How to Be Intentional about the BackStage of Your Life and Ministry : Jimmy Dodd
What exactly do we mean by front stage and backstage? And why is it important to us as pastors? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Jimmy Dodd, founder of PastorServe, and he shares how we can be intentional about having a well-balanced 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!
- 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
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- This week’s episode on Apple Podcasts
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Additional Resource Links
PastorServe – The non-profit ministry organization Jimmy Dodd founded, serving pastors since 1999 by providing coaching, consulting, and crisis support
Complimentary 1-hour Coaching Session for Pastors – from PastorServe
Survive or Thrive: 6 Relationships Every Pastor Needs – Jimmy Dodd reveals how those in pastoral ministry can receive ongoing support, accountability, and restoration from relationships with a boss, counselor, trainer, mentor, coach, and good friend. Discover how you can move from surviving to thriving with the six relationships every pastor needs.
Connect with Jimmy Dodd on Twitter
Follow PastorServe – LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- The gospel message begins with the understanding that I’m more broken than I will ever admit, and yet Jesus loves me more than I will ever comprehend
- Sometimes pastors can believe the gospel for everybody else but have difficulty believing the gospel for themselves
- Many pastors have been driven to a place of isolation because of fear. They are afraid that people will not accept them as they are and so they isolate themselves from others.
- Pastors can look very good on the front stage (public) while their backstage (personal) is falling apart
- Pastors are people, too, and need to remind themselves that they are on a journey with Jesus just like everyone else
- At Jesus’ baptism, God declared “this is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This occurred before Jesus even began his earthly ministry. God is declaring the same over ministry leaders today. Pastors do not have to earn God’s love, but simply accept God’s love.
- Pastors need to avoid getting caught up in the “production” trap, believing God’s love and acceptance is based upon what they can produce in and through their ministry. The ministry they do is not so they can earn God’s love, but it is in response to God’s love.
- Before a pastor is a pastor, he or she is a beloved child of God
- Pastors need to find a safe place where they can share their struggles and challenges
- Pastors should have solid relationships that help their front stage, (boss, trainer, coach,) as well as those that help them with their backstage, (counselor, mentor, friend.)
- Pastors who are intentional about developing the backstage of their lives, in addition to the front stage, are more likely to have ministries that thrive
- You can be engaged in a lot of God activity but not grow in your relationship with God
- When you are not attentive to the backstage of your life and ministry –the care of your own soul, your own spiritual formation, etc– you increase your vulnerability to burnout, making poor decisions, quitting ministry altogether, engaging in sinful behavior, and more
Questions for Reflection
- Honestly, how is my heart right now?
- Am I living my life like I truly believe the gospel is for me, as well as for those to whom I minister?
- Do I find myself getting caught in the “production” trap in ministry?
- How am I tending to the nurturing of my own soul?
- What are regular spiritual practices do I engage in to help me grow in my relationship with Jesus?
- Do I feel I have a safe place to share my struggles in our church? If so, where or who is my safe place? If not, am I willing to commit to finding a safe place now?
- In my life, who is my:
- Have I been isolating myself from others? If so, why?
- Am I feeling overwhelmed or burned out in ministry? If so, why am I feeling that way? What can I do about it?
- What can our staff/ministry team do to help one another in the backstage areas of our lives?
What exactly do we mean by front stage and backstage? And why is it important to us as pastors?
On this week’s episode, I’m joined by Jimmy Dodd, founder of PastorServe, and he shares how we can be intentional about having a well-balanced life and ministry. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye, and every single week, we’re bringing you a conversation to help encourage and equip pastors just like you to embrace healthy leadership, both in ministry and in life. We are blessed to be a part of the PastorServe Network. And if you’re joining us on YouTube, we encourage you to like and comment, we’d love to get to know you a little bit better. Be sure to subscribe as well, so you can be notified of conversations just like these every week. And if you’re listening to us on your favorite podcast platform, be sure to subscribe as well and share with your colleagues and friends. Super excited about today’s conversation. I am blessed to be joined by none other than Jimmy Dodd, the founder of PastorServe. So welcome, Jimmy, to the show.
Hey, thanks, Jason. Great to be with you, my friend.
Yeah, super excited. This is our very first episode of this new show. And we’ve been praying about this and planning, preparing and talking about it. And now it’s a reality and super excited not only for this episode, and what it holds, and getting to hear more of your heart, Jimmy, but super excited for every episode to come. And the amazing guests that we’re going to have on, the opportunities that we’re going to have to talk about, really, what it means to lead in the world in which we live now, as a pastor, as a ministry leader, and how that means “leadership” in ministry, but also self-leadership in our own lives, which is critical. Jimmy, I just would love for you to share for our viewers, just a little bit about the PastorServe story, because not everyone probably knows. PastorServe has been around for over two decades, and a well-respected ministry but share with us a little bit about PastorServe, a little bit about Jimmy Dodd, and how did PastorServe come to exist.
