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Leadership Columbus: Jerry Day

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Jerry Day and his wife, Janet, for the April 20 Leadership Columbus column.
Jerry Day and his wife, Janet, for the April 20 Leadership Columbus column.

Place of birth: Dayton, Tenn.

Date of birth: Dec. 7, 1959

Title: Lead Pastor, The Ridge.

Duties: Overall leadership of board, staff and church; teaching; international ministries.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Greek/Hebrew from Bryan College in 1982 and Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1986.

Family: Wife, Janet; children, Melanie, 24, Drew, 21, Zach, 18.

Came to Columbus in: Was raised here and then moved back in 1991.

Community involvement: New Song (children’s home in Brown County) board member from 2004-2010; volunteer youth sports coach from 1997-2010; Pregnancy Care Center volunteer from about 1995-2001.

Hobbies: My main hobby for the last 18 years has been watching my kids play sports (my daughter was a college golfer; my son, Drew, is currently a college golfer; my son, Zach, a senior, played football for Columbus East High School). I have thoroughly enjoyed that, and it has taken most of my free time. In the future, as I have more time, my hobbies will probably be some golf, fishing and I am in the process of figuring out a new hobby since I have more time.

● How did you find your faith?

I personally made a decision to become a follower of Jesus at an early age, through the influence of my parents and church.

● Tell me about The Ridge.

We are a different church by design. Our vision is to do whatever it takes to reach our community for Christ. We try to be a church for people who don’t like church, haven’t been going to church or have given up on church. Our volunteers rally around this vision. So our philosophy of ministry reflects that — services, programs, even our facility. We try to design our Sunday services with our guests in mind — people who haven’t been going to church. So the music and style of services reflect that. Teaching that is conversational, easy to understand and practical; music styles like someone would hear on the radio; media; relevant biblical topics. Even our new facility is different by design, so that it aligns with our vision. We want to introduce people to a relationship with God by “how we do church,” so that people will want to take their next steps with God.

● Why is strong leadership important in a church?

The church (not just our church, but the church in general) is the hope of the world. The stakes are higher in the church than anywhere else because of this. It’s not about profit or dollars or cents — people’s lives are at stake. So strong leadership in the church is essential if the church is going to make a difference in society. A church is comprised of volunteers — if volunteers are to be motivated and mobilized to achieve a common vision, strong leadership is nonnegotiable.

● What was your first job?

Mowing grass.

● What lessons did you learn from that job?

Always do your best and strive for excellence. The way to excel at a job is to always do what is expected of you, and then do more.

● How did your leadership abilities develop?

Some of the best leadership principles can be found in the Bible (the example of Jesus, the lives of Nehemiah, Joseph, David, etc.). In addition, I have gone to many leadership conferences/seminars. I have read many books on leadership. I have been mentored (from a distance) by strong leaders by reading their books and listening to their teaching (both in church and in the business world). I have discussed leadership with leaders in our church who are leaders in their companies.

● What are the biggest leadership lessons you’ve learned?

Integrity or character is non-negotiable. You cannot lead without them.

Leading is not about exerting authority. It’s about influence.

A compelling vision is perhaps the key motivator for people. People will sacrifice in remarkable ways for a compelling vision.

My agenda does not matter. The vision of the church (or company) is what matters.

Leadership is often at its best in crisis situations.

● What do you like best about your job?

Being privileged to see lives changed. One life changed keeps me going for months.

● What do you like least?

When people disappoint you.

● What advice do you have for young people in the community who want to get involved or become leaders?

Your integrity matters.

● Ask yourself why you want to become a leader. Is it for self-promotion or to lead to a worthwhile endeavor?

The best way to learn to lead is to lead. Get involved in leading something.

Become a student of great leaders (even if from a distance).

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