Healthy Ministry: Building Character before Building Platforms – Derwin Gray

Healthy Ministry: Building Character before Building Platforms - Derwin Gray - 25 FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

As ministry leaders, we can often focus on building a platform and making the biggest impact possible without first and continuously, allowing Jesus to establish value and build character in our own lives. In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Dr. Derwin Gray, founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church, just south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Together, Derwin and Jason look at the priorities and the values that Jesus wants to establish in your life. And then Derwin gives a backstage peek into the spiritual disciplines that he finds most vital in helping sustain a thriving life and ministry.

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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Audio Links

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Additional Resource Links

God, Do You Hear Me? by Derwin Gray – Derwin guides you in learning and living the prayer that God always answers, The Lord’s Prayer – Derwin’s website where you will find free ministry resources, updates on new books he is releasing, sermon podcast, and more

Transformation Church – The church in Indian Land, South Carolina, that Derwin and Vicki Gray planted

Connect with Derwin Gray – Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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Key Insights and Concepts

  • It is important to remain prayerful and allow the Holy Spirit to help you recognize what is going on in your church, ministry, staff relationships, etc
  • Inspect what you expect
  • Culture is a set of behaviors that help you not just survive, but actually thrive, individually and corporately
  • Make sure the culture of your church is not just on paper, but embodied in your people’s hearts
  • Culture must be taught, it must be trained, but most importantly, it must be lived
  • Do not ignore the red flags. Confront those red flags in humility and love.
  • What you value most matters. Value God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, above all else.
  • Before you are a pastor or leader or spouse or parent, you are God’s beloved
  • Pastoring is what you do, it is not who you are. Your identity is found in Christ.
  • Sometimes we try to use our ministry to heal our trauma. This is dangerous. We need to keep giving Jesus our past, our trauma, but not expect our ministry service to heal us.
  • Do not allow ministry for Jesus to destroy the ministry of Jesus in you
  • Sabbath – When you sabbath you are saying to God that the world is good in His hands. God invites you to participate in His mission, but he does not need you. We must not take ourselves too seriously.
  • Scripture – Do not go to Scripture simply for sermons or just to learn. Scripture is a love letter from the Father to us, through the Son and the Holy Spirit. Spend time enjoying God’s Word apart from our ministry work.
  • Prayer – Prayer must become a regular rhythm in your life. Prayer should be the oxygen for your soul, not merely an escape hatch when things are challenging.
  • Fasting – Fasting is not to get God to move faster. We fast because our hunger pains remind us of our constant need of the Bread of Life.
  • Silence and Solitude – We are inundated with information all of the time. Make the time to relieve your mind of the onslaught of information so you can better hear and know God.
  • Community – Many ministry leaders sequester themselves from real friendships. Do not isolate yourself from others, but live in healthy relationships where you can safely share your life with others.
  • Spend time with wiser, more experienced Christians – Allow others to pour into your life and seek the wisdom of the living saints around us
  • Pour into younger Christians – As a relational practice of biblical community, disciple and mentor younger believers. Not merely as a ministry task, but as a part of God’s family.
  • Marriage and Family – If you are married, your spouse is second only to Jesus. Your spouse should not feel like you are having an affair with ministry, or like you are giving your best energy to your staff and local church. Give your family your best, not your leftovers.
  • As a pastor, your greatest gift to your local church is not your preaching and leadership gifts. It is your holiness in Christ.
  • Jesus is your armor. He does the fighting for you. So many are getting slaughtered because we’re walking out and trying to play the game without the armor.
  • Be careful about presenting an image on social media that is not accurately you. There should not be a gap between who you really are and what you are presenting. The wider that gap is, the deeper the falls are going to be when you can no longer keep up the mirage.
  • Do not focus on building platforms. Let God build your character, your righteousness. Live into what God has for you and trust Him with whatever that is.

