Leading with Compassion
Holly: Hi, this is Holly with Presence Point and I am really thrilled to be here with Mike Davis. Mike is with Seattle Youth For Christ and through that organization he runs an organization called Red.Culture and Red.Culture is a performing arts ministry. Is that a pretty fair way of putting it?
Mike: Yes, absolutely.
Holly: We’ve had the privilege the last five days of hanging out with you and where are we? Ojai, California. And we’ve heard Mike do a little bit of rapping. We’ve heard Mike do a whole lot of preaching, but not like anybody else I’ve ever heard. So it’s been really a pleasure to watch him work in that capacity with high school kids, but it’s been even a great pleasure to watch him parent Mikey who is a little guy about 10 or so and he’s pretty cool and we’re just super excited to see how he’s leading as a dad and as an influencer with high schoolers today.
So, the same three questions we always ask. First question: where do you shepherd? Where do you lead, Mike?
Mike: I lead in South Seattle, Washington. Specifically Rainier Beach area. This is one of the inner city communities of Seattle and through high schools and juvi, juvenile detention centers. So that’s where I shepherd the most throughout that community. High schools and juvenile detention.
Holly: And as a dad.
Holly: As a dad, which is pretty fun cause you’ve had Mikey with you here all week which has been really pretty fun. He’s a super cool kid. He’s living the life. He’s living the dream up on stage with his dad every once in a while. That’s pretty fun. Second question we always ask is how do you implement provision, protection, and presence in the way you lead in those places?
Mike: I would say, I’ll start with presence. Implementing presence by simply just being present. Especially in the communities I serve in. There’s not a lot of men that are just present and around, right? So I implement that by simply just being around. You know, showing up at the schools. Showing up at juvi and just being there. A lot of times, we feel the pressure of having to bring something or do something, but a lot of times, just being present is enough, you know. One of the young men or ladies can look around and see in the corner myself or another leader just being present. So I shepherd that by simply showing up and being consistent and just being present.
Holly: What do you think that communicates to them?
Mike: That not everyone is going to leave me. That there are people that are consistent and that really care enough just to stay. And that I don’t have to prove anything to be present with them, but I can just be with them. That’s really all they want. Is someone to be there.
Holly: That’s where we kind of fall down in our society a lot today, isn’t it?
Mike: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
Holly: In fact, I challenged Mike earlier today, almost flippantly, but not really, you need to write that book that’s in my heart: man up!
Mike: Yes, yes.
Holly: Right? The men in our lives, the dads, need to really man up. So that last question we always ask is what word of encouragement would you have for shepherd leaders? Because we know that it’s not an easy road. We know that, with our culture, with our lives, with all that’s going on, it’s hard to walk the road that Christ gave us an example for, but how do you encourage other people in their walk as a leader and as a shepherd?
Mike: To have compassion. Deep compassion for those that you are leading because they go through so much and they’re human. So they’re going to have faults. They’re going to do things that will upset you as a leader, but like Jesus, you know the ultimate shepherd, right? He just compassionately loves on us, right. And he has a passion to see us receive that love and to be involved in engaging his love. So that would be my encouragement: to lead with compassion because it’s hard. Especially when you’re trying to follow a way that is foreign to you. Have compassion because at some point you were following someone, too, and you should still be. And I would say that would be the other thing that I would say to shepherds: have a shepherd yourself.
Mike: That will keep you – that you could have someone that you could reflect on how to lead.
Holly: Who is your person like that in your life?
Mike: Oh, I have a few.
Holly: A few of them?
Mike: Yeah, I need a lot.
Holly: But there are a number of them you have actively in your life?
Mike: Actively in my life, my pastor back home, Harvey Drake. Just watching the way that he shepherds. The ministry that he leads back home. JJ Vancil of Youth For Christ, our Executive Director. He’s a man that I watch, you know. And I follow their leadership. My youth pastor, back home in Kansas City. He’s pastoring in St. Louis, now. But he’s another one. He was my first shepherd, right, so I watched him and the way that he served with a passion and with compassion. And so those are three of the men that are in my life.
Mike: There are also women, too. You know, there are some women that I follow. Pat Pearl, she’s a woman that shepherded me in my faith, you know.
Mike: Mothered me and cared for me, right, and that was important for me, you know, to have that type of compassion, that type of love that would nurture and not just be so hard. And God knew what I needed. So I keep those people in my corner.
Mike: And I sit at their feet as much as possible.
Holly: Yeah. Sweet.
Holly: Well, and I think, when you talk about compassion, balancing truth…
Holly: …and love, right? Is that compassion doesn’t always mean letting them slide. Compassion sometimes means telling the truth, speaking the truth in love like Jesus did, right?
Holly: Making sure we balance it well because we can’t have one without the other…
Holly: …and not have trouble, right?
Mike: Yeah, yeah. Deep compassion means that you go deep, you don’t stay surface and let things slide. But you go deep and it hurts to go deep, sometimes.
Holly: It does hurt a lot to go deep sometimes. Actually a lot of times it hurts to go deep.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely.
Holly: So, Mikey, you want to get in this for a second? Come over here real quick. So Mikey has been hanging out at camp in Ojai, California with us all week long. He’s been and amazing, truly a help to his dad really. So anything you want to add to all this? Do you think your dad is a pretty good leader?
Holly: Why do you think so?
Mikey: He has good speeches.
Holly: He does have good speeches, doesn’t he? He’s a good example too, don’t you think?
Holly: I’m assuming you love him a lot.
Mikey: I do.
Holly: I thought so! Well, thank you for joining us. We hope that just three to five minutes of someone else’s thoughts about shepherding and shepherd leadership will help you live into your calling this week. Thanks so much and have a wonderful day. Take care!