Making Self-Leadership Simple & Effective : Ryan Leak

Making Self-Leadership Simple & Effective - Ryan Leak - 33 - FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

Have you ever wondered why sometimes we overcomplicate the process of growing and developing as a ministry leader? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Ryan Leak. Ryan is an executive coach who has worked with Fortune 500 companies, professional athletes, churches and ministry leaders across the country. Ryan is a USA Today best-selling author, and his latest book, entitled Leveling Up, has just released. Together, Ryan and Jason look at some of the challenges that pastors experience when it comes to self-leadership. And then we explore some simple, yet very meaningful, ways that we can grow and develop on both the front stage and backstage of our 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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Additional Resource Links

Leveling Up – Ryan’s latest book helps you understand that being a great leader is not about having all the answers but asking the right questions—and that starts with careful introspection and inviting others to tell you what they see in you

Leveling Up Assessment – Take the free Leveling Up assessment – Ryan’s website where you can find all of his helpful leadership resources

Connect with Ryan Leak – Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

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Key Insights and Concepts

  • Many people settle for good enough rather than reaching their full God-given potential
  • We can choose to not fulfill what God is calling us to do, but we can also do things that God has never called us to do. Both are ways of avoiding our God-given potential.
  • You can evaluate areas of your life in levels. Level 1 – Aimless. Level 2 – Stuck. Level 3 – Coasting. Level 4 – Developing. Level 5 – Thriving. Level 6 – Mastery.
  • Pastors often experience deep levels of loneliness that they were never prepared to experience
  • One of the keys to thriving in life and ministry is self-leadership
  • We need to take responsibility for our growth and be intentional about how we are developing
  • If a pastor does not lead themselves well, they can not lead a congregation well
  • Self-leadership begins with looking in the mirror and being honest with ourselves
  • Every pastor must work on becoming more self-aware: What is it like to be on the other side of me?
  • Beware of only listening to your “fan club” and be sure you are receiving feedback from a source or sources that can be very honest with you
  • You need the mirror but you also need a trusted friend, you need both. You need to be able to have hard conversations with both.
  • Inviting a trusted person or people into your self-leadership process produces accountability
  • Self-leadership does not mean solo leadership
  • As pastors we need to willingly and intentionally come off the pedestal, because we are often put on a pedestal. We must become comfortable with being authentic rather than trying to live up to the expectations of the pedestal.
  • Pastors often do not want to invite someone else in for accountability because they think if they know who they really are, they may think less of them
  • Don’t overcomplicate your development. Self-leadership is simple and should become a natural part of how you live and lead.
  • Avoid getting so focused on the future that you do not serve the people that God has put in front of you right now really well

Questions for Reflection

  • What areas do I find myself settling for “good enough”?
  • How can I get intentional about living into my God-given potential? What does that look like?
  • Am I doing things that God has not called me to do? Am I caught up in my own agenda rather than what God has called me to do?
  • Which of the six levels do I think I am operating in when it comes to my ministry? Why?
  • Which of the six levels do I think I am operating in when it comes to my family relationships? Why?
  • Which of the six levels do I think I am operating in when it comes to my professional relationships? Why?
  • Am I feeling lonely? If so, who can I connect with that I can trust?
  • How self-aware am I, really? How do I know? How can I know better?
  • Am I listening to my “fan club” too much?
  • Can I be honest with myself in the mirror?
  • Can I be honest with a trusted friend or coach? Why or why not?
  • What are some ways I can come off the “pedestal”? Am I willing to do that?
  • What would it look like for me to take responsibility of my self-leadership? What would I need to change? What would a plan look like for self-leadership? Who would be involved?
  • Am I being fully present with the people God has entrusted me to serve, right here, right now? Or am I so focused on the future I am overlooking what is right in front of me? Are there changes I need to make in this area?

Full-Text Transcript

Have you ever wondered why sometimes we overcomplicate the process of growing and developing as a ministry leader?

Jason Daye
In today’s episode, I’m joined by Ryan Leak. Ryan is an executive coach who has worked with Fortune 500 companies, professional athletes, churches and ministry leaders across the country. Ryan is a USA Today best-selling author, and his latest book, entitled Leveling Up, has just released. Together, Ryan and I look at some of the challenges that pastors experience when it comes to self-leadership. And then we explore some simple, yet very meaningful, ways that we can grow and develop on both the front stage and backstage of our life and ministry. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye
Hello, friends, and welcome to another exciting episode of FrontStage BackStage. I am your host Jason Daye. And every single week, it’s my distinct privilege to sit down with a trusted leader and really just talk about some topics that can impact your life, and really our heart at FrontStage BackStage is to really help you embrace a sustainable, healthy rhythm in both life and ministry, in both the front stage of your life and the backstage of your life. And so every week, we have one of these conversations. And we do more than just this conversation, our team actually creates an entire toolkit around the topic that we discuss, and you can find that at There you’ll find a ministry leaders growth guide with questions to reflect upon with key insights, lots of really good resources there. So be sure to check that out at Now our team at PastorServe would love to come alongside of you and coach you and lead you and help be a part of what God is doing in your life and through your life. And right now we have an opportunity for you to get a complimentary coaching session with one of our seasoned coaches. And you can find that information at So be sure to avail yourself of that. Now if you’re joining us on YouTube, it is good to have you along please give us a thumbs up make sure that you subscribe, and hit that notification bell so you don’t miss out on any of these great conversations. And if you take a moment to drop your name and the name of your church in the comments below, we love to get to know our audience better. And our team will be praying for you and for your ministry. And whether you’re following us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to follow, to subscribe, again so you don’t miss out on these great conversations. As I said, I was very excited about today’s conversation. And at this time, I’d like to welcome Ryan Leak to FrontStage BackStage. Ryan, welcome!

Ryan Leak
Hey, I’m glad to be here. Jason, thanks for having me.

Jason Daye
Yeah, brother, I’m very excited to have you. You have a unique skill set, and you’ve done some some really cool things. You spend a lot of your time coaching, executive level coaching, Fortune 500 companies, professional athletes, and a lot of church leaders, which is awesome. And I love that God is using you in a very unique way in the world, in both the church space and in the marketplace. You’re a USA Today best-selling author, you’ve done a lot of really, really fantastic things. And I’m just excited that you’re taking time to hang out with us here on the show. So one of the things I wanted to kind of pick your brain on, as we’re thinking about ministry and just leading in the local church, one of your observations about both personal and professional development, so both the FrontStage and the BackStage of our lives, is that oftentimes we settle and find ourselves either stuck or, as you say, kind of coasting along. And yet Ryan, you share that all of us, we have the potential to develop ourselves and essentially, level up our lives. So Ryan, from from your experience, why is it that leaders, even driven leaders, you know, people who are out there, who are making things happen, why is it that we often settle for less than we really could in our lives and in our ministries?

Ryan Leak
You know, that’s a great question. I think part of it is, we are creatures that do what we’re told. And so I think a lot of us when we are given a job, it’s like, okay, well, I did my job I did enough. I checked the box. And so most people live lives where they look at the boxes and they check them but it takes a rare leader think, it takes a rare person to say, I’m going to create boxes. Like, I’m going to create the box, I’m not the ones checking the box, I’m the one creating the box, someone’s got to create a box. So you can either take the boxes you were given and say, Okay, we’re going to check these lists. And once we’re done, okay, well, we checked all the boxes, where you can be the kind of person that says, Man, and this is what I think everybody has to do. I’m not the guy that says, Everyone should be the lead pastor, everyone should have a big church