Questions for Reflection

  • Am I inspecting what I am expecting? How is what I am expecting from our church, our ministries, our staff, etc, looking?
  • How are we training, teaching, and living the culture of our church?
  • Are there any red flags in our local church ministry? Have I been avoiding confronting any red flags? How can I confront them prayerfully, in humility and love?
  • What do I truly value the most? How does that impact everything I do? Do I need to get back to my first love? If so, what will I do?
  • Is my identity wrapped up too much in my role as pastor? Why or why not? Are there changes I need to make?
  • Do I find myself going to ministry as a way to soothe my hurts? What might that look like?
  • Am I letting ministry for Jesus impede the ministry of Jesus in me?
  • How am I practicing the following?
    • Sabbath
    • Scripture
    • Prayer
    • Fasting
    • Silence and Solitude
    • Community
  • Who is a wiser, more experienced Christ-follower that I allow to speak into my life? If I do not have this person active in my life right now, who can I talk to about being that person?
  • Who is a younger Christ-follower that I am discipling?
  • If married, how am I giving my spouse and family my best? Do I need to make changes in how I am approaching ministry to the church versus ministry to my family? If so, what?
  • Do I really recognize that the best gift I can give my local church is my holiness in Christ, not my skills in leading, preaching, teaching, etc? What does that mean for me?
  • Do I have a wartime mindset? Am I consistently putting on the armor of God and allowing Jesus to fight my battles? What changes do I need to make in this area?
  • Is there a gap between what I present on social media and what my life truly is? If so, how can I decrease that gap in a healthy way?
  • Am I trusting God to build me into the ministry leader he desires me to become? Am I investing too much energy into building my own platform and influence? Are there any changes I need to make here?

Full-Text Transcript

As ministry leaders, we can often focus on building a platform and making the biggest impact possible without first and continuously, allowing Jesus to establish value and build character in our own lives.

Jason Daye 
In this episode, I’m joined by Dr. Derwin Gray, founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church, just south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Together, Derwin and I look at the priorities and the values that Jesus wants to establish in your life. And then Derwin gives us a backstage peek into the spiritual disciplines that he finds most vital in helping sustain a thriving life and ministry. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye 
Hello, friends, it’s Jason Daye bringing you another fantastic episode of FrontStage BackStage. Every single week I have the opportunity and the privilege to sit down with a trusted ministry leader. And we tackle a topic to help pastors and ministry leaders just like you embrace a healthy rhythm, sustainable rhythm in both life and ministry. We’re super excited for today. We are proud to be a part of the PastorServe network. And every single week, along with the conversation that we have, we create an entire toolkit for you and your leadership team to work through so you can dig more deeply into the conversation. And you can find that at Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, Hello, good to see you. Please take a moment to give us a thumbs up and drop your name and the name of your church in the comments below so that we can be praying for you and your ministry. And whether you’re joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to subscribe and follow so you do not miss out on any of these fantastic conversations. And as I said, I’m very excited about today’s conversation, because I am joined by Dr. Derwin Gray. So Derwin, welcome to FrontStage BackStage.

Derwin Gray 
Hey, thanks for having me so much. It’s an honor and privilege to be with you and to be with my brothers and sisters that are that are tuning in.

Jason Daye 
Amen, brother. Now Derwin, many have likely heard your story, but not everyone knows the latest things that God is doing through Transformation Church. And so if you could just give us a quick snapshot of of Derwin and Vicki launching Transformation Church and where God has taken the ministry and what’s the latest really that you’re celebrating now?

