Experiencing Emotional Valleys in Ministry : John Starke

Experiencing Emotional Valleys in Ministry - John Starke - 60 - FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

As pastors and ministry leaders, when we find ourselves experiencing emotional challenges, or seasons of wilderness, or even times of dark depression, how do we find rest in God and hear His voice? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by John Starke, lead pastor of Apostles Church Uptown in New York City, where he lives with his wife, Jenna, and their four children. John’s latest book is entitled, The Secret Place of Thunder. Together, John and Jason look at some of the temptations we have in ministry to find our value in the way that we perform before others. John also shares from his own experiences, how God moves, heals, and speaks in those dark and challenging times in our lives.

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!

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Additional Resource Links

www.apostlesuptown.nyc – Here is the website of John’s church, which serves as a comprehensive resource hub, providing abundant information, supplementary materials, and details on various ministries available. It offers a multitude of invaluable resources and additional offerings, ensuring a rich and rewarding experience for visitors.

The Secret Place of Thunder: Trading Our Need to Be Noticed for a Hidden Life with Christ – As John Starke shows in his book, our modern world has internalized the idea that the markers of having an admirable and successful life are primarily visible. It leads us to believe that a sense of self-worth and identity are metrics to be displayed. The performance of the self has become more important than the reality. We live as if the most important things about us are to be performed before others; that our deepest happiness will come from being who others think we ought to be.

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Key Insights and Concepts

  • Serving in ministry is challenging and requires dependence on God, rather than one’s own strength.
  • Pastors and ministry leaders are often ministering within other people’s pains, which can make it difficult to keep those pains from affecting their lives in unhealthy ways.
  • It is Jesus’ job, not those in ministry, to heal and relieve people of their pain. Pastors and ministry leaders’ serve by being present with them in their pains and struggles.
  • There needs to be a learned discipline of acknowledging emotions in difficult times, but also seeking God to learn what He is trying to say and do in this season.
  • It’s important to already have an established prayer life when entering a season in the wilderness.
  • In seasons of darkness, God is present, leading and guiding, even when it may not be felt.
  • Jesus cares more about what is done in private, not because He wants His people to be hidden, but because He cares more about the heart and motives behind public actions which are rooted in private time with Him.
  • It’s tempting for pastors and ministry leaders to act and speak from a desire for love and acceptance from others.
  • Who we are in Christ does not change based on ministry successes or failures.
  • Allowing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be an intentional part of scripture reading can have a profound impact on the understanding and application of the scripture.
  • It’s important to try and move away from a focus on efficiency and optimization and learn to go at the pace Jesus is working, even when it feels unproductive, because that is where freedom is found.

Questions for Reflection

  • What difficult season have I gone through where I have felt like I was in the wilderness spiritually?
  • When have I noticed the pains and wounds of others beginning to affect my own walk with the Lord? Is that something I need to be paying more attention to?
  • Do I find it difficult to just be present with those in pain around me rather than trying to relieve the pain? How can I be more present and less prone to attempt to do what only God can?
  • When going through a challenging season, how do I handle my emotions and how quick am I to reach out to God for direction and guidance?
  • How would I describe my current prayer life? Do I feel that it is established enough to help me through a long season in the wilderness?
  • Where is my heart when it comes to private time with God and my public actions in ministry? 
  • When have I had times in ministry where my actions or preaching were driven by a need to be accepted and loved by people rather than out of love and desire to serve God? How can I prevent myself from becoming caught up in a need for acceptance and affirmation from others?
  • What ministry successes or failures have I allowed to identify me? How can I stay focused on my identity in Christ, rather than my ministry successes or failures?
  • How can I be more intentional about letting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit guide my Scripture reading and prayer time?
  •  Where have I noticed myself push to be more productive and efficient in ministry rather than let the Lord set the pace? What practical ways can I learn to go at the pace of Jesus?