First of all, I can’t start without saying it’s great that you’re on the team, Jason. We’re very honored. So man, we are thrilled that you’re on the team. So, it excites me. It’s fun. So PastorServe started, so I pastored for about 17 years, I pastored in Chicago, and then Boston, and then South Carolina, and then a church plant in Kansas City. And by God’s grace I was involved in just some great churches and some strong churches. And they were always large churches. So it was it was a bit tough just to start off with, you know, with a church plant in Kansas City. But by God’s grace, it went well. And there was growth. And there were some good numbers, and we got to do some great things as far as missions, as far as church planting. We got to make sure that we had some staff that we trained up and it went really well. And so I think that you would stop off at the church and you’d say, all right, it seems to be strong preaching, seems to be strong worship, strong leadership, they’re a very generous church.
It all looked really good and I was absolutely miserable. Jason, I was miserable because I think that I believed the lie that lots of pastors believed and it was, “Okay. It all looks good on the front stage. But if people really really knew you, you know what they wouldn’t like you.” They really knew your thought life if they knew the things that you I mean, like you dream about, and if they knew your greed, and your jealousy, or your lust or your fears, or what I mean, it’s a long list. You know, what if they knew all those things, they wouldn’t like you, so and, you know, keep all your secrets, don’t share with anybody what’s really going on. And just overtime that created more and more isolation. And it’s interesting because, you know, you’re in a fast-growing church, people asked you to do things, you’re asked to be on boards, and you’re asked to speak at conferences. And so there were more and more opportunities to do some really fun things that just drove me deeper into this isolation of “Alright, now I’m going to have a platform now. Now I’m being asked to do things. I really can’t tell anybody what’s going on.” We can’t be honest with anybody, because it’s going to be so disappointing for people. So I had 1000 reasons in my mind. It’s best if I just kind of keep some secrets. And, listen, by God’s grace, there was no affair, here’s no embezzlement, but there was a million little idols in my life. And it was just not good. And so it’s one of those things, I just came to that point where I learned, okay, it’s exhausting to go through life pretending that you’re a lot better than you actually are. I mean, it’s physically exhausting. It’s spiritually exhausting. It’s emotionally exhausting. And I just got to that point where I was just completely depleted. And I thought, okay, you know what, I’m in trouble here. I don’t know, if I quit, if I leave… I don’t know exactly what to do. So I reached out to some men that I have tremendous confidence in and just said, “Hey, I know it looks good on the front stage, but the backstage is not so good right now. You know, I mean, like, my marriage was not good, and it was not good because I found my self-worth in the church, and I found my self-worth in “I really want you to like me.” So I’m going to make some poor decisions, and not be at my wife’s events, or my wife’s family events, because I need to be at this church small group, because I was not there last week, and if I’m gone for two weeks in a row, I think they’re going to think less of me. There were just some really, just like some warped, you know, things in my mind. And so listen, there were the major events in my kid’s life, in my wife’s life, that I was not there because I was still obsessed with I’ve got to be at church, because that’s, that was very, very much my self-worth.
And so these men just spoke a lot of truth in my life, they spoke some really hard truth, some really good, good truth. The guy that spoke just a lot to me, his name was Jack Miller, and he had this, he just had this little mantra that he would say every time I saw him. He’d say, “Hey, Jimmy, cheer up. You’re worse than you think, but you’re more deeply loved by Jesus than you will ever possibly comprehend.” That’s the gospel right there. I’m worse than I think, I’m worse than I will ever admit, I’m more broken than I will ever admit. And yet Jesus loves me more than I will ever comprehend. And I heard those things from him and these others, these other men, that just began to do a huge work in my life. And I think I believed the gospel was true for everybody in the world, but it wasn’t true for me. For me it was about works, and it was about the size of the church and the size of our budget. And it was the whole thing about the nickels and noses, I was just so caught up in that, and I just went through this period of massive transformation. And it was like, gosh, I am a broken, I’m a broken person that desperately needs Jesus. And if you’re in the midst of all sorts of brokenness, I don’t think you need to have God’s grace any more than I do, I think I need God’s grace as much as anybody. And it just changed everything. It was just, it was just about me and the Gospel. And it’s like, Hey, listen, the main thing I need to do is I need to care for my spouse, I need to care for my kids. I need to really, really love this church. But the best way that I can really pastor this church is to be authentic, and to be real and not be isolated, and then not have secrets and to share these things. And, and so I went through this massive transformation.
