Upgrading Leadership in Churches – Interview with Rev. Dr. Bishop William Willimon

Upgrading Leadership in Churches

Interview with Rev. Dr. Bishop William Willimon

Will WillimonA bishop in the United Methodist Church, Professor William Willimon served as the dean of Duke Chapel and professor of Christian ministry at Duke University for 20 years. He returned to Duke after serving as the bishop of the North Alabama Conference from 2004 to 2012. Willimon is the author of 70 books. His Worship as Pastoral Care was selected as one of the 10 most useful books for pastors in 1979 by the Academy of Parish Clergy. More than a million copies of his books have been sold. His articles have appeared in many publications including Theology Today, Interpretation, Liturgy, and Christianity Today. He is editor-at-large for The Christian Century. His book Pastor: the Theology and Practice of Ordained Leadership is used in dozens of seminaries in the United States and Asia. His He has taught in Germany, Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia in various seminaries. He is a trustee of Wofford College, Emory University, and serves on the Dean’s Committee of Yale Divinity School.  In early 2017 he will publish Who Lynched Willie Earle? Confronting Racism through Preaching.

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Hugh Ballou: Greetings, this is Hugh Ballou. Welcome to this version of The Nonprofit Exchange. We talk to leaders worldwide about their particular perspective in leadership, their expertise, and to hear from their perspective, from their seat that they led from for so many years. My guest today is Will Willimon, Dr. Reverend Will Willimon. We are sitting in Durham, North Carolina at the Duke Divinity School where Will will tell you a little bit about what he does here. He and I got connected a number of years ago when he came to north Alabama as a bishop, and I was serving in a Methodist church. We first got connected there. I have been extremely impressed with his writing, and we have interfaced a few times. You have even spoken at one of my events in Greensboro. Welcome, Will, to the Nonprofit Exchange.

Will Willimon: Thank you.

Hugh: It’s like when I go somewhere and say, “I’m Hugh Ballou. This is Will Willimon.” Tell us about yourself, your background, and why you’re here at the Duke Divinity School.

Will: I’m a Methodist preacher from South Carolina. As a young preacher, I was summoned by Duke Divinity School. I came up here and joined the faculty back in the ‘70s to teach worship. Didn’t like teaching full-time, so I went back in a parish in South Carolina. Then again Duke called me to the pulpit of Duke Chapel, and I was there 20 years. It was my first experience with a ministry that large, a budget that large, a staff that large. From there, I was a bishop. After being a bishop for eight years, I was invited back to Duke. I teach courses in preaching and mission. I also teach a class for ordained leadership, and for the doctor of ministry, I teach a leadership class. In my latter years, I find myself moving more into leadership. In fact, in my mind, I think every class I teach here at Duke Divinity School is a leadership class because I think leadership is utterly necessary for ordained clergy to be leaders, but often that is something they say they don’t get in divinity school. It’s right at the top of the clergy list of skills they wish they had more of.

Hugh: That’s amazing. As people go into this meaningful work in ministry, first off, it’s very difficult work. It’s very challenging work. Let’s go back a minute. We talked about leadership. I want you to define leadership. I also want to ask you about what do you think from interviewing pastors that have been in churches for a while, what do they think they wish they had known before they started? Define leadership. Then what are you hearing from preachers out there they wish they had gotten from this class you’re teaching?

Will: I hear pastors complain about administration. That consumes too much of their time, they don’t enjoy doing it, they had no training in how to administer well. Larger church pastors, whenever you’re together, the talk always gets to staff: staff problems, problematic people on staff, hiring people, holding people accountable, all those things you got to do in supervision. I think few pastors come into the ministry saying, “God is calling me to administer a church.” And yet that is the work you find yourself in.

Another problem is I know when I went into ministry, my vision of myself was I will be a part of a small rural congregation in South Carolina. I hope I’ll have a part-time secretary. That would be wonderful. Then you wake up one day like I did at Duke Chapel, and I had 30 human beings that I was supposed to be supervising and orchestrating and coordinating and leading. That was when I reached out and tried to get better leadership administrative skills. Probably should have reached out sooner. I hear about administration.

Then I hear pastors complaining about conflicted congregations, congregations that don’t seem to respect their authority and leadership. This whole complex set of things that leaders, managers, administrators have to do. I hear a lot of that.