Derwin Gray 
Yeah, so the quick snapshot is God in His sovereign humor decided to put a black kid from San Antonio, Texas at Brigham Young University, which is a predominantly white Mormon school, and a white girl from Darby, Montana, at BYU on a track team. I was on the football team, both of us were unbelievers. And God saw fit on January 15th 1990, which is Dr. King’s birthday, for us to connect. And we’ve been together ever since. So it’s ironic that we now lead a multiethnic church that reflects Dr. King’s dream. But no disrespect to Dr. King, we have planted an intentionally multiethnic church because it’s the King of Kings’ dream that we see in the eschatological future in the new heaven and new earth resurrected glorified bodies, every nation, tribe and tongue adoring and worshipping Jesus. So that’s our future. And in the past, God made a covenant with Abraham that I’m going to give you a family made up of all the families and we want to live that in the present. Because the work of Jesus is not simply He forgives our sins, but it gives us a family with different colored skins also. And as his family loves each other, the world will know we are his disciples. And as we’re unified the world will know that the Father sent Him. So what I’m currently excited about is since the pandemic, we opened up a grocery store because the Indian Land Public Schools asked us during the pandemic, will you help feed our children? And the reason why they asked that is because the previous 10 years that we made several 100,000 backpacks. Every Friday we filled backpacks with nutritious food for kids so they knew that we were reliable. So as a result of that we opened up what’s called the Hope Dealers market which is a free grocery store. We serve 500 families per month. 9000 pounds of fresh food and produce. We’ve seen 1000s upon 1000s of people come to faith. I’m excited about our spiritual formation, our discipleship. I’m also excited about our staff, I would say for the first 10 years of Transformation Church, it was almost like Camelot, everything was just going perfect. And we hit some turbulence where we had to make some critical decisions, because of some things that were not healthy, they were toxic. And I’m just grateful for how our staff responded, I’m grateful for the lessons that I’ve learned as a shepherd and as a leader. I’m grateful for our culture. The most important spiritual formation that Transformation Church has to have happen is in me first, and then our staff, because our staff are the ones who are going to be pouring into the congregation as I pour into our staff. And so I’m really excited about that. I’m also very hopeful about people that I’m finding that don’t want a Jesus with a donkey head or an elephant head. And what I mean by that is, they want the Lamb of God who transcends these divisive politics, and I’m excited that our people are understanding that for the 2000 years of Christianity, the Republican Party and Democratic Party are new kids on the block. Most Christians, 99.99% of all Christians that have ever lived, are not Republican and are not Democrat. And so we want to free our people from the political idolatry that’s happening. I’m more concerned not how people vote, but why they vote? And how do they treat their brothers and sisters who vote differently? And then ultimately, how are we rolling up our sleeves to be a Sermon-on-the-Mount people through the Gospel of King Jesus? So that’s, that’s what I’m excited about.

Jason Daye 
That’s a lot to be excited about. And God’s done some great things through the ministry there at Transformation Church. Now, you did mention that you bumped into some turbulence. And there was some toxic things that you had to process through. Can you help us? Two questions on that, Derwin, first is, how did you begin to identify some of that turbulence? Because I think one of the kind of problems that we have in ministry is, sometimes we’re plugging along, plugging along, plugging along, and that toxicity might be bubbling up, but we may not catch it until, you know, pretty far down the road. And at that point, it gets kind of challenging. So how did you identify some of those challenges?