Full-Text Transcript

As pastors and ministry leaders, when we find ourselves experiencing emotional challenges, or seasons of wilderness, or even times of dark depression, how do we find rest in God and hear His voice?

Jason Daye 
In this episode, I’m joined by John Starke, lead pastor of Apostles Church Uptown in New York City, where he lives with his wife, Jenna, and their four children. John’s latest book is entitled, The Secret Place of Thunder. Together, John and I look at some of the temptations we have in ministry to find our value in the way that we perform before others. John also shares from his own experiences, how God moves, heals, and speaks in those dark and challenging times in our lives. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye 
Hello, friends, and welcome to another insightful episode of FrontStage BackStage. I am your host, Jason Daye. And it’s my privilege every week to sit down with a trusted ministry leader and dive into a conversation all in an effort to help you, and pastors and ministry leaders just like you, embrace a healthy sustainable rhythm for both life and ministry. We are proud to be a part of the Pastor Serve Network. And along with this episode, we create, every single week a guide, a toolkit, actually, to help you and ministry leaders in your local church dig more deeply into the conversation we have. So you can find that at PastorServe.org/network. We encourage you guys to avail yourself of that resource. And there you will also find a growth guide for ministry leaders, questions and reflection, and all kinds of great resources. So be sure to check that out at PastorServe.org/network. And then, our team is always here to serve pastors and ministry leaders and we are offering a complimentary coaching session. You can find out more details about that at PastorServe.org/freesession. Now if you’re joining us on YouTube, welcome. Please give us a thumbs up. And be sure to drop your name and the name of your church in the comments below. Our team will be praying for you and for your ministry. We love to get to know our audience better. And whether you’re following us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please take a moment to follow or to subscribe so you do not miss out on any of these great conversations. And I’m excited about today’s conversation. At this time, I would like to welcome John Starke to FrontStage BackStage, John, welcome!

John Starke 
Oh, thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, such a great opportunity for us to kind of hang out and to hear from your heart. As a pastor, as a minister, you’ve recently written a book, released a new book, The Secret Place of Thunder, and in that you share a lot about your own story, kind of a bit of your own journey and really helping us kind of grasp and understand, what does it mean for us to grow and to kind of resonate with Christ in the hidden place of life. Which often goes against what we see primarily in our culture and the world in which we live. And especially when it comes to ministry and our role as pastors. Now, John, you share in this book that you experienced a wilderness time, you said it was a period of about 18 months where your emotional life took, as you said, a deep dive into dark depression. And, John, as you reflect back on that time, what do you think actually brought you to that place?

John Starke 
Oh, well, there’s a part of me that wants to say, I wish I knew. But then I think there’s some discernment. There was a season, I’m sure every pastor who’s been in it long enough has experienced some sort of relational conflict, some opportunity in those situations, to feel misheard, to be unfairly slandered. Or maybe even if it gets really bad, which is something close to what I experienced of a sort of losing your reputation among friends that I didn’t want to lose my reputation with, or community that I wanted to keep that with. And so I think there was just this element of desiring really badly to defend myself or to make something right that felt wrong, but not having really the capacity or the ability to do that. At the same time, you know, I was I think 36, 37 and I felt a number of just, I don’t know, ordinary middle-life physiological things as well. And it just feels awkward even talking about that. But I do think there’s just that part of life where I was asking some pretty serious questions about myself. And yeah, just sort of caught me off guard. I don’t think I had previously experienced much emotional or spiritual darkness. But even since then, which was about six years ago now. It’s a fairly… it hasn’t been 18 months long, but it’s something that I kind of have to pay attention to now. And so probably something close to or something around physiological reasons, and circumstantial, just kind of had their way with me at a certain time.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I think we all could appreciate that. Those of us in ministry. Because ministry isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t something that we enter in, and it’s all just rainbows and unicorns, and we recognize that. And because we have such a deep concern and care for others, it seems only multiply that, you know, that pain almost that occurs whenever there is a break in relationship, right?

