Catalyst Leader Defined: Interview With Brad Lomenick


As I'm writing this article, I'm sitting in the Mariners Church Global Cafe listening to Matt Chandler talk to thousands of church leaders at Catalyst West in Orange County. I'm always overwhelmed by the energy at Catalyst as church leaders gather to be equipped and inspired in their ministry. It's been a joy to connect with church leaders and hear how God is moving in churches across California and the surrounding states.

Brad Lomenick is the Executive Director of Catalyst, and his book The Catalyst Leader: 8 Essentials for Becoming a Change Maker is hot off the presses. I had a few questions for Brad about his new book and wanted to share them with you here. 

Holly: Obviously, The Catalyst Leader is about leadership, but what unique perspective does your book bring to the topic of leadership development?

Brad: The book presents the key essentials that I believe will define our generation’s ability to influence over the next 20-25 years. The Catalyst Leader lays out the eight essentials for becoming a change maker. I hope this book will provide practical leadership answers for a new generation of aspiring leaders who are looking for answers and solutions, not just leadership theory. It’s a practical guide for leading now, and leading well, serving as a leadership handbook for the next generation of leaders in our country. The Catalyst Leader is packed with a combination of candid interviews with thought leaders, research with the core leadership community, and overall leadership best practices. 

Holly: I know you're a busy guy and that writing a book is a huge time investment. Why did you decide to invest the time into writing The Catalyst Leader?

Brad: I wrote this book primarily for 3 reasons. Frist, while leading the largest leadership movement that gathers young career aged Christian leaders in America, I noticed that many of these young leaders desired to lead right now, but they didn’t know how to ultimately lead well. We have a generation of “called but not yet equipped leaders.” Many of my peers at 25, 30, 35, and 40 years of age are flaming out and need a resource to help them finish well. Second, I noticed that the leaders who were leading well shared several common traits and characteristics, which are what I discuss as the eight essentials. Third, we’ve been handed the reins to lead. I just turned 40, and I believe it’s my generation's turn and time to stand up, take the reins, and lead. We are now in the drivers seat, and it’s up to us, the called but not equipped generation. Too many leaders are crashing early and often right now. Just like me, tons of leaders in their 20’s and 30’s are facing great opportunities that they feel a deep calling and passion for, and willing to take on, but not fully equipped to handle. Some of my best friends currently sit atop great organizations but are failing to shepherd their teams and lead these entities well. I’ve begun to see a disappointing pattern among young leaders. They achieve liftoff with a rocket start but quickly fizzle out. With each instance of short lived success, I grow further convinced that we need to nurture leaders who will not just lead now, but also lead well. Ultimately, I’m writing a book that I wish would have been available to me 20 years ago when I was first starting my career.

Holly: When you say, “Lead Well, Lead Now,” what exactly do you mean?

Brad: Your legacy depends on your present leadership. As I’ve dialogued with young leaders over the last several years, the common characteristic I’m finding is the desire to lead NOW. They’re embarking on creative projects, starting new organizations, writing books, excelling in large corporations, and creating causes that are solving some of the world’s leading problems. They aren’t willing to climb the ladder or wait their turn. They want to catapult immediately into positions of influence. Energetic and passionate, these young next generation leaders want to jump in and make a difference now. However, this generation that is leading early isn't necessarily ready to lead - called but not equipped. I have countless friends who are hungry to change the world, but if they aren't careful, they will end up in the ditch along with their entire team because they are not equipped to lead well. 

Holly: You tell many stories throughout the book, but I wonder, which is your favorite?

Brad: My time with best-selling author Bob Goff at his house and the lessons I learned about courage and risk is probably my favorite story. Bob’s friendship has been an incredible blessing to me, and every time I’m around Bob, I pick up more “Bob-isms.” Most recently, Bob sent our Catalyst team a dozen baby ducks in the mail, just for fun! It was quite the surprise, opening a box to find 12 baby ducklings! I love the “Bob-ism” of “be inefficient in love,” which is the idea that love is not always efficient and requires more than normal. Love extravagantly. Bob says “I don’t want my life to only rhyme, I want it to resonate!" The other story I really love from the book is my first trip to Africa, specifically to the country of Rwanda, with Compassion International which gave me an understanding of the Leadership Essential of "Hopeful." Seeing children with nothing, living a life of hope because they have a sense that tomorrow will be better than today.

Holly: We talk a lot about legacy here at Vanderbloemen, primarily when it comes to pastors' succession plans. How do you think someone creates a legacy where they are right now?

Brad: Your legacy, regardless of where you are in your leadership journey, starts now. The way you start determines how you finish. Start with the end in mind. So many of us don’t think about our legacy until we reach the finish line. But creating legacy has to begin when we begin. Starting well means finishing well.

Holly: There is so much wisdom in what you just said. The best leaders have succession on their mind from day one on the job and are constantly thinking about the long-term health of both their team and their ministry. 

You can read more about The Catalyst Leader here and purchase it.