You mentioned that being a pastoral leader is hard. I agree. However, there are times I think when pastors get together and complain, whine about administrative leadership difficulties thinking this is what everybody faces who works with human beings that have some tasks assigned to them, some mission they are engaged in. Maybe the surprising thing is that pastors are surprised this is the world.

Hugh: This is the work. It’s with people. Years ago, I interviewed you for an article I was doing for a magazine on the topic of conflict. We were talking about particularly how pastors do or don’t approach conflict. One of the statements you made was typically, pastors want to move away from conflict. One of the people I interviewed on the podcast was a woman named Dr. Roberta Gilbert. She was a psychiatrist and a colleague of Murray Bowen. I don’t know if you-

Will: I know Bowen theory, yeah.

Hugh: I have been studying it for nine years. She was on this series of podcasts. What she helped me realize was that we move toward conflict, remaining calm, sticking to the facts. Instead of avoiding it, moving toward that. I found that Bowen systems is a way to know self, so it helped me to reframe some of my leadership. But conflict is one of the things that exists in any human system like Bowen talks about. Part of what that theory helped me do was he calls differentiation of self. What are our principles? That is a really foundational piece for leadership is defining self.

Will: Agreed. For pastors, self-knowledge is a never-ending task. It may be complicated by the fact that for pastors, we have lots of opportunities to be self-deceitful if we want to be. One, I think people aid us in our self-deceit as they say to us, “You’re just so loving and caring. We have never had a pastor like you.” Pushing all those buttons. Then you start to believe that. It is a halo effect.

I was in a church recently that has severe problems with decline and severe problems with their staff being unable to step up. The first thing the pastor said was, “We have a wonderful staff here. I feel so privileged to be working with them.” I’m thinking that from one angle, that sounds charitable, and you seem to be a charitable person. You’re thinking positively about these people. From another angle though, let’s be honest, you don’t want to do the work that would be required by being truthful, that you’ve hired the wrong people, you are going to have some painful conversations, you need to make some moves. Rather than do that work, you are going to say, “We have a wonderful staff, and we are all Christians.” I love that self-knowledge.

For instance, in a leadership class I teach here, two thirds of the class always admits they have problems with conflict. Much of the class says one of the appeals of Christian ministry is that they could do this without hurting people. In business, you have to fire people. I know it sounds ridiculous as you know the church. I try to say it’s very important to own that. I put it on my list, too, with clergy.

I think we clergy think of ourselves as powerless people. We look at our paycheck and say we don’t have much influence or power or they’d be paying me more. It’s easy for us to say there is a problem of the staff, that it’s for the personnel committee. They deal with this; since I’m the pastor, I don’t deal with that. I think that can be very dangerous.

One of my jobs as a bishop was to discipline errant clergy who had moral lapses, and invariably, the image was, “I am just a loving, caring pastor. I couldn’t hurt anybody.” That is dangerous. It’s important for pastors to own who they are, the power they have. Use that power carefully. Self-knowledge is a big deal. I don’t know if the president of General Motors has to know thyself, as Socrates advised, but pastors do. There are so many opportunities for deceit, for those moments where you say: I am telling you this for your own good and because I love you. Probably more typical is for pastors to say in response to when I ask “Why didn’t you tell the truth? Why didn’t you share the facts?” “Oh, I am such a loving, caring person. I didn’t want to hurt this person.” We pastors have many resources for deceiving ourselves about our real motives.

Hugh: Along that channel, I find that the really best leaders have a confidential advisor or coach, a mentor, somebody that helps them discover their blind spots because they are called blind spots for a good reason. That would be one of them. It’s an accountability partner.

Will: Good advice. I remember we had a consultant in Alabama, and he educated us during a day about what it takes to revitalize a moribund, static, plateaued congregation. You gotta do this and this and this. Have these discussions, these strategies. At the end of the day, at the bottom of the list he put- His voice raised and he said, “None of this can be done by yourself. You’ve got to get external assistance. You have to get a coach, an advisor, a mentor. You have to get somebody who is not embedded with you, somebody who has no power in that configuration.” I sure found that to be true.