John Starke 
Yeah, I think, since then, what I’ve noticed is, because pastoral ministry is a regular occurrence of putting yourself in the way of other people’s pain and wounds, it’s hard not to sometimes embody it. Even though you’re not going through that circumstance. That it’s just sort of an ordinary thing that I think if you’re not paying attention to how much you’re embodying those wounds, and that’s part of it, that’s our job is to be present to them. It’s not our job to relieve people of everything that they’re going through. That’s only Jesus’s work and The Spirit’s. But I think sometimes that can get kind of messy within our own hearts, and we can begin to walk in a darkness that feels foreign to us, that feels alien, but still very real.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, John, you mentioned there that this is something that we have to pay attention to. It’s something that you have had to pay attention to and notice, since going through this. What does that look like? That paying attention to this, noticing this?

John Starke 
Yeah, I mean, I was just sitting with a young man who lost a job opportunity and had built, I think, a lot of his life expectations around these opportunities. And it was sort of a swing and miss, he’s having to move back to where he came from because it didn’t work out. And I told him, I said, Well, you know, after this season of kind of making sense of the disappointment, and maybe even praying angry prayers to God, maybe even praying some of the angry Psalms. At some point, there has to be some capacity on the other side, to wonder, What is God doing? Why is he doing this? What does he have for me? What is he preparing for me on the other side of this disappointment? And I think, in some ways, it’s similar where the darkness is, in some way, where you can indulge in it, lose yourself in it, or numb yourself in it. The path, I think, that Jesus calls us to in spiritual depression, which is I think what the Psalms try to do, is both pay attention to our emotions to not ignore that, but also pay attention to what God might be saying and doing in this season. And that’s, I think, a discipline, not an easy thing. It’s a discipline. But in some ways, sitting with your emotions, with the Scriptures open and trying to listen to what God might be saying, sometimes, if that emotional darkness is long, it can feel like he’s saying nothing and just sort of like a wilderness. But thanks be to God if you open the Bible, and you know it, you know there are lots of ways in which the Bible makes sense of wilderness seasons and so I think that’s a huge gift for us.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I love that. I love that you talked about it as a discipline because it is easy for us as humans to just kind of sit in the emotion and allow the waves of that emotion to just kind of crash over us. And like you said, even numb ourselves and find other ways to numb ourselves to those emotions, which can be unhealthy. But you, John, you shared this in the book, you did have experiences during that time, that initial period where you were seeking God in the midst of the wilderness. Which again, as you mentioned, we have lots of examples in scripture of that experience. And I’d love for you to share with us a little bit, John, about how did God meet you in the midst of that wilderness?