So way back when I was on the radio, I had a show, which is embarrassing now, and I hope that everything has been burned., but I had a show way, way, way back when, and I begin to have pastors call me and say, hey, something’s different. You know, I’ve just heard for years and years, your show, and there’s kind of been a theme over the years, and that theme has massively changed. And there’s something about you, you seem like a safe person. And I’m just curious if we could meet and have lunch, or we could talk about something because I’ve got some issues in my life as a pastor. And I don’t feel like I have actually a place to go. So I just began to meet with pastors, this is now about 1997 Just began to meet with pastors, and Jason, it’s one of those things. I heard 1000 stories, but I heard the same story every time. It was always okay. You hear the big issue in my life, it might be my marriage and it might be like this staff conflict. It might be like addictions I have, it might be alcohol, pornography, drugs… gosh, I heard everything. And there’s a place where I’m supposed to go. If I have issues, you know, that we have this chart, and it’s just this big org chart and it’s this club, and if I have issues, I go to my elders or my deacons or my session, or my district superintendent or my bishop or you know, whoever it might be, but I would never go there. I’m scared to death that if I went there, and if I was completely honest, I honestly believe that they’d fire me. I mean, if I was really honest about all the stuff in my heart, all the issues in my life, I think that they would fire me. And I can’t get fired. Because I’ve got a mortgage or I’ve got kids in college or I’ve got these responsibilities, and I’ve got no Plan B vocationally, this is it, this is what I was trained to do. There’s no place I can work if I lose this job. Therefore, I can’t be honest with anybody. And so you’re the first person that I’m just trying to share, like all this stuff with because I can’t take it anymore. Because I’m emotionally exhausted, spiritually exhausted, I’m exhausted in every way. And I need someplace to go and you just seem like a safe guy to be able to talk to.
I heard that story over and over and over and over again, to the point where it broke my heart. And I was up in Chicago, and I knew exactly the place I was standing, and I feel like God changed my call and said, when you were a boy, I asked you to pastor people. I’m changing your call, I want you to pastor pastors. And, I mean, I was extremely naive, because I thought, okay, you know, and I’m just going to do it. I just laugh about it now, because I mean, there was no money, there was no budget, there was no 501c3, there was no board, there was no strategic plan… zero. And so it was just one of those, “Okay, Lord, I am going to step out in faith with my wife,” and my wife and I talked and we said, we need to step out on the faith right now and we need to start PastorServe. And so we did. And it just, I mean, God was very gracious, he was very kind to us, but it kind of bounced along for about three years. And then there were four phenomenal business leaders who just said, Hey, we think you know, that really God wants this to be a lot more, and we’re going to be your first board, we’re going to get the 501c3, we’re going to start to fund you. And that was just extremely important because of the very, very start, the very, very, very beginning we said, Okay, we will make a strong commitment. This is not a white, male suburban pastor’s ministry, this will be a work that will serve the Church. And that means black and white and Hispanic, and Asian, we could go on and on. And it’ll be for men and then also for the women, it’ll be for old and for young. It’s going to be for Presbyterians and Baptists and Vineyard and Assembly of God and Anglican we could go on and on, it has to be a church that serves, I mean, this has to be work that serves the whole Church. And so from the very start, that was a very strong commitment. And then listen, it’s all been by God’s grace, and it’s all, God is amazingly gracious, and just because I’m not smart enough to do any of this… it’s only been Jesus’s.
Yeah. And it’s been amazing. It’s, it’s been a joy for me, as you mentioned, I’ve recently joined the team and, and just to see, as you’re saying, just how the makeup of our team really reflects the diversity of the church in so many ways. And, and we have people from all different backgrounds, all different, you know, denominational backgrounds, ethnicities, we have people, you know, urban, rural, suburban, people who have had so many different experiences, and the coaches and consultants that are part of PastorServe., they understand ministry, they’ve been in ministry, they’ve been in those shoes, they’ve experienced those things, and it’s just a gift to the Church. And I know that PastorServe under your leadership, Jimmy, you’ve been called in to step into some, some very, very challenging situations, with pastors and with churches, and, you know, we could, we could say, some names, you know, and their names of churches and situations that everyone watching would want to be aware of. And it’s, it’s interesting, because one of the, the key pieces of PastorServe is being open to stepping in and providing care during crisis and, you know, direction for churches that are going through a crisis situation, and then the pastors and their families as they’re going through a crisis situation. But a lot the heart is to help churches and pastors never get to crisis.
Yes. Thank you.
So and one of the ways that you really kind of address this idea of almost preventative maintenance for our lives, right. Is is this idea that you’ve introduced of kind of talking about things in front stage, backstage. And that’s obviously where we got the name of this show, FrontStage BackStage. And so I would love for you, Jimmy to kind of break down kind of the understanding behind front stage backstage, and why it is so incredibly important for pastors and ministry leaders to be thoughtful and intentional when it comes to both front stage and backstage.
