Episode #69: Interview with Gerald Brooks

Welcome to Episode #69 of the Learning to Lead podcast. This episode is a part of our interview series, in which I interview leaders in order to extract their best leadership lessons and tips. This month, I had the privilege of interviewing Gerald Brooks, the founding Pastor of Grace Outreach Center in Plano Texas.

Before I introduce Gerald, I just want to thank you for listening to this podcast. I hope it adds value to your life. If you have enjoyed it, I’d like to ask you for a favor, could you go to iTunes and leave a rating and review for this podcast. Doing so will help grow the podcast’s audience! Thanks!

I originally got to know Gerald through a series of Roundtable leadership events we hosted at our church where Gerald spoke. I’ve always loved his leadership content, and hoped that one day I’d be able to interview. I finally got my chance, and it was everything I thought it would be. Get your pens and notebooks out, this interview is going to teach you a ton!

Gerald leads a church of over 5,000 people in attendance, he hosts an annual leadership conference at his church, he travels across the nation teaching leadership, and offers monthly leadership lessons. He’s written 8 books. You can read the rest of his bio and learn how you can connect with him below.

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Gerald’s Bio:

Gerald Brooks is the founding pastor of Grace Outreach Center, an interdenominational church in Plano, Texas. The church began in 1982 and has grown to a weekend attendance of over 5,000. Grace Outreach Center has creatively targeted youth and children as the focus of its ministry. The congregation, although located in a community that according to the 2000 census is 78% white and only 5% African American, is a diverse body of believers, with 45% of the attenders representing other ethnicities and cultures. Over 35 nationalities are represented at Grace Outreach, with the majority of these representing African nations.

Pastor Brooks is well-known for his passionate heart to help other pastors, and he mentors and teaches ministers across the country through church growth seminars including John Maxwell’s Breaking the 500, and Breaking the 1000 Barrier conferences. Pastor Brooks hosts the annual North Texas Leadership Conference in Plano, which draws ministers from all over the country. He travels across the nation teaching roundtables and also offers monthly leadership tapes. He is a contributor to the New Spirit Filled Life Bible and the author of 8 books: What I Learned While Destroying a Church; Jesus on Leadership; Paul on Leadership; The Old Testament on Leadership; Building Blocks of Leadership; The Emotions of a Leader; Ladder Focus (co-authored with Samuel R. Chand); and most recently, Leadership According to 1 Cor. 13. For leadership resources by Gerald Brooks visit Growing Others at www.growingothers.com

Pastor Brooks received an honorary doctorate degree in 2003 from Beulah Heights University in Georgia for his distinguished service to the body of Christ, and in recognition of his ministry to pastors and Christian leaders across the country. In 2010 Pastor Brooks was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College. An Equip Board Member, Pastor Brooks is partnering with John Maxwell to help raise up international Christian leaders to fulfill the Great Commission in every nation. He has also been inducted in to the Inaugural class of the John Maxwell Hall of Fame for Grace Outreach Center’s contributions to Equip. Furthermore, Gerald Brooks’ service to his community has always been an important value and Pastor Brooks has served on municipal boards.

Born in New Mexico and raised in a military family, Pastor Brooks lived in several states, including a few years in Germany. Living on military bases, he formed friendships with kids of different color, and saw that families of every color were sacrificing for our country. He saw the flag-draped caskets bearing heroes of every color of skin, and learned to respect and honor each one the same. And so it was natural for him when he became a pastor, to strategically build a church representing every race. He often shares of his pleasure in seeing a congregation that is representative of the colors in heaven.

Pastor Brooks and his wife, Geni, have been married for 37 years and are the proud parents of three children: Wendi, Kayci, and Cody.

Connect with Gerald:

Some of my Key Takeaways:

  • You’re not as smart as you think you are
  • Pursue mentors who have similar gifts that you have
  • Immerse yourself in the thought and heart process of mentors
  • When you quit growing, you quit leading
  • Failure doesn’t have to be fatal
  • You’ve got to grow your pain threshold
  • A lot of people are asking, “Can I trust God?” when in reality God is seeing if He can trust them!
  • Can you live a life that if people trust you, it’s not misplaced trust?
  • Leadership is losing the right to think about yourself
  • Leadership is more caught than taught
  • Every leader needs people who can tell them no
  • Pay the price to be around old leaders

Questions:

  • Tell us about yourself, your family, and your passions!
  • Can you name one or two people who have had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
  • When you think of success, who is the first person that comes to mind? Why?
  • You recently tweeted, “Growth isn’t an emotion, it’s a discipline.” Can you talk about a leader’s growth process?
  • What are you doing and what have you done to ensure you continue to grow and develop?
  • What advice do you have for leaders who need to push through some pain to go to the next level of growth that God may have for them.
  • What books have you read that have made a great impact on you that you would recommend?
  • What have you learned about failure over the course of your life?
  • You’ve build a church that values diversity, why has this been important to you, what have you done intentionally do to that, and what would you like other leaders to know when it comes to this issue?
  • How do you process pain as a leader?
  • You’ve been married for 37 years. How do you balance ministry with your family life? How do leaders in ministry do the work of the ministry and keep their families?
  • One of my favorite things I have ever heard you say is, “Learn, while you don’t have to lead.” What do you think are the most critical lessons young leaders need to learn before stepping into the arena of leadership?
  • Knowing what you know now, if you could have a conversation with yourself when you were just starting off in ministry and leadership, what would you tell yourself?
  • What are the most challenging parts about being a leader?
  • Where do you see leaders “missing it” most often?  What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others? What is one behavior or trait that you have seen derail leaders’ careers?
  • Can you talk to leaders out there about the importance of character development? How does somebody actually develop character?
  • How can we deal with our blind spots?
  • What advice do you have for leaders when it comes to discovering and pursuing their purpose?
  • What qualities do you look for in up and coming leaders?
  • What can young leaders do to set themselves apart in their organizations?
  • If you could give young leaders any advice, what would it be?
  • Are there any questions I am not asking that I should be?
  • Out of everything you’ve accomplished in your life and ministry, what are you most proud of?
     
  • What do you want your legacy to be?
  • What are you working on right now that you’re excited about and how can we serve & pray for your ministry?

 

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