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Better Team Leadership with Donny Willis

In this episode, “Better Team Leadership with Donny Willis," we dive deep into the world of effective team building and leadership within a church setting. Pastor Donny shares his invaluable insights on selecting the right team members, establishing trust and accountability, defining success, and preventing burnout. He also explores the challenges of fostering a collaborative environment among team members from diverse backgrounds and how to maintain focus on what truly matters. Through his experiences and strategies, listeners will gain a deeper understanding of creating a productive team culture. Whether you're a leader in a church, religious organization, or business, Pastor Donny’s wisdom offers something for everyone. Join us for a conversation that will equip you to lead with a renewed sense of purpose and unity.

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Today, we have a special guest on the podcast. His name is Donnie Willis. Donnie has been the pastor of West Church of White plains, New York since 2017. And he's also the founding pastor of living hope, Nyc in Manhattan, New York. Donny has a bachelor's degree, in of theology in from Texas Bible College and a master's in organizational leadership from Colorado...

Christian University is the author of a leadership book called Good butter Best, and there's a little story behind this, and I wanted him to share that in just a moment, but Donny is married to Ashley. He has 3 young children, brad and claire and Elliott. And so, Donny, I just wanna welcome you to the Christian Leader made simple podcast. Now, Ryan, thank you so very much for the invitation to be here. It is an honor to be on here.

I've watched yourself stuff from a afar, and so it's nice to get up and close and personal and And so thank you once again for the invitation. I can't... I, I just can't tell have honored I am. But, yeah. It's been a, quite a journey.

I'm originally from Louisiana moved to New York back in 2017. And, yeah, The book that you mentioned, It a good butter best. It does not sound like a leadership book. It sounds like something that probably should be in the cooking section of Amazon. But it is, and the where where that came from was I got the opportunity to be in the Macy's thanksgiving day parade, dressed as a stick of butter.

I remember, the right before it that that morning, I looked him my wife, and I said, babe, Nobody's gonna know about this. We are gonna keep this on the D. We're just gonna do it is gonna be a great moment and we're just gonna move on with our lives. But what I didn't know is that I was actually gonna go viral on Twitter twice, with A Ro, a both of those, and you can find video clips of both of those on your 2 point. But both of those led to appearances on the today show led to a lot of interviews and radio and Tv appearances and whatnot.

And so it has truly spread like butter on a skillet. The and it's just been a lot of fun and from matt. I was able to write a book. Using life experiences and my been toward leadership. And so a lot of opportunities opened up because of that.

So is a lot of play. And you actually, were able to go on the Nbc show correct and kinda talk through that. Scenario if you don't mind a little bit. Yeah. So right after the parade, you know, everything's below up on social media.

I get a... It was actually a Facebook message from, a producer at Nbc nbc's today show. Said, hey, we would we would love to have you on the show if you're available. And so we connected, and I connected with a producer who he actually wrote AAA segment for a book, and he and I, kicked it off and he was what me to talk about the parade and all that kind of stuff, and I remember stop he me at the middle of our conversation, the day before I went on the show, the the first time. Said, man, I'm gonna be honest with you.

I am a pastor, and I don't know if you guys wanna incorporate that or not, but, I mean, it's who I am. It's what I do. And and he goes, oh, we don't want you to hide anything. We want you to be completely open about it. We want you to highlight that.

And he was, like, I need you to send me a hundred photos, hide of whatever you wanna send me pictures of to make sure you get pictures of you and your role as a pastor. And so we were able to... Put on that together, send it off to him, and they highlighted. My family, they highlighted the church. They highlighted our lives.

Because he made a comment me. He said, we understand that you are more than just a man and a butter costume you. And say, we wanna highlight that, And so it was very neat how God just kinda opened up doors, and, you know, I I looked through scripture, and I find where if god can use a donkey eat to accomplish his will. He can use a stick butter to accomplish his will. And so Gotten the way all of that the way all of that started, which that's that's a phenomenal opportunity by the way.

But the way all that started, was A ro actually pushed you in on live Tv. Right? Yes. So I'm I'm running down. Central Park West, and he has set up in Columbus circle if you...

If if you're aware of, like, how New York city set up Columbus circles at the corner, of Central Park West where you had turn on. I don't where what the the cross street is. But so he is set up right there and somebody is entourage says, hey, butter come see. So I run over there, and he just had a joke that he wanted to drop. And he did whenever he did, he pushed me away and the push became viral, the creator of Hamilton the musical, tweeted something about it.

And whenever he tweeted it, that's just when. Things went spiraling out of control. I didn't know that it had that point, But off, but then a little bit later in the parade. I'm just running down the street, and he is in his little motor card, And I just run up and I just jump in front of his camera and I just start screaming. Butter your ham, butter your tucker just put butter on everything.

Well, I did not know that in that exact moment, he was lie. Now, this is a tube plus our parade. What are the chances that those, like, 4 to 5 seconds, he would he would be lie, Well, that second 1 just through everything right over the top. And and then people started putting together, hey. This is the same drunk guy at the beginning that was in the middle.

And they started to put this is the same guy. My ball was blowing up, everything was just, you know, Sitting in the in the room, you know, taking off the butter costume and everything after the probe is over. I'm I'm not really thinking about it. And whenever I finally look at my phone, I realized that something, fro had happened. And I looked at someone and I was like, so apparently, I'm viral on Twitter, but I don't have Twitter.

You think I should get on it and they were like, you better get on it before somebody becomes you. And sure enough somebody became me on Twitter, and that that was a... And there would, like, fake butter accounts popping up all over the place. And it was absolutely crazy. But but through all of this through all of that, Donna, you were able to, like, even get some...

