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7 Questions with Reid Matthias
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Reid Matthias
Name: Reid Matthias
Current title: Lead Pastor
Current organisation: Good Shepherd Lutheran Community, Para Vista, South Australia
I was born in a set of triplets. My parents, teachers, unsurprisingly, were not prepared for the download of three infants into their lives. By the grace of God and the loving small town community, we were raised to express faith and life in a variety of beautiful ways. I was an athlete and musician growing up, and these two 'distractions' have continued to be very valuable over the years as I work with kids of all ages. I met my wife, Christine, on Youth Encounter, where we traveled across the eastern seaboard of the United States and then Germany and Denmark for 17 months. Christine, an Australian, has an incredible voice, and now that we've been married for almost twenty-five years, our duets keep getting better. I have three incredible, intelligent and talented daughters who have followed in their parents' footsteps in both music and athletics. I am now the Lead Pastor at a largish (for Australian standards) Lutheran Church where I work specifically with primary school age children and then adults for the rest for the week. I am a published author and have produced multiple CD's with my family.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
I can't speak for others, but I find loneliness to be a real challenge. Although I have a very supportive family, ironically, the church can be a very difficult place to establish friendship. There seems to always be the barrier of pastor/professional Christian/spiritual leader and the people who see him or her that way. Yes, we enter into deep conversations, but there are few people with whom I can open up fully.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I had been working in youth ministry for eight years. My church did a mission trip to Australia and neither of the pastors of the church could go on the adventure, so they asked for me to stand in. With great trepidation, I accompanied a group of thirty people, the youngest eight months and the oldest, in her 70's. As a small community, they encouraged me on the journey. Countless others, family and colleagues, have pushed me in that direction. It hasn't always been fun, but God continues to pull and prod to use our gifts for the common good.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Spend as much time with people as possible.
Even though I'm an introvert by nature, I have an all-surpassing enjoyment of hearing people's stories and how they fit into God's story.
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 book of Mark.
The more I ponder Jesus's methodology of leadership and where this occurs, very little of it happens within the walls of the church building. To meet with people, lead people from where they are, to help people use their gifts for their own ministry, that's what I'm passionate about. Think of all the times that Jesus intentionally goes out of his way to show people the way. Teaching people to be disciples, sending them out two by two, having them reflect on the good and the bad - that's great leadership.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The joy of seeing people find value in their God-given gifts is greater than the joy of any other part of ministry.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
Engage people in their stories.
Understand their gifts, hopes and dreams.
Equip them with all the tools they need to develop those gifts.
Let them practice leadership in a healthy environment.
Send them out to lead new teams in new ways.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
I received a phone call from a woman whose husband had been murdered in a drive-by shooting. When I reached the house, the woman was heavily sedated, but as we talked, the Jobian story of grief expressed itself: SIDS, Cancer, now husband murdered. She felt as if there was not much reason to live. As I met with her over the months, gradually she expressed the desire for her and her son to be baptized, "But," she said, "I'm not really a church kind of person. I've got tattoos, I swear a lot, and I don't like wearing dresses."
"No problem," I responded, even though I knew that there would be some in the congregation for which this would be a problem.
Fast forward to Easter Sunday, the day when she was to be baptized, and I'd worked with a few people in the church to welcome her. She showed up with her tattoos, she was not swearing, but she was uncomfortably wearing a dress (because that's what 'church' women do) and she was very, very nervous. I asked her about it. "We talked about having Godparents or sponsors. I don't have any."
"I'll take care of it," I said.
Because it was Easter and the sanctuary was filled with people, she was even more nervous. The baptismal font was in the middle. As she came forward and stood with me, I asked the congregation, "Would anyone be willing to stand with us this morning to be a Godparent for Lisa (not her name)?"
The congregation, knowing the backdrop of Lisa's life, felt the moving of the Spirit, and 150 people stood and moved to the center of the church to surround Lisa with their love and prayers for baptism. I've yet to experience that Spirit-filled ness since. I'm looking forward to it again.