Yeah, yeah, that’s one of the things I think that we’ve all had times in which we’re shocked, we hear a story about a leader that we respect. And we think, Oh, my goodness, I never dreamed that would happen. And I think that we have been trained, in just a lot of different ways that we make massive assumptions about the backstage based upon the front stage. And I think that is one of the most dangerous things in the world in the Church. So I mean, I hear I hear all the time that there’s a person that and he was at a big conference, and he spoke and there were people there saying, Oh, my gosh, I heard the speaker and God spoke in my heart in some deep ways. I think I was transformed. I love this speaker. He’s absolutely incredible. He’s amazing. But God used it. And I think that I’m changed and I’m so grateful. And I think, “Man, I’m so glad that God spoke to your heart. That’s wonderful. That’s a huge answered prayer. And the fact that there’s transformation, wonderful. But but you also said the speaker was amazing. Awesome. You love him? He’s wonderful. What what what do you know about him? Did you know anything about him? Do you know the way that he treats his spouse, you know, the way that he treats his children, you know, way, the way he treats his staff? You know, the way he works with money? Do you know anything about it?” No, no, but he incredible. Okay, so you make all these assumptions about the backstage based upon the front stage. And I think that when we do those types of things that we feed this, this isolation, because pastors here, oh, I love you, you’re amazing, you’re incredible. And they’re thinking, wow, if they really knew me, I don’t really believe that they’d like me. So I want to do everything I can to hide. So I think that there are so many pastors who have been driven to a place of isolation, and it’s just out of fear. Because they have a strong front stage, because they’re well-spoken on the front stage. And they can build a church that looks to be, you know, very, you know, very, very strong, and yet their heart has got massive issues, and they might have issues in their marriage. And, you know, we could just go on and on about issues that are deep, deep inside.
And so there are lots of ministries out there that do a phenomenal job to help on the front stage. And we do, and we do a lot of work on the front stage. It’s extremely important. But I think the thing that makes us extremely unique is, is that we dig in a great deal also on the backstage, which is why we say, yeah, it’s wise to have a boss and a trainer and a coach. Because I think that oftentimes, those are front stage things, but you need to have a counselor, and you need to have mentors. And you know what you need to have friends that know everything about your life, and you’ve really walked through just you know, life with, it’s extremely important to have those that know you, not just on the front stage, but they know your life. They know your secrets, they know what goes on in your life, they know about your finances, that they know like your sexual history, that you can process with them, you know, that you can just really, really actively walk with them. And we have found that pastors, if they have people especially speaking into their backstage, the odds that they will thrive skyrocket, they skyrocket. I mean, it goes so much better. And yet, we can almost, we can just almost actually predict, alright, this person says, “Well, I’m in a staff-led church., so I really don’t have a boss, because I’m the boss. And I don’t have a coach, because I really don’t think that there’s anybody that could coach me because I don’t know if I have any peers in ministry, because our church is x size or whatever it might be. And I used to get training, but now I’m the trainer. I’m the one that trains the staff and everybody else. I don’t have a counselor because I think it’s a waste of time because I don’t want to spend time on the past. I used to have a mentor years ago, that we you know, but we just have lost touch over the years. And if I’m completely honest, I don’t have a friend in the world” I hear that all the time from I just hear that as I meet with pastors and I can say, “Listen, it’s not if, it’s when… you will have a fall, because you don’t have those basic things in your life that you need, because you need the front stage relationships, and you need the backstage relationships.
So we push hard we say listen, every pastor, needs boss, trainer, coach, counselor, and mentor and friend. And if you have those, if you have those roles, that’s both the front stage roles and the backstage roles, and the odds of you actually thriving in ministry, skyrocket. And, just because I’m asked this all the time, and it’s a great question. People are like, “Okay, do you actually believe that Jimmy” and I’m like why would you question that? “Okay, who’s your boss, trainer, coach, counselor, mentor, friend.” My boss is the pastor sort of board. As you know, I have a. So you know what I’ve got two phenomenal coaches. And I have a ministry coach, I have a financial coach. And they both meet with me, very, very consistently and they speak in my life. I tried to make sure that I mean, like I’m oftentimes trained, I think that I’m very, very teachable. And so I constantly try to hear the right podcasts and the right books. And I read and I try to learn and grow. And I have a counselor that I will meet with actually this afternoon at four o’clock, it’s my weekly time. and we’re just going to process just just all sorts of things in my life. I have a phenomenal mentor. As a matter of fact, I was with him up in Wheaton, Illinois, just about three or so weeks ago. And I’ve got about three or four really, really close friends that know everything about me. I mean, there’s no secrets. They know everything about me. I was with one of them, yesterday, actually, because I was in Northwest Arkansas, one of my guys is there. I was with him yesterday morning. So I hope that we don’t just say, you know, say this at PastorServe, but we actually do it. We actually are like, Hey, listen, we preach this, but we also believe it. And we also live it.
