Jonathan Keyser : My Leadership Pathway

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My first leadership position was with the United States Navy.

I was a police officer for 9 years before God called me to ministry. I had a great career and an amazing family. We were set through my retirement. But God paved the way for something else. There is no way I can ever tell the story of my calling without seeing God’s work all the way through it. As I was finishing seminary and seeking ministerial employment, I found myself applying for positions that sought five to ten years of experience I simply didn’t have. Then I received an email from Dave Miller, inviting me to apply for a residency position. The process after that was quick and easy. Now, I serve as the Next Steps Pastoral Resident at Crossroads, and I’m also a Lieutenant Junior Grade Chaplain Candidate in the Reserves.

My expectations were very high coming into the residency, because I assumed the expectations of me would be high. However, this program is designed to put each resident in the position to be able to fail in a safe way. Each step has building blocks of spiritual formation and work for ministry. Investing in the life of someone who wishes to give their life to ministry is something that should be taken very seriously. There needs to be a safe place to succeed, and a safe place to fail. I have watched fellow residents do both, and this program is that safe place. They’ve not only invested in me, but also in my family. Our church has become our family, wanting nothing more than to help us grow.

I’ve always been an avid volunteer, in the military as well as in my civilian time. At my church in Nevada, we cleaned up roads and did humanitarian aid in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. I was in charge of 30 military officers when I was on active duty. Today, I am a much different kind of leader. Now, I’m overseeing innovation and replication in the Next Steps realm of ministry, figuring out how to bring true biblical discipleship into the lives of believers to help them become fully devoted followers of Jesus. This kind of leadership holds a whole lot more responsibility.

To a high school or college student preparing for ministry, I would say this: There will be times you will want to quit. There will be times you will question your calling. There will be times you will not get along with everyone. There may be times you don’t know how you’re going to get through another week. You must surround yourself with godly people who build you up, and you must watch for signs of burnout and depression. But there is no better way to prepare yourself fully than to invest your time in a residency program.

Since I’ve grown in this residency, I now know that as an intellectual type who loves theology, I love people even more. I don’t feel like I’ve worked a single day since I began on this path. I even go home after work and love being able to serve my family. Doing what I love to do increases my desire to do more, and to do it better. I spent 12 total years in law enforcement, and I was good at it – but it wasn’t my passion. Now, I wake up excited to go to work. I love where I am, working with others who love Jesus. I enjoy learning about the innovation happening in churches to spread the Gospel message. I could not be more on fire for this.

I’m Jonathan Keyser, and this is my leadership pathway.

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