7 Questions with William Attaway
Name: William Attaway
Current title: Lead Pastor
Current organisation: Southview Community Church
I'm the Lead Pastor of a mission-focused church in northern Virginia dedicated to reaching people who are far from God with the life changing message of Jesus. I'm the founder and Executive Coach at Catalytic Leadership, LLC, where as a certified John Maxwell Team member, I speak, coach, and train individuals and teams on leadership, navigating organizational change, teamwork, communication, and organizational health. I'm also the author of the book Lead.: Leadership Lessons from the (Not So) Minor Prophets (Eriall Press, 2014). I've been married for nearly 23 years to my wife Charlotte, and we have two fantastic daughters, Erin and Allison.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
The greatest challenge for me has come living in a highly-transient area. People will move to the D.C./northern Virginia area often for 3-5 years, and then they transfer elsewhere. Very few people settle here long term. That has significant ramifications for developing leaders, building teams, creating a culture of generosity - the list is long! But the flip side of that challenge is that when people leave Southview, they take what has been invested into them wherever they go. People on 6 continents have been touched by God through this ministry, and He continues to work through them no matter where they might go next.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was in the corporate world, never anticipating a move into church ministry. A friend approached me about a job opening in student ministry, and I thought he was crazy! It wouldn't leave my mind, so several months later I applied, and they called. It's been a wild ride since then, getting married, three degrees, two kids, and moving from Texas to Virginia in 2004, but God's led every step of the way.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
In the morning I spend time with God. Reading, listening, praying - that's the most important thing I'll do all day, and that's what empowers anything I will do for the rest of the day. I typically stack meetings on Mondays; Tuesdays and Wednesdays are study and writing; and Thursdays are more meetings and recording the message for our online campus. I protect most evenings for time with my family. Typically I'm in bed by 10 or so.
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?
John Maxwell's classic "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership." That book is one that changed the way I thought about what it meant to lead, and it's one I take new and emerging leaders through to this day.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Without intentionality, you will not grow as a leader. It takes effort.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
One person at a time! I look for people who have a leadership bent and invite them into a mentoring group where we will read and discuss books, topics, ideas, etc. Leadership is a spiritual gift, but just like the rest, it doesn't arrive fully developed - development is what we try to help leaders do.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
That's tough! There are so many stories. I can remember one young man who came to Southview with his arms crossed, not interested in much of what we were doing. Slowly, God began to melt the heart of this guy, and heal some of the pain that he had experienced as the son of a pastor. Before they moved away after their five years here, he was engaged as a small group leader, using his gifts to serve others in multiple ways. Those are the stories of life change that I love to see. How God can transform a life - wow.