Yeah, that’s good. That’s powerful. And when we’re looking at just this idea of front stage, and backstage, obviously, what comes with a lot of front stage is the more visible, right, the more kind of external aspects of ministry. And, as you mentioned, there are lots of resources available to help you grow on the front stage, whether it’s, you know, preaching, teaching communication, or staff development or volunteer recruitment, you know, vision, mission values, all of those things. All very important, right, to, you know, live out and fulfill your calling in ministry. And, as you said, PastorServe helps, our coaches help with those very kind of practical external pieces of ministry. But the the piece that is so often lacking is, as you mentioned, the backstage and these areas are, you know, just our own soul care, right? What does our spiritual formation look like? So often in ministry, we’re busy doing a lot of God stuff, right. And so we can easily mistake the idea that we’re, you know, there’s a lot of God activity going on, or Jesus activity going on, that somehow that is, you know, restoring our soul, and drawing us into the presence of God. But that’s not the case. And I’ve had seasons myself in ministry, where I’ve, you know, come to that recognition, or I understand, yeah, I’m very busy doing God stuff, but I have not taken the time to nurture my soul. Just to sit in the presence of God and allow that replenishment. And so on the backstage, you know, our spiritual development, emotional, and mental health. Now, what’s fascinating is PastorServe has been speaking into, you know, these elements, emotional and mental health for years, as we’ve recognized over the last maybe five years or so, the Church, the greater Church has been paying a little more attention to that, which is super important. But that’s an area on the backstage to really address. And then, as you said, marriage, you know, my relationship with my spouse and some of these more personal, my relationship with my children. We’ve all heard, you and I both, and have seen way too many stories, where pastors, and some watching right now might be experiencing this themselves, right, where we’re getting kind of sucked in, and we’re getting fatigued. And we’re investing, just like Jimmy, you were sharing a little bit about your story, investing so much. We were either having expectations put on us that were unfair from the church, or oftentimes, I know, for myself and my journey, I put a lot of expectations on myself unknowingly, right? Like, I felt like I needed to do this as a pastor in order to be a, you know, effective or successful pastor. And so a lot of that weight, those expectations we put on ourselves, can really begin to tear at the foundation of our relationships, with God, with our spouse, with our kids, it can really tear at just how we identify ourselves or, you know, do we find our identity in Christ? Or are we finding our identity in all this other stuff that we’re doing? And so talk to me a little bit, Jimmy, about this idea on that backstage, kind of the importance and the value of understanding how we define ourselves? Because I think that’s a big piece of what the backstage does. How do we define ourselves as pastors and ministry leaders?
You know what, it’s amazing that as I just, you know, meet with lots of pastors, we’ll have breakfast, lunch, coffee, whatever it might be. And we kind of talk about eating, whatever, for a little while, sports, or whatever it might be. And then just ask that question. Hey, man, how is your heart right now? It’s amazing how that just oftentimes just kind of catches people. And it’s like it and you can tell those people aren’t asked that question very often. Hey, you know, what, how, really, how’s your soul right now? And it just causes people to just kind of pause and say, and I’m just, that’s an area of my life I just don’t think a lot about. And oftentimes, it’s Oh, my gosh, I’m fine. And really, okay. Are you trying to convince yourself or me or, and then oftentimes, it just kind of leads into this conversation where they just can become a lot more honest about the state of my soul is really not that good.
And I think that we just need to understand, you know, that there has been, there’s probably been about, right, about three or four really, really important passages of Scripture, that have just really, really transformed me. But the one that was just massively transformational was I think, I just kind of had this, okay, I want to serve, I want to do everything I can. I want to grow my church, I want to do all of these things so that God is proud of me. The thing that amazed me was the the I mean, like Jesus is baptized. And he hears “this is my Son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased.” I think wait a second. This is my son, and I love him. I mean, yeah, I can very easily get that. With him I am well pleased. It’s like, Jesus hasn’t really done anything yet. Right? He hasn’t launched his ministry, right, called the 12 yet. He hasn’t healed him. I mean, he really in one sense, he hasn’t done anything publicly yet. And that phrase, I’m so you know, because it’s, I’m so pleased with him. If he said, I’m so proud of him. It’s like, wouldn’t that make a lot more sense, actually, after the resurrection? Wouldn’t make a lot more sense. When it’s all done. It’s like that way to go. Wait a second. That’s not how I am as a dad, why do I think that God is any worse as a father, because if I’m on the way to like a baseball game with my son, and let’s say that he’s nine years old, and he says that if I hit a homerun, will you be proud of me? I say what any dad would say, I’m proud of you now. Right? Great, if you hit a home run, that’ll be wonderful. But son, I’m proud of you now. I love you now. And yet, we don’t hear that from God the Father, we are so convinced, I’ve got to hit the home run. So so that God says, Man, I’m so proud of you. And the fact that before Jesus launches his ministry, he hears, I am so proud of you, I’m so pleased with you. What a great place of security, to be able to actually minister from, and I think it’s so I just believe as pastors, if we could just, you know, wake up in the morning, and say, the goal is not to work hard all throughout this day, so that at the end of the day, I hear from God, hey, I’m so proud of you. God is proud of you right now, and today is a response to him. The fact that his love is that enduring that he’s that proud of you now, that’s a piece of understanding the gospel.