As Alabama’s bishop, the church gave me a job but I had no training, and as you can see, very few gifts. I had 800 pastors, 600 churches. It was a leadership management nightmare. After a couple months, I got a retired business executive. I asked, “Bill, what’d you make your last year at the life insurance company?” He said, “About $400,000.” I said, “Well, I’m prepared to offer you $20,000 to work with me and to be my coach, to be my advisor. God wants you to do this. God has told me to tell you to do this. You wouldn’t want to disappoint the Lord, would you?” He said, “Wow, you really do need an advisor if that’s your attitude about things.” It was wonderful. He had an office near mine. Bill went with me to meetings. He sat at the back of the room usually, took notes. We would have an evaluation after the meeting. He would say things to me like, “Once again, you talked about a third of the time, and two thirds of the time, they were talking.” Or he would say things to me like, “You know, you’re asking less questions than you did when we first started. I think you have to discipline yourself to ask more questions and make fewer declarative statements. Your questions are not as good as they were in the early days. I’m afraid you’re falling into the trap of thinking you know what’s going on now. No, you don’t.” Because that is a moving target, people are being deceptive, and they don’t even know they are being deceptive. It was wonderful.

The trouble with being a bishop is it is really hard to find anybody who will tell you the truth, except generally your most severe critics whom you can’t stand because they are so critical. Bill was wonderful. Now, when any pastor says to me things like, “Oh, this church. I tried this, and it didn’t work.” “Let me stop you right there. I know where you’re going with this. I am going to recommend you get a coach. You get some help. Let me just stop you right there and talk about the help.” I’m just not sure pastors can do much of anything without somebody coming in from the outside and making the work as difficult as Jesus means it to be. I use that phrase a lot. If the work assigned to us was simply to be a loving, caring group of people, a lot of churches are a loving, caring group of people because that’s all the pastor knows how to lead, the pastor is uncomfortable around anybody in their twenties, so therefore the pastor ends up spending a lot of time with people my age. Unfortunately, Jesus Christ, the work he has given us to do, the mission is much more demanding than that. There is going to be disagreements. There will be crises, not simply because people are hard to work with, which they are, but because Jesus Christ is hard to work with. He won’t let us be the men’s garden club. I keep trying and thinking about leadership.

What difference does it make that we are Christian doing this? How is our leadership of a different quality than, say, leadership by a well-meaning humanist or something? That is a hard question to answer, but nevertheless, I think it important for clergy.

Hugh: It is. We take sound leadership business principles, and we learn from them. When we put them in the church, they are different because it is the church. There are things we can learn. In my conversations with Jim Forbes, a pastor from Riverside, New York, he said, “We need for our spiritual journey experience 15-20% outside of our discipline.” Talk about the coach so we don’t get stale and blind. Nothing else is there. This is what I know. Part of what Bishop Joe said to us at Blacksburg is the Methodist Church was losing 1,200 members a week in America. We get on a track where we think this is how it ought to go, but it’s not working. We have sat ourselves up for failure. Some of the gaps in leadership.

When I talked to Cal Turner, and he has talked to the council of bishops, he went to his leadership team at Dollar General and said, “I am the son of the boss. I got this because I am son of the boss.” He was president and chairman of the board. “You have the skills. I have the vision.” He claimed the vision, but he said that he wanted them to do this. Everybody stepped up. Cal said, “Hugh, leadership is about defining your gaps and finding really good people to fill them.” He also pointed out that transparency is- You’re not whiny, but he was very straightforward. They know. They know you don’t know it. Why pretend? If I didn’t tell them, they would be like, “Well, I’ll show him.” There is this vision thing.

I worked with Dick Wills when he was bishop in Tennessee. We were talking about a cabin retreat. I was talking about the vision for that since I was leading it. He said, “The cabinet is not going to develop the vision. I didn’t see anywhere in the Bible where God gave the vision to a committee. Here is the vision.” That is the vision piece. I don’t think the great commandment is your mission. That is a commandment. That is a commission. That is not a choice. Paul Borden said that when you brought him in to talk to north Alabama. That is not a choice.

What is it that God has called this church or organization? We are talking about leadership in the church. There are some unique differences, but there are some global differences for anybody leading any organization. A lot of what you are talking about corporate leaders have trouble with, too. Talk about the pastor.

Back to Bowen systems. There is this pseudo self and basic self. We want to please people, so we go into pleaser mode, which is a downward spiral, rather than going with our principles and making the right decisions for the right reason. Not pulling people in and saying, “This is not how we do things.” It’s a pleaser personality. You did say to me in that interview a while back that in addition to avoiding conflict, it gets worse as it goes on. You also said that conflict is the sign of energy in an organization. We don’t ever eliminate it. We are energetic people.

