Coffee Talk: Tim Burt Gets Real About Leadership

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

Last year I was interview by Suzanne Stock for her website, Spoonfuls of Grace. I’ve meant to post that interview but hadn’t yet. She interviewed me about Leadership and I hope it is a blessing to you! Thank you, Pastor Tim

Coffee Talk: Tim Burt Gets Real About Leadership By Suzanne Stock 

 Today’s Coffee of Choice: Starbucks Caramel Macchiato

Today’s Scripture: Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 (NIV)

Our local Starbucks has a corner I often hide in when I’m sitting down to talk one-on-one with someone. There’s something about being focused on the person in front of you and stilling your mind as much as possible while you concentrate on what they’re saying that lends itself to much better conversation. Imagine, if you will, sitting down with me across from someone whose life has been full of amazing successes and leadership opportunities. What would you ask them? What would you talk to them about?

Today’s guest is Tim Burt. That name may mean nothing to you initially, but to me he’s a hero. He’s the guy that invented the first fold-down commercial infant changing table now used worldwide in public restrooms. (I can hear all the parents out there yelling a big THANK YOU with me!)

Perhaps you have heard of Tim. He’s an Associate Pastor at Living Word Christian Center in Minnesota, which is a church with over 10,000 members. He’s also one of Minnesota’s top Tweeters, one of the top 55 blogging pastors whose blog has been read in over 187 countries, and a former employee of Northwest Airlines. Tim and his wife, Renee, created a small group ministry when LWCC only had 800 members. Today, Tim’s responsibilities include managing the over 200 small groups. He also oversees the Visitor and Member Relations Department, Leadership and Volunteer Development, and the Pastoral Care Department. In his spare time, Pastor Tim serves as the Minnesota State Director of Christians United for Israel. His blog, Fresh Manna, is one I pay attention to. Now that you know who you’re getting ready to hear from, let’s dive in!

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to invest in those who follow my blog, Tim. I look forward to hearing your perspective. Let’s start off by talking about balance, which is a big issue for many leaders out there. How do you balance your leadership responsibilities with a healthy routine in other parts of your life? 

I am a leader at all times no matter where I am at. Leadership is something that is in you that you walk out every minute of your day. It is not an on/off light switch because, if it were that, then much of your leadership is pretense. If you think about Jesus, He was who He was at all times.  Living this way makes it easy because it’s who you are, not something you act out. Being a leader does not get in the way of laughing, enjoying time off, spending time with your wife and children, or anything else. It just means you walk prudently, with discernment, and with a servant’s heart in any situation.

I appreciate your perspective, Tim! It’s important to be genuine as a leader, and, you’re right, leadership is not something we should turn on and off. What is your favorite way to unwind in the midst of your schedule?

My wife and I have purposed from the beginning of our marriage to create a date every week. Sometimes that is as simple as a breakfast or coffee at a coffee-house. Sometimes it’s more. We get away, get completely caught up in the details of each other’s life, and then we solve all the problems of the world. Of course this is an exaggeration… but it feels like that, and it has been wonderfully therapeutic for us. We also try to pray together most every day about the situations in our life, in the lives of others, and in our jobs. This gives us great confidence that God is helping us in every situation. I also am a gardener (award-winning) and I was a marathon runner for many years.

I love that you are focused on date nights every week and praying together with your wife. It’s important to maintain a solid relationship with the person you’re walking through life with. Getting into nature and running are definitely two good ways to de-stress also. Let’s talk about faith and leadership for a minute. What is the hardest aspect of being a Christian leader?

Speaking in regards to Christian leaders in the secular workplace, I think the hardest aspect of being a Christian leader is living life by a higher standard–the standard of God’s word–while the rest of the world does not hold themselves to that standard. As Christian leaders, we are called to be a light and to model Christ-like behavior and attitude, or those watching us cry “foul….” That means emotional stability, maturity in handling conflict, carefully watching the words we choose and speak, offering forgiveness and grace, and walking in integrity are all going to be a part of our life. The benefit is that holding our-self to this kind of standard builds godly character in us and helps us mature in our leadership. Promotion and blessing will follow those that take their Christ-like leadership seriously.

What kind of response to your leadership from those you influence as a Christian do you find encouraging? Is there anything that’s ever discouraging to you in Christian leadership?

I am constantly encouraged by those I influence through my leadership. Rarely does a day go by that I do not receive some form of communication of appreciation for how my leadership and ministry helps their life. I keep them in a folder to remember when I am busy beating myself up over something or losing sight of my effectiveness.

The discouraging part would be that not everyone that you lead is in good shape, highly functional, or ready to be led. Sometimes people misinterpret your purpose or motives as they did Jesus. People can be mean when they want to and, when they let you have it, primarily born out of problems in their own life, it can hurt. But, the longer you are in ministry, the more grace there hopefully is to understand them, not take it personally, continue to love them, and try to help them by not reacting with anything other than love.

I’m so glad you mentioned having a grace perspective as a leader! I’m sure you have seen many benefits from maintaining that focus. What is one of the most rewarding moments you have experienced?

My wife and I walk in a leadership role influencing large numbers of people continuously. We have sacrificed a great deal of our life toward the service of others. And yet, in all that we’ve given, we’ve most always received a steady stream of warm, kind, thankful feedback that continuously encourages and motivates us to do more. I have had many experiences that have been rewarding, but I do remember a young businessman that I was mentoring a little here and a little there for years. He truly matured into a fine businessman that became very successful. One day he showed up at the door of my house asking if he could share a few minutes with me. He then told me how much I had helped him in His life and how God had used me to help shape who he had become. He then gave me a gift– a very precious and costly gift of appreciation. This wasn’t about the gift, but his heart in this action. Very few people back their words up the way he did. That made this gift the most precious gift I’ve ever received– again, not because of the value, but because of his heart in this gift.

I’m glad you have been encouraged forward in leadership in every step of your journey, Tim! I know there are many who have benefited from your perseverance. It is my prayer God continues to encourage you and your wife as you give of yourselves and your time for the sake of others. Thank you so much for joining me today, and God bless you.  Suzanne Stock

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt

Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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