Rev. Beverly Kelly is the pastor of Mattoon Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina. In this episode of Concord Leaders, she shares how she’s learned that having a great idea isn’t enough. And shares about how a great idea on her part caused lots of strife in a previous congregation.
024 Having a Great Idea is not Enough with Rev. Beverly Kelly from Mattoon Presbyterian Church
Listen to the Concord Leaders Podcast on your favorite podcast service
Marc Pitman: Welcome to the Concord leaders podcast, I’m Marc Pittman the CEO of the Concord Leadership Group. Today I am super honored to have our guest being Reverend Beverly Kelly from Mattoon Presbyterian Church here in Greenville, South Carolina, thanks so much for being on the show.
.Reverend Kelly: Oh my Pleasure.
Marc: l have loved our conversations as I’m still relatively new to Greenville, I am so honored that our church partners with yours and we have such a rich relationship. I’ve loved seeing the work you are doing and the way that you guide and nurture and lead is inspiring. What is it that you love the most about leading, or enjoy most?
Reverend Kelly: if I were to to be brutally honest….
Marc: ha! We want nothing less than brutal honestly.
Reverend Kelly: (laughs) I think I like leading because I’m not a real good follower, I like leading, the best thing about leading is working with others because, I’m a big picture person, but I lead other people in that are on my team who are more detail oriented people, so learning from them and listening to them as to how to get things done. Just to have a great idea is not good enough. You need to have a way to get that great idea off the ground and going, and what I enjoy about leading is working with other people.
Marc: That is so true about just having a great idea is not enough, you have to, and there’s so many people that get stuck in thinking, well this is a great idea isn’t it self-evident to everybody else. Has is always been, have you always appreciated people who were detailed oriented?
Reverend Kelly: Uh, No (laughs)
Reverend Kelly: Because when I worked in a large Presbyterian church we had a financial manager and whenever I had a program idea that I wanted to do his first response always was no, but as we would talk and the more I would talk, then at the end of our conversation he would begin to take over and tell me how I could take my idea idea and make it even better and the money was there to do it. He would, he would somehow find the money and would take on the idea as if it was his. So I learned very quickly, well, I didn’t learn very quickly, but I learned eventually that not to get upset or bogged down with his no, but to know I was going to have to talk and explain and give more detail than I thought I needed. I thought I could just give a broad Idea and he would catch on but I would have a give a lot more information and that’s one thing that I have learned in working with people is that they need more information than I do and that I’ve got to be more information oriented in my leadership style, as a matter of fact I’ve been married 50 some years and I’m just learning that about my husband, he needs way more information than I do, and We’ve had a very contentious relationship, but we’ve hung in there for 50 years but now I know I just have to give him a lot of information.
Marc: But I love how you also started with the appreciation of knowing you know having the details there helped it get carried out by more people. You have the big idea you get it and then these people help you put it together and then I love the person in that Presbyterian church that’s was that owned it became, it became …
Reverend Kelly: Yes yes
Marc: Were there times, was there a time when you tried something in your leadership capacity that didn’t go the way you expected it to?
Reverend Kelly: Many times. The one incident that occurred in that large church, my head of staff, I knew, and my staff wanted the children to be incorporated into the worship service. Because we wanted them to be in worship and we wanted, and some people wanted them to be in Sunday school a they wanted them to be at the children’s time and then leave and then the parents would pick them up. So, the parents would be able to worship without the kids. Well we knew, we knew, we all knew that we wanted a worship service that included children because that would make it even richer. So on world communion Sunday I was preparing for that worship service and I was preparing my children’s lesson with the children explaining what world communion meant and I was explaining that all over the world Christians were having, were going to celebrate the communion. And as I thought of that, but when I said that I was going to dismiss the children and so everybody was going to have communion except them. And I said no that’s not going to happen we are going, I’m going to tell the Sunday school teachers there going to go out but, please bring them back for communion which they did and all hell broke loose.
Reverend Kelly: With my Christian Ed committee whom I had not gotten their buy in to this because I just didn’t have time, it was like, Friday and communion was Sunday, so they did not understand how in the world I could bring the children back, surprise the communion servers, surprise the parents, surprise everybody because they had not been forewarned in a head enough time that the children were going to come back. And so, we, we had some hurtful times over that, actually they were you know the person who was head of the worship committee said how dare you, I did not know, what if we had run out of bread and wine and whatever and the people on the back row didn’t get any. And I thought, here we’re talking about 40 kids you mean to tell me you can’t serve you, I just couldn’t get, I couldn’t get it but anyway, I couldn’t get it because I wasn’t head of the wordship committee, and I wasn’t you know, it wasn’t my responsibility to make sure there was enough bread and wine. I thought the communion was shared. (laughs) You break the bread off and you have enough. And so, we did, we had to go back and do a lot of healing around what does communion really mean and who is it for and why isn’t, why aren’t the children welcome into the communion. Once we got thru with that, we got thru that, we were all able to see, my gosh what have we missed. You know all of the wonderful communion times we have missed with the children not here, it’s the children that are really teaching us that we don’t, none of us really understand what the elements of the communion is all about. None of us are worthy, we are all worthy because of God’s grace and because of God’s love and mercy that’s what makes us worthy, none us understand it. But because of the children we are able now to understand that we are all welcome to this table.