So you have a church. Right there in Manhattan. So you you were able to get some connections and yes created some connections that even, added to the church. Correct? Yes, sir.

That is correct. So 1 of the things that I I built. Through all of this was a website with my name on it. That was very awkward for me to do. I'm not gonna lie.

It was very awkward for me to do. It was all for me at first as well. U. What what is what is your what is your website, by the way, because that's where people can go on and see these these viral shots. Right?

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. So the website is just my name, Donny, B0NY, Willis? Dot com. And there, I've...

I've taken all the interviews that I've done over this and all the video clips and just made it a 1 stop shop to all of those things, and it was actually at the recommendation of Nbc to do that, And so we we put all that together. And whenever our church... You see we're we're church planners. And whenever we began to enter into a new stage of this thing, and we began to move from renting another church of another the denomination to getting our own space we were looking to get a professional office building. The realtor googled me, and found all of the stuff and thought, oh, man, this guy's legit.

This is somebody that we want to work with and quote our story to the owner of the building. And I was like, this is somebody that you really want to work with because normally people might be a little shy about working with churches. And so what it did was it brought credibility into a world, but I had 9. And so... That's awesome.

You know, being able to use all of these pieces, because I mean, at the end of the day, the scripture, I believe absolutely correct. That God, can make all things work together for good. And so That is that's truly what has happened and it's been a beautiful story. So we're gonna we're gonna get into, what we actually came on the podcast to to talk about in just a moment. But I wanna pause here and just ask you to share a little bit about what you're doing in New York from from the perspective of a...

You recently You went there to to pastor your church, then you started a church. Now you're moving into what the Pinnacle organization called Upc calls metro mission. So just tell us a little bit about what you're doing. And and I would encourage you even if someone wants to partner with you if you can just tell them how they can do that. We'll talk about that again at the end, but go ahead and throw that out there right now.

Absolutely. So the metro mission program is designed for places that are hard to start churches in, places like New York City. Mh. The the cost of living as everyone on this podcast could probably imagine is super high. And so you need a...

You need you need help and you need additional resources to be able to pull that off. And so for us, our church in Manhattan. Currently, we are... We are meeting on Sunday afternoons at a check... In a jazz club for about 4 hours.

And for the... And we pay by the hour. And so our rent becomes somewhere around a thousand dollars a month. Okay. And, you know.

We have stretched ourselves to be able to accomplish this we've done this for. We've we've had this Sunday church here at crazy prices for about 3 years now. But in order to go to the next level, we know that be able to go to the next level whenever I say that I'm talking about, like, having a space of our own, like, a long term lease. We know that we that's kind of beyond us trying to do a by ourselves. Anytime that you try to go to a new level of greatness, whether it's a leadership or in an organization or anything, you have to realize that the doing it single handedly isn't going to get you there.

You have to bring like minded people with you, along that journey, it has to become more of a team. And so whenever we look at Metro missions what we're looking as we are building a team beyond ourselves, help us reach for New York. And and we're doing that by getting partners and monthly partners, and there's more information about that on our on the... On our website for new york dot Org, Think about what the ending was there, but it's definitely not and think, I am for New York. Like I am for everyone receiving the gospel.

I believe if the gospel is for the world then the gospel is for New York. And if That's so sense? You know, in the past 7 years, between the 2 churches, we have seen at least 1 person, from 20 diff nations of the world Baptized in Jesus name. And so there's such a global revival and a global harvest right here, And Yeah. It is very exciting to be a part of.

No, because in New York, there actually 200 nations represented. And so there's just. You can reach the world right there in New York. Absolutely. Yes, You can.

Yeah. And whenever somebody... Receives the spirit of god in their heart here, or they are baptized here and their life is impacted here, then it can absolutely change the world because what, there's a good chance that they may be living here. However, they may have family living in South Africa. Yeah.

And we actually had a lady, Start of Church. She was from South Africa. But her entire family was watching our services in South Africa, and they kind set of a small home group. And so we had a little home going in South Africa. That's because because the the way that the world is structured it and whatnot, we believe if we can reach for New York, we can reach the world.

Yeah. That's tremendous. So Donny, you were you were traveling through Louisiana recently, and we got to connect. It was not our first introduction. Our first introduction was years ago at a church in Ti, Louisiana, I did a leadership, teaching...

Thing there, and you were you were there as a part of of the audience in my teaching. And, so that's where we first met but we've stayed in contact loosely over the years, by, primarily by social media, but we got to just enjoy breakfast together recently as you were traveling Louisiana. And I was just quiz you about what you what you had going on and your set in your church and and I thought my goodness. We gotta have you on this podcast to talk about team leadership your the team that you have set up, you... The way that you described it and the way you guys interact was just phenomenal.

And and and so that's why I asked you to come on the podcast, but this is gonna be a little bit of a unique podcast because I asked, you Donnie to give me some questions for the interview, and you actually threw it to your team, and ask them to actually come up with questions. And so, we are gonna walk through some of the questions that they that they can't that they actually came up with. I thought they did a phenomenal job. And so I'll start with with this first question that they gave us, What qualities do you look for in a team? And and I'm also gonna add what qualities would you look for in a team member?

Absolutely. So first of all, let me say, I love my team. It is a team that I can truly say that I did not build. I believe that God built this team. And I thank god for each and every 1 of them and like you said, riot.

