Solomon Maphosa worked as a pastor for three years in his native Zimbabwe before being asked to serve as conference stewardship director.
On the first day, the conference president prayed with Maphosa and showed him to his desk.
That was it.
Maphosa didn’t know what to do. He called around, but no one seemed able to help. He had to come up with his own ideas for how to work.
“No one held my hand. No one,” he recalled. “It was a swim-or-sink experience.”
The scenario was repeated when he became youth director, Sabbath School director, conference executive secretary and, later, conference president. The cycle ended when he returned to school.
“When I got my doctorate in ministry, I finally learned what leadership is all about,” said Maphosa, now the president of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.
The story, which happened years ago, may not reflect the norm in the Seventh-Adventist Church today. But it serves as a reminder that the church can do more to train young church leaders and others, and to provide ongoing training for its current leadership, world church leaders said at the church’s 13th Global Leadership Summit.
To that end, summit participants enthusiastically endorsed a General Conference proposal to establish an institute focused on leadership, innovation, and mission at the church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. The institute, located in space vacated by the North American Division, would provide hands-on, practical training to leaders from around the world.
“We need to work in a smart way to create mission-driven results,” Adventist world church president Ted N.C. Wilson said in unveiling the proposed institute on Feb. 5 at the leadership summit in Cape Town, South Africa.
‘A New Mosaic’
Plans for the institute are tentative, and details have yet to be worked out. But Wilson said it could oversee and integrate existing church leadership programs such as the Global Leadership Summit, General Conference departmental advisories, and the LEAD conference, which has been coupled with Annual Council meetings for the past decade.