An Unexpected Road to Leadership

Images captured by photographer Amanda Pulley

“It’s the last place I thought I’d be.”

Sean Morgan, Vice President, Leadership Capital, did not have lifelong aspirations to be in ministry. In fact, for years he had a distaste for the local church—where he grew up, the faith professed by church leaders was incongruent with the actions they lived out.

Yet God, as He often does, had an unexpected calling for Sean that not only included serving the local church but also equipping and supporting church leaders across the country.

People, Culture, & Leadership

After seeing as a teen what he noted as “the dark underbelly of the church,” Sean’s journey through college was one of spiritual struggle. That journey led Sean to the Air Force Academy, into the Air Force full-time, and into the healthcare industry.

“I went into healthcare, and God really used that because I ended up in change management—and really what I do with churches today is change management. Also, the healthcare industry involves very complex systems, so I learned a lot about people and culture and leadership there.”

“I like being in relationship with people. I don’t want transactional work; I want relational work.”—@_SeanMorgan

In the military, leadership was good but also hierarchical, authoritarian. Yet at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Sean’s boss, Tom Tinstman, modeled a passionate form of leadership and readily took Sean under his wing. These lessons in the various iterations of leadership shaped Sean’s perspective and his heart, preparing him for ministry.

“I had to let go of a lot of personal things, prideful things, to get to the point where I could think about dedicating myself to the local church,” Sean admitted.

When the door opened for an Executive Pastor at New Life Church in Vacaville, California, Sean was ready to step through.

Relational Work

At New Life Church, Sean found a church pastor unlike his childhood role models—Jon Harris was a leader worth emulating.

“Pastor Jon broke the mold. He was willing to take risks,” Sean said.

Under caring leadership that was developed and demonstrated by the entire staff, New Life Church flourished, and people began approaching Sean for church leadership advice.

In a natural outpouring of Sean’s passion, he began to meet with ministry leaders over coffee, listening and sharing his own experiences, walking alongside them in their struggles of internal and external growth. The more people sought his encouragement, the more Sean realized that he was ready to make this burgeoning aspect of ministry his full-time work.

Image above: Sean Morgan, Executive Vice President of Leadership Capital 

“I like being in relationship with people,” Sean said. “I don’t want transactional work; I want relational work.”

Sean went out on his own into coaching church leaders. After a while, Monty Kelso, President of Slingshot Group, asked Sean to merge his coaching into their team. Then in 2014 when Dusty Rubeck, President of CDF Capital, was seeking a new member for his team, Monty connected Dusty with Sean, seeing that Sean’s coaching trajectory might be a good fit at CDF Capital. After some time developing concepts and possibilities, Leadership Capital was created.

Trusted, Long-Term Relationships

Sean loves coming alongside senior church leaders to supplement their thought leadership and strategically engage their whole team, bringing health to entire congregations.

“Our rhythm is: Clarity, Health, and Alignment. It truly comes in that order,” Sean said.

But such coaching isn’t some one-stop, quick fix. Sean noted that turning churches around is hard work and can take years—trust is key.

“If you want clarity, clarity only comes from transparency; transparency only comes from trust. And we believe the best way to get there is in a trusted relationship.”

Sean likes the term “coaching” better than consulting because the nature of Leadership Capital work is advisory in trusted, long-term relationships with church leaders.

“Our rhythm is: Clarity, Health, and Alignment. It truly comes in that order.”—@_SeanMorgan

While there are a lot of different types of coaching out there, Sean explains CDF Capital’s coaching approach like baseball: in baseball you have specialty coaches—infield coaches, outfield coaches, pitching coaches, batting coaches, strength coaches, and more. “All of those things you can slice and dice in coaching—we don’t do any of that when it comes to the church,” Sean explained. “We help managers win ballgames. That’s the strategic level.”

God’s Work—Our Help

The biggest thing Sean has learned from his leadership coaching is that it all begins and ends with God.

“We tend to think, ‘I can do this. I’ve got this. I’m going to do it for God,’” said Sean. “We fail to realize God is going to do it, and He chooses to use us in the execution of His plan.”

Sean knows that if he were not willing to be in this role, God would simply use someone else. “It’s all God’s anyway. We get the privilege of stewardship along the way.”

Therefore, Sean recognizes the honor it is for God to entrust him with this coaching role, engaging with churches and equipping leaders to serve the body of Christ. Because the young eyes of the upcoming generation are watching in their local churches, just as Sean once did—and they need godly leaders they can look up to.

“I am 100% invested in seeing local churches change the world on a whole new level than what I experienced," said Sean. "I believe that will only happen when local church leaders step up to their calling to take risks and lead the church toward innovation, change, and rallying their people to reach others for Christ. This fires me up!”

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