Dealing with Doubt in Ministry : Travis Dickinson
In a world of deconstruction, how do we handle our doubts in a healthy way as ministry leaders? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Dr. Travis Dickinson, professor of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University. Travis has literally traveled the world addressing big questions of faith, and he’s the author of Wandering Toward God. Together, Travis and Jason look at the value of doubt in our faith journeys. Travis also provides some great insights for ministry leaders who might be wrestling with doubts, uncertainties, and questions themselves.
Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!
- Video links to this week’s episode – easily share with the ministry leaders in your church
- Audio links to this week’s episode – easily share with the ministry leaders in your church
- Additional resource links from this week’s conversation – so you and your team can easily find what is mentioned or referenced
- Ministry Leaders Growth Guide – key insights and concepts from this week’s conversation as well as engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process
- Full-text transcript of this week’s episode – review something you heard, pass along snippets, post tweets, create presentations to share, or use in whatever way you find most helpful in developing your ministry leaders
- Shareable Social Graphics – Feel free to post them on your church social accounts, your personal accounts, or use them as graphics in your communications
Share the video with your ministry leaders >> YouTube
Share the audio podcast with your ministry leaders…
- This week’s episode on Apple Podcasts
- This week’s episode on Spotify
Additional Resource Links
Wandering Toward God – Travis’ most recent book that discusses finding faith amid doubt and big questions
www.TravisDickinson.com – Travis’ website where you can learn more about his books and also find his blog and other helpful resources
Connect with Travis Dickinson – Twitter | Instagram
Connect with PastorServe – LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
Feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or just want to talk? Complimentary 1-hour Coaching Session for Pastors http://PastorServe.org/freesession
Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- Asking questions is a crucial part of Christian discipleship
- If deconstruction is thinking deeply through what one believes and breaking it down to see what is true, then it is healthy and can be helpful. But many today celebrate doubt in deconstructing as if that is the place to end up, rather than part of the journey. This view is unhealthy and misguided.
- Doubts are consistent with faith. They’re not opposites.
- God invites our questions and our doubts, as they help us more fully understand God
- There is a difference between doubts and disbelief. Doubt is the intellectual tension we experience around our beliefs, and everyone experiences doubts. Disbelief, however, is a choice we make about our beliefs.
- Certainty can be dangerous, as well, because faith is not built on certainty, but on confidence. If you hold tightly onto certainty, your core beliefs can be shaken when you encounter doubt. But, if you instead embrace confidence in your understanding of God, when doubts come, you can hold to your confidence, because it is not threatened in the same way that certainty is.
- What we know and what we believe is definitely important for faith, but it’s not truly what faith is. Faith is what we do with those things that we know and believe.
- Ministry leaders need to create safe environments where people are encouraged to be curious and questions are welcomed
- Christianity is not ‘believe because this works’ and it is not ‘believe and ignore the objections.’ Christianity is ‘believe because you can have confidence that it is true.’
- Christianity has a rich tradition of ministry leaders wrestling with their doubts and working out their faith
- Pastors and ministry leaders should wrestle, themselves, with deep questions of faith and then be prepared to lead others who are facing doubts to truth
- If a ministry leader is doubting, they should doubt their doubts and investigate their concerns. Take it one step at a time and remember that faith is consistent with having some doubts. As much as you can, explore your doubts in community, with a trusted friend, coach, spiritual director, etc.
Questions for Reflection
- How do I feel about the difference between doubt and disbelief?
- How do I feel about the difference between certainty and confidence?
- Currently, where do I fall when it comes to doubt, disbelief, certainty, and confidence?
- If I am doubting, am I also doubting my doubts? Am I processing this in safe community?
- When I do have doubts about faith, how do I feel? Why do I feel that way? How do I think God feels about my doubts and questions?
- How do those who have come before me in ministry help me better understand how doubts and questions relate to my journey with God?
- Am I being honest with God about any doubts I might have? If not, why not?
