Thoughts from Pushpay’s CEO Molly Matthews on Leading with Authenticity

As I reflect on my first six months as Pushpay’s CEO, I can’t help but recognize how blessed I am to have the opportunity to work alongside such amazing people each and every day–both at Pushpay and within the organizations we partner with. I have been humbled by the outpouring of support, encouragement, and genuine care from people that surround me in business and in my personal life.

Throughout the last several years, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside thousands of churches and have seen first-hand the meaningful ministry programs that are making a positive impact in communities around the globe. You are a constant source of inspiration, motivation, and the fuel that drives me to be the best leader I can be.

This has also been a time to grow, learn, and at times, has stretched my thinking in ways I never thought imaginable. In saying that, I can’t help but think of you and all that your church has been through this past year. I know the struggles the Church has experienced as doors closed during the pandemic. Your teams pivoted quickly and found ways to connect, reach people, and rise above as leaders to provide community for those in need. All while trying to learn new processes, adopt new technology, and lead amidst strife in our nation. This has been no small feat. And yet time and time again, I see you innovating, celebrating, and adapting in order to do what’s best for your teams and your community.

As I settle into my new role at Pushpay, and have had a chance to meet with customers and partners over the last few months, here are a few things I’m choosing to lean into this season:

Embrace Agility

Ag·ile; the ability to move quickly and easily

For me, this has shown up in every area of my life this past year. From leading our team through the transition to becoming a remote workforce, to helping our customers, and supporting my family. My husband and I have two school-aged girls at home, and while the onset of the pandemic was certainly a transition for companies, we felt the change at home in a big way, too. The overnight shift to online learning, remote work, and having all of us in the same house 24/7 was a big learning curve. We have had to be agile as a family. And so has business.

In fact, recent research from McKinsey notes “the pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.” I think about that a lot as we continue to improve our systems, processes, and products in order to scale. I know the need to be agile will only grow greater as digitization, globalization, and automation continues to accelerate our day-to-day lives. What does that look like for your organization? How are you embracing agility in this season?

Recognize Capacity

Ca·pac·i·ty; the maximum amount that something can contain or produce

I know one of the biggest challenges in the Church right now is staff burnout and retention. In fact, Thom Rainer did an exercise a while back where he quantified the perceived expectation of how many hours pastors should work in order to achieve everything they needed to get done in a week. The final count was 114! Yes, 114 hours. That’s simply not achievable for most humans. Or certainly not sustainable over time.

Much like the pastors we work with, I have experienced something similar as CEO these past few months. There’s always more to do than can be done in a day, and I have had to accept my own limits and learn to put up guardrails in order to avoid burnout. Moreso, I’ve been intentional about supporting the same for our teams.

In terms of recognizing capacity within your team, you may have heard about the Great Resignation that organizations have been facing recently. Millions of workers are either leaving the workplace, or seeking new roles. In fact, the number of people in the U.S. that gave notice in March 2021 was the highest for that month that’s it’s been in the last 20 years. The pandemic brought a sense of clarity for people concerning what’s important to them in their day-to-day lives–and for many, it’s achieving a better balance. As leaders, we have to be cognizant of the capacity of our teams and create space to allow people to innovate, learn, and be fulfilled at work–while still being able to enjoy the things they love outside their jobs. Because at the end of the day, the most important asset we have is our people.

Be Authentic

Au·then·tic; of undisputed origin; genuine

Whether you’re ministering to thousands of people each week as a pastor, or like me, stepping into a new role that’s very visible to the public eye–one thing I have learned to be more true than ever this season is the importance of being authentic.

As a leader, I want to prioritize creating a culture of innovation, while also encouraging an environment of inclusion where people can bring their whole selves to work. A big part of that is modeling that yourself. As an introvert, this has been a challenge for me at times. I know that when I’m genuine and can address conversations candidly–leaving behind canned talking points and predecessors’ viewpoints–my team appreciates the honesty, which allows others to do the same.

In a time when people are looking to companies–or churches like yours–to advocate for or respond to every social initiative, cause, or daily news cycle, I have found myself questioning where to participate and how to respond. And what I’ve recognized is that when we’re authentic, and put our people first, we can confront and navigate anything together. This requires a willingness to be transparent.

While not easy, I have learned that there are a lot of opportunities for us as a company to be more transparent, both internally and externally with our customers and partners. One of our core values at Pushpay is to be teachable. Which in practice, is the ability to respond proactively to change, seek opportunities to learn and grow, and be able to respond positively to feedback. For me, that value is put into action when I’m able to be transparent with others–regardless of if I’m the one leading or learning.

So, as summer winds down and we start to ramp up for a busy fall, know that I’m cheering you on. As we’ve experienced this past year, the days are long and the weeks are short. Let’s lift each other up, celebrate one another, and lean into a season of opportunity. I’m so excited and honored to be on this journey with you and your team and can’t wait for what’s to come.

encourage engagement with your congregation

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