Derwin Gray 
You know, I think the first thing is, both my wife and I sensed something was wrong. Like, you could just feel it. And it’s one of these things that transcends categories. It was just in the spring time, we just, we were in the spring of 2020. We just were like, okay, something is wrong. I don’t know what it is, but something’s wrong. And or maybe Spring of 2021. I’m not for sure. But the but the premise is, as you’re prayerful, the Holy Spirit, lets you know. And then secondly, here’s something that I’ve learned, not everybody is going to do what I would do. So therefore, it’s important to inspect what you expect. An old police officer that’s a part of our church, he’s in his 70s. And he was sharing with me about leadership. And he said, you know, what’s, what’s important is whatever you expect, you have to inspect. So for me, I come from an NFL background, if I don’t do what I’m going to say, I get fired. And so my jobs in the past have required a great deal of accountability and self leadership. Not very many people are trained in that type of leadership, maybe in the military, maybe if you’re a doctor, maybe if you’re a lawyer, but a lot of times and I say this respectfully, a lot of times mediocrity is okay, but as a professional football player, paying attention to details being, do what you’re asked to do one time because if not, they’ll they’ll replace me. So I’ve learned now to make sure that I inspect what I expect. Number three, to make sure that culture and when I say culture, I mean, a set of behaviors that help you not just survive, but actually thrive individually, and corporately. To make sure culture is not just written on paper, but it’s embodied in people’s hearts. So it has to be taught, it has to be trained, and most importantly, it has to be lived. And then lastly, don’t ignore red flags. Do not ignore red flags, where there is smoke, there is fire. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Do not ignore the red flags. Confront those red flags in humility and love, always have witnesses, make sure you’re doing documentation. Because the reality is, the devil does more harm from inside of the church than outside of the church. And sometimes people that love Jesus can just allow the devil a crack. Maybe it’s I don’t feel like I am receiving what I need, maybe I’m not getting it, whatever it may be, the devil will get in and people whose hearts were good, can be hard. I mean, think of think of King David. I mean, King David had victory after victory after victory. And then all of a sudden, the Scripture says, In the springtime, when the king should be at war with his men. He’s being a peeping Tom. He’s using his positional power to take another man’s wife and to most likely rape her, she didn’t have a choice, you didn’t have an option, you don’t say no to the king. So how do you get to that point, the way you get to that point is, you allow the devil an opening. That’s why every opening, we must let the grace of God close. And then lastly, it’s important for… I already said, so this is my second lastly, it’s important for staff members to hold each other accountable. Because as the point leader, with a staff of nearly 50 people, I can’t be everywhere at all times, but the Holy Spirit is. We have to care more about God’s glory than people, that if someone is out of line and out of step with the gospel, and it’s toxic, you have to go get help. And that’s really, really important. So yeah, but God has been incredibly, incredibly gracious. He’s been incredibly kind. But it’s been beautiful to see, the people that God has brought. Our church now has never been more effective, and people are happy. There’s a lot of laughter and joy on our staff. And I’m, I’m super grateful.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s awesome. One of the things that you mentioned, Derwin, was that basically, it takes healthy leaders to really have a healthy, healthy church. Right? So it’s very important, you said for you and your staff to be really healthy in their relationship and your relationship with Christ. So talk to me a little bit, for you personally, what are some of the practices that are important to you that are, you know, no-brainers that, you know, you have to be engaged in, in order for you to be a healthy pastor to help lead a healthy church.

Derwin Gray 
Yeah. Jason, thank you for that question. That is that is a great question. Let me kick that question back, though. Before we get to the practice, we have to get to: what do I value? My values shape, my priorities, and my priorities shape my practices? So first and foremost, what I value most is Jesus. I value most is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Romans 12.1, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercies present yourselves as a living sacrifice. So my first value is the Father, the Son and the Spirit that that that God’s mercy, that I’m not a church leader, first. I’m not a pastor, first. I’m not an author, first, I’m not a husband, first. I’m not a father, first. I’m not a fisherman, first. First and foremost, I am a beloved in Christ Jesus, that Jesus is the sum total of everything I could ever hope to be. He is not only God the Son, but he is also the prototype of who I was created to be. And because of his mediation between the Father and me, I am now in him. And all that is true of Jesus, is true of me. His Holiness, his blamelessness, everything. And so I live from that posture of God’s mercy. So therefore, my priority is I’m a living sacrifice, I’m a living dead thing. That means that my flesh, my desires at times are not going to be what God wants. But therefore if I remember his mercy, I can be a living dead thing being transformed by the renewing of my mind. So before we get to practices what I would say to Christian vocational leaders is this, do you see your identity as being a pastor, or the beloved? Because they’re not one and the same. Pastoring is what I do. It’s not who I am. I can make disciples and join Jesus in a myriad of careers. So he’s gifted me this way, but my gift is not my identity. My identity is who I am in the Son. So So So that’s number one, right is is treasuring and valuing Jesus because of His mercy, His kindness, His grace. Number two, what we say at Transformation Church is this: the scene of the crime is your mind, the scene of the crime is your mind. And the reality is many of us get into vocational ministry, because God has done such a deep redemptive work in our lives. But let’s remember though, entering the kingdom of God happens in an instant, but growing into sons and daughters of the King takes a lifetime. And if we’re not careful, we will try to use ministry, to heal our trauma. And we need to continue to sit at Jesus’s feet and give Him our trauma, give him our past, give him our pain. That’s called sanctification. But what happens a lot of times, is you have gifted people and people “ah, you’re a great preacher. You’re great at this. You’re great at that.” And we think that the ministry is what’s healing us. I heard it once said this this way, do not allow ministry for Jesus to destroy the ministry of Jesus in you. And here’s what’s sad, Jason, is the person I heard say that utterly destroyed their church and ministry. They’re not even in ministry anymore. One of the most successful ministries over the last 50 years. And they ruined it, utterly ruined it… toxic leadership sexual immorality. Nonetheless, it’s, it’s, it’s very much true. So So those are kind of the internal things.