- Is our church creating safe environments where people are encouraged to be curious and questions are welcomed? If so, what does this look like at our church? If not, what steps do we ned to take?
- How is God speaking to me right now about where I am on my faith journey? What will I do next?
In a world of deconstruction, how do we handle our doubts in a healthy way as ministry leaders?
In this episode, I’m joined by Dr. Travis Dickinson, professor of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University. Travis has literally traveled the world addressing big questions of faith, and he’s the author of Wandering Toward God. Together, Travis and I look at the value of doubt in our faith journeys. Travis also provide some great insights for ministry leaders who might be wrestling with doubts, uncertainties and questions themselves. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to another insightful episode of FrontStage BackStage. I am your host Jason Daye. Every single week, I have the distinct privilege of sitting down with a trusted ministry leader and we dive into a conversation, all in an effort to help pastors and ministry leaders just like you embrace a healthy, sustainable rhythm in both life and ministry. And we’re proud to be a part of the PastorServe Network. And not only do we have these conversations, but our team also puts together a complete resource, a toolkit actually, that accompanies every single one of these episodes. And you can find that at PastorServe.org/network. There you will find many different resources, including a ministry leaders growth guide, with key insights and reflection questions that you and the ministry team at your local church can work through to again, dig more deeply into our conversation. And after joining us on YouTube, we ask that you do give us a thumbs up. And whether you’re joining us on YouTube, or your favorite podcast platform, take a moment to subscribe or follow so you do not miss out on any of these awesome conversations. And I am super excited to be joined today by Travis Dickinson. So Travis, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Jason. Great to be here.
Yeah, it’s such a joy to have you with us. Thank you for making the time to hang out with us. Travis now, as a professor of philosophy, who is also a devoted follower of Jesus, Travis, you have a unique perspective probably on many of the big questions that humankind wrestles with. And in recent history, there’s been a lot of, a lot of discussion, even a lot of media coverage about pastors and ministry leaders, processing through questions, doubts, unbelief, what many have referred to as kind of a process of deconstruction, right? Now, Travis, you’ve invested a lot of time studying the relationship between faith and doubt. In fact, you’ve literally written the book on it, or at least a book on it, entitled, Wandering Toward God. So Travis, to begin, I’d love to hear your thoughts on, you know, really, why do you believe this idea of deconstructing our faith has received so much attention of late?
Yeah, I think that, you know, there’s a, there is a kind of disconnect that’s happening, there’s, there’s a way in which we’ve, we’ve kind of raised our kids, you know, to just sort of, you know, with this sort of slogan of, you know, the Bible says it, or the pastor says it, or mom and dad say it, you know, you should believe it, and that settles that kind of a thing. And, and yet, you kind of couple that with the fact that this, you know, kind of the younger generation is, is just the most questioning generation, you know, kind of grows, I’m, I’m sort of firmly in Generation X. And, you know, my kids are Generation Z, I think that would fall there. And, you know, to just question things is just sort of part of the air that they, you know, is the air that they breathe. And so, then if you couple that with a generation that sort of just, you know, wanted to know, you know, more baby boomers sort of approach where it was just sort of give me the answers to the test. And so I can sort of pass the pass it and so on. And it’s it, you have this disconnect, so that we’re raising this young, younger generation without sort of providing safe places, I think, to doubt and question their faith, when that’s such a shame, it seems to me because the church should be the first place we run. When we have questions and we’re struggling with what you know, sort of how to approach things. And yet it’s it’s often the place that we find the least I think, my kids are finding, and people, not just kids, but people aren’t finding the help that they need for that. And so you’ve got this whole sort of movement now that’s become popular unfortunately, of, you know… deconstruction is sort of a slippery word because it means something historically, of course. It’s a sort of philosophical approach to literary texts and things like that. But that’s not what most people today mean by deconstruction. And I’m really fine with the idea of deconstruction if it just means really thinking through what we believe and kind of breaking it down and seeing what we should believe and what we shouldn’t. But I think the word deconstruction just too often means, you know, it’s sort of one step away from deconverting, today. And that’s certainly not my goal, at least. And so in the book, I’ve I’ve tried to sort of carve out a sort of middle path with that, so that I’m saying doubt is really important. And it’s, it’s, it’s a value, but it’s not a place to stay. It’s not a good in itself. That my sort of slogan-y way to put it is that it’s not the destination, but it is an important, sort of stop off. But there’s a lot of pastors and sort of online personalities that are celebrating doubt as if that’s, in deconstruction, as if that’s the place to end up. And I think that’s just really misguided. I think we, we use it as an important opportunity to ask deep and difficult questions, search for truth and knowledge. And certainly my story is one where I came out with an even greater faith as a result.
