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Randy Craker: Servant Leader

Randy Craker: Servant Leader

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Randall 'Randy' Craker lives in Spokane, Washington, and serves as superintendent of the Northwest District, the oldest district in the denomination. Started by Phineas F. Bresee, it once extended from the Pacific Ocean to Minnesota. Craker and his wife, Robinette, have three children, Mick, Craig, and Olivia (Metcalf). A graduate of Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) and Nazarene Theological Seminary, he now serves as chair of the NNU Board of Trustees and is the clergy representative for his region on the General Board.

What is one of your hobbies?
Visiting baseball stadiums.

Do you have a favorite team?
New York Yankees [baseball].

Who is the most famous person you've ever met?
I drove Joe Torre (then manager of the New York Yankees) to a restaurant one night in Seattle when he couldn't find a taxi after a Yankees/Mariners game.

Do you miss being a parish pastor?
I miss the joy of being close to and taking a journey with a specific group of people. However, I am still on a journey having to find and enjoy community in a different way.

What should Nazarenes understand about higher education in the church?
From our beginnings we have been committed to training pastors and laity. This has enabled us to prepare people both vocationally and spiritually to bring the light and love of Christ to the workplace and the world. There is great value in getting a liberal arts education that broadens our horizons and enables us to think critically as God's children.

What is one of your dream destinations?
I would love to visit the Holy Land, Egypt, and the sites of the seven churches of Revelation.

Most memorable personal sports moment?
As a sophomore at NNU I organized the world's longest softball game. Chapman Hall Freshmen squared off against Mangum Hall Sophomores and we kept the game going for 6+ days (147 hours). We played for 942 innings with Mangum Hall winning 1437-1343.

Who or what are you reading?
I'm currently reading Elie Wiesel's memoirs (The River Runs to the Sea and The Sea Is Never Full), Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Barton, Falling Upward by Richard Rohr, and Discovering Christian Holiness by Diane LeClerc.

What annoys you in others?
When people never ask questions but always have answers.

What annoys you in yourself?
When I don't listen well to others.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A pastor, or the center fielder for the Yankees.

How can we help pastors to be missional?
We have to change the conversation.

Too often our focus has been on growing churches rather than on the transforming work of Christ in people and culture.

We've trained pastors well in so many areas but not necessarily in how to engage their communities. Jesus spent His time among all types of people, engaging in activities and conversations that led people to the heart of God.

What's your greatest joy in life?
It has been a pure delight to travel and meet people around the world. Robbie and I have taken 20 trips to all parts of the globe to work and teach. God has surprised us again and again as we've rubbed shoulders with Nazarene leaders and learned so much from them.

I remember the week when I was involved in running a youth camp in the central part of Mozambique and the speaker was a young man named Fili Chambo. I knew then that this was a special leader and now he serves as regional director of all of Africa. God has used my interaction with people of many cultures to enlarge my heart and broaden my mind.

Where were you born and raised?
Born in Pullman, Washington, and raised in eastern Washington. My father was a pastor.

Has becoming a pastor met your expectations?
It has. I had a wonderful mentor in my father, G. Donald Craker, who taught me to love and value people. It's been a good journey.

What would readers be surprised to learn about you?
I'm an introvert, more so than people realize.

How do you want to be remembered?
Three words sum up life for me: story, journey, towel. Everyone has a story and I want to hear from people. Then I want to find ways to encourage them on the journey they are taking. Finally, I want to challenge people to take up the towel (the symbol of Christ washing feet) and find someone to serve.

What is your idea of a perfect day?
Time to read, time to think strategically about something I want to fix, some time with people, quality time with my wife, and more time with my four grandkids.

How does mentoring connect with being a DS?
I think it is a big part of my role. I try to find multiple ways to interact with pastors. I have two groups of young pastors that I try to meet with regularly. I'm engaged frequently in personal or E-mail conversations to coach pastors. I invite all of my pastors to a January Conversation where in groups of 10-15 we talk about life and ministry.

My wife has taken up a writing role and through Advent and Lenten devotionals gives counsel and encouragement for the journey. Together we look for ways to enrich people and raise up leaders.

Holiness Today, 2012

Please note: This article was originally published in 2012. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.