HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (BP)–Man of integrity. Servant heart. Family man. Loves people. Loves the Lord. Sees eternal significance in his work. Hard worker. Has a heart for churches.
While these words often are used to depict the character of a church leader, the description is a poignant portrayal of Scott Tarver, LifeWay Christian Stores’ 2006 Manager of the Year.
LifeWay Christian Stores -– a division of LifeWay Christian Resources -– selects the manager of the year from its 136 stores based on financial criteria, customer feedback, professional accomplishments and contributions to LifeWay as an organization.
Tarver currently manages the Huntsville (Ala.) LifeWay Christian Store but previously served as manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in Shreveport, La.
“Scott Tarver is a humble, godly leader who is passionate about God’s calling on his life,” said Eddy Perry, director of the Southwest region for LifeWay Christian Stores. “He is an action-oriented leader committed to high standards of excellence. He is a strategic thinker who takes initiative. Scott loves, values and is dedicated to developing the people he is blessed to lead.”
Tarver is quick to say that earning the award of store manager of the year is not a one-person task.
“Store manager of the year is all about the team,” Tarver said. “The staff in Shreveport contributed greatly to me being selected for the award. I give much of the credit to them. Having a good staff is key.”
Tarver sees staff development as creating “an atmosphere where people can be their best.”
“As we train and develop the staff, we are helping them become the best person they can be, here as they work at the store and wherever they work for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Shelley Wilson, assistant manager for the Shreveport LifeWay Christian Store, worked with Tarver for four years and considers him not only a strong leader, but also a friend.
“It’s hard to find words to express how much Scott means to us,” Wilson said. “We could not have done all we did at LifeWay without his support and encouragement. He is such a sweet-spirited man, a friend, co-worker and cheerleader.”
Employees at the Huntsville store consider Tarver an answer to prayer.
“We knew we were getting a new store manager and we weren’t sure what to expect. It always makes you nervous to get a new boss,” assistant manager Sue Morgan said. “But Scott has been an answer to prayer. He fits in completely with the staff and he is not afraid to laugh or work hard. We are so glad to have him.”
Tarver said he enjoys serving customers and investing in the development of store employees but is most passionate about the potential each resource that leaves the store has for the Kingdom.
“My favorite part of my job has to do with the resources we provide,” Tarver said. “Unlike a grocery store where you can purchase things to meet a temporal need, what we provide has an immeasurable impact eternally.
“And the impact not only happens with the one customer who leaves the store with the resource. There could be 15-20 people impacted when someone shares a book with another person or uses the resource for Bible study or ministry.”
Tarver is not only the head of a LifeWay Christian Store, he also is part of a special team at home. He and his wife have three sons, ages 10, 8 and 16 months. “I appreciate the fact that LifeWay puts so much emphasis on family,” Tarver said. “If I am away helping run a store at a Beth Moore event, my regional director makes sure I am able to have time off later to spend with my family.” He left a corporate job that required him to work 90-plus hours a week in order to work for a Christian bookstore, then became part of the LifeWay family when the store was later acquired by LifeWay.
Tarver was presented with his award in front of his peers at the annual national sales meeting of LifeWay store managers, April 15-19 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. At the awards banquet, Tarver recognized his store associates and challenged his fellow managers to pursue greatness by following the servant attitude of Jesus Christ.
“We have such a powerful impact [as store managers],” he said. “What are you doing every day to help your team grow and mature to be who they need to be? I hope the staffs in my stores would say, ‘He wanted us to be great.'”