Yeah, I love that Travis, and those distinctions are very helpful. And, and just the idea that it’s not the end all, right? The deconstruction isn’t the goal, which that’s part of, it’s part of our journey, it’s part of our faith journey. That’s what I love about Wandering Toward God, and just kind of your approach is that you’re not fearful, you know, of doubt, right? In fact, you embrace doubt, because doubt is what leads us to really deeper understanding. And so I really appreciate that. So Travis, can you tell us a little bit, because you make this point, this distinction between doubt and unbelief? And I think oftentimes, we kind of toss those two in the same basket. So talk to us a little bit about that distinction?
Yeah. Great. Yeah. So for me, you know, doubt can manifest in a lot of ways. And I think that’s where it gets sort of tricky to try to give a real robust definition. You know, as a, as a philosopher, we’re always wanting these, you know, robust, airtight definitions, and I just don’t think it’s very easy to do, because it manifests in so many ways. So sometimes, it manifests as a sort of emotional, you know, sort of state of being and other times it’s, it truly is a sort of toxic place to be where there’s, there’s moral attitudes and things like that. But what I tried to do in the book is really boil it down to what I call the core of doubt. And I think of it as just the intellectual tension we experience when we’re thinking through ideas and asking questions, because, again, I don’t want people to doubt for for the sake of doubting, but I do want people to ask questions, I think questions are a…. asking questions, as I, as I say, is, is a crucial part of Christian discipleship. And I think what pastors need to be doing is providing safe places for people to ask questions, but that does get messy. Right, that’s why it’s wandering toward God, because sometimes that’s really what it feels like as we’re wandering, but again, not unintentionally, are wandering in a particular direction. And so, all doubt is, for me, as I as I describe it and defend it, is the intellectual tension we experience. You know, it’s, it’s where, where an objection or another idea, that’s, that’s sort of contrary to the one to our beliefs as a sort of polar force. It’s kind of like in the old, you know, sci-fi movies of the tractor beam, you know, where you get sucked in, you’re getting sucked in a little bit. And that could just be a little tug. Or it could be just this overwhelming, you know, force that that you’re feeling. And so people are in a lot of different places with that. But that’s very different than unbelief. Unbelief is a choice. And I think that’s a crucial point to make. Because most of us don’t choose to doubt. I just don’t think that is typically a choice. We might make choices that lead to doubting, but the the doubting itself really is just an experience or something that sort of happens to us. And again, we have lots of choices, what we do with the doubt, and that’s the whole point of the book, but but the doubt itself is not necessarily something that we’re choosing, where unbelief is. And I think the best way to sort of get at this sort of quickly is to think of, we call him Doubting Thomas, but I think he’s unbelieving Thomas. You know, so if you think of Thomas’s situation, he’s the only one of the disciples who didn’t get to see the risen Christ. And so his, you know, the others come to him and say, like, we’ve seen him, he’s alive, like he’s risen from the dead. And there you go, he’s got good reason to believe but, and I’m a little bit reading into the text, but it seems to me that he’s, he’s hurt or sort of feeling left out. And when you read that passage of what Thomas says, I mean, he throws down the gauntlet, he says, If he says, I will never believe, unless I, you know, see him, I get what you got, and as well as feel his wounds. And that’s clearly a sort of choice. It’s a sort of refusal to believe. And that’s, that’s what the Bible talks about as an unbelief. And so that’s a really important thing. And so I what I like to say, and this