And I think that when we understand the gospel more clearly, we begin to do things and there’s not that fear of like, gosh, am I going to disappoint God? Is he going to be angry with me about this, or whatever? It’s like, listen, God’s love is so amazingly secure for you. He loves you, He cares for you, He will not leave you. He has adopted you, He cares for you. He’s proud of you. You’re his, if I could start the day, and just understand that and just rehearse and listen, I forget this all the time. So I wake up in the morning, and I have to say, Okay, today, I’ve got all this stuff in front of me before I even start the day, before my feet hit the ground, God says, you know, I just want to know, I’m so pleased with you. And then my day becomes a response to to the truth of the gospel. And that changes the way that I live. And I think that you do a lot more on the backstage because that’s preaching the gospel to my own heart, which I have to do each and every day. But I think as pastors that we so often don’t. You live that way, we live for the big pat on the back from our church and from our peers, but also from God that we long for it’s like, man, that has already come on the back from God. And it came a long time ago.
I absolutely love that. The whole idea of I honor God out of, you know, response to the love that He has for me, rather than I honor God, and hoping to earn his love. Right. I mean, it’s just a mind shift. And it is interesting to think that oftentimes pastors, we can preach that pretty well. Right? We can tell lots of people about the beauty of the gospel, and the power of the gospel. But oftentimes, we have trouble accepting it for ourselves. So Jimmy, why do you think it is? Whenever we’ve committed our lives to proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ? You know, and we’re really good at communicating that and sharing that and encouraging others with it? Why is it that we struggle with it so much personally?
Because I think we’re sinners. Because I think that we give a place in our life for the just many, many lies of Satan, just to creep in. And I’m telling you, I meet with so many pastors, who just voice so many lies from Satan, it’s like, well, I know that God forgives me, but I can’t actually forgive myself. So that’s a lie from Satan, that I’m the only one in the world struggling with it right now that I am the only pastor in America, I’m the only pastor in the world that actually struggles with this particular sin. That’s a lie from Satan, I could go on and on. You know what, I’m just not talented enough, I can’t do it. Or it’s, Hey, I actually deserve this sin, I actually deserve to indulge in this sin, because of all I do for God. Because of all I do, because of all the sacrifices, I’ve made, time and finances and all of this, I actually deserve this. I’m in so many lies from Satan. And I think that Satan loves to go after pastors, and just say, believe these lies. And so much of what we have to do is to confront the lie, expose that lie, share, just listen, this is the way that the gospel speaks to that lie. And people are like, I have never heard anything like this in my life before. And it’s amazing how I mean, there’s so many pastors that are just like, I’ve not heard this, because I because I do believe the lies of Satan. Right. And I think that’s his main tool to do everything he can to bring that shame –which is a huge aspect of Satan– bring that shame and to bring that guilt, which leads to more and more of the isolation. And then I can’t be honest with anybody, and as a result, I want to live a very, very secluded life, and my heart is not going to be openly shared with anybody. And that’s, that’s heartbreaking. Because that will cripple your soul.
Yeah, without a doubt, withpout a doubt. And that’s when, when we see things come crumbling, crumbling down all around us. Jimmy, as we’re as we’re kind of thinking through and talking through this, this idea of the backstage of life and the front stage of life and ministry, for pastors. What do you feel are the best ways? I know you talked about relationships, which I know plays a lot into this, but the best ways for those who are watching, even our pastors watching now who don’t feel like there’s a safe place? Because I think it’s very true what you said, you know, it’s hard to if you’re in a denomination to go denominational leader and say, I’m struggling with this. It’s hard to you know, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a, you know, huge, glaring, crushing sin. I mean, it could be something that you just internally are wrestling with, that may never lead to massive headlines in the church world, but it’s still crippling you. And it’s still holding you back from experiencing the fullness of what God has for you and for your life, for your family, for your ministry. So the lack of that safe space, how does PastorServe, and how do you, answer that challenge? Because I think that’s really what was the big challenge. And that’s what PastorServe was kind of birthed out of, was there wasn’t a safe place to have these conversations.