And so, a practice that I would say, particularly for high capacity leaders, is that is often missed is what is your Sabbath day? You know, so, most times, Friday is my day of Sabbath. Sabbath. Sabbath simply says this, Lord, the world is okay in your hands, and I can trust you. Sabbath is not a day to be bored. Sabbath is a day of delight. So guess what I do on my Sabbath? If the weather’s good, and sometimes if it’s bad, I go fishing, right? I go fishing because echoes of my grandmother and our time together is there. My grandmother gave me a love for fishing, we would go fishing as a little boy. I’d have these you know, high-tech fishing poles, and she just have a cane pole, and she’s pulling fish out one after another one. And it reminds me of our time, you know, she’s been gone since 2005. But I’m still able to treasure time with her. I’m able to be in God’s creation, and I’m able to rest and Sabbath helps me not take myself too seriously.

And another spiritual practice is don’t take yourself too seriously. Listen, Jesus’s church was doing just fine before Derwin Gray, and is going to do just fine after Derwin Gray. God doesn’t need me. And so taking a Sabbath gives us a good posture, but but what is it that brings you delight? And for some listening now it’s going to be hard to take a Sabbath because you have just ruined your dopamine receptors. I mean, you feel bad. So what do you do? You find ministry work to do. You feel bad, you preach a message. You you feel bad, you hang out in the lobby longer so people can tell you how great your ministry was. And so these dopamine receptors are just going off and off. And it’s like, well, I can’t feel good unless I’m doing ministry. And so it’s important to not use ministry to make yourself feel good. Now there’s an intrinsic joy of partnering with God, of course. So I think that’s a practice.

Of course, Scripture. We have to be a people of the book not just to find a sermon. It’s really important to understand in John 5:39 Jesus said this to the Pharisees, you search, you pour over the scriptures daily, because in them you think is eternal life. But the scriptures point to me. Did you know you can know the Bible without knowing Jesus, James 2:19 says the demons even believe. So we don’t go to Scripture simply for sermons. We don’t go to Scripture just to learn. Diving into Scripture is a love letter from the Father to us, through the Son and the Holy Spirit, to form us into the image of the Son, for the glory of God and the mission of God. But not only just reading scripture yourself, but reading scripture in community.

Your prayer life. So I wrote a whole book called ‘God, Do You Hear Me?’ and it is specifically on the Lord’s Prayer. I’m amazed at how often we don’t use the Lord’s Prayer as the ultimate template for prayer. Literally Jesus’s disciples, the first followers said, Lord, teach us to pray, and he gives us the Lord’s Prayer. When you look at the Lord’s Prayer, number one, it is a mini Catechism of the life of Jesus. No one loved the Father more than the Son. No one set apart the Father more than the Son is holy. No one embodied the kingdom like Jesus. Jesus is forgiveness. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus did overcome evil. Secondly, the Lord’s Prayer is not only a mini catechism of Jesus’s life, the Lord’s Prayer is a template of how God wants to form us into the image of Christ. And And thirdly, God will answer that prayer. Because one, it exalts Jesus. Two, it makes us more like Jesus. And so we don’t want to use prayer simply as a, ‘I got a problem, fix the need’ …we want, we want prayer, to be a rhythm of love, we want we want we want to be we want prayer to be a rhythm of grace to where we’re walking with God, through the seasons life. And as you get older, life gets more complex. I’m 51, my wife is 53, we got adult children, but we’re still having to pour into them. We got parents now who are getting older, we have to take care of them. It’s like, well, who’s here to take care of us. And life gets harder not to mention pastoring in a global pandemic, pastoring in racial division, political absurdity, wars in Russia, I mean, all types of things. And so it’s important that prayer is not an escape hatch. But prayer is oxygen to our soul. You know, and so we, we want to, we want to be those types of folks.