is a really big point is to say that doubts are consistent with faith. Right? They’re not opposites. They’re not, it’s not like a seesaw, the more you know, the more faith you have, the less doubts you have. I think this can happen at the same time. I like to give the illustration of getting on an airplane, because it’s such a crazy thing that we do when we get on airplanes. I mean, if you think about it, like you get onto this little thing, you strap into a little seat belt, you know, this mass of crap made of metal, you know, if it’s a 747, weighs in at about a million pounds, you drive down a little road, and you lift off into the atmosphere. And then you cruise at six miles off the planet, and it’s crazy. And most of us don’t know really how that works, right? And so we can imagine ourselves being in the airport about to get on our flight, struggling, feeling some intellectual tension, having doubts about whether or not this could this should even be happening? How does this even work? And then what? Our number’s called, we get on board the airplane, because we’re, you know, let’s say we’re going someplace nice, with a beach and so on. We can, this is what I think is a beautiful picture of the Christian journey, in a way, is you can be on the airplane, flying in the airplane six miles off the planet, doubting the airplane. Right, but you’re, you’re you’ve placed your faith in it, like you’ve entrusted your whole life. I mean, literally your whole life to the airplane. And I think that’s a pretty beautiful picture of the Christian journey, oftentimes, is that we’ve entrusted ourselves to Christ, there’s no, you know, full stop. And yet we’ve got questions, and yet we’ve got intellectual tension. And that’s not somehow, you know, I mean, it’s a problem because we don’t want to stay there. But it’s not like it destroys our faith just automatically. It’s what we do with it from there. That I think. Sorry, there was a long answer. But that was that’s the distinction between doubt and unbelief.
Yeah, no, I love that. And I love that illustration. When I read it in the book about the airplane. Yeah, it does really bring it home, because all of us have experienced that. Right. So So Travis, that’s helpful that distinction between doubt and unbelief. So let’s move to, as responsible ministry leaders, how do we handle the issue of certainty? Because you address that as well, I think and this was huge. I think this was great. So talk to us a little bit about the idea of certainty.
Yeah. So one of the things that I always you know, want to do at the outset of this kind of discussion is be careful to define terms here. Because the the philosopher has something in mind by certainty, that may not be what everybody has a minus. So what I don’t mean, or so let me just say what I contrast it with, I contrast certainty. And if we like, let’s call it absolute certainty, where it’s, it’s going to be defined as something like, there’s literally no possibility of being wrong, like not even a possibility is not even conceivable that you’re wrong. Contrast that with a place of confidence. Right, where confidence is where you’re assured, like you’re moving forward. And the reality is most things in life, we just by definition, can’t have absolute certainty. Airplanes are another good example. They’re like, you can’t have absolute certainty that airplane is going to get you where you want to go safely and so on. Always worry that I’m going to cause people to like, you know, with a fear, fear, fear of flying, like getting worse, but anyway. Right. But you can’t be certain about that. But can you be confident? Yeah, there’s there’s lots of good reasons to get on an airplane, and we can entrust our lives in a very rational way to the airplane. So when it comes to our Christian faith, I think we do especially as ministry leaders, I think we can do a disservice to our people, when we make the kind of like minimum threshold that that everybody has to sort of meet as being absolute certaint about Christianity. And the reason why that’s so difficult or problematic is because I think our