This is a special interview for me as this one is with my pastor. I have known Deane Proctor for some time as we were both pastoring in the same denomination. When my family was looking for a new church, we visited Queensway Baptist Church and really appreciated Deane’s preaching and leadership.
Could you share a bit about your background and how you became a follower of Jesus?
I was raised in Port Stanley Ontario (a small fishing village on Lake Erie straight south of London). My family (mom, dad and younger sister) were not church-going people and so I wasn’t brought up with a grounding in matters of faith. It was as an adult that God used a couple of traumatic losses (the death of my mother and the loss of my radio broadcasting career) to begin drawing me to Himself. I don’t have a Damascus road moment when the Lord revealed Himself to me but rather it was more of a “trust God and take one step….trust God again and take another step” process that finally brought me to the place where I surrendered my life to Jesus and was baptized in 1995.
What led you to go into pastoral ministry?
The short answer is: “Well, I didn’t plan on it at all”. The longer story is similar to my faith development story, it was a step by step, gradual revelation from God as to what he wanted me to do with my life. At one point I did an assessment of my life, my past career and my personal interests and in that process I can see looking back, how God was readying me for vocational ministry. It was in 1999 that I articulated the call to pastoral ministry and began my degree studies at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario. My first pastoral position was with the two-point charge of Dutton Baptist Church & Iona Station Baptist Church. For 9 years beginning in the year 2000 I was honored and privileged to serve as their young, green, grace-dependent pastor (even as I was pursuing my degree and for a while working a secular job for a food distribution company). In 2009 I was called to become Lead Pastor of Queensway Baptist Church in Brantford, a position I still hold.
What has been the highlight of your time as a pastor?
It sounds cliche to say “I can’t pick just one” but I have been blessed with many highlights in the 14 years that I have been pastoring. I guess I would point to the privilege of baptizing both of my daughters as a primary ministry highlight. There have been many other highlights where I got to see God work in the most unlikely and unpredictable of ways. But I think the thing I never get tired of watching is when a person comes to realize and “own” the calling of God on their life and a small flickering flame inside them becomes a roaring fire for the Lord!
What is the greatest leadership lesson that you have learned?
The greatest leadership lessons I’ve learned have mostly been ones where through various circumstances I grew in self-awareness and learned (sometimes the hard way) what were my strengths and weaknesses. I am a proponent of the “build on your strengths” philosophy of leadership and am constantly working to find ways to “plug” people into areas of service for the Lord that match their SHAPE (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experience).
Could you share about your interest in mental health and the church, including some of the things you are involved in?
I was diagnosed with major depression in 2008. Through that event I became more aware of the negative stigma attached to mental illness in our society and sadly found things to be worse inside the church. I longed for “church leadership” to do something to help the church mature on this topic and then one day it struck me: I AM church leadership! It began simply with sermon content referencing my depression diagnosis. From there I strove to be transparent in a variety of settings where mental illness was the topic.
In the summer of 2014 I was asked to co-host a podcast on the topic of mental illness in the church. The podcast was called “Mind Matters.” It was exciting to receive many affirming comments about the “need for this kind of podcast.” This podcast is no longer available.
In the fall of 2014 we started a small group in our church for people dealing with a mental illness diagnosis who, as Christians, were interested in exploring the spiritual side of self-care and it’s our hope that a second group developed especially for the family members of people with mental illness diagnoses will launch in early 2015.
Thank you Deane.