me to further develop myself and prepare for the next season of my life, which leads me to pursue a Doctors of Education Ministries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Again, God has laid the foundation and carved a path for me to pursue my degree by splitting many of my professional responsibilities in half, providing additional resources on my Team which allows me to dedicate the time and focus needed to accomplish what I set to do, many years ago. Therefore my goals are simple and direct:
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Devotional Prep at 4:30am
Morning Devotion at 6:30-6:45am (Call in Devotion) (M-F)
Facebook Live Devotion @ 7:00am (M-F)
Office by 9:30am - 4:30pm (Meetings, lesson prep, counseling, community board meetings etc)
Weekly Corporate Bible Study (Wednesday's @ 6:30pm)
Attend some Auxiliary Meetings (Tuesday - Friday) @ 6:30pm
Third Thursday's Ministers Training @ 6;30pm
Third Saturday Minister Training with Sister Church @9;00am
Thursday - Saturday Sermon Prep - Various times
Sunday at church at 6:00am
Sunday school @9:00am
Sunday Morning Worship at 10:45am to 12:30pm
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?
Leading God's People by Christopher Beesley
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Steven Covey's "Seek to Understand, before being Understood". Listening
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
We developed a "Pillar Strategy" more like an executive Board that oversee all major aspects of the church.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
Teach the Word of God