kids then are getting too and people are just out there and but especially, you know, have a have a heart for this sort of youth Exodus problem that that we talk about in ministry settings and so on. We’re so many youth are leaving the church just a drove 60 80% of them. What’s happening? Well, I think part of it, I think that’s a very complex problem. So I don’t want to act as if this is the whole thing. But one of the things that happens is we set absolute certainty as this minimum threshold. And then they get to, you know, college campus. And their, let’s say, biology professor, philosophy professor, somebody starts, you know, challenging them in their faith. And all of a sudden, they have questions because they can’t hang with that person, you know, they’re not, they just have don’t have the background to be able to do it and the chops to do it. And all of a sudden, they have questions, and here’s what they don’t have any more: absolute certainty. That’s all come crashing down because they now have at least one question. Whereas if we set as the minimum threshold, something like confidence, where confidence comes through having good reasons to believe and I think all Christians, so I’m a big apologetics guy, I teach apologetics, I’ve written in apologetics. But I think that Christians, generally speaking, have really good reasons to believe right, God has just made himself real to them, have answers to prayer that, you know, we all could sit around. I mean, take almost any group of Christians, and you can sit around just chatting about what the Lord has done in your life. There you go, you’ve got good reasons to believe. And so what that produces, though, isn’t, it’s just not gonna get to absolute certainty, because there are there are deep and difficult questions, and there’s the possibility that, you know, what we took to be an answer to prayer, wasn’t… it was just coincidence or something. But I think again, you know, it does provide confidence, though. So I want my kids. So I’ve got teenagers, we’ve got four kids, two teenagers, two preteens, so pray for us. But I want when they get to the college campus and or workplace or, you know, wherever it is, where they’re being challenged in their faith, for those challenges to feel familiar, because they can walk into it with a kind of confidence that they may not have the answer, just like in a, you know, the alternative scenario where they’re aiming for certainty, they still might not have the answer, but it’s not going to make it all come crashing down. Right. So the analogy that I like to use is that when we aim for absolute certainty, it’s kind of like a house of cards. Just very fragile, one little card pull out, and the whole thing comes comes crashing down. When we aim at absolute certainty. It’s like, it’s like that.
Yeah, that’s helpful. And I think for ministry leaders, you know, all of us have different backgrounds, you know, all of us, you know, God has, you know, been on this journey with us in different ways. But, but it seems like there are many who grew up with the sense of equating faith to absolute certainty, right, and then getting out in the real world, starting to do ministry, trying to pass that along to other people, this idea of faith equals absolute certainty. And recognizing that there are people come from all different types of backgrounds, and they don’t necessarily accept that in the same way. And then there’s this frustration, and in I think this is where we see oftentimes in the Church, movement toward the extremes, right. So, Travis, can you talk to us a little bit from the role of a, a ministry leader or a pastor, as we’re looking at, you know, these different pieces of what makes up our kind of human nature as we’re exploring and engaging in experiencing God? You know, what we’ve discussed, ideas of doubt, unbelief, certainty, confidence. From the world of a ministry leader, how do all these different pieces play into faith, actually? You know, how do we personally experience faith and grow in our faith, taking these into account? And then how do we help others do the same?