They came up with these questions because I was curious to see what they would they would throw out there. And you're right they did a phenomenal job. And so I'm gonna force them to all to listen to this podcast. You used it as a team building, opportunity. Didn't you?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Because that goes back to and I'm gonna get into the qualities but it goes back to just including people in the process. Yeah. Yeah.

This is not a white man show. It is not a... I'm at the top and everybody else. Just that's what I say, it is truly a a collaborative effort. And I thank God for for my team.

I to do especially in this season of life that I'm in because I'm traveling more than I've ever traveled before. And if there was not a strong competent theme in New York, we would not be able to do what we're doing. And so I thank God for them. So question. The qualities that I look for in a team.

So where it begins is for me, Whenever I think about team ministry it always begins in acts chapter 6. In acts chapter 6, the church was growing it needed more leaders that needed more workers, and the church leaders at that time had specific qualifications in mind for people that they were wanting to own board. So they used this pre, this blueprint that they had set up, and I believe that this 1 that's very relevant today. They sought out among them, the the first the in acts 6 and 3, it says search out from among you. So the first thing you gotta do is you you've got...

You gotta search. And sometimes that's looking for individuals, and sometimes that's just searching in prayer. Say Lord, we need the team. That was what Jesus told us to pray he told us, pray for it team. He said, the the laborers are few so pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers.

And so he's the the thing that Jesus told us to pray for was it he? And so whenever it says search out from among you in in acts 6 and 3, I believe that first quality is someone who's faithful. Faithful. Faithful is is the most person... Most prevalent think.

That's good. This that they Segment man says a search out for people of honest report. So honest people who can be trusted, So I'd say number 1 is looking for someone faithful. Number 2 is looking for someone I can trust. That lives in such a way that They're not gonna bring rep approach onto them, their family or church in any area their life.

Their social media presents themselves with content that's... Pleasing and trusted. They refrain from activities that calls harm to their colleague, trusted, The next thing that the scripture says in acts... 6 and 3 is, arrive after... It says pull up the Holy ghost.

I want people in my inner circle who are full of the holy ghost who are full of the spirit of god. They live at lifestyle of tennis. They have been they have been baptized in his name. They are not only spirit feel that they are spirit led. So if they're living a a lifestyle of repentance that means they're not perfect.

Right. Just full of the spirit of god, Yes. Yes. And if they are full of the spirit of god, then they are going to exit... I mean, there's gonna be qualities that come out of that.

Such as. Yeah. Love, joy, peace, loan separate. They are going to handle people properly. Because at the end of...

And that's where the rubber meets the road is the relationships, the the relational interaction that they would have if they're full of the spirit of God, again, not perfect, but in a repent, place in their life full of the holy ghost. You're going to see fruit of the spirit in their life, and that is gonna reduce the abrasive in relationships. Absolutely. And if you have a room full of people who have his spirit in mail. That there's a lot of worldly leadership tactics.

Mh. That isn't going to be in that room. And so that's why I think it's it's it's common. I I was on the I was on the phone call with 1 of our leaders recently. And I just ended the the the phone call, but I said, hey.

Just wanna check in on something. Do you still believe in repentance? And they were like, well, yes. I was like, okay, just checking. I was like, I don't have a reason to ask that question other than to make sure you still believe in tennis.

Because it's important. It is absolutely important to be filled with the spirit of God. Because whenever we have his spirit, it comes with the spirit of wisdom and knowledge and understanding all of those wonderful things. So. But that...

That scripture would go on to say, after full the holy say full of wisdom. And so they should be competent. There's people I trust who are full of the holy ghost, but I don't necessarily trust their competence. Yeah. Because you should be competent in the seal and the ability for the task.

I'm glad that you clarified that because I may not be... I may not qualify for your team. And if it's just full of wisdom, Oh, my goodness I will have I will have you any day of the week. Thank you, Don. But Colin, it is is is what you're really after in that.

Absolutely. You know... You could depend on them. You can depend down And if they don't feel like they have the tools for task, they're confident enough to get it. Yeah.

I I have said yes to a lot of opportunities that I was not ready for. But the different... There's always a gap between where you're at and where want to be, but there's this thing called a hustle muscle that you're confident enough to figure it out ought Yeah. And so full of wisdom, I just... Somebody who's...

Or or I believe that There's a book called good to great, and it talked about getting the right people in the right seat on the bus. It's like Yeah. At first is getting the right person. And once we get the right person, we can find where they're supposed to sit. Absolutely.

And and then it closes out that verse after says of wisdom assist that we may a appoint. I believe that that's responsible somebody who's responsible. They understand it's an honor to serve and they live a life worthy of the opportunity. So faithful, trusted, empowered, competent and responsible. And whenever they did these things, the scripture says and the church group.

And so that's the type of... Qualities that I look for in a team. So, Donnie, you know, there's probably a lot of people out there that that would actually be okay with just warm bodies at this point to to help them on their team were you at that place at some point? And is there a process like, a do they have to show up like this act 6 3 or or in some cases, do you help them get to that place? Do you allow them to come in on your...

With your team to some degree, and then you help them get to that place. Just curious, Your thoughts on that. Absolutely. So number 1 is the right person. Getting that right person on the team is is such a must.

And they may not have it altogether, but I can speak into their life what I see. For example, there's there's 1 man who I saw incredible potential in him, and I spoke it, and he kinda got big. I'd like no. No. I think you got the wrong person.

As I said, No. You're that person, and I just began to speak, but I didn't just begin to speak it into your into his, like, I believe that I could develop him into the person that God was calling him to be. Because we are not just called. To find pete or help. What what good is it?