Yeah. So I think that there are, gosh, I think there’s there’s lots and lots of factors. I think the one big factor is that we have trained pastors with this mindset of it’s dangerous to have really, really close friends in the church. And I mean, like, I hear that all the time. It’s like, all right, I don’t have a safe place to go because I don’t want to share stuff with my friends in the church because I’ve just been told that’s that that is just not wise. And the thing is, okay, so what’s the what’s what’s like the backside of that whole thing? Well, I don’t have friends in the church, which means I don’t have friends period. So it’s like, okay, so like if it’s isolation, or you take a risk, and you have a friend in the church, take a risk and Have a friend of the church! Because I think oftentimes it’s “Well, I don’t have any, I don’t have any friends anywhere. because I can’t trust people in my church, and outside of my church, I don’t know if I know anybody will enough.” Then take the risk, and share with somebody in your church, find a friend that you think that could be a very, very safe place. Listen, I hope your church is a safe place, I hope that your board is a safe place, I hope that your board or whatever it might be, that they understand you’re broken, that you’re a sinner, that you have issues, just like everybody else. You’re absolutely a person to and that they would extend care, that they would you know, that they would just extend grace. But but I know that’s hard for pastors, because there’s there’s just way, way too many stories about the pastor that goes and says, “Hey, I have a crush on our worship leader right now, and I just want to just admit it. There’s been there’s been nothing done as a result. I haven’t said anything, there’s been I mean, I just want you to know, I just want to confess this.” And, and, you know, this pastor is fired. I mean, that that’s a very real story. You know, I mean the pastor goes to a church and says, “Hey, 35 years ago, I did something really stupid on the mission field. It was not disqualifying. But it was, but it was stupid. And my wife asked me about it, and I actually lied to her. But I feel like I just need to just be very honest about this.” And they’re like, You know what, you’re done, you’re gone, you’re fired, and those stories are out there. And the more, it just creates more fear and pastors have, there’s no safe place to go. And I would say, do everything we can to find I mean, like a friend in the church, and I want to pray that your board or your elders or your bishop, whoever it might be, I want to pray that there is grace there. But if you can’t find anybody call, PastorServe.
Hello, pastors, I’m jumping in real quickly to share a great opportunity for you from PastorServe. For over two decades, PastorServe has been strengthening the church by serving pastors just like you through personal coaching, and church consulting. And right now they’re offering a complimentary one hour coaching session with one of the experienced PastorServe coaches, and you can learn about this opportunity and register by visiting PastorServe.org/freesession. That’s PastorServe.org/freesession, you’ll find more details, there’s absolutely no obligation, we are here to serve you.
We talked to so many pastors, listen, I’ve had 1000s of conversations that start with this: I’ve never talked about this with anybody, but… It’s like, okay, it’s freeing. It’s so freeing for them to just have that conversation. And, and it’s like, you’re always skeptical. It’s like, okay, if I tell you all that stuff, you’re going to think less of me. And just to be able to hear all of these things and say, Listen, I don’t think less of you, listen, as matter of fact, you probably held back a little bit, because you probably had some fear of, if I share everything, you’re gonna think really bad about me. So you know what you want everything that you just shared, I’m going to just assume that there was some fear there, and probably some doubt about PastorServe, and you probably held back a little bit. So I’m just going to assume, it’s probably a lot worse than what you just shared. And you know what, we will walk with you, we will love you, we will care for you, because we don’t believe you need God’s grace more than we need God’s grace. We both need God’s grace. Desperately. We are peers in that sense. We are all broken people. We all sin. We all have to have Jesus. And I think that once pastors really, really believe that it’s like, okay, well, then if this is a safe place then here’s everything. And that’s when a lot of things come out, and that can be one of the most freeing things in the world, just to say here’s a lot of my thought life and, yeah, that’s the ultimate.