Yeah. Well, and I’ve got a I’ve got a technical paper on on trying to work out what faith is kind of in its in its nature. And where I’ve really come to come to and I think this is really I actually think it was very clear in Scripture, that faith is really much more about what we do, then anything to do with our sort of like, knowledge or evidence or confidence and certainty. Now, what we know and what we believe, like, that’s definitely important for faith, but it’s not quite what faith is. Faith really at the end of the day is what we do with those things. And so when we think about our intellectual journeys, and this is again, this the briefly hit on this, just a second to come back to that certainty question like, I and I’ve done this when I’ve when I get to speak at camps, or conferences, or churches, and I’ll say like OK, raise your hand, if you have one question about Christianity, you know, and of course, every person, and it’s, now I’ve set them up, because if they have a question about Christianity, and they don’t themselves have that strict, absolute certainty. And so let’s just be honest about that, first of all, that that none of us have it all worked out. I have questions myself, I’m I’ve devoted myself to studying on a really high academic level for 20. What has it been? I think it’s about 20 years now. Right as the seminary, grad school PhD, and now I get to the, you know, I get paid to work on these things. And I still have a lot of things that I just don’t know exactly where I want to fall in. And I’m still worried, like I, you know, I can take a stab at it. But it’s like, there’s a level of uncertainty, let’s just be honest about that. And I think what, what ministry leaders really should think about is how, how much they’re encouraging and sort of making making their their settings, a safe place for people to just be curious and ask questions. And because, you know, the story of my life, really, because I grew up in a very, I was a ministry kid, and so on, like, one of the reasons why I think I had the struggle with doubts that I did is because I just didn’t, it was such a pressure on me to believe, right, as a kid, and I think pastors, kids and kids of ministry just really experienced this, because I wouldn’t have been turned out like my parents would have, like, kicked me out, had I, you know, you know, rejected Christianity, but it would have been a really big deal. And so where I really came to doubt my own faith was realizing that I wasn’t believing in Christianity, because it, I found it to be true. I was believing in Christianity, because that’s what I grew up with. And that’s what was there was that sort of pressure on me to believe, and it really threw me for a loop. And I really struggled, because it was like, Oh, my word, I’ve given my life. And I sincerely believe like, that’s the thing. Again, it’s consistent with having doubts, but I had to press in. And so I think that’s so important is to create a culture and an openness and a safety in our settings to be able for people to genuinely ask those questions. And people don’t even always know what to ask, right. But they’re just sort of have some some uncertainties. And I think just cultivating that, but but I’m also just really big on, you know, because I’ve got colleagues that I mean, not here at DBU, necessarily, but I’ve got colleagues in the world of philosophy, that sort of their whole aim seems to be that they just want to get everybody mixed up as much as they possibly can. Stoir the paint as much as possible, and their job is done. But the way I approach these things, and the way I teach philosophy is, yeah, I want to ask those deep and difficult questions and provide, you know, provocative things. And let’s get into it. But also, let’s try to let’s, let’s be led to truth, right, and let’s see what the Bible has to say. And let’s see, see where we can end up because that’s the thing in my, you know, when I doubted my own faith, the big worry, of course, is that people worry they’re gonna lose their faith. And for me, it was like, I just found lots and lots of answers. I mean, not I mean, it’s almost, you know, flippant, how I said it, and there’s a deep struggle, and it took time and so on, but at the end of it, really, and, you know, I guess I’m still in it in a way, I found lots and lots of answers, because there really are, and this has always been, you know, part of the Christian tradition, where it’s not just believe because this works. It’s not just believe and, you know, ignore the objections. It’s believe because this is true. And there’s there’s reasons to believe it’s true in this we have this incredibly rich tradition of apologetics throughout the history of the church. And so, but, but, I mean, man, it’s tough, because there’s a lot of pastors, there’s a lot of folks out there that just aren’t themselves even aware of that tradition and the way have, you know kind of what to say? And those sorts of things? So I think it’s kind of, again, a bit of a rambling answer. But I think creating that that culture and then also just for the ministry leader to have wrestled themselves. I mean, that’s, that’s really what it’s about is that they would wrestle themselves with these questions, and then be able to lead others to truth.