And this is my New York freshness coming out in me but what good is it to have a warm body if we are not going to intentionally develop them into what they need to be. Yeah. People development has to be a part of the role of the the main leader. And I believe that we develop people in it by 3 ways. And anytime I'm talking to fast ryan just slow me down, No.

You're not. You're good. I love this. So there's 3 ways that we develop people. Number 1 is we is environment.

What environment are we creating to develop this individual? What's the... What what environment is there? Is there in a a... An environment for them to grow.

And so I think that environment is such a big deal. Because before before God ever created 1 fish, he created water. Before he ever created 1 bird he created air. So we are we have to create environment. You know, I've found that leaders that are developed, they're they're developed because they're in.

Some sort of an intentional leadership environment. They see it around them. They fill it. They understand it, and so But now there might be some like, well, I haven't created that environment. Or Mh.

I don't have that environment to put them in. And that's fair too, which leads to the second 1 exposure. There's a wire... And then there's exposure. You can eclipse someone through exposing them.

There was times where I did not have an environment that was... Created, I wanted it, and I was working toward it, but. So I did whatever I had to do to expose them to it. And whenever I say expose it, what I mean is Hey. Here's some money for you to pick any leadership conference To go to.

We just... I just sent somebody down to a leadership conference recently, in our church, I could not attend it, but I sent somebody down there for that. And they came back totally full with all kinds of information and whatnot, and we sat down. And said, okay, what are 2 or 3 things that we can apply here. That you learn there, and I became the sponge, and I let them teach me about something.

So I think involving others in that process and and and exposing is such a big deal exposure, you know, if you're going to a district event, invite someone to go with... If you're teaching a bible study, invite somebody sit in with you, expose somebody else. To what you're doing. And then the third thing is it is equip. That's probably the 1 we know the very best as far as like, developing leaves because including his he vigilant and basically, leaders do what leaders learn.

And we have We have to... But we have to equip the whole person and not just the per the part that we want. Yeah. There's a there's a story Henry Ford. You know, it was a genius when it came to automobiles and and mass production.

But I believe his understanding of the worker was too limited because he asked the question. He said, why is it? That I always get the whole person? When all I won't is a pair of hands. He was saying...

Based I someone at the assembly line. He was basically saying I don't want anybody who can think. I just want somebody who can put a part in this car. Just their 2 hands. I don't want their mind.

I don't want their spirit. I want their soul. I don't want their will. I don't want their commitment. I don't want their loyalty.

Just give me your 2 hands. And So I believe that it's very important to equip the whole person and not just the part that we want. And that's hard to do because it means you have to invest your life in someone. And I think in each 1 of these 3 things, Donnie, I think what's important here. You know, I interact with a lot of pastors, lot of leaders of even businesses and all.

And, I find often that many of them are just hoping that their people kinda kinda fall into, you know, their they that they take the initiative to learn that they take the initiative to equip themselves. And I I think the very first word that you said when you started this was intentional. And if we are not intentional in creating that environment, creating the the exposure, creating the the opportunity for equip, You know, if we are not as leaders intentional in doing that is not gonna happen for them. There is some people out there that are high initiative people and they're gonna take the initiative to do those things for themselves, but it's rare. And so intentional is is critical.

We've gotta have the tools. We've gotta provide the tools, but intentionally putting them in an environment. And exposure and and and places that they can equip themselves is critical in my mind. I'm glad you brought that out. Absolutely.

And we... Which forces us to be intentional about what we are putting into bill. And making sure we have something worthy to put into them. If that means that we have to, you know, download a a leadership podcast and listen to it. Because there there are times where situations pop up where I feel completely inadequate on a situation, And so I have to learn a little bit about that or find the expert who knows something about that.

Yeah. It and that might look like, hey, guys. I found this podcast on this issue would love for y'all all to listen to it because I believe it deals with the issue that we're doing about. So Yeah. Even what that does is it gets the same language into everybody into the room, and so we all know what each other are talking about.

And so so it forces us to lead, and it forces us to constantly learn, Yeah. And so that's I I think that that's important on our end. And I just wanna say this, sort of an info commercial. If somebody is struggling with where to start with their team on that. Go to my website, ryan franklin dot org.

Take the self assessment, christian leader self assessment that I have. It's free. And it'll tell you exactly where to start with with your leadership development. You don't have to guess. And it's it's very important that we get laser focused.

Time is of the essence. We've gotta get laser focused on our development. And if you're not sure where to start, Go to go to my website, download the short guide of the model that I that I created and take that self assessment and use that to to guide you, allow your team members to take the same self assessment, use that to guide their development. I promise you to make a difference. I promise.

So, Donnie, this is the next question. I know we've kinda even rabbit trail here a little bit. But this is the next question that your team came up with. I thought it was a phenomenal question. This is 1 of your characteristics that you wanna find and a team member.

But it it says how did you build trust between the leadership of your team, both between you and and this is your team, writing this. So obviously, they trust you deeply. You trust them. How did you build the trust between you and them and and and among themselves. Alright.

So, yeah. When I was looking at this, there's was like, a looking at 2 different aspects here how did I build trust with them? Yeah. The... So...

This is... About about I'm gonna answer that question with a story. Okay. In second, Samuel, chapter 23. There was a casual remark made.

David is in it... Is in the den with his mighty men or band it at time, and he makes he makes the statement, Oh that I could have a drink from the waters of Bethlehem, from the well of bethlehem. Stunned his man leave the dam without him knowing. Brave through the enemy lines, get to that well, drink water or or or get water, bring it back to him and give it to him. They risk their life simply off of a casual comment from their leader.