Managing this and addressing it, I think we misunderstand words. One word is we need to confront the conflict. The root of it is with your front. It doesn’t mean you hit them with a baseball bat. With your front means approach it directly, calmly, and openly, stating the facts. There is a huge challenge I see in this area you’re talking about. How can pastors equip themselves, besides having a good coach? I suggest it doesn’t always have to be clergy.

Will: You can have coaches. When pastors talk about difficulty of personalities, because you have graduated from divinity school, you have had zero training in how to handle people, how to hold people accountable, how to have difficult conversations with people about their work. But I guarantee you you have people in your church that God has called to the ministry or personnel work. Draw on them. Commission them to do this with you. There is an arrogance behind the pastor who says, “I have hands laying on my head. I’m good at preaching and administration and budgetary oversight.” With one meeting with the finance committee, I was thinking I have always disliked people like you in high school who were always talking about some really interesting math problem in homework. I’m no good in math. That is one reason I went into the ministry to avoid that. Any wonderful guy who has called you. This is what you’re good at. Let me give you that authority to do that.

As you were talking, you talked about good business principles and how they are different in the church. That is so true. However, I don’t want to let us clergy off the hook by saying a frequent way- It’s either arrogance or evasiveness. “Wait, remember now, the church is not a business.” That is just a cop-out for saying, “I am so arrogant I am not going to submit to instruction. I am not going to learn.” You were talking about conflict. You can get better at managing conflict. There are certain things you can learn. You do this, then you do this, then you do this. You develop an attitude, which doesn’t say, “There is conflict. I did something wrong,” but rather, “There is some heat being generated here. I can feel it. Maybe I am doing something right.” There have been moments in my ministry where I swear it’s like Jesus says to me, “Gosh, ain’t it a shame that I didn’t have your personality. Maybe I wouldn’t have ended up like I did on the cross.”

Sometimes, good management leadership principles can be overruled by the theological missional commitments of the church. I remember when I was weighing into the immigration fight in Alabama, taking on Jeff Sessions. My management coach said, “Ah, really, at this time, I hate to see you get into this.” I said, “Well, the better clergy are asking me to get into this with him.” He said, “This is one of those moment when I realize that this is more than about good management coaching. This is about the gospel and Jesus Christ. I guarantee you you’re going to do this because I know you. This is where I realize I’m not ordained. I’m not clergy. At your best, you think like clergy. I just want to say now as you go into this, know that you will come into some casualties and take some hits and expend some of your capital, but it sounds like you think this is right.”

Part of being clergy is applying theological and knowing- In the class I was just teaching, I had Douglas Campbell, who is our great New Testament scholar here, talking about conflict. He was talking about how Paul served a multi-cultural diverse church. He said, “Boy, it’s all blowing up in his face. You have people with Pagan values and Pagan ethics, and you have Jewish Christians, and Gentile Christians. They are fighting it out with each other over who is a real Christian.” A number of the pastors in the program said, “I’ve been there. I am there.” Then Douglas said, “You know, maybe Paul would say, ‘If you’re in a placid, content, homogeneous church, you ain’t much of a missionary, are you? You’re not much of an Evangelist.’ The testimony to how effective Paul was is the squabbles going on, the conflict they’re having.” I thought that was a great way to put it. If my church doesn’t have any conflict over racial issues or political issues, you better check out your Evangelistic leadership because Jesus Christ is about wider business than simply a happy club of older adults.

Hugh: That’s what separates us from being a social club.

Will: Absolutely. We usually say, “We have love, harmony,” yeah. But if that love and harmony is by our disobeying Christ’s commission, it’s wrong. You mentioned Paul Borden. I loved him in a church leadership on testosterone way. I remember one of my pastors saying to Paul, “You can’t be captured by the older adults in your congregation. You have to free yourself from that. You have to ask yourself, every time you go to the hospital to visit those shut-ins, who are you not visiting? Who are the conversations you’re not having?” One of the pastors said, “Paul, don’t you think there is something to be said for honoring the sacrifices and love of those dear people who built this church?” Paul said, “No, the church does not exist to honor any human being. The church exists to honor Jesus Christ.” Paul whacks him to the thing he says, “Some of you should have gone into nursing. Maybe you can empty bedpans, do nice things for people. This is better than that. You are a preacher of the word of God.” I don’t know how the group perceived that, but I was thinking it is good to be-

Sometimes it is good to be reminded that God has called me for more than an efficient, well-run organization. Again, I’m not trying to dismiss leadership management incompetence. For me, preaching was the thing that kept calling me back to say, “I am not simply aspiring to be a manager of an efficient volunteer organization. I am a spokesperson for God. I am the one that says, Okay people, we are gathered again before the scriptures. How are we being challenged?”

