Leading at Church and in Government
David A. Morgan believes he is somewhat of a cultural warrior in his newly elected position as county executive of Lawrence County, Tennessee, garnering over 59% of the 5,574 votes cast in the August contest. Morgan, who also is a local Assemblies of God pastor, attributes his landslide victory to a desire to protect Christian values for Lawrenceburg residents.
“People in southern middle Tennessee are not looking for the most polished political person,” says Morgan. “They’re looking for someone who will stand up for the ethics and the morals that have made this part of the country a wonderful place to live.”
Recently more Americans from around the country have been relocating to the area, and Morgan thinks traditional values are a major reason why.
“Our culture here is built on the foundation of God’s Word and His truth,” Morgan says.
As chief executive officer and chief financial officer of the county, Morgan manages the purse strings.
“I feel like I’m called to this for such a time as this,” says Morgan, 43. “I believe the Lord wants his people on the front line.”
Morgan also pastors Lawrenceburg’s United Church, which has an average of 450 weekly attendees. He and his wife, Stephanie, have five children: Payton, 18; Benjamin, 15; Elijah, 11; Eden, 8; and Titus, 5.
Wrestling with the merging of ministry and government, Morgan says he studied the clergy’s influence in American history and realized pastors made a great impression on the legislative process for much of the nation’s early history. But he believes when Congress passed a national income tax in 1913 and churches received tax-exemption status, ministers lost their political clout.
“Our fear of having that status revoked shut our mouth,” says Morgan. “We are where we are today in American culture because the Church has taken a back seat.”
Morgan also is the founder of 8 Oaks Recovery, a Christ-centered addiction recovery program. He remains director of spiritual development for the organization.
In August 2020, while having lunch with the city mayor and county executive to debate his decision to run for office, Morgan voiced his concern that the recovery center would never open if he focused his efforts on the election.
No sooner had Morgan spoken those words than a man walked up to the table and the mayor introduced him: Jerrod Menz, founder and operator of American Addiction Centers, the nation’s largest mental health substance abuse recovery center. Menz had recently sold his interest in the company and moved to Lawrenceburg, his wife’s hometown.
“There’s nobody else on planet earth that God could have sent to my table with the knowledge necessary to help my recovery program not just get off the ground, but to thrive,” says Morgan.
It marked the confirmation Morgan sought in throwing his hat into the ring.
United Church adherent Melinda D. Sevier has known Morgan virtually his whole life. Morgan’s father, Tony, began pastoring the church in 1980 and David took over as lead pastor a decade ago.
“When he told us he was running for office, I felt with all my heart that the church would flourish and the county would flourish,” says Sevier, 70. “He dreams that nothing is impossible with God, and then he finds people to help him do it.”
Morgan says he relies on the power of the Holy Spirit to give him the wisdom and the strength to do what is right.
“I know now my life is on a different level of scrutiny,” he says.
Morgan says at both church and government, he is comfortable delegating responsibilities and raising up leaders.
“People who try to be in the spotlight and do it all by themselves fizzle out and don’t get reelected,” says Morgan. “It’s all about equipping and empowering other people to find their God-given purpose and direction in life.”