It was it wasn't a command. It wasn't an order. It wasn't even a request. It was just a comment. And yet they they heard it.

And what I gather from that, people don't do that. Just for anybody. David had invested so much of his life into his inner circle. That this fierce loyalty just naturally was create. I want to so for my team I wanna invest my life so much in them, where they are loyal to me and I am loyal to them, Yeah.

Like, those the those people were so loyal, and I wanna be so loyal to them. It's not something that just because I have the position of pat pastor that that people are only gonna follow you so long. Just based on title relationships relationship. We have built... Yes.

We have built relationships so deep you know, it doesn't appear on demand, it just happens. Yeah. And what I love about what David did. Whenever they gave him this water, He was so moved and he was so humbled by their action that he took the water, and he poured it out as a sacrifice to god. Yeah.

He was sent... He was so honored that he took their... That what they had done said, no, this belongs to god. And I... I look at the relationships that I've been able to build, and I'm so honored because of it.

Now I say, you know? How these were these relationships belong to god. Yeah. Well, Donny, just to go a little bit dive a little bit deeper in that, you are, you know, you're a busy guy. You got 3 little kids or 3 young kids.

Excuse me. You've got a wife. You've got 2 churches. You're traveling all over right now to raise money for metro missions. That's a that's a very demanding thing.

You don't have time just to, you know, spend 3 nights of your week in, you know, eating dinner with these folks and don't different things. I'm sure you do at times, but, you know, what what is the practical part? The practical piece, of this. How do you how do you feel like you facilitate these relationships with all the busy of life? So So the first thing is, they they have relationships with each other.

Mh. We have a we have a group text that we're constantly staying communication with. I check in with them once a month. We have a group meeting that we have on about its on Zoom that way it's convenient. But also, and I'm about to really tell on myself.

With this 1 or whatnot, the I I have an I have an executive assistant, and she has 4 main tasks that she has to stay on top of. And 1 of those main tasks is, and and they're all in the form of questions. And the... And so this question that she has stay on top how can pastor care for the people that care for him. And what that looks like is she has a list of these people, their spouses, their kids, she has birthdays, anniversaries anything that matters to them, and we make sure that we take care of them on special days, we make sure that we're getting to...

And and so because you're right, I just don't have time to constantly babysit set their time. But I do have time to invest in their lives and make sure they know that they matter to me. And I would imagine there's also seasons that you can invest more heavily in those relationships when you're, obviously, you're in Louisiana. That's gonna be limited is gonna be Zoom and text messaging and whatever you can do. But, so it's making them feel special, but then it's also just creating opportunities as best as you can and whatever season that you're in, whatever place that you're in in life of communication, of absolutely.

Of just communicating with them in certain ways. And and to the point where they they have become And this is more recently, and I appreciate it where they have become to ask me what are things on your plate that I could have. Because I believe that whenever you invest in people and you make their life better, they turn around. And they're like, how can I make your life better too? Yeah.

For example, At 1 point, I had a ton of bible studies. At at 1 At have 14 home Bible studies going at 1 point. Wow. And and recently, I had a bible say scheduled, and I'm gonna tell on myself here. But this was kind of the the catalyst.

Keep going on on yourself, Donny? I know. I know. The I promise you vulnerability is not in... Issue with our team.

We are fiercely honest with other. That's good. But I that's good. I had a Bible stay scheduled for 01:00 in the middle of the day, an and I had just gotten back, I believe from from Los Angeles. I had went on a whirlwind out there.

I'd preach multiple nights, it was and flying back in to flying back to New York, I was exhausted, but I had a bible study planned, at for 01:00 on a Monday, and at 01:00 about an hour before that I thought, I'm just gonna close my eyes for 20 to 30 minutes. And so I did. Well, I woke up at 04:00 that afternoon, completely slip through the Bible study. Completely slipped through the whole thing. And so I, you know, I told that to a member of of my team, and they said, you can't keep this pace.

And you... And this is a pain point. It's like, we know you love to teach that first bible study. But there are other people that can teach it. And so I was like, well, let's build a list 7 8 people that we trust that can take that first bible study.

And so we did. We built a list, and so now, the thing that honestly I love the most. Is a off month, and I trusted them with it. And they know how much I love that, but I took 1 of my passions, and I trusted my team with it, And, you know, because they know how much I love it, they're gonna take care of it, and it's gonna be, and it's... And they're gonna be responsible with it, And so that was probably how we build that trust in that that relationship with each other is because we're so vulnerable and we're so honest with each other that we can have those conversations.

Yeah. You're... What I'm hearing is is you're allowing them to even speaking to your life in ways that are beneficial to you, like to to to tell you hard things, like Donnie, you're... You need to stop this. Donnie, you need to do this differently.

You you're not taking that in a in a insecure abrasive way. You're you're you're taking that in and and really hearing what your team has to tell you. As looking not. I know that they care about me. Yeah and I care about damn.

And whenever you began to care about people, you know that the reason that they're telling you that is because they want longevity. And Yeah they want longevity for our church. They want the longevity for. Because they haven't just bought in to an individual they have bought into the entire organization. And I think that changes the culture of everything But, I the the transparent vulnerable communication, is vital.

Would you say as well, Donnie, I've noticed with you that just in our brief interactions even in breakfast. You're you're high sensitive of the weaker sides of you? You're hyper sensitive to the the things that may be abrasive tube relationships. Do you feel like that that plays a role in it as as well that you're you're looking at, maybe things in your life that you do that drives your team crazy, and you're trying to reel those things back as well? Oh, 100 percent.

