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7 Questions with Paul Murray
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7 Questions with Paul Murray
Name: Rev. Dr. Paul Murray
Current title: Senior Pastor
Current organisation: The Lighthouse Church
An ordained minister serving in ministry for more than twenty-five years, Murray is the Senior Pastor of the Lighthouse Church. In addition, he has established six church works under his own ministry in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Georgia, and internationally in Nairobi, Kenya and Oslo, Norway. He was consecrated and elevated to the office of Bishop in July 2017, where he holds his ministerial credentials with One Way Churches International (OWCI).
In his passion to help others through their dark days of failure, Dr. Murray is the author of the award-winning book, Broken: Picking Up the Pieces After the Fall and soon to be released, ‘First To Serve: A Call To Servant Leadership’. A former Peace Corps Volunteer in the country of Tunisia, Murray holds a Doctorate in Pastoral Leadership from Howard University's School of Divinity, a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Counseling and a Master of Art in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Phoenix where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Services.
His ministry would not be complete without his wife of 30 years, Rachel. She serves as the Minister of Music and is a sought-after speaker as she empowers women and families through Christ. And they are the proud parents of 3 adult children; two married and all serving in ministry and raising our 6 grandchildren.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
One of the most challenging issues as a church leader is staying relevant and authentic with God's Word as changing societal norms have society pushing the church to adapt. We cannot and should not compromise the Word to accommodate a society that shifts from generation to generation. This leads to the second challenge as leader, which has become the church itself. We know Christianity began in Jerusalem as a relationship with Jesus. But, by the time it arrived in Greece it was morphed into a philosophy. Then in Rome it became an institution and now in the U.S. it has become an enterprise. We are not called to compete with one another, rather to serve one another.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was attending a Pentecostal church where my twin brother was a member. I enjoyed the opportunity to share something special with my brother. As I began to learn more about Christ and studied His Word, I was hungry to serve Him. It was through my Pastor that I was introduced to leadership by leading the church youth group. After several years, I felt ill-equipped and even questioned the validity of certain non-biblical traditions, which led me to attend seminary. Through my graduate and Doctoral studies, doors opened for me to grow in leadership. It has been a journey of both ups and downs, yet rooted in the Biblical call to be an Ambassador for Christ and a light into the world. I have served in State, regional and even national levels of leadership which included ordaining ministers, leading major convening, and publishing works. At the end of the day, my leadership is focused in discipling and mentoring leaders who have a passion to serve.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
As a bi-vocational leader, I am called to be disciplined, yet flexible and available to switch gears for individual and/or community needs or crisis'. My day begins and ends with personal time in prayer, or as I refer to as my conversations with my Savior. Every day is not the same. As I manage meetings, staff, sermon and Bible study prep time, along with family and my own personal time. I have a daily schedule where I list all meetings and tasks which are prioritized. The schedule may be updated, and often is throughout the day. Saturday's are my 'no schedule' day with evenings always at home in preparation for Sunday morning services.
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?
I am a fan of John Maxwell's books. and I would say his book titled, "Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters" has had a powerful impact on me as a person. Maxwell says, "When you intentionally use your influence every day to bring about positive change in the lives of others, you achieve significance.” There is a big difference between a life of good intentions and an intentional life. I have found this to be so true. I am a servant leader and I seek ways to elevate those around me. My planning is purposeful and covered in prayer and directed by His Spirit. As a result, God has opened doors where my intentional connections and serving others have afforded me opportunities and ministry that would have never happened otherwise. From ministering on television to meeting heads of State globally all have been the direct result of being purposeful and disciplined in my leadership style.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
One recent leadership lesson I have learned is to be authentic. It is critically important to let others know where you stand on issues. Dealing straightforwardly with others is the key to authenticity. Yet, in being authentic, it does not mean it gives me the right to be judgmental. As I serve in the public square and engage people of diverse backgrounds and belief systems, I have found it important to be authentic in who I am, who I represent, and what I believe while demonstrating that agape love in my words, actions and deeds, regardless of where others stand.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
My mantra in developing a healthy leadership pipeline is under the banner of Servant Leadership. People matter much more than the program. It is critical to train and empower individuals where the sky is the limit. I serve my leaders, they do not serve me. In fact, when you come to one of our church events, you will find all of leadership serving. My wife and I are last to be seated at a dinner event. We ensure everyone has been served before we take care of ourselves. We teach by example. We strive for healthy relationships and promote mentoring or coaching as a tool to disciple new converts and members. Everyone has value and can contribute at some level. So, it is important to let each light shine where they can shine the brightest for Christ. It is also important that whatever position an individual serves in, they understand the required competencies needed for the ministry they are connected to, leading, or desiring to grow into. There are monthly leadership meetings to ensure our objectives are moving toward our mission, not stagnant or regressing. And of course, leaders are clearly identified, they know their role and responsibilities and so does the church membership.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
I think of the time when I was called by a Chaplain who had a hospice patient who was struggling with her death because of turning away from her faith years ago. The Chaplain was a Lutheran pastor and she was brought up Pentecostal, so he wanted someone to come who could relate to her personal faith tradition. When I arrived and met this woman who had only days if not hours left of her life, she was very discouraged and depressed. This precious woman who was broken spiritually, was fearful of death because she left her walk from God more than 20 years ago. She believed God would not forgive her and as a matter of fact, she believed she had no right to ask for forgiveness. She had been faithful in the church for years and certain things transpired over time, which found her years later outside the church looking in. As I shared the parable of the Lost Sheep, I reminded her, that I was sent by God for His sheep - for her! She began to weep. In the next hour we talked about her life, God's forgiveness and His restorative power. She came back to Christ that night. I left rejoicing in my spirit. It touched my heart and as I got back in the car with this Chaplain who had been serving in ministry for more than 40 years, he turned to me and said, "You know, in all my years working in ministry, I have never felt the presence of God like I just did in that room!" Weeping, he said, "I feel like I was on Holy ground". I was shocked, because I took the presence of the Holy Spirit in that room as normal. I could not fathom, that a man who worked in leadership in the church for many more years than me had never experienced His presence in such a way. The following morning I received word that this woman passed peacefully. As I prayed, I learned two lessons. We as leaders are called and ministry is not a vocation or job. It must be in the marrow of our bones - who we are. I never looked again at preaching to the masses or pastoring a large church as the only means by which one can be acclaimed as a great leader. Rather, it is when we can focus on the "one's" - the individual, the one on one and to focus on serving him or her. Scripture reminds us that all of heaven rejoices when ONE person repents. Never let what the world sees as successful leadership - the big numbers as your tool, rather submit to the calling and labor where God places you, and give Him the praise. For our labor is never in vain and our reward is in heaven.