Hugh: Our duty and delight is to do meaningful work and to challenge people. I am thinking Reinhold Niebuhr, “Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.”

Will: Quoting Reinhold Niebuhr reminds me of his book, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic. But in there, he says something that has challenged me throughout my ministry. “Before I became a pastor, I thought there were so many boring and tame sermons because preachers were cowards. You have to be careful about how you say things. Now that I have become a pastor, I realized the source of bad preaching is love. You start to love these people, you are with them. You have a front row seat on their misery. The last thing you want to do in a sermon is make them more miserable. That is why there is so many boring and tame sermons.”

Not sure if he was right about his characterization of prophets in Israel, but I found that so challenging that many of the really unfaithful things pastors do and lead, they blame it on love. I’m not telling this congregation the truth about their future, the fact that they have no future or very little future because I love them. They are some of the sweetest people. It complexifies leadership and Jesus’ name. it also says to me now. Be honest, here. You have noted that when you tell people painful truths, what do they do? They come back at you, and they start telling you painful truths. Then where would we be? We might be something on the way to being the body of Christ where the church says, “We are not only loving and caring and friendly; we are also truthful to a degree that you can’t get without the holy spirit working in you.”

Hugh: We’re also not truthful in how we interpret the Bible. Paul Borden challenged the great commission is not your mission, it’s a choice. Richard Rohr or John Bishop, they talk about how we hijack scripture for our own purposes-

Will: We do.

Hugh: -as leaders. We misinterpret that. That is a built-in liability.

You spoke about power earlier. I want to ask about that in a minute. I find a lot of leaders are unaware of the power differentiation. The pastor is an influencer of power, whether they know it or not. We get in trouble with relationships. We get in trouble with money. We get in trouble with authority because we are not aware that we have a position of power with what we do.

In my church in Atlanta that I served, the session, which is the ruling body of the Presbyterian church, were Sotheby executives who abdicated their authority to the pastor, which is not in the book of order. He has one vote. The teaching elder gets equal votes. They abdicated because he was the CEO. It was that power position that they gave into. They didn’t know how to be the board. But he got things done. He died at 63 because he really wore out his body. He worked hard and grew that church. It was a great delight to know him. I do find that typically clergy especially are unaware that they do have this position of power. What they say has a lot more weight. How does that get us in trouble?

Will: It’s dangerous- It’s also so important to own your power and use it responsibly. We give policemen guns, but then we really expect them to be very careful in using the firearm. When I am ordained in the Methodist church, the bishop says, “Take thou authority to preach the word. Take thou authority to administer the sacraments.” The bishop should have said, “Take care with thou authority we’re giving you.”

It amazes me that illustration is fascinating. I have been on boards of colleges where you have these powerful executives on the board. It’s like they walk into a church meeting and turn off their brains and become docile, smiling people. Some of them will say, “It’s the church. It’s not like a business.” I say, “I think it should be more like a business. By the way, I guarantee your business for any of its ethical failings would never do anything this unethical that is going on right now in the treatment of staff or whatever. Come on. Be an executive. Use your power.

I watched a little college go just about down the drain because of a board sitting there saying, “He is the president, and he has his Ph. D. I just have my B.A. degree, so what do I know?” They tolerated behavior they would never have tolerated in their bank or whatever. Knowledge of power, clergy moral abuse.

I remember a dean of a medical school told me one time, “The purpose of medical education, morally speaking, is to produce people who can be alone with naked people and not take advantage of them.” I said, “Turn around. You see the divinity school. We do that in three years for a lot less money than you charge to do that.” I thought it was a great- Clergy are around naked people a lot, vulnerable people a lot. To take advantage of that vulnerability is a heinous act that requires removal from ministry. We can never- You violated a whole thing. Oftentimes, when I have been involved in disciplining clergy, the self-image the clergy person has is, “Me? No, I’m just- She said she was lonely, and her marriage was unhappy. I’m in the business of loving. So I tried to love.” I said, “That is your explanation for what occurred on your desk?” “Yes.” “That is horrible. Goodbye.” It is a big issue.

