Leaders connect and reflect

Professor Baumgartner leading an activity.

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Leaders from various countries across the South Pacific Division (SPD) recently gathered on the Gold Coast, Queensland, for a residential retreat where they had an opportunity to connect, gain and share insights, be spiritually enriched and spend time in self-reflection.

The retreat was a vital component of this year’s SPD leadership program—a blend of face-to-face and online learning designed to develop and support church leaders. The 11-month program includes individual coaching sessions, mentorship, workshops and a professional development plan. As part of the program participants also undertake a short university course to enhance their knowledge and expertise. Thirty-seven leaders are involved in this year’s program.

Keynote speakers at the retreat were Professors Randy Siebold and Erich Baumgartner, directors of the Global Leadership Institute at Andrews University in the United States. They delivered impactful messages focused on the importance of authenticity, creativity, humility and self-awareness in leadership. Above all, they stressed the core principle of great leadership is to have a deep relationship with God.

“As leaders, we are held responsible for our performance,” said Professor Baumgartner. “And sometimes it goes well and sometimes the results are not so good. It is very easy for us as Adventist leaders who are driven by this internal voice that we want to be the best we can because God expects it of us, to forget that God has always worked with imperfect people that had to trust Him even in their failures and in their best successes.”

Professor Siebold highlighted the value of collaboration and cooperation. “The reality [is] that God doesn’t give one person all the wisdom and He hasn’t given you all the wisdom you need to pull off what He’s asked you to do,” he said. “You need others, which is why we need to listen, which is why we need to work with others.”

Professor Siebold presents to the group.

The group comprised a diverse mix of leaders representing unions, missions and conferences from around the Division, church departments and entities including ADRA, Sydney Adventist Hospital, Fulton Adventist University College and Pacific Adventist University.

“The retreat was a chance for our exceptionally busy program leaders to take a few days to focus on ‘leading self’ and decompress while reflecting on the way God has worked to develop their leadership,” said SPD leadership and professional development manager Dean Banks, organiser of the leadership program.   

“It was awesome to experience the cultural diversity of the group and see them bond over the time.”

Pastor Mladen Krklec, who leads the Mildura church in Victoria, Australia, appreciated being introduced to new leadership concepts and tools.

“You often hear the phrase ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’ because it is true. At the SPD leadership retreat I was introduced to material I was not aware of before, and I was blessed,” Pastor Krklec said. “We looked at all kinds of fun concepts: three boxes, how to write with a screwdriver, the path and Cynefin framework among others, and I loved every minute discovering these new tools for leading collaboratively in organisations.

“Discovering how God moulds an ordinary person into a leader, like Barnabas, and how that leader leads themself with others in a team and organisation, and what kind of legacy they should aim for, was enriching and challenging. It will take me a while to process all the learning and to plan how to bless my church community with it.” 

Similarly, Pastor Loleth Worwor, discipleship ministries team leader for women’s ministries, family and children at the Trans Pacific Union Mission, said she had been enriched by the experience.

“I praise and thank God for His blessings on this journey with Him,” she said.  “I also thank God for the godly leaders at the SPD and General Conference who collaborated through planning and working together through the leading of the Holy Spirit for the success of the SPD leadership retreat.”

The retreat has also left a lasting impact for Western Highlands Mission education director Brandi Koldop.

“The highlight [was the presentations] from Professor Eric, the  ‘How God shapes leaders over a lifetime’, especially the six phases of growth in one’s leadership,” he said. 

“The challenge I got from the presentations was [being] able to put into practice what I’ve learnt.”

The group comprised a diverse mix of leaders.
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