We meant well when we moved from solo leadership model to solo leadership model, but we made a mistake and it hurt everybody. We realized belatedly we should have moved to a team leadership model; [it makes for] a much more successful transition, especially if you follow somebody like my dad. And nobody could measure up and be expected to do it single-handedly. And that's why we went with the team model. I don't think that it's me versus Robert, but it's a different system. My husband likes to call me the team mom. The church needs the loving touch of a mother today.
I have not heard from my brother. He was quoted as saying he has the utmost respect for me. Robert and I have always been close. I have the utmost respect for him, and I truly believe he's doing what he's gifted to do [he is co-owner of a cable TV network].
Rick Warren's megachurch is just down the freeway; he hosted Barack Obama and John McCain. Do political issues have a role in your church?
God calls each of his churches to a different vision. He made it clear to us that we're to remain apolitical. We are criticized by some for not taking political stances, but Jesus Christ was pressured to take a political stance against the Roman Empire, and he went to the cross remaining apolitical, and that's what we have based our decision on.
One of your father's best-known sayings is "Tough times never last, tough people do." How does the church get through tough times with fewer people in the pews, fewer television viewers?
You believe in something bigger than you. God's promised he will take care of us. That doesn't mean that it's always going to go without bumps and bruises, but he promises he will be with us every step of the way. So we approach everything with an attitude of "Thank you, God, for this trial; thank you for this challenge. Because I know that you're going to use this for good in my life." When things are easy, we don't necessarily spend a lot of time on our knees, so God will get our attention sometimes.
How much difference has this new job made for your family?
The joke here lately is you can get a promotion at the Crystal Cathedral but expect a cut in pay. That's a true test of motivation! My husband and I get to see more of each other because I'm just down the hall from him. My boys are still pretty much at home, and they still expect dinner. I walk in the back door -- "What's for dinner, Mom?" I try to scrounge something up. We probably eat out a little more than we used to.
Did you ever have a crisis of faith?
Most of us go through a faith crisis at some point; I'm actually a little dubious if someone doesn't. For me it happened when I was in college [her father's alma mater, Hope College in Michigan].
I was pre-med at the time. I tried to apply that scientific, analytical mind to Scripture and God and this supernatural, spiritual realm that there's no empirical evidence for. It did cause me to really feel lost spiritually for about a year.
Nobody knew. I didn't tell anybody I was going through this. But I had an incredible experience that following year. That's when [it] became my faith in Jesus Christ, as opposed to something I'd inherited from my parents. I said to myself, "Sheila, you just have to take that leap of faith." There's always going to be a gap between what we know and what we don't know, and how we bridge that gap is through faith. And from that moment on, the questions just seemed irrelevant. The more I learned about science, the more it just verified what an amazing God we have.
firstname.lastname@example.org. This interview was edited and excerpted from a longer taped transcript. An archive of Morrison's interviews is online at latimes.com/pattasks.