NTS West hosted Dr. Jim Appleton at Anaheim 1st Presbyterian Church

A diverse group of pastors and seminary supporters gathered at First Presbyterian Church of Anaheim on June 29 to hear about the seminary’s progress and engage in conversation about leadership qualities with Dr. Appleton, academic leader and Presbyterian elder.

Dr. Appleton, President Emeritus of University of Redlands, reflected on his experience with Foreman Christian College which has had a long historical presence in Lahore, Pakistan and how it became revitalized following a difficult period.  He observed key leadership qualities that made a difference for the College — and through that experience, along with his own academic administrative skills, he began to develop a list of what he saw as characteristics of successful leadership.

He shared the following key characteristics:

Develop a vision of the possible.  A successful leader can form an agenda so compelling that it draws other people in – even if the vision is difficult – such as forming a new seminary in the midst of the challenges of the changing church and new approaches to higher education.  As people are drawn in, recognize and empower their creativity.

Exhibit the ability to create success for others.  This is another way of saying “transformational” – one of the descriptive phrases of this seminary effort.  The leader asks “what can I do to enable these people to be better able to achieve the goals?”

Plan effective staging.   Identify every possible constituency and what needs to be done so there are no surprises.  Dr. Appleton offered the example of painting a room in the house or staging a play – where 85% of one’s time is in the preparation and just 15% is in the painting or performing.

He advised creating a timeline with goals that are 6 months out, 1 year out, 5 years out.

Effective staging is a process – which includes (1) identifying people or constituencies; (2) evaluating their needs and interests; (3) cultivating them; (4) soliciting them; (5) and engaging in stewardship.

And don’t take yourself too seriously!

As the seminary leadership develops its vision of the possible – with its desire to offer transformational education in Southern California for pastoral ministry in the changing church – it realizes this is the beginning of a journey where the necessary preparation is coming together with steady, careful and prayerful work, and the possibilities are increasingly encouraging and exciting.