Spotlight: Blair Monie

Rev. Dr. Blair Monie enters the Austin Seminary community this fall as Professor in The Louis H. and Katherine S. Zbinden Distinguished Chair of Pastoral Ministry and Leadership. In anticipation of his presence, we spoke with Monie as he offered thoughts on the challenges and blessings of time in ministry.

THE REED: How would you describe your vocation?

BLAIR MONIE: I have been so blessed to have been called to be a pastor to wonderful churches for the past forty-one years, from my years in Pennsylvania, to New Jersey, and in Dallas for the past nineteen years. I have served, since I was thirty-two years old, as the primary preaching pastor. I love to preach. But what I love most are the people. It's a privilege to share one's life with a broad and interesting community of people. Everybody is interesting. Everybody is worth knowing. And a pastor has such amazing access to people's lives.

TR: What one belief is essential to the person you are? 

BM: Grace, grace, grace. Grace is why I am a Presbyterian. I treasure the idea that nothing is our own doing, or our own earning, and that salvation, faith, life--it's all a gift. In the light of grace, we can delight in life.

TR: How would you define success for a student of ministry and what lessons do you hope to impart upon those in your class?

First of all, I hope to pass on to my students a passion for ministry, and a love for the day-in and day-out of the pastoral life. Good pastors are thoughtful theologians. They don't "fly on autopilot," but think deeply about life and faith. Good pastors know how to organize themselves in such a way that they are able to give people their time and attention. Good pastors are fellow-travelers, sharing in the journey of their people--and each journey will look different.

TR: What was the greatest challenge of your ministry? 

BM: I've always been a "big picture" kind of person. I'm reasonably good at coming up with that creative idea or general direction. My greatest challenge has been attention to detail. I need help in putting all the pieces together. One of the big lessons I think I've learned is that good administrative leadership is often no more complex than simply asking for help.

TR: What was the greatest blessing of your ministry? 

BM: No question--it's the people, as I reflected earlier. My uncle was a Presbyterian minister all his life. On my ordination day, he said to me, "It won't always be easy; but I can tell you that all your life, you will be surrounded by the most interesting people." He was so right, and I've recalled his words many times.

TR: What is your favorite hymn? 

BM: That's easy. When I retired from Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, a wonderful couple in the church commissioned an anthem by Gary Fry, consisting of my two favorite hymns, "Christ Of the Upward Way" and "Our God, Our Help In Ages Past, Our Hope For Years to Come." Together they combine thankfulness for the past and the challenge of the future.

TR: What is your favorite pastime?

BM: I enjoy all kinds of things. With my wife Cyndy, I enjoy travel, reading, photography, gadgets, cooking, and sailing (I've been a cruising sailor and charterer for over thirty years--once I even captained for a bluegrass band from Atlanta). I'm also an inveterate punster.

Above; Blair Monie with his wife, Cyndy