John Starke 
Yeah, I share a little story about how God didn’t cure my depression. But He’s sort of put a witness in the wilderness for me. And I think it might be helpful in some ways to set up the story. In a season of depression, if you kind of think about it as a wilderness, I think you have to remember, if you go into the wilderness with no resources, you’re going to start reaching for dangerous things. So you need to come prepared – food, water, shade, clothing. And it’s the same thing spiritually, you don’t know when spiritual darkness comes. And I think for pastors, it can kind of surprise us because we’re supposed to be put together. And this feels like weakness, not strength. But I do think if, if we go into the wilderness with no resources, and what I mean by that is maybe not already having an ordinary prayer life. Nothing spectacular, nothing amazing. I think just a normal, ordinary, regular prayer life, where you’re trying to remember God in His presence and listening to the Word of Christ by the power of the Spirit. I think because that was sort of ordinary normal in that spiritual darkness for however long it took, I think I had some resources available to me that I could reach for. Didn’t cure me. Didn’t make things easier. But it did allow for a kind of strength from outside me. So there was one time, it was October 2016. And I was reading the Psalms, Psalm 81. And the passage where the Lord says to Israel, I called you out of Egypt, I delivered you, I heard your cry in the secret place of thunder. So that’s where I get the title of the book, is Psalm 81. I heard you from the secret place of thunder. And he calls them to resist idols. And he says, if you would just open your mouth wide I would fill it. And I don’t know why that phrase just stuck out. It’s different. It felt fresh for me. Open my mouth wide. Now, I still don’t know if I know how to explain fully what the psalmist is saying there. Nevertheless, it was a kind of imagery and it described a desire that I just really longed for. And I just said to the Lord, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, but I do want you to fill it. And when I open my mouth, I want You to fill it. And in that moment, you know, I didn’t hear a voice. But there was an experience of the Lord coming down and giving me a sense of His presence. And reflecting on that story since, it felt like maybe, you know, I know I’m with the Father but there are moments, I think, where He maybe picks you up and holds you a little bit closer, you feel a little bit closer. Sort of like you know, when you’re walking with your father and he picks you up and you feel a closeness that maybe you didn’t feel walking next to him. Spiritually speaking, whatever that means spiritually, since that and trying to just make sense of it since then, I don’t know if I have words for it. But I didn’t want the experience to stop whatever it was, I just didn’t want to move, maybe I would mess up whatever the Lord is doing. And, as I say in the book, I don’t think it fixed me. I was still struggling for probably another four or five months. But it gave me a kind of witness in the wilderness to remember that Christ is with me even in the darkness. Which has allowed me to look back in seasons of discouragement or frailty, weakness, limitation, suffering or even depression again, to remember that story. And you know, that might not be everyone’s story. But, we’re always meant to be encouraged by other people’s experiences of the Lord as well. So insofar as that can be an encouragement and a witness that God really does give us His presence, even if it might not be a felt presence. He’s present with us, leading us and guiding us. And that meant a lot to me in that season.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I love that. John. I appreciate you sharing that story, both in the book and here. And one of the things I appreciate when I was reading is that, whenever you made a statement, what you just shared now, that experience didn’t somehow miraculously clear up everything and you’re just rescued out of what you’re experiencing. But it was a significant moment for you in the midst of it and it did continue to take time. And I think that’s so important for us to remember. And the crazy thing is, as pastors and ministry leaders, we often share this with people we’re ministering alongside of, right? But it’s really hard for us to share it with ourselves sometimes that this idea that this journey, you know, that we are on this journey with Christ. And that this is an ongoing experience and Christ cares more about us than we could have even imagined and just the beauty of that and just the way you’ve expressed that. I think one of the things that really has stood out to me about the experience that came out of that for you, you talk about the fact that our culture, our society is very skeptical of hidden virtue. That we live in a society where public declarations and letting people know that we’ve achieved this, or we’ve accomplished this, or we’ve got this together, this is the world in which we live. I mean, that’s kind of what people are looking for. That’s why social media is so prevalent, right? Because it’s the highlight reels of all of our lives and those things. And so we talked about this idea of performance, you share about this idea of performance. One of the challenges, I think, for us as pastors and ministry leaders, is that the idea of this temptation, I guess, for us to strive and demonstrate our spirituality in public ways, is so prevalent. And some would even argue, John, that this is kind of part of what it means to be a pastor. We are leading by example, we’ve got to set the pace in some ways. So how do we, as we look at that tension of how Christ works in us in the hidden places with the performance of spirituality as a pastor or as a ministry leader? Because that’s one of the things that you came out of this experience, that’s what you write about in the book is, you know, these things that begin to identify about this pressure for performance versus what Christ wants to do in us. So talk to us a little bit, how do we navigate that as pastors and ministry leaders, you know, that tension between the two?