In the congregation, I do think one thing we clergy have to be savvy about is power, power inequalities, power dynamics. Who are the powerless people in the congregation who are not being heard and who are not speaking up? I remember a pastor turning around a congregation. A group came to him and said, “We don’t like this. We don’t like this.” He said, “Every one of you is over 65. You represent 70% of this congregation.” They said, “We certainly do. Glad you’ve noticed that.” He said, “I bet you represent 90% of the giving.” “We’re glad you noticed that, too.” “If this church is going to live another day, I have to ignore you as much as I can. I’ve just met with the pitifully six people we have in this congregation in their 20s. Here is what I have heard from them. We could lose those few people. I have challenged them to double their numbers this year. Here is what they tell me we need to do. For the good of this church, I am going to have to take my orders from them. I hope you’ll understand that. I hope you’ll see that by my doing that, I am giving this church another day.” That struck me as somebody understanding power and saying, “I have to discipline myself not to let you have the power that determines the mission of this church.”

Hugh: That is not a typical decision though.

Will: I honored this pastor. Teach me how to do more of that.

One other thing you said is one thing as a bishop, my coach said to me, “You’ve been an academic. The way you guys think about stuff is with your mouth open. You say, ‘Hey, this is an interesting idea. I want to know how you feel about that.’ You can do that in your old job, but you can’t do that in your new job. In your new job, when you say to them like you did in a meeting, ‘Hey, I’m thinking why don’t we have district offices? I think you guys ought to be in your car more than in your office. You have to be in the district.’ So why don’t we make district offices? It was breathtaking. Everybody there froze and said, ‘You have a job now where you have power. You could actually do that if you wanted to.’ You have to be a bit more careful about the stuff you throw out. If you want to shock them, if you want to steamroll them, you have the power to do it. I believe you’ll end up paying a heavy price for that.” It was a great thing to say. You’re the bishop. You could move them to Timbuktu if you’re unhappy with them. They know it.

Hugh: Leaders do that not only in the church, but also in other charities, and are totally unaware of their consequences of those actions.

Will: That’s a good word, consequences.

Hugh: There are consequences, and they are unaware of them. I want to close this interview out with two more questions. Recently, there was an article in the Washington Post that said at its current trajectory, mainline denominations have 23 Easters left. That is a pretty sobering thought whether it’s true or not. What do leaders in mainline churches need to do to turn that trend around?

Will: Ooh. I have a long list. A bunch of stuff. Today, I would say: One is we have to look at the painful, ugly stuff, like that statistic. We have to stop lying. We have to find a way to tell difficult truths to people whom we love. Again, I’m a preacher. That is what I think I do every week is stand up and tell difficult truths from Jesus to people that I love, many of them. We ought to be good at this.

I think in a sense we ought to be made to stare at that and think, I can’t be this kind of leader that I thought I was trying to be. Pastors would often say to me, “This is not the same church I signed on with. I tell you what, when I joined, I didn’t sign on for this.” What a dumb statement. We serve a living God for one thing, and not of the dead. But also, every leader has got to constantly retool, constantly go back to school, constantly start over, constantly ditch these principles that worked great at my last job. They are inappropriate at this one. Get used to it.

I start my ordained leadership class by saying to them, “I am going to try to share with you what I think I‘ve learned. A lot of it I learned the hard way. Maybe it will help you avoid some of my mistakes. You will get tired of the pontificating and the stories about Alabama, but you need to use that. You take that in. About 50% of that is going to be wrong. You can’t serve the same church I served. You can’t do what I did. There are people here in their 20s who don’t know a lot about ministry, but you know more than I do about the future. That is your job in this class. You take in what I’ve got, and you sort through it. But you also keep your eyes on the future of things. The Lord is taking me out of this game. But He is sending you in. Step up and take responsibility.”

That is the move I think we got to make. We will not have a future in mainline Protestantism unless we can do that. I must say I’m more impressed by local pastors in little out of the way places that are finding a way to lead into the future. I’m more impressed than I am about seminaries and all.

Hugh: Hey there, it’s Hugh Ballou. Wasn’t that a great interview with Dr. William Willimon? We lost the last few seconds when I said thank you and goodbye because of a technical glitch, but you had all this great content.

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