Name: Dr. Mark Vander Meer
Title: Executive Director
Organisation: Community Recovery International
Dr. Mark Vander Meer has been a pastor for over 20 years, served in two churches and has been a professor for over 15 years. Dr. Vander Meer has been the Associate Pastor at New Community Church for the past 23 years and is the founder and Executive Director of Community Recovery International, a non-profit organization that he founded in 2002.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Mark's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
What I have found most challenging as a leader is to say "no" to ministry invitations as I discern what is true to our vision and mission.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I became a leader first because God gifted me as one. Second, I discovered my leadership gift when I was trained in evangelism at age 15 in my church. From there, I led in many volunteer roles at churches. I knew God called me into ministry and education, but was unsure as to how or what. As I worked in mental health, social work, ministry roles and entered seminary God led me into my next chapters.
My first role was a high school teacher; that did not fit. Next was a church staff role which fit well. But, two years later, I started as an Associate Pastor at the church I currently work in. I discovered my leadership gifts come alive as God empowered me to build teams and the current recovery ministry organization I started, Community Recovery.
Since that beginning, I continued to grow as a leader and learned well how to be a servant leader. We work with those struggling with acute addictions and life issues and are on the front lines with them. I also oversee our church's world mission that has overlapped with Community Recovery.
We see that every community in every country needs Christ-centered recovery support and healing. As a leader I now serve our direct clientele, global communities at large and train trainers worldwide.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I structure my work day by organizing each day according to my priorities. My mornings begin with attending to my time with God and my family's needs. Next, I go to the office or other locations to do my priority list. At the end of the day, I return home to have family, study and personal down time.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
The recent leadership lesson I have been reminded of is the power of reproduction. Effective servant leadership means that you are constantly reproducing yourself in areas where leadership is needed. As a leader you cannot do it all; you need to invest in existing and new leaders who come up in your ministry.
5. What's one book 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 one book that has had a profound impact on my leadership so far has been Ken Blanchard's book Gung Ho! This book transformed my leadership since it served as a foundation for what I was doing as a leader. It gives a framework for other leadership books I read.
Reading Gung Ho! helped me to form my vision for my non-profit, Community Recovery International. When I read this book in 2000, I was able to model and shape a servant leadership culture that became contagious. For instance, with all of our ministry work, we were able to build multiple teams that served in a variety of areas. They knew that it meant life or death, that there was a plan to follow, and that everyone cheered each other on.
That was being Gung Ho! As a result, Community Recovery weathered through several organizational cycles with some leadership turnover. Overall, I have retained many who have led with me for many years.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
The one piece of advice I would give to a young leader is to trust God with your life, seek His will for your work as a leader, serve others as you lead, and NEVER give up.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I lead our world mission in Bangladesh which Community Recovery oversees in part at New Community Church. In 2012, things had deteriorated under the old leadership. I was not leading the mission in Bangladesh at that time, but I was given the reigns of the organization of that mission.
I traveled to Bangladesh, fired the governing board, retained the core group of pastors, named a new country director, and proceeded to break new ground in northwestern Bangladesh.
Today, we have over 1,000 members in our church there, we have a sewing business that has drawn hundreds more to our program and we lead eight schools for children. Thanks be to God for His faithful power and provision.