John Starke 
Yeah, I mean Jesus identifies the certain this tension in the Sermon on the Mount, where He seems to contradict himself. Where He says in Matthew 6, don’t perform your righteousness before others, whether it’s giving alms, fasting, or praying, so that others might see you. Instead, practice those things in secret, so that only the Father sees and rewards. So there’s this kind of encouragement towards a secret life with the Father that the most important thing about you is not what you do in public, but actually what you do in private. Not what you can display, which is what the world teaches us, right? The most important thing about us is what you can put on display. But Jesus says, actually the most important thing about you, not the only thing about you, but the most important thing about you is what you can do in secret with the Father. But then he seems to contradict himself by saying, don’t hide your light, right? You’re not light under a bushel, you’re a city on a hill, let people see your good work so that they can glorify the Father in heaven. And it’s the same sermon. So either he is really confused or there’s something deeper going on. And I think that what’s deeper going on, is that Jesus does care about your public life. He doesn’t want you to be a hermit, He wants you to go to the ends of the earth with His message of the gospel. Nevertheless, it can’t be driven primarily by your outward desires to be seen, and to be loved. It has to be driven by a secret life with the Father, where you hear His voice, you hear that reward, you’re my beloved Son, you’re my beloved daughter in whom I’m well pleased. It’s out of that ability to receive that in that quiet secret place, the hidden place with Christ. That’s going to drive you to do public things, but to do those public things, not with a motivation to be seen and be loved. And because the point of that, the end goal of doing your works in public is so that your Father might be glorified, the end is the Father may be glorified. So there has to be some sort of spiritual dynamic, some sort of power and strength that’s driving you not to be seen and that’s the end. So that I’m seen and loved. Because that’s a reward that Jesus says it’s just not worth it. But that somehow has to be living and ministering outwardly in a way that you become just like a window for people to see the Father. A reflection, a signpost, right? If you’re on the way to a town, and you see the sign that says to Milwaukee, well, you’re not arrived. You’ve come to the sign, you keep going. And in some ways, we’re meant to be that sign. This isn’t the arrival, we’re not the arrival of the Father in heaven. And His glory is the arrival. And we’re meant to be that signpost to, this way to the Father’s glory, not here, this way. And that seems to be a really important dynamic is, that’s got to be the motivation. And the only way that you can have that to be your primary motivation, not to be seen, but to point others to the Father, is that you hear from the Father, His love, and His acceptance, and His rewards that He has for you, rather than the reward of being seen admired by others. Does that make sense?

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that does, John. And I’d like to push in just a little more on that. So practically speaking, because the danger is, as we’re serving in ministry, it feels good to hear compliments. It feels good to hear that we’ve helped someone, right? And then we feel like, oh, we are fulfilling our calling, right? You know what I mean? But there is that piece of it, which we can get a little sucked into. And we see that this can be very, very damaging. There’s example, after example, after example, of ministry leaders who have got really kind of sucked into that. And then you’re valuing, your worth, your identity really isn’t tied up in Christ. Rather, it’s tied up in, back to the performance piece of it, right? Like, how are others receiving me? How are others saying, Hey, thank you, pat me on the back. So help us, John. How do we help guard ourselves against getting sucked into that? I mean, what are some practical things that, as pastors and ministry leaders, things that you’ve experienced in your own life, or seen in other ministry leader’s lives that can help us? Because this is a growing problem, I think, because of the culture in which we live. And so what are some of those things that we can lean into you think?