100. I I did... A a lot of these stories are coming out of my weaknesses here. But... Yeah.

Recently recently so 100 percent. Recently, I fired off a text message, and it was 11:30, And I was in Louisiana at the time. It was 11:30 at night, which is 12:30 in New York time, And immediately, and that was that was in the group text for our team, and immediately, my wife sent me a text. Place at 12:30 at night really slow down. And I was like, got it.

Got it. And I was like, sorry. Yeah. I. And I waited to apologize.

So Said, Sorry, guys. I was stephanie. Half bound. Yes. Yes.

And... Because it was, like, it was top of mind in the moment. And so I was like, well, I be less less to connect on this or whatever. Now I was like, hold on. Back off because I am.

I... I can be a very high octane guy, and I can run out of pace that quite frankly is it always healthy but being able to to have people around jim say, we're gonna slow that down a little bit. Like, that's a great idea for later It's like, okay. And and so just being able to do that, has truly brought some help to our team. Even on a Sunday whenever I'm there.

Now, I'm how we structure things. It is very rare, I I can do it, but it's very rare simply out of respect. To my team nails me plan everything, Yeah. That I will get up do announcements or I'll do anything except preach? Like, my job is to get up there and to preach because there is somebody else that can do everything else.

Just because I can, doesn't mean I should. And if I'm doing something that I don't have to, that means that I am. Limiting somebody else's growth. And so it kinda goes back to just using people and and being there... Well they're not gonna do it is...

Good as I do. Well, that's true. At the beginning. Is it good enough. It's good.

Is it? 60 70 percent is good. Go in. Let's roll with it. Let's roll with it.

Yes. So... Yes. Speaking of that, moving into the next question that your team wrote, how would you define... I mean, church ministry is crazy.

Like, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, you know, there's a lot of dynamics to church ministry that is just messy. So just curious, how would you define overall success for your team? Overall success for my team and and for our church is is if we come in with an idea. We put a plan together. We execute that plan to the greatest bandwidth that we have.

And at the end of the day, we can give each other high side and say we didn't it. That's it. Because I do believe that production matters. Yeah. 4 frogs sat on a log.

3 decided to jump off, how many jumped off. Well, it was only 1 because a decision really doesn't get you anywhere. You've gotta have some act action behind it. And so I'll tell you exactly what a a lot of our meetings look like. We take notes.

And then at the end of it, we asked the... Okay, What are the action items here? And, you, like, we use production software and whatnot to make sure that we all stay on track with accountability and all that kind of stuff. Everybody gets a job. If nobody's owning it, then it's not getting done, So everything has to be owned by somebody.

But no, production absolutely matters to us, and I know there's like, but sometimes we like to become vague with that and give ourselves a lot of outs. I don't really because you know, Jesus told the parable about this, this farmer who goes out, and he sees a tree. And... But it didn't produce and so he's, like, cut it down. It's not producing cut it down.

And but the the garden was, like, it give me a little bit more time, and I think I can get it healthy. As they alright, I I'll give you a year to get it healthy, but if it's not healthy by the time I come back, getting to thing down. And that really struck out at me because I was like, Jesus cared about production And he... Because a lot of the stories he told were about production. What are we producing?

What are we doing with what we have? Okay. I gave you a talent. What did you do with it? And I do believe that god gives us the bandwidth mentally physically, spiritually do be able to produce, and so there are pay patients.

And I... My expectations for my team are a little high, but I think they're okay with that. But your you know, even in the parable, with that farmer and the and the tree that's not producing fruit. I I hear a sense of grace. I'm giving them grace.

But at the same time, I'm holding them accountable. To production at the end of the day. So it's it's a it's a combination of grace and truth when we need to make things happen. But at the same time, we can't just just kill people either. We, you, you know, we've gotta understand that they work jobs.

They have busy families. They, you know, you live in a metro area. But you know, so we've gotta give them grace, but we also have to have truth. So with that, what does... I mean, and this is kinda what we're talking about, but just kinda dive into a little bit deeper about what accountability looks like.

Effective? Absolutely. So let's let's create a... Let's create a scenario here. Say we're holding any debt.

We plan the event. We we do every we do everything, that we should do. The events okay, but not great. On the back end of it, we we sit down and we have an act after action meeting. What are the positives?

What are the magnitude 1 can change, should we do this again? Should we not do this again? And we build consensus on how to move forward from there? It's And so whenever it is a team mindset, it's kinda like if you go back to the science project and you get partnered up with somebody. You know, if 1 person does the whole project, the 1 person doesn't, it comes out eventually.

And so I think with accountability, having that team culture. It creates a natural accountability because we're totally depending upon each other to do the things that we need to do. Everybody kinda has a responsibility. And everybody everybody helped make the plans. And everybody's depending upon each other, and at the end the day, everybody gets to say with how it went from their perspective.

And so it's just creating that that team culture of accountability. And I think it's absolutely I mean, clear expectations. People don't people don't do what you expect. People do what you inspect. That's true.

That's very true. But I'm hearing, again, a a repetitive thing here, and that's communication. You're you're communicating about the outcome of it, whether that's celebrating what went right or whether that's, you know, talk about what went what didn't go right. And and I think this would kinda lead into our next question. I don't really understand exactly what your team meant by this, So I'll just ask you, maybe you know, they wrote the vision of responsibility.

So what is that what does that look like? And how do you... Do you do anything specific to establish that? Everybody has an area when I said... Ed division that they're talking about is an area of responsibility.

