Longview Pastor Recognized with Dr. Martin Luther King Award
Rev. Virginia Wall, recent recipient of a prominent humanitarian award for her work in and outside of Wesley McCabe United Methodist Church, shares her thoughts and passions on leadership.
Leaders know how to make quick decisions, work with different personalities and nurture others. Leadership is about casting a vision, inspiring, motivating and moving people to achieve the desired outcome. Leaders, like Rev. Virginia Wall of Wesley McCabe UMC in Longview, are quick to share any credit or kudos with others around them, realizing leadership is a team effort.
Notes Rev. Wall, “Last month, I was told that I received the MLK Humanitarian Award recognition because I embodied the spirit of inclusiveness and caring for others, both inside and outside the church. I believe the words of the editor from the Longview News Journal sums up why I received this honorary award. “Wall has shown her humanitarian attitude in ways both large and small. She has worked with individuals who needed attention and done what she could to bridge the gaps between disparate groups in Longview.”
Humbled by this award, Rev. Wall shared her thoughts and reflections on leadership. “In reference to having time to go above and beyond, as Martin Luther King would, I would say that by the grace of God, I use the time I have been given to the best of my ability,” she says. “Maintaining balance with time is very important to me. I work hard at balancing time with my Lord, my family and friends, and my service to the church and community.”
She describes her leadership style as a combination of visioning, strategizing, accounting, and modeling by example. “Every leader needs to have a vision and goals by which the vision can be measured. Leaders need to be accountable to the intrinsic ‘moral purpose’ that guides them in leading others to fulfill a vision,” she adds. “Leadership requires accountability from the top down and bottom up.”
Virginia has read numerous books on leadership that have offered insightful principles and tools for effective leadership. On her ‘favorites list’ are: Leading Change by John P. Kotter, Ultimately Responsible by Sue Nilson Kibbey, and Leading In A Culture Of Change by Michael Fullan. She favors these books because they offer concepts and practical strategies for developing successful leaders in varied environments, both individually and systemically.
“I train and inspire others by educating on the vision, sharing my passion for the vision and inviting others to participate in making the vision a reality,” she explains. “Leadership is also about providing opportunities for others to increase knowledge, skills, and gifts through hands-on experience, while affirming strengths and offering constructive feedback for personal and professional growth. I think it is important to validate the contributions of others and celebrate small steps toward the fulfillment of the vision. In addition, I pray with and encourage others to enhance their spiritual growth within and outside the workplace.”
She strongly believes that the MLK Award advances the vision for Wesley McCabe UMC. “In 2008, our vision was cast as Bridging gaps, Building a diverse Church, and Transforming lives through the power of God and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Receiving this award was an affirmation for the church that we are moving toward fulfilling the vision. From the onset of my leadership here in 2008, we have had regular news coverage of the church in ministry to the community. I am thankful that the church is truly reaching out with warm hearts to all persons in need of compassion, hope, love, and restoration with the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is our mission.”
Adds Virginia, “The greatest insight I can humbly share with current and future leaders about hands-on service is love God, and love neighbor; treat others the way you would like to be treated; value the good in every person; discover your gifts; equip yourself with knowledge, wisdom, and skills; align yourself with people who share your passion for growth and change; seek to develop the best in everyone; do no harm, do good, stay in love with God; and to thine own self be true.”
She shares, “These three ideals motivate me: (1) Seeking to be faithful to the love of Christ poured into my heart for all people; (2) I carry in my wallet a quote from Karol Jozef Wojtyla, the late Pope John Paul II from 1961, the year of my birth. It reads, If there be truth in you, it should explode. You cannot reject it, otherwise you will be rejecting yourself; and (3) The witness of all the saints who died in Christ, especially my mother, Lucey Alvarez.”
Leadership is a continuous sacrifice on every level. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived with the tension of striving to balance the time he had on all levels,” she adds. “He was able to draw wisdom and strength from his faith and purposeful living to change the hearts of humankind for the better. I aspire to do likewise, recognizing that time is a gift from God.”