John Starke 
Well, it’s interesting you say that because I think in my own story, so we’ve been here in New York for 12 years, and there was probably a pretty hard reckoning the first three or four years. I think there are parts of my life and parts of my story that shaped and formulated and drove me to be a person that when I walked into certain rooms, I wondered, do I belong here? Do people want me here? Am I desired? And that shaped I think, one of the rooms that I would walk into is Sunday morning. And that would be in my preaching. So I might be preaching the text, and I’m preaching what the text means. But the subtext of my sermons seem to always be something like, Do you think I’m smart? Do you think I’m relevant? Do you think I’m intelligent? Do you like me? Do you love me? And What I came to realize is that is incredibly difficult. It’s an incredibly different context to love someone, when you’re trying to receive and make sure you’re getting the love back. So if you’re ministering in a way that is constantly, don’t you think I’m doing well? Whether it’s counseling, discipleship, gotta make sure I’m saying the right thing and the clever thing, or quoting the right authors, or I’m making the right illustrations. And if that’s the subtext, where I’m constantly driving and reaching, it’s really difficult to love people. And people might not be able to discernibly express and say, that’s what’s happening, but they feel it. And there’s just a few opportunities early on that confronted me with that. And I had to recognize, and I remember preaching and I talked about this story in the book of where the disciples are having a problem casting out a demon. And Jesus comes and says, Well, you know, there’s reasons why for this. But for them, it was just an embarrassing thing. We’ve got all of this power, all the strength. And you’ve been telling us to do all these things, and we failed miserably. And everyone’s kind of disgusted with him, like your disciples can’t do it. And I just wonder if that was sort of a internalized picture of themselves. Because later, they go on a mission, they’re sent out on a mission and they come back for Jesus. And Jesus says, how’d it go and like, it was amazing. And the one thing that they pointed out, the most important thing they pointed out was the demons obeyed our word, they were cast out when we cast them out. And I think that was important to them, the one failure that they seem to have kind of ringing in their ear, they were successful. And Jesus said that, you know, that famous line. Remember, it doesn’t matter whether the demons obey your words, remember that your name is written in heaven. And there is just a lesson for me in that. I remember preparing a sermon in that passage. And this was just an insight for me that Jesus was saying to their disciples, you weren’t who you thought you were when you had the biggest ministry failure. And you aren’t who you think you are in this ministry success. Your name is written in heaven, that’s who you are. You’re in Christ, you’re in me, I am sharing my inheritance with you, as the rest of the New Testament will end up telling us. And I had to learn how to let God contradict my grasp and understanding of who I thought I was. Whether it’s I was killing it in ministry, or I seem to be just swinging and missing and never landing a punch. I had to learn, and I can talk about that if you want, but just I had to learn how to hear a different narrative about myself. And I think that’s become a really important part of my public ministry. Does that make sense?

Jason Daye 
Yeah, John. So tell us, how did you learn that? What was that process?

John Starke 
Well, and I use this a lot now in pastoral counseling because it’s been a huge part of my story. So if you listen to how I just explained what I was experiencing, you know, just walking into a room and trying to hear, Am I smart enough? Do you think I’m relevant? Do you love me? Behind that’s a lot of shame. And I think that’s probably you know, fear, guilt and shame, are ordinary things that keep us from resisting the truth of the gospel. And I think with the performative life, shame is just a kind of nagging lie that sticks in the ribs of our hearts. And it keeps us from trusting and hearing what God might say. And so just an older Christian, he was walking me through some of these things and one way in which he kind of helped me think through, and he told me to kind of develop it and make it fit yourself. And what he did is, just imagine that God is sitting next to you while you’re reading the scriptures, because He is. And if you’re let’s say you’re reading the story of the Samaritan woman. What would God want you to remember from this passage? What would He wants you to see? What would He want you to know? Now, that was really helpful. But what has been, I think, a game changer for me and maybe it’ll work for other people too, as well. Maybe it would be helpful, is that I begin to think, Okay, what if the Father, God, the Father, who’s the father of the prodigal son, and the older brother, who receives them both? What would he want me to remember as an adopted son? What would he want you to think about? What truths in that story, whether it’s the Samaritan woman or any of the stories in the gospels or anywhere? What would He want you to know? And then I would just maybe write a few notes, write down what that might be. Then sit with Jesus, the Son of God, my mediator, my advocate, my co-heir. If He’s the one who shares all things with me, what would He want me to remember from this passage? What would He want me to know? And then the Spirit, who’s my counselor, comforter. What is He wanting you to see? How would He contradict you? How would he want you to rethink, what promises would He point you to? And because that’s such a personal thing, not just some vague picture of God, it’s the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, who are very clear individuals, persons of the Trinity. What are they wanting me to hear and know and see? And that was and has been a practice that has spoken to me in very surgical ways, not just like a shotgun approach, but just very surgical. And it was able to apply, just even allowing God to contradict me has been a really helpful practice in sort of rethinking how I’m thinking about myself. Does that make sense?