Okay. Now everybody kinda has an area of responsibility. Ed That's task and and leadership that, a mom absolutely team. Yeah. Absolutely.

What that looks like for us is and and this is more of the practical side of things here. We use a we use a thing called base camp. In base camp. We get to d out responsibilities and tasks and everybody gets a job on... So Like on knows with their what they're doing deadlines, and it just kinda goes back to communication with that.

Yep. And to establish that, we just Was like, like, we know that these things are important? And so what's the best way to constantly be doing that. And we'll probably evaluate at the end of the year? How did we do?

Without with the software that we use and do we need to do something different and and what up the that's basically what that looks like. I'm gonna throw in AAA question here in the middle of this and just ask you with... When... While while talking about accountability and division of responsibility. If somebody is really struggling in their division of responsibility.

What does that look like as pastor, Donnie Willis says he engages with that with that team member that is struggling in their responsibility. How how does that look? A lot of covering. Because I I may know that they're struggling, and others may not know that they're struggling, Mh. And because since I know it, I'm gonna cover for them.

And I'm gonna cover for them until they're healthy. Because I don't know why. I need to know why. For example, if if someone is having a problem on our team. It may not be because of anything team or church related it's it could be something...

Personal. It could be work. It could be something personal Struggling their marriage or... Absolutely problem. With 1 of their kids or something.

Exactly. And so it's just getting to the bottom of that, and thing, how can I make you whole and healthy? That's whenever it's like, I don't want just your hands. I want your whole person. So before you before you Brit would bring something like that to a group with communication and talking about it, you're gonna privately dive into a problem area.

So that you understand. So you fully understand what is going on. So that's not it... So so it's not always that you just throw out all the junk in the in the team ring. Oh, goodness no.

Okay. And mp that comes back to making it which is... Is communication. That's effective communication is knowing its social intelligence. In a sense, and knowing what's appropriate with the group in the team and what's what needs to be handled, 1 on 1 And I would say eventually, you would like for it to come to the team because likely a lot of people are filling the same thing you're feeling.

Absolutely You wanna understand that subject fully. And wanna understand that situation fully before you do that? There's 3 relationships that I believe that we need with every person. Number 1 is 1 on 1 relationships. I should be able to talk to them 01:01 and have honest conversations.

If somebody is going through postpartum after a birth or they had a miscarriage or they're having something going on their marriage or whatever, that's 1 on 1 stuff. Mh. Best stuff that we can handle 01:01 and I can figure out how help. The second thing, the second level is is is groups. There's things that can hash out in groups that can't be hash out 01:01, and then the third area is large group like their congregation.

Their steps said in the congregation, or or let me put it light this. There's stuff to set in the small group that does not need to be said in the congregation. And their stuff definitely stand 01:01 that doesn't need to be. And so I believe that is understanding those 3 areas and having the wisdom to know. This situation needs to be handled in this, in this screw...

In this setting. Yeah. And so I think that we become I I think we shoot ourselves in the foot whenever we don't use wisdom than that. Mh. So because They said it's the right.

Right people, but sometimes they can have bad days. And that's okay. Whenever they have bad days we're there for them, and we... It's, like, Okay. What do you need?

Oh, you need a vacation. That's fine. Here's some money for it. You need a... You you need to just not hit church for us, Sunday.

That's fine too. Stay home. I'm okay with that. Wow. Wow, You know, it's like, because we care about the longevity of the person because here's what I understand.

For some people church is healing for them, so they need to be there. That is their healing, but I also understand that for some people sitting on a beach and and watching the waves, that's healing for them. Mh. And so it's everybody is just a little bit different. And it's just being able the wisdom to be able to look at the individual and say, what do you need could be healthy?

Because I care about you long term and I believe that God placed you on this team. Therefore, I'm gonna do. For me, it's comedy, and I love laughing on and so there are times where I need to find an area where I can just go blah. I don't wanna hear another sermon, I wanna hear a comedian. Yeah.

And so it's it's just balancing. That that they... I don't want people overworked. I don't want them burned out, but I wanna be productive Yeah. Like, like January, February, March has been crazy busy for my team.

They have covered for me. They have just worked their tails off. April is a light month. We don't have much going on in April, Mh. And we're not planning much in April.

Everybody's getting to take a break. Even to the point where I have scaled back my my travel skeleton calendar for the month of April, just so I could breathe a little bit Will it hurt me in 1 area of of it of, like, metro... Sure parliament possibly. But I'll be healthier whenever I get back on the... On the road.

And so it's just having that wisdom to be able to to hit the pause, but say, how are we doing? How are you doing really what do what do you need? Yeah. And then being able to provide that and be okay with it. That's so good.

So good. So Donny, I think we're gonna... There's no way we can get to all of the questions that your team prepared. They are phenomenal questions. We may need to have a part 2 on this.

But I I kinda wanna wrap up with before I ask you my last question that asked all my guests, I wanna wrap up with this question. As as the leader, you know, you are leading a team of people, and you're obviously collaborating, really well with with your team and communication and building what you're building together in metro missions. But at end of the day, you are also the senior pastor, you're the leader of what you have going on in New York. What if anything do you feel is your main responsibility? When it comes to your team.

There. There areas that I believe as a senior pastor that I am responsible for. Okay. Leading with vision, Teaching the word. Implementing and executing.

I look at those 4 things and I... I slice in half. Nobody else can have the vision of the the the leadership vision except me. Yeah That's exclusively mine. Are you?

You can bring your team in and help and create the vision. Right? Absolutely. That you have to establish it. Absolutely.