You know, fasting is important, and we don’t fast so God can answer our prayers faster. We, we fast as a hunger pains to remind us of our constant need of the bread of life. That’s, that’s why we fast.

Silence and solitude are really, really important. And man listen, we live in a day and age where in a moment, I can have more information than previous generations had in their lifetime. And this, this device is neither evil nor good. It’s what we do with this device. And oftentimes with the algorithms of social media, we’re getting downloaded that reinforces ignorance and stigmas and its doom scrolling. So listen, the media has a role. I’ve worked for two large media companies doing sports, and the human psyche likes drama. And so they’re gonna give it to you over and over and over and over again. So we need to learn how to do silence and solitude and have a spiritual discipline. One One of the things that I do is I take an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt has magnesium in it. Magnesium is good for anxiety. It’s good for soothing and I get in there, I put on either some Frank Sinatra, I put on some classical music, and I just marinate, I marinate. Like, I don’t always have to say something to God. I can just listen, allow scripture to pour over me.

Also, community is important. Community is really important. I’m not sure what ministry leaders this is for, but you’ve bought into the lie that there’s aspects of your life that you can’t share with those around you. If that’s the case, I want to encourage you really, really dig into your culture and create a culture of transparency, a culture of honesty, a culture of care, a culture of I’m going to carry your burdens and you’re going to carry my burdens. But community is really, really important, having people in your life.

Also another practice is, I have wiser, older Christians, leaders who can pour into me. Like when we went through what we went through, when we had to remove several staff, when that took place, I had veteran pastors who poured into me, I wanted to hear their wisdom. Also, make sure you have peers who can bounce ideas off of you. And then make sure you’ve got people that you’re pouring into. And there’s always this cycle of being poured into, bouncing ideas off of, pouring into others. But that is that is really important.

And then another spiritual practice, discipline, is your marriage, if you’re if you’re married. Only second to Jesus. Second to Jesus is your spouse. Our spouses should not feel like we’re having an affair with ministry. I’m blessed my wife helped me, we co -planted Transformation Church. She’s the executive director of discipleship and staff, spiritual formation, she’s on the executive lead team. So we ministered together, she’s a high capacity leader, like that’s one of the things that connected us. But not everybody has that. And if you don’t have that, your spouse should not feel like you’re giving your best energy to your staff and local church, I want my family to get my best. And I said this to our congregation the other day, there’s only so many hours in a day. And if I’m going to withhold time and energy, it’s not going to be from my wife and my kids, it’s gonna be from you. They’re gonna get, they’re gonna get my best.

And so yeah, those are just some things just off the top of the head that I tried to do to stay healthy. My greatest gift to Transformation Church is not my preaching and leadership gift. It’s my holiness in Christ.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s good. That’s excellent. Man, that’s a powerful, powerful list. I love to hear kind of the rhythms that you have made a part of your life and the importance of all those different elements. And, and we can see, just as you were talking through those as kind of reflecting on them, you know, kind of, if those aren’t present in our life, what happens. If community is not present in our life that puts us in isolation, that sets us up for for, you know, all kinds of unhealthy releases. Or if we’re not doing something like we’re out on the Sabbath fishing or, or relaxing and soaking then that sets us up for getting engaged in other things. And so I think it’s, I think it’s really key. One of the things I did want to ask you about, from your book, God, Do You Hear Me, on the topic of prayer. One of the things that  you discuss there was this idea of this wartime mindset, right,? That you need to develop this wartime mindset. And as I was reading through that, I thought it was really powerful. Some might think that sounds a bit aggressive. So Derwin, I’d love for you to share what you mean by that. And then how can that wartime mindset impact our lives as as pastors and as ministry leaders?