Jason Daye 
Yeah. So John, in that, the Spirit is contradicting maybe some of the thoughts or feelings of shame, or guilt that we’re carrying. As we’re reading that story, we’re identifying the shame pieces, like the enemy loves to whisper in our ear, right? So you’re saying that the Spirit is contradicting those and saying, oh, let’s peel that back. This isn’t here to shame you or to guilt you. Because it’s helped redirect you and point you to the love of Christ, right?

John Starke 
Yeah. Because if it’s true that the Spirit helps me pray when I don’t know how to, and that is more often than we think. I think if we’re seeking that help in that moment, okay, Father, Son, Spirit, help me to think about this. Help me to pray the way I ought to be praying. I think He’ll be faithful in doing that. And I think that practice, the more I do it, you kind of get more passages in the Bible come up. More promises, more truths just sort of come in and begin to pile on. And it really does, at least it’s helped me be more equipped with being able to both preach and contradict my own impulses to think about myself or other people or God in those moments.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s good. It’s beautiful, John, that’s awesome. I love it. Thank you. Man, I’ve loved our conversation. Thank you for your transparency. Thank you for letting us peek into your heart and your mind and your journey. I think that, I know that as you’ve been sharing I’m resonating with what you’re sharing. I’m sure everyone in ministry is, you know, we walk similar paths in so many ways and we have similar struggles and that struggle for performance, that is a huge part. And something that we can guard ourselves against, so thank you for that. John, if people would love to connect with you, learn more about your ministry, your books, those types of things, what’s the best way they could do that?

Jason Daye 
Books I guess just amazon.com. But yeah, I’m a pastor here at Apostle Church Uptown. We have sermons and things here, whatever might be helpful. Yeah, that might be it.

Jason Daye 
Excellent, love that, John. That’s perfect. And John, as we’re closing down, I want to give you just an opportunity if you want to share some words with your brothers and sisters who are labouring, co-laborers in the Gospel, just some words of encouragement as we kind of close down our conversation today.

John Starke 
Yeah, I would say that the encouragement of the world, even for ministers, or maybe even oftentimes the church world, has been to run and optimize your life and to be as effective and hardworking and efficient as you can be. And oftentimes, that’s contradicted the ordinary encouragement of Jesus to just abide. Abiding and optimizing just sometimes seem to contradict. So I know for many of us, we’re trying to get through the week, and get through the month, and have everything planned to be two or three sermons ahead, or have that study ahead of time, or optimize every meeting. You know, for some of us who deal with darkness and shame and depression, it’s hard to optimize out of depression, it’s hard to optimize through shame, it just doesn’t work. And sitting with people who are suffering, if you are an optimizer and efficiency is the engine which drives you, man, it’s gonna be hard to sit with suffering people. So I would encourage you, as much as you can, to press into those inefficient, unproductive times with Jesus, who’s shaping you into someone who works at His pace, and His time, with His energy and His power. Because efficiency and optimization oftentimes come from the power of the flesh. And that will grind you to dust. As much as it wants to keep us getting more things done, it’s gonna grind you down. But, running at His pace with His power gives you a lot of freedom. And I hope we can maybe push ourselves towards that end rather than push ourselves towards optimizing.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I love that brother. That’s a great word. Thank you, John, for making time to hang out with us on FrontStage BackStage. Appreciate your heart. Appreciate just what you’ve shared in our conversation today and the encouragement you’ve brought. So thank you for being with us.

John Starke 
It was a huge pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Jason Daye 
All right. God bless you, brother. Take care.

Jason Daye
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.

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