That’s really good. I think, well, the other gifts that PastorServe offers to pastors is, you know, it doesn’t have to be some some crazy crush on the worship leader, right? It could just be overwhelmed. I mean, especially in the world, which we’re living in right now. I mean, a lot of the conversations that we’re having with pastors is, they’re fatigued, they’re overwhelmed. They are feeling pulled in so many different directions. And, you know, suddenly you have to be an expert on politics and, you know, everything else in the world, you know, racism and vaccines, exactly. Vaccines, whatever it is, and there’s just this, this this pull and this overwhelm. And still pastors don’t feel like Man, there’s not really a safe place for me to say I’m feeling stretched thin right now. I’m feeling over overwhelmed? Can I have a conversation with someone? Can we begin to process through some things? Maybe I need to start giving myself permission to let go of some things, maybe, you know, so I think there’s a lot of this, you know, this kind of reordering of life and in this is all backstage stuff, again, you know, this idea of, you know, developing a good spiritual practice, spiritual disciplines, that helps you, you know, let go of things in a good and healthy way. Otherwise, you know, it comes to the point where I mean, we see this, you know, Jimmy and I have talked about this, you know, just the rate of pastors stepping away from ministry has just increased in, you know, sort of the last few years, those who are considering leaving ministry, it’s over doubled in a recent survey research that was done by Barna. But so it’s this idea, that man, rather than getting burned out, or tapping out or whatever, stepping back and having a conversation with someone who cares, who’s been there, who’s talked to plenty of other pastors, who can help you kind of stop and take a deep breath, and care for your own soul, and begin to process things and begin to think, you know, what about time management? What about, you know, margin, in your life, Sabbath? I know, one of the big things that PastorServe has helped pastors with was just the idea of a sabbatical. And I mean, it’s a huge thing that PastorServe has been doing for years now. And so this whole idea of, like you said, just coming alongside of a pastor, whatever stage of ministry, you know, I mean, you know, you don’t have to be, it’s such a level that things are about ready to explode or implode, you know, you could be you know, this is the preventative side, right? You could be saying, Hey, listen, I’m feeling a bit of overwhelm, now’s the time to address these things. Now’s the time to begin processing through these things. So we never get to that place of vulnerability. It’s interesting, often, you know, that disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment, opens us up to being much more vulnerable to attacks from the enemy. So this idea of, you know, how do we address those things now, as pastors and ministry leaders, so that we are being attentive to those areas where we are vulnerable, and that we can be aware and that we can, you know, protect ourselves and our families and our people, our churches? I think all those things are so so vital, when it comes to, you know, really doing ministry today.
I completely agree. Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I think that it’s been a very, very painful stretch for pastors, they feel extremely attacked. And I know that there are lots of men and women that feel like, gosh, anytime I bring up anything about the vaccine or about, I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s a long list anything, there’s going to be two very, very, very loud groups on both ends, and make my life miserable. And the thing we say over and over again, is listen, you know, there’s always, there’s always going to be some loud groups on the extremes, but there’s this huge group in the middle, that group needs you. Because we respond to this group on this side, or this group on the other side, if it’s going to be so vocal and so loud, that that will drive you crazy. There’s a huge group in the middle, that will not be vocal, they desperately need you. But we see pastors that are attacked from these extreme sides. And I mean, there’s extreme sides right now. Because, again, you know, what I don’t want to be in this church, we don’t agree on the vaccine, or on systemic racism, or on CRT or Christian nationalism, all of these different things. And the thing which I have just emphasized to pastors, more and more, which just sounds so simplistic, but it’s still important is listen, now more than ever, you’ve got to find your basic unity in Jesus. I mean, you’ve got to preach Jesus, you can’t preach about these issues that okay, we have to feel the same way, though. You have to give your church freedom, you’re going to have some people that feel this way about masks or this way about masks. Okay, that’s not the basis of your unity… the basis is Jesus Christ. And just to encourage pastors over and over again, go back to Jesus. That’s where we’ve got to go right now. That’s our only hope.
Awesome, Jimmy. Man, this has been such a good conversation and the work that PastorServe is doing is so important to the church, especially now, as we’ve been talking. You know, there are so many pastors who are really struggling with a lot of these challenges. So, Jimmy, if pastors watching right now are saying, Hey, listen, I know that I need to talk to someone. You know what I mean? I know that PastorServe of offers, you know, a complimentary coaching session, so that you can just kind of connect and talk to a coach and just kind of get a feel for what that what that conversation might go like? How can people connect with PastorServe? What’s the best way?
Yeah, yeah, I would say go to go to either PastorServe.org. Or you can call us. And I’m sure you’ll have the phone number in the show notes, Jason, because I’m trying to think of the phone number off the top of my head. There’s a phone number that you can all Here we go. You can call 877-918-4746 to go to PastorServe.org, or call 877-918-4746. And we would love to serve you and just listen to you and process with you. Yeah, we’d love to help in any way that we can.
That’s awesome. Brother. Thank you so much. Appreciate you being here. And being a part and super excited for what this show holds in the weeks, the months and the years ahead as we seek to encourage and equip pastors for healthy leadership, both front stage and backstage. Thank you so much, Jimmy, appreciate you being here with us. Awesome. Thanks.
All right, God bless you. 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, front stage backstage is more than just a podcast or a YouTube show about ministering 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 a 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 about different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, 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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