I'm the 1 who has to be able to say, hey, guys. This is what I'm feeling in prayer. Mh. This is like, not 30000 foot view of what I'm feeling with prayer. This is the vision of where I feel I God is sending us or taking us.

And so leading with the vision and being able to get up in cast vision, is my responsibility. Teaching and preaching and making sure that people are spiritually fed or say lead and beef, The... Those are things that I I truly feel are... I pretty much exclusively God has placed upon my shoulders. Implementing and executing, Those are things that somebody else can do, Somebody else can implement somebody else can figure out the path forward.

Somebody else can make sure find the way to to make sure it happens. And so those are things that I can empower somebody else to do. Yeah. And so I would say that for me as this leader. I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure that we're leading in the right way, and we're we're we're moving the right way and and keeping every keeping things balanced, and having that 30000 foot view.

You know, in Paul's writing, you know, you can even take the love chapter, and he said, if I... I If I speak with tongues of angels if I have always wisdom if I can sing or whatever any song to all that there was like, 4 different groups in the church that he was talking to. So I have all these things, but I don't have love. I've got nothing. And so Look at that and say, you know, you've got all these different personality types, and you got all these things.

Where people can get locked into. This is the most important thing or this is the most important thing but I think that as a as the III say this respect as the senior pastor, is my job to be able to understand all of those things. Understand their value, but keep them all, harmony where 1 does not become greater than the other. And so I think that that is a lot of where the value of of what I do, comes in the comes into play. I love that.

I love that. So as we wrap up, and before I ask you this last question, any any final thoughts about team ministry. That you that you have in mind. You know, I'm I'm constantly learning. Constantly a student.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learned. Mh. And III would just encourage anybody out there, you to find somebody if there's a seat in your pastor or listening to this podcast or if there's a leader looking to this podcast. What are you doing today is my question to you, 2 Yeah. To be a better leader today than you were yesterday.

Yeah. My favorite leadership quote comes from Babe. And he said, Yesterday's home run doesn't win today's game. And I... You were a good leader yesterday.

Good quote. But what are you going to do today to be a better leader? What are you gonna read? What are you going to listen to? What are you going who are you going to invest in?

Whenever you... And I know that it's draining, and I know leadership just drains the life out of people because it does. But next time you go to a conference, pray about who am I going to bring with me? Yeah. Who am I going to have Suicide?

Next time you're you're on a conference call or something? Who are you going to invite us sit across the table from you and say I think this could benefit your life. Who are you going court into? Sit And so I I would just encourage every person on this call be a better leader today than you are yesterday. And then have the same goal tomorrow and you'll constantly be better.

And so that would... That's like my final thought right there. Just remember, Yesterday's home ride doesn't land today's game. I love that. That's as tremendous.

Alright. So last question. What's 1 thing that you wish you could tell Donnie, your younger cell. Relax a little. Don't be all tents.

Donnie. Exactly. Exactly. I am... I'm I'm not I'm not really a hobby guy, but I wish that I I would...

But I'm trying to be. Yeah. I am I am actually naturally. I'm I'm naturally an introvert. Who has learned how to be an ex.

And, I wish if if I could look back and I could talk to my younger self, I say. Relax. Everything is going to be okay because you... You're stressing out over over bridges, that don't need to be built because there are chasm that don't exist. Yeah.

And trust God and everything is going to be okay. That that is excellent advice, just a few years ago, I started asking myself a question. A list of questions, but 1 of them at the... On Sunday afternoon, I asked myself, what am I gonna do this next week for fun. And I I can't tell you how difficult that question has been over the years to answer.

But it forces me to give some some thought to how am I gonna slow down and just enjoy the present, enjoy life. As I'm doing... Tremendous things. I need to slow down and enjoy life and enjoy my kids enjoy my wife. Enjoy my friends, and and that's that's been very helpful to me.

So, Donnie, this has been a... A fantastic conversation. I think a lot of people are gonna get a lot of great things out of this. A lot of good nuggets. So thank you so much for giving us your time today.

If people wanna connect with you in some way, we've already mentioned this, but I want you to to mention again, where can they find you online? And and also, I've got your book here. I haven't started reading it yet. I wish I would have this week, but time did not allow, but I will... In the coming weeks, it's on top of my list to to dive into.

But where can they buy your book? Where can they support you and your missions work? Where can they Where can I find you on month? Absolutely. So the best place to find me is that my...

On, my... You can find, me my website, donny willis dot com. But also, I'm pretty active on social. Okay. My Instagram is my last name, Willis.

Dot Donny. He'll free to follow me on Instagram, and you can pick... You can pick up my book on my website and there's some other places, but that's kind of the ones stop shop. And I would love to connect with anybody out there. Okay.

If you feel like there is something... If there's somebody out there that feels like there's something that some way I could add value to your life. I would be honored to do that out whether it's send that send an email or send AAA book recommendation or whatever, I would just be honored to to to walk with you on your leadership journey, because there's... A ton of resources out there. We don't only just know where to start.

And so, we've... Put... I've researched, No, as you mentioned at the top. Of this, Ryan. I received by master's degree organizational leadership, and 1 of the things that I learned through all of that was how find the right resources at the right moment.

Yeah. And so I would love to be a resource anybody out there, but you can just paint me a picture on how we can work together at donnie willis dot com, and I'd be happy to work with anybody out there. I'll definitely put those show links, those links in the show notes. And so that people can easily find them. So this concludes our show.

Today. My name is Ryan Franklin. Thank you so much for joining us on the Christian leader made simple podcast.

Copyright © 2024 Ryan Franklin. All rights reserved.


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