Michael –– from banker to pastor
Name: Michael Holford.
Education: Piedmont International University; University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus; Harrison College.
Qualifications: PhD in leadership (candidate); Master of Science in labour and employment relations; Bachelor of Science in psychology.
Occupation: minister of religion.
If one picked up a book written by Michael Holford and turned to the back to read the summary on the author, what would it say?
Michael is a Christian and the husband of one wife. He has a passion for ministry and people, and is dedicated to what God has called him to do. At the very same time, he loves a good joke (sometimes at the expense of others) and relishes any moment he gets to be in the background.
Which four words best describe you?
Funny, approachable, friendly and laid-back.
What drives you and keeps you motivated?
God, love of what I do, my natural inclination to be lazy, and hating to fail.
Having completed secondary school, you entered the world of work instead of a tertiary institution. What was behind this decision?
I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do as a career. I was asked to leave school after Lower 6 owing to poor academic performance; and my father told me I couldn’t stay at home and do nothing. So I became motivated to find a job.
You spent 17 years in banking, starting out as a teller and then moving into personal service. How has banking contributed to your development as an individual
It has helped me in terms of my people skills; managing time and prioritizing; understanding the importance of money and being wise in the use of it; and the different ways to handle conflict. I always tell people much of my development came through the bank and the people there.
You completed undergraduate studies in psychology and then studied labour and employment relations at the Master’s level. Why these two areas, especially given how different they are?
In general practice, the two areas are different, but there is a specialized area of psychology called industrial/organizational psychology. It deals specifically with the factors that affect productivity, for example, stress, motivation, personalities, and so on. That’s what I did my thesis on in undergrad. It was that interest that led me to pursue my Master’s in labour and employment relations.
If you had to choose a creature that best represented you, which would it be, and why?
An owl. I’m always up late, and I’m always observing and thinking.
If you were to make yourself a superhero, what would your name be and what powers would you have?
Captain Laughter. I seem to have the unique ability to make people laugh, even when I’m not trying. I have the unfortunate reputation of sometimes making people laugh
If you had the opportunity to relive your life from the time you entered secondary school, what would you do differently?
I would be diligent in my schoolwork. I wasted a lot of my secondary school life being lazy and being distracted while trying to fit. I had the aptitude but never fully applied myself.
If you knew you were to be marooned on an island, what four things would you have with you?
My wife, Bible, food and water.
Most people know you as Bishop or Ricky. Where did these names originate from?
Bishop was given to me by Tracy Fowler owing to my admiration of Bishop T.D. Jakes at the time. I used Bishop as my icq name where we would communicate.
Ricky is a shortened form of my middle name Ricardo. My dad’s name was Michael as well; so I would be called Ricky at home to differentiate.
You were one of the founders and lead singers in the gospel reggae band KDB. How did it all start?
It started from an idea that Makonem Hurley, my brother Mark and I had to have a musical group that was different, but proclaimed biblical truth. At the time Makonem and I were artistes (Bishop and Scuzz), but we had no stable direction for our music or message. So we envisioned the band and began to write with purpose, choosing the genre of reggae as our main style.
Between 2006 and 2009, KDB graced many stages, receiving numerous nominations and awards –– the Flame Awards, Barbados Music Awards and the Marlin Awards (Nassau, Bahamas). Will we be seeing more of KDB in the future?
I don’t know. I have no plans. The last time I talked to Makonem he didn’t, and neither does Mark. I believe we were meant for that season. Many things which we advocated as a band in how we functioned, we can see now in many of the current local gospel ministers: biblically sound lyrics, originality, excellence, preparation, branding, and so on. If God wants it again, I have no issue.
You are a pastor at the Abundant Life Assembly. Had you always desired to be one, and what confirmed for you “now is the time”?
The thought came and went over the years, but it wasn’t something I desired. Among various reasons, I am a strong advocate for function over title, and I believed if it was something I was to do, I would be called and gifted for it.
In late 2013, the desire started to grow, and on the day my father passed away, I felt I heard the Lord say it was time. I said: “Lord if this is You, I will be obedient, but You have to put everything in place.”
The rest is history.
You resigned from your job at the bank to serve in full-time ministry. Many pastors work a nine-to-five job and still serve in their ministry. Why did you choose the full-time route?
God gave me a peace about leaving, and I really believed that He wanted me to go into full-time ministry. In terms of our particular assembly, with the magnitude of work which has to be done, there is a requirement for dedicated full-time pastors.
Now that I’m functioning in this capacity I see why it was necessary.
You are into your second year as pastor. What would you say has been the most challenging part of your job so far, and the most rewarding?
Most challenging has been dealing with different types of individuals, and giving counsel and ministry, according to what God wanted for them specifically. One size doesn’t fit all in this case. The most rewarding has been seeing the conversion and transformation process of individuals all to the glory of God.
There is a growing consensus that fewer young people are attending church. Having spent four years as a Sunday School teacher and two years as the youth director at Abundant Life Assembly, what would you say to young people and parents as to the benefits of not just attending but being part of a church family?
I shared just [this week] with our congregation Hearing God In A Post-Modern World and one of the points I made was that we live in a world that completely excludes God and godliness, and this is what our young people are exposed to via various media. It is important we counteract this by exposing our young people to God, godly living and godly practices.
Attending services and submitting to biblical teaching help in the grounding of their faith as young people. There is more to Christianity than just attending services, but hopefully what they gain from the services may be applied in their daily lives. Additionally, for parents, what occurs in the gatherings during services should be a continuation of what happens in the home. For the Christian family, discipleship and all the other foundational activities should begin at home. Church services should really complement what happens in the family unit.
What is one thing people might find interesting about you?
I am a shy and boring individual.
What has contributed to your success?
Faith in God, godly upbringing, familial support and good friendships.
What’s next for Michael?
Piedmont International University in North Carolina, United States, is where I next begin my residency for my PhD in leadership. By God’s grace, I would love to continue ministering in Barbados and across the Earth, especially in the area of discipleship and leadership development.
(If you are a young Barbadian professional, or know of any worthy of being highlighted for their amazing contribution, please contact us at email@example.com)