Tuesday, September 20, 2005 | |

The Leadership Blog Interview: David Foster

David Foster

Bio: Dave is the Founding Pastor at Bellevue Community Church located in Nashville, TN. The church has grown to over 3,000 each weekend on their 280-acre campus called "Hope Park. David Foster’s passion for communicating the authentic is obvious also in his books. The latest "Accept No Mediocre Life" (Warner Faith) follows in the footsteps of Foster’s critically acclaimed "The Power To Prevail: Turning Adversities Into Advantages".

Church: Bellevue Community Church
Blog: Fosteringhope.com

1. David, What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
David: "When you get right down to the bottom line of what makes leadership fun, for me it’s the privilege of helping people. That doesn’t sound very sophisticated but the real payoff for me is when someone recognizes their abilities and engages their life in a fuller and more creative way, because I’ve been able to lead them to see that they can do far more than they ever imagined and that the biggest obstacles they will face will be the obstacles in their own minds.

I’d say the second joy of leadership is the ability just simply to express who I am in Christ and to use some of the latent talents and abilities that He’s given me as an agent of change."

2. What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
David: "Hands down, my biggest leadership problem is me. To be more specific, it’s the people pleaser that lives within me. For all the bravado and bluster that we leaders talk about, from the stage or in the act of leading, all of us are plagued with those haunting moments of receiving a scathing e-mail or a response from someone that we’ve angered or let down.

I’ve never met a leader who wasn’t honest in his own heart that struggled with the idea of pleasing people. No one likes being disliked unless you’ve got a real problem. But as all leaders know, people-pleasing does not mix well with vision, risk taking, and bold new adventures for God. I have to slay the people-pleaser inside of me on a constant basis."

3. Who made the biggest influence in your life as a leader?
David: "Probably the single most influential person in my life as a leader, in both spiritual and practical formation, was R.C. Sproul. I studied under R.C. in my graduate degree and his boldness and challenge to think in new ways and then to get outside the box in those particular days were very formative for me."

4. What books have changed your life?
David: "One of the books that formed a lot of what I believe about church growth is a book by Robert Shuler called Your Church Has a Fantastic Future. I read this during a time when I was formulating a dream to start a church that was unique and different and targeted on those who had given up on going to church. At the time, Shuler’s ideas were way outside the box and they caused me to rethink a lot of the things I’d been taught at seminary.

I think one of the most important books was a book by Henri Nouwen called The Wounded Healer, which helped me understand a lot of the internal struggles that I had, that I thought I shouldn’t be having if I were a stronger, more spiritual man. "

5. What’s your biggest challenge as a leader?
: "For me the biggest challenge is ongoing personal renewal, to take care of my own heart and soul, to make sure that as I lead others, I don’t allow my own soul to shrink and shrivel because I’m giving out more than I take in."

6. What goal do you have as a leader?
David: "My goal as a leader is to be an agent of change with a message of hope to a world in pain. It’s to continue to grow and risk and trust God for great things, to be willing to change and transition from one success to another, not allowing what God has done in my past to become a ball and chain that restricts me from the future."

7. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
David: "More focused on writing books that confront people about authentic and genuine spirituality, coaching more young pastors because I see a chronic problem of discouragement among all the church leaders that I associate with.

As a young pastor, I had very few mentors and people I looked up to. I want to be coaching the younger generation by giving encouragement, insight, walking alongside them, helping them understand that many of the issues they are facing are not due to their shortcomings as a leader, but to the very nature of the leadership task.

Also, I’ll continue to consult with other groups, movements and organizations to have a deep, abiding passion for taking the Gospel into the marketplace, for speaking in the public square.

And hopefully, in ten years, I’ll be more in love with Jesus, with more energy, more dynamism, more faith, more risk taking than I’ve ever had in my life. After all, by that time I’ll have had ten more reasons to trust that the Gospel is real and that God rewards initiative and boldness."

Thanks David for sharing your insight and for being so transparent. There's so much we could all learn from you!