Yeah. And I love that approach. And just thinking through the idea that we don’t need to be fearful of questions or fearful notes, right? Because, again, God’s not fearful of our questions. Never has been, I mean, look at read through scripture, right. And you see again, and again and again, these these people that we would now would say, are heroes of the faith. Yeah, but they all rest, you know, they have mold. And so we should find some encouragement from that. And it’s kind of almost silly how we put them into one bucket, but that we, you know, that we, we touched on well, we can’t have any questions. Yeah. It’s interesting. Traverse, I’d love for you to, I think it’s all very, very helpful. There’s a flip side of of that, you know, there’s some in ministry who are really high on the absolute certainty piece, right. And so that makes it challenging, little more difficult when it comes to reaching people who are far from God and engaging those conversations, engaging with people who didn’t grow up in the faith like, maybe they did. And so it’s one piece, but the other side of it is, and this happens with us, can happen with anyone, is whenever you really run into and hit a roadblock in your own journey of faith. And so right. There are pastors and ministry leaders, some who might be watching right now, who really, you know, they’ve given their life to this. They, maybe they’ve experienced some hurt, some discouragement, some disappointment, you know, some brokenness in it. Things haven’t turned out the way that they anticipated. You know, there’s been some wounding, those types of things. And then they find themselves in a place where they don’t know what to do with their questions. So I’d love for you, Travis to just take a little bit of time, and really, really talking to those who are in ministry, those who have given their lives to ministry, right, who are now finding themselves faced with, you know, some big questions.
Yeah, they’re the ones that are supposed to have the answers right, and Zafrani themselves with questions. Yeah. Yeah, no, that’s really good. And, you know, what, what I want to say to those that are out there that are that that fits, you know, their description. First of all, I just want to say your normal, right, I want to let you know that, that there’s not something wrong with you, there’s not something wrong with your faith. And in fact, and I love to say this whenever I can, is that I think if you are someone that’s sort of struggling with some questions, then it’s probably the case that you’re more honest, in a way, or at least maybe a bit more courageous than others. Because, again, you ask any group of Christians, if they have any questions whatsoever, you know, and they’re gonna say, yes, but are they really wrestling with them? And I think it takes a really, you know, it takes a lot of courage, especially in ministry, to be honest about the uncertainties that you have, and this sort of, you know, kind of the disconnects that you’re seeing that you’re kind of not sure how to work those out. So okay. So that’s first thing. What I recommend here is, first of all, hang on. And let me just, again, encourage those of the reasons we mentioned before that faith in a being in a place of doubt, that’s not there’s nothing wrong with that you can have 100% Faith, even though you’re struggling with doubt. So I, what I want to do in a situation like that is take some of the pressure off of the situation, because I think especially, especially for ministry leaders, when they’re the ones again, supposed to have the answers, and yet they’re the ones that are doubting, that is just almost like a bomb about to go off, right? And so, we want to dismantle that a little bit. We want to take the pressure off, and just say it’s okay. It really is okay, if you have some questions, because again, we don’t need to have absolute certainty about these things. I could literally not know how to answer say, the problem of evil. And that’s okay. And that’s, again, it’s not to say don’t think about it and don’t pursue it don’t, but why would I need to? As long as now let me actually I mean, just make sure I say that carefully. As long as I have really good reasons to believe that God exists that God is good. I mean, this is I think job honestly, that’s probably a longer conversation for another time but job doesn’t ever get any answers? Right? I mean, we know more about Job’s situation than job does because right? Job one and two. And so at the end of it, what does he get? He just gets God, he just gets that God is there, that he is good that he is sovereign, that he’s powerful. And so he could be, you know, a person could be struggling to problem evil and just have all kinds of reasonably that God’s there and the end, we’re gonna, like, we’re kind of good struggle with it, wrestle through it. But but but first and foremost, hang on, don’t don’t jump ship, only because you have doubts. Right? Only because, okay. But then you know what i might as a little slogan need to, but this is a Dallas Willard, claim that we want to doubt our doubts. So let that pressure off, you know, give yourself a break, take a deep breath. But now you want to investigate, and you want to doubt your doubts, because what I have found is that, and again, it’s not always knockdown drag out where I just, you