Leroy Barber is a walking, talking ignition switch. In a little over two decades of ministry, he’s started and led more than a dozen successful organizations, including churches, ministries, community programs, and local businesses. Recently, he helped found The Voices Project, a network geared toward training, promoting, and supporting leaders of color, and he serves as director of the recently-launched HopeMob, “the world’s first platform dedicated to resourcing leaders and communities of color.” The kicker? Even with such a full plate, he continues to pastor at Portland’s Imago Dei Community Eastside.

Barber knows the limits of his calling, though. He’s a starter, a leader, and a risk-taker, but he also knows that his work as an entrepreneur ends in handing his creations over to others to steward. He plants big seeds. Others reap full harvests. But he prefers it that way. According to him, that focus on the long haul, the deferred reward, has been a part of his faith from early on:

I had a wonderful discipleship experience at church. The person who actually discipled my wife and I, he changed our lives. You don’t know what those mean until, like, ten or fifteen years later, and you go, “Oh my gosh, this person built this thing in me 15 years ago that’s just coming out.” And I think that’s the beauty of what that process really means, and I think it’s probably who I am now. I can build something, I can start something, I can be a part of something. It may not blossom for ten years; but that’s all right.And it might not even know it itself. Like, being a pastor, working with young adults as I did for a long time with Mission Year, and being with ...
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