Guys to Know: Dr. D. Leslie Hollon, Ph.D.

Preacher, professor, author and pastor of Trinity Baptist Church

Described as one of the great pastors in America, Leslie Hollon, senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, is one of the most respected ministers and church leaders in San Antonio today. A native of the Texas Hill Country, he grew up in Boerne before heading to Baylor University in Waco, where he began a long and impressive road of scholarly pursuits. He holds a number of degrees, including a Master of Divinity, Master of Theology and Doctor of Philosophy, as well as various honorary degrees and earned certifications, including his induction into the Board of Preachers at the Martin Luther King Jr. Hall of Fame for Preachers at the International Chapel of Morehouse College. Married for over 35 years, he and his wife, Vicki, have three grown children. I caught up with Dr. Hollon to find out a little bit more about how this scholar became a man of the heart.

Q. You began preaching at a very young age. How did you receive your calling, and what led you into Christian ministry?
During my sophomore year in high school I was recovering from major back surgery, which also prevented me from playing varsity basketball that year. Consequently I spent more time developing some of my other interests, including student government and speaking. My pastor at Boerne’s First Baptist Church encouraged me to preach. And then others began to encourage me as more opportunities came my way.
I entered Baylor to pursue a career in law and politics, but God’s call to preach became clearer to me by my junior year. The woman I was dating, who two years later became my wife and is my soul mate, also encouraged me to trust what was happening within my heart and mind. So we moved to Louisville, where I went to seminary, became a full-time pastor and felt God’s confirming peace. My call is to live and speak in a way that helps people to know that God’s love provides the resources to live their best life.

Q. You wear a number of hats, including pastor, preacher, professor and author. Do you have a favorite, or is one more important than another? How do you balance all of your commitments?
My personal motto is: Trust God. Love people. Live the adventure. These four hats are ways that I enact the adventure. When I am at my best, all four flow together because they help me to fulfill my calling. At any given time, a ministry need will require one hat to get priority over the others. Fortunately, I equally enjoy all four. I like and need the diversity, and each area stimulates me to improve in the other areas.

Q. Education and academics are obviously an important aspect of your life, but so much of pastoring comes from the heart. Where do you find your inspiration?
People’s stories and the beauty of God’s love inspire me. Closing the gap between the two is a daily challenge and is what gets me out of bed every morning. Education helps me to better understand how to meet the challenge. Ministry, like life itself, requires good coordination between the heart, head and hands. The head enables us to discern what is best. The heart gives us courage and passion. The hands get us involved to enact our decisions and desires.

Q. In your opinion, how important is a person’s spiritual life? In today’s busy world, how can we find more time to devote to that aspect of our lives?
We are made in God’s image, and therefore at our core we are spiritual beings. We hunger for divine love and thirst for godly wisdom. When we don’t care for our souls, then we shrivel up as human beings. We become disconnected within ourselves and disengaged from others.
Every day has 1,440 minutes. Begin each day by using the first eight minutes of wakefulness by saying, “Lord, I love you. I need you. I give myself to you. Guide me throughout this day, which I now visualize and picture you going before me.” Then call on that prayer throughout the day and evening. Those eight minutes will help you to build all the other minutes in the best way.

Q. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Seeing Christ at work in people is my greatest joy. This creates transformation in lives and communities by ministering during such passages as finding forgiveness, discovering life purpose, recovering hope, celebrating love, recovering from failure, building sustainable success, healing families, working through grief, reconciling relationships, facing death and seeing eternal life. This and more is all a part of what it means to be a pastor and gives me great joy.

Q. Despite all of your official obligations, you still find time to give back to the community. How important is volunteerism to you, and with what are you currently involved?
Along the way I learned that life includes me, but is not just about me. We are all in this together. We need each other, and God made us this way. Volunteerism is one of the key fuels to keep community going.
Currently, I serve as a board member for Alpha Home, board member for the United Way of San Antonio, pastoral adviser to the San Antonio Ecumenical Center, commissioner of the Christian Life Commission of Texas Baptists and chairman of the Baptist World Alliance’s Commission on Worship and Spirituality.

Q. You recently raised $3 million for your church. For what will that money be used, and how did you raise such a significant sum?
Trinity’s renewal includes a balanced offering of ministries in San Antonio for all ages and updating our campuses for 21st century ministry. Five years ago we opened our TriPoint campus. Today we are updating the interior and exterior of our sanctuary on the Mulberry campus.

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