Derwin Gray 
Yeah. Jason, what I mean by that is what the Apostle Paul meant by it. In Ephesians 6:10, he talks about us standing firm because of spiritual warfare. He talks about putting on the full armor of God. And of course, Paul was a man of his times and he uses the imagery of a Roman soldier, you know, the helmet of salvation. The breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, a gospel of peace on your feet, the the belt of truth wrapped around your waist. And so he gives us imagery that we are literally in a battle. But here’s the thing though. Our battle, as Paul says, is not against flesh and blood. Our battle is against the dark powers. And in today’s contemporary Christianity, particularly in America, I see other Christians battling other Christians because of the way they vote. I mean, it is utterly asinine to say that. I mean, can you imagine Christians in Norway, like they vote very different, like when I talk to my Christian friends, in other parts of the world, specifically Europe, they go, what has happened to you American Christians, like we’ve literally been bewitched. And so the helmet of salvation reminds me of all the beautiful things that Jesus has done. And as it’s reminding me of those things, I don’t remember Jesus going, Oh, my gosh, I cannot wait until we get Nero out and we get a Christian emperor. Like, the goal is not Christian domination. The goal is small pockets and networks of Christians interconnected all throughout the world, giving glimpses of the kingdom of God. And so I’m often accused of, man, you don’t like the Democrats, you and you don’t like the Republicans, I must be doing something right, because both parties are going to be in a divergence from the kingdom. And so a wartime mindset is this: the devil and demonic forces are not playing around. Think about this: Willow Creek, Mars Hill, don’t even exist anymore. Think about the SBC and all of the sexual abuse thing, think about the Catholic Church, and all of the sexual abuse stuff. Think of think about the church in Russia that is backing Vladimir Putin, right. And so the devil is busy. Think about the opioid crisis. Think about this paradox: we’ve never seen people get so rich, hundreds of billions of dollars, and poverty is here. The devil is not playing. So we have to have a wartime mindset. That doesn’t mean we’re angry, it means that we’re resting, that the breastplate of righteousness means I’m the righteousness of Christ, therefore I can be unoffendable. The sword of the spirit means I’ve got the Word of God to push back dark powers. The gospel of peace on my feet means that I’m on a mission to love people and introduce them to the King. The belt of truth around my waist means that in a sea of chaos, and an ocean of lies, I’ve got the truth to anchor me. And so therefore, we have to be on guard. And one of the things that I would say, and this doesn’t happen as much anymore, but particularly in the 90s, and and a lot of the 2000s, the seeker sensitive movement really made the Christian faith so practical, it was like going to a TED talk or instructions for a better life. And that crap does not work when dark powers are at work. We need Jesus centered, Holy Spirit enabled, God the Father glorifying, understanding that we are in war. So when I wake up, I want the helmet of salvation, I want to think about Jesus. I want to know that my weapon is the word of God, a man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. So that’s what I mean by a war time. And so that correlates with Jesus in his prayers and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. And let me pause here, the Holy Spirit, God does not lead us into temptation. What’s happening there is Jesus is reminding his people, that after he was baptized, he went into the wilderness and was tempted three ways by the devil, the same three ways that Israel was tempted in the Garden of Eden. Jesus is the new and better Israel, who wins the victory for us.

