Last June, I resigned my position as Senior Pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. When I resigned, I did not have another position lined up or even in mind. I needed some time to deal with the physical effects that stress and ministry have on an individual over an extended period of time. Thankfully, the members of Northside graciously provided a generous arrangement that gave me the time to address those issues and to seek what assignment God would have for me next.
In the months that have followed, I’ve been assisting Dr. Dino Pedrone as the Interim Headmaster at Dade Christian School in Miami on a part-time basis that has involved me flying back and forth between Charlotte and Miami each week. I’ve also been visiting various ministry and employment opportunities that have come my way.
I was very much convinced that I was more than likely going to end up on a college faculty somewhere or perhaps in administration. I interviewed for a couple of senior administrative position at some Christian colleges, entertained the challenge to start a Bible college for a Seminary and even considered just becoming a full-time on-line adjunct professor. But in recent weeks and in a variety of ways, the Lord made it known that this wasn’t the route He would have me take.
Instead, after much thought, prayer and dialogue, I have accepted an opportunity to work for my long-time friend and someone whom I trust and respect deeply, Dr. Dino Pedrone. This coming summer, I will be joining the staff of New Testament Baptist Church in Miami as the Vice-President of the entire Ministry serving as Dr. Pedrone’s Senior Associate Pastor. New Testament has three church locations and three school locations. In addition, I will be over-seeing the establishment of a teaching site for Davis College in South Florida where we will be offering courses so that students in our area will be able to earn a fully-accredited college degree without relocating. With over 350 employees, two large campuses and an annual budget of over $18 million, I have been assigned the over-all management of the ministry which will free Dr. Pedrone to continue the visionary pastoral leadership that God has called him to perform.
As a Senior Pastor for 17 years, one of my greatest frustrations was the responsibility that is placed on today’s large-ministry leader to be both a visionary leader and an administrative leader. This is like trying to be a Quarterback and the Head Coach in the same game. It’s possible, but in the end you will not be as effective in either role as you would be if you could focus on one. I enjoy being a visionary and I enjoy organizing. But for too many, ego and pride or simply pressure from those who don’t understand the role of Senior Pastor prevents larger churches from organizing properly by having someone come under the Senior Pastor and his visionary leadership and helping him implement what God has laid on his heart. Such a person needs to be loyal to the bone and understand what that role entails.
Dr. Pedrone is one of those rare individuals who has all the qualities of an aggressive leader without the ego, control-issues and domineering spirit that often comes with that personality. In public and private, as I’ve observed him for fifteen years now, I have constantly admired his passion, character and intellect. He is burdened for the gospel and has a heart that is bent toward redemption and letting others experience the blessings of God’s grace. I look forward to serving the Lord by serving with him.
So….the next few months are going to be busy for the Burrells. I will remain in my part-time role as Interim Headmaster of the 1250-student Dade Christian School throughout the school year. I have a house to sell in Charlotte and many things to conclude there in addition to finding housing in the Miami area. Of course, the kids have to finish school and Julie has another big move to organize for the second time in a year. I plan on going full-time sometime after the end of school and before the next school year starts. Megan will be transferring as a Senior to Dade Christian School and is already looking at Palm Beach Atlantic University in our old home town for continuing her education.
I won’t pretend that we are looking forward to leaving Charlotte. We have loved living there and we are not relishing the thought of leaving our many friends, the Queen City and the Carolinas. But more than anything else, we want to be where the Lord has led us and at this time, it is apparently back to South Florida. Too many times we waste personal energy and spiritual focus by looking at the past. As tempting as that has been for us, we are choosing instead to look to the future knowing that nothing ever catches Him by surprise even if it catches us by surprise.
Those who know me are probably snickering with memories of me pontificating about “never going back to South Florida” and so on. That’s OK….I deserve it. I can tell you this — while you are shoveling snow, enduring weeks of overcast skies and wondering if Spring will ever come, I’ll be enjoying an ocean breeze or walking along the beach.
More seriously, I am looking forward to ministering in a church that has over 70 different ethnic groups and nations worshipping on a typical Sunday. Miami is the gateway to South America, Central America and the Carribean. If you love missions, there’s no better place to live! The mission field is right here and it is ripe unto harvest. The people in our church are some of the warmest, most energized, most caring and genuine people you could ever want to meet.
The traffic isn’t as bad as I remembered it, the food is better than I remembered it and yes, I’m going to try and conquer Spanish yet again. We’re still a few months away from the actual transition, but I wanted to let the folks who have been praying for us these last nine months or so know what is happening. I’ll keep everyone posted via this blog, so stay tuned.