know, you know, don’t have any follow up questions. But I have found that Christianity has the resources to answer all of our deepest questions I really have. I mean, and that’s just my as honestly, as I can look at these questions. Right, I find the Christian answers to just be incredibly compelling. As, again, as honestly, as I’m sure I’m biased in that, but it’s what I really do find myself intellectually satisfied. And again, I do this for a limit living. So I, I take my take it that I’ve looked at the hardest. And I’m kind of like, again, I get paid for it. So I’m looking for the hardest questions out there. And again, it’s not to say that we always have this knockdown drag out answer, but I do think that we have satisfying answers. And so look into it. I’ve had students come to my office, like, deeply struggling with doubt. And doubt can kind of make us feel like we’ve stumbled on a smoking gun. It’s like, oh, no, I just found the hole in Christianity or something, it makes us feel that way. And I’ve had students come my office, and we say, well, actually, even you know, St. Augustine, saw that, you know, that, you know, not to minimize it again. But just to say, like, there is such a rich tradition. And we’re in the, you know, some have said, the golden age of apologetics where we’ve got the highest level apologetics that’ll, you know, blow the back of your head off kind of thing, trying to, you know, understand all the way down to like kids books, walking you through, and everything in between. And so, so doubt, your doubts, investigate it. And just a couple of tips real quick is one, take it one step at a time, don’t try to get it all solved right here right now. Because again, you don’t need to, because faith is consistent with having some doubts. Two, do it in community as much as you can. And again, that’s, that’s probably one of the harder pieces for somebody that’s in ministry, because you need to be careful about who you kind of let into those really deep struggles in some ways, or at least that’s how we feel. But find community and I say that, that community community is pretty broad. So it could be ideally, you have somebody who’s further down the path than you are that that has wrestled with some of those same questions and can kind of lead that that’s ideal, and you do it, you know, over coffee or a meal and over a long period of time. But a lot of us again, we just don’t have that available to us. So, again, the books, we’ve got just so much so many resources out there, and so on. I think of that as community too. And I’m sure you know, the ministry here and this podcast, and just so many resources out there that I think avail yourself of those resources and do it as much as you can with others, because that really kind of deflates kind of our tunnel vision, you know, tendencies when we, when we confront questions like that.
Yeah, that’s super helpful, Travis. And, I mean, I just appreciate the fact that you’re wrestling with these these big questions, and you’re willing to kind of let us in on, you know, kind of the things that you’re exploring, and it is an encouragement, you know, because as we all find our place in the kingdom, as we have different ministry responsibilities, that we can have kind of a sense of community and wrestle through these questions together. And like you said, sometimes it might be hard. Because you, you know, feel pressured, that you can’t let people know you’re asking these questions. And that’s why, you know, as you said, there are other opportunities or ministries, we have coaches that would be happy to, you know, walk through people in these, these, as they’re wrestling with these big questions. But, Travis, I certainly appreciate you making the time. If people want to connect more with you, some of the different ministry that you’re doing, the questions that you’re exploring, your books, those types of things, what’s the best way for them to do that, Travis?
Yeah, my website would be best. And that’s just my first and last name with the.com. So TravisDickinson.com. And yeah, I do a newsletter. And I actually have a free book that’s available if people sign up for the newsletter. And then blogging from time to time, I should be doing more but, But yeah, that’s really what it is. I mean, this project was one of me, and again, I’m a hundred, I really am confident in my Christian beliefs, but it’s, it’s the journey to get there. It’s very personal for me. And so yeah, anyway, so that’s the website. And then yeah, the books and things.
Yeah, awesome, brother. And for those of you who are watching along, listening along, we will have links to Travis’s website, links to his book, Wandering Toward God, his other things at, it will all be in the toolkit for this episode, you can find that PastorServe.org/network. So we’ll have that all there for you. Travis, again, brother, thank you so much for making the time to hang out with us today. Thank you for for wrestling with those questions and for sharing kind of your insights from your journey. Certainly appreciate it.
You got it. Thanks for, Thanks for having me on. It’s been a blast.
All right. God bless you, brother. Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.
Shareable Social Graphics
Strengthen Your Church
Strengthening your church, for us, begins by serving you, the pastor!