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An Interview with Deacon Karen Miller

January 08, 2016

For the past 13 years, deacon Karen Miller has served full-time on Resurrection's staff, most recently and notably as our Executive Pastor. In this role, she has guided our staff and congregation with her incredible leadership gifts, often from behind the scenes.

On any given day in the office, you could find her encouraging parishioners, corralling staff, and providing perspective and insight to Bishop Stewart, all while administrating personnel concerns. After doing this with grace and skill for many years, Karen is transitioning to the role of Leadership Coach.

You can read more about her and other staff changes in a letter from Bishop Stewart.

Karen, you've been full-time at Rez for almost 13 years. What led you to move to this part-time role of Leadership Coach?

I have loved being 2nd chair to Stewart and being an Executive Pastor for almost 13 years.

As you know, in the last year Kevin and I have been in a time of transition as we have been discerning with the Lord and Bishop Stewart the next season of our Calls and ministry. Kevin is now at Christianity Today and Stewart is focused on leading Rez into it's next vision and call as a church.

As Kevin and Stewart got clear on their next season of ministry, I was seeking the Lord and talking with Stewart about my next season of ministry.

As you know Rez's new vision is, "Equipping everyone for transformation"—which has at its heart constantly raising up and releasing the next generation of leaders. On the staff, I have helped develop Steve and Amy and others to grow in their leadership. I felt that they needed more space to lead.

Also, for the past year or more, I have talked with Stewart about how I could do less executive-pastor work, which has involved a lot of administration and untying ministry challenges while supervising a staff of 29.

What I feel called to in this next season of my ministry is to do more leadership-coaching. Stewart said it well: "You don't want to keep untying the knots; you want to help other people untie the knots." I would like to coach others how to do this.

The result of all those conversations was that we decided I would go part-time with Rez, doing leadership coaching of staff and key lay leaders and also coach rectors in the diocese. In addition, for the past year, I've had a small private practice, doing leadership coaching, and I hope to grow that.

What are you excited about as you contemplate your new job?

My life vision is to "Strengthen the church by strengthening her leaders." God has called me to coach leaders. If we have healthy leaders, we will have healthy teams and churches.

In my coaching, I combine 2 things: (1) growing your leadership skills and (2) caring for your leader's soul. Both matter. We are integrated as leaders. If foundational soul issues are not addressed, no leadership skills will ultimately be effective.

Both "skills" and "soul" issues come up in coaching.

In the skills area, recently I met with a staff member who was leading a group on our staff but felt the weekly meeting was "stuck." We discussed why, and I gave resources to help get that leader and group get unstuck.

In the diocese, not long ago I spoke with a rector and challenged him in the soul area--caring for his marriage and working on his soul-care plan.

I love seeing godly leaders like this take the next step in their development.

What do you remember about your early days as Executive Pastor?

When I started in 2003, I think Stewart and Keith Hartsell were the only full-time staff members. I was pastor of community and discipleship, then became associate pastor, and then executive pastor. Fairly early, I began supervising other staff, and I loved it. I love equipping people. My first teaching at Rez was from Ephesians 4 on how church leaders must equip the saints for ministry.

I found out that Rez staff has a great tradition—an annual "Staff Fun Day." On my first one, youth pastor Keith Hartsell was in charge and had us play laser tag. John Fawcett and I were on the same team, and we kept shooting each other. We didn't quite get the concept. I always appreciate as staff members that we can laugh at ourselves and have fun.

What is something you accomplished while Executive Pastor that you're proud of?

Developing and maintaining a healthy staff team . I say to new staff, "I want you to live by 3 books: the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you do, you'll have a great time on staff."

I also had the motto, "Pray hard, work hard, play hard." We have fun together.

How can we be praying for you?

For the first time in 24 years, I will not be going into an office and leading a team. So please pray I will find a new rhythm of life.

And as I walk into this next adventure with God, pray I grow into a fruitful leadership coach.

How can people who are interested in your coaching get hold of you?

I send this letter to new clients. You can also reach me at StrengthenYourLeadership@gmail.com

Karen Miller
Leadership Coach of Resurrection & Upper Midwest Diocese
karenmiller@churchrez.org