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The Second Chair

The joys and challenges of being executive pastor: an interview with Karen Miller

The other piece is feeling a squeeze when I'm always trying to represent my senior pastor, as his second chair leader, but then I have all the people reporting to me. I feel like a shock absorber sometimes, just trying to navigate how all of that works.

How has this role challenged you to grow as a professional?

As a professional it's caused me to really dig in and say yes, I do have the gift of leadership. To take that seriously, to read and learn and educate myself. My professional goal is to be what Jim Collins describes as a Level 5 leader. A Level 5 leader is one who has incredible professional will and incredible humility. When something comes along and wants to crush me, I want to have a will that won't give into that or just say, "Well, I'll just give up and quit." And I want to always be humble before the Lord.

Coming from a broken family, and my own history of brokenness, there are days where I just laugh because when I first got married I was so insecure and had so much self-hatred that I couldn't decide whether to make peas or beans for dinner, so I would call my husband and ask him. He'd be like, "You're a very smart woman. You can make that decision." There were nights when we didn't have either because I told him I wasn't going to decide. And he'd be like, "Fine, just have no vegetables for dinner."

Growing up in my family, I felt like I didn't have a mind of my own, I couldn't make a decision. Fortunately because my husband was healthy enough to say, "I'm not going to make that decision for you," I began to grow to the point where now every day I'm making decisions that impact people's lives—their spiritual lives, their families, the staff. And some days I remember it's only by God's healing and grace that I finish the day with all that decision making, when 30 years ago I couldn't decide whether to make peas or beans. So it's quite a path that the Lord has brought me down.

November05, 2012 at 4:31 PM

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