So I don’t have to fight the devil because Jesus is my armor. He does the fighting for me, and so many of us are getting slaughtered, because we’re walking out and trying to play a game without a uniform. So behind me, there are football helmets from high school, college and my two professional teams. It would have been crazy for me to go into a game without shoulder pads, knee pads, football cleats, and a helmet. When we don’t pray the armor of God, we’re going into the world naked and exposed. And the devil is doing all types of things. He’s getting leaders to think that pornography is better than him. He’s getting leaders to think that affairs are better than him, that power and manipulation is better than him, that that and here’s another one too. And let me pause here, because I really want to be measured in this. I’m all for getting the message of Jesus out. Social media is a great way to do that. But be careful about presenting an image of social media, that’s not you, because there’s a gap of who you really are, and a gap of what you’re presenting. And the wider that gap is, the deeper the falls are going to be when you can no longer keep up the mirage. So you want that, you don’t, you don’t want a gap. You want who you are to be who you are. And be careful about building a platform. Let God Build Your Holiness. Let God build your character versus a platform. What God has for you, he has for you. And please understand this, this is so important. When we see books that sell and all and all that stuff. I mean, a lot of times guys that’s manufactured. Sometimes people are buying their way on the New York Times. Sometimes they didn’t even write the books themselves. So be really careful about comparison and ‘I gotta get my name out there.’ No, no, the Holy Spirit will do that. Now, I’m not saying don’t post, don’t make it aware. But what’s your heart behind it? What’s your heart behind it? You know, I remember years and years ago, I had a young ministry friend that I was pouring into him and I got I got verified on Twitter. I got a blue check. And he called me he goes, Pastor, congratulations. Like, what what happened? He goes, he goes, he goes, You you got verified on Twitter, man, you got a blue check. And I was like I did he goes, Yeah, you did. I was like, so I mean, that’s cool. I’m grateful. But I got verified with red blood on a cross. Jesus is my verification. So you know, hey, I’m, I got a blue check on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, but that’s secondary to the red blood that put a cross on us. And so just really be mindful about your soul and what you’re valuing. Use social media strategically, use the internet strategically/ Like, the internet is the modern day Jacob’s Well, people are tuning in, they’re watching, but what’s the heartbeat behind it? And then sometimes people have hundreds of 1000s of Instagram followers that they bought, literally bought them. So be okay with who God’s called you to be. What does it profit a man or woman to gain the whole world but lose your soul? Wouldn’t it wouldn’t be sad for 1000s of people to be transformed by your ministry, but your but you’re deformed by idolatrizing ministry.

Jason Daye 
That’s deep, bro. That’s powerful, powerful. It’s been some fantastic things that you shared with us, kind of giving a peek into the backstage of Derwin and Vicki’s life as ministry leaders, which I absolutely love, the partnership the two of you share in ministry and you see that all over the place. We see that on both of your social media feeds, at Transformation Church. I think that’s so healthy, so beautiful and such an example to so many of us, so I certainly appreciate that. As we’re closing down Derwin, great wisdom you’ve given us and I so appreciate you just kind of again giving us a peek backstage in your life and ministry. But as you’re thinking of the the pastors and ministry leaders who are watching or listening, any final words of of encouragement? Last few years have been challenging, no doubt. So just some words of encouragement for your brothers and sisters.

Derwin Gray 
Yeah, I want you to know that you’re not alone. The Lord has not forgotten you. Your love in him is not tethered to the number of people and seats, the number of buildings you have and the size of your budget. It is tethered to the bloody cross and an empty tomb and the person of Jesus. And when you said yes to Jesus, He gave you everything that you need for this journey. He’s put on a spiritual backpack. Paul says it this way, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. That backpack has every spiritual blessing on Christ. Slow down and say, Holy Spirit, will you unpack the blessings that God has given me so that I can be a blessing?

Jason Daye 
I love it. Love it, beautiful brother. Thank you again Derwin for taking the time to hang out with us, here on FrontStage BackStage and for sharing your heart and, and for listeners and those who are watching along, you have a free toolkit that helps you dig more deeply into the value that Derwin was talking about, the different practices that we need to engage in, the whole idea of that mindset of kind of a wartime mindset and what we mean by that, and the importance and value of that so you can check that out along with links to connect with Derwin, Transformation Church and their ministries. Awesome. Thank you for making the time again, we appreciate you. God bless you, my friend.

Derwin Gray 
See you, bro.

Jason Daye 
All right, thanks. 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 That’s 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 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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