Marc: I know leadership, leaders have to do this anyway. But, particularly it seems in a community of faith, how do you, people own, seem to own their hurt in a way that, they almost wear it like a cloak or a coat. So how did you work thru because you made some understanding even in your expression you said that you don’t lead up the worship committee, you didn’t realize some of the details there. what were some of things you did to kind of heal to have that refresh moment so that everybody could, it sounds li education on communion, were there other things that you found helped repair those, those hurt egos, or hurt, not even egos, but just the hurt that caused?
Reverend Kelly: Yeah, it was, it was definitely egos,
Marc: (laughs) Ok
Reverend Kelly: mine included
Marc: nice! (laughs)
Reverend Kelly: What we already had in place and what the worship committee didn’t know was that we were already teaching the children, it was part of our curriculum. they understood about what goes on during communion, why we take the bread, and what is represented in the wine, the new convenient, they did not know we were already teaching that, and so when we shared that with them it was a gift. I didn’t know why people are just, didn’t want, first of all they wanted the parents to decide whether or not the children took communion. We had to come to an understanding that these children are baptized and, so they are already admitted to the table, welcomed at the table. and you know we just, we just had to go back over some real fundamental things, that they once they were off on their committees, They were, they were consumed of who’s going to, you know the mechanics of it, who’s going to set it up, how much of this, are we going to have intention, are we going to serve the people, who is going to do this, are we going to smile when we serve it, are we going to look serious.
Marc: yeah right is it a funeral service or a celebration
Reverend Kelly: or Is it a celebration, and so working thru that, this took, I mean there was other things …
Marc: shocking! (laughs)
Reverend Kelly:… going on we had, and every time I just had to keep saying and when I looked there they said, you know, nice things about me ,one thing about Beverly was, you will always hear the question what about the children. Whenever they had any kind of program anything I’d say ok so what are you going to do that is going to do that’s going to include the children. And all of would…
Reverend Kelly: You could see eyes rolling around
Marc: Well I love, even every the Sundays that I’ve been to worship with you do a wonderful special explanation to the children is not just a special, ah a separate sermon you prep them for, this is what we are going to be hearing and this is what we are going to be reading in scripture. And I just love the way you lay it out because it not just for the children that are aged children, it’s for the adults, the rest of us too you are really helping us all. But So let me ask you talked like about the big picture for you part of the big idea is going back to the basics, because we as teams we do get lost in minutia, And so its sounds like there’s a process of having to remind people about, oh wait, this is the big picture, this is what we are here about, in a way that doesn’t insult them for caring about the material and the supplies and the format but in a way…
Reverend Kelly: huh huh
Marc: that doesn’t get lost, that’s not, we don’t exist for the format, we exist because of the big picture. Would that be accurate?
Reverend Kelly: Right, right exactly
Marc: Wow, I am blown away by the fact at that we are already at the end of our time I love talking with you and I know we could do this for hours…
Reverend Kelly: Thank you Marc and sorry if I went on too long
Marc: Oh, not at all! It’s all good, so what Id love to do, I always love to ask just if there were one thing that people listening to this you’d recommend people listening to this do, right after the pod cast or right after they are listening, what would you what would that one thing be to help them grow into leader that they are longing to become?
Reverend Kelly: I think to listen
Reverend Kelly: I think that is, that is, for a leader is to listen because leaders have to be servants, especially in the church and the way the that you can server others is to listen to what they need, and so a leader has to be an active listener. That’s the one thing, and that’s the one that I need is most of all, to be a good listener.
Marc: Wow, well I know that we can all, there is something very settling when I talk to you always, deep in my spirit and that one anchored in for me too, so I’m going to go thru the rest of my day curiously listening to, because it’s not just the words what you said it’s what they what people really need. Beverly, thank you so much for being a guest, where can people find out more and about Matoon Presbyterian and the work you do?
Reverend Kelly: Other than going into our Facebook page…
Marc: So, if you google Mattoon…
Reverend Kelly: and the and the presbytery, yeah, foothills presbytery
Marc: We’ll put the links in the show notes for this episode, thanks for being here, I’m really…
Reverend Kelly: Thank you for asking me, thank you, Marc you do wonderful work.
Marc: Ha! (laughs) thanks I know people are going to want to listen to this over and over again please remember this episode and all episodes of the concord leaders podcast can be found at concord leadership group dot com slash podcasts, and as always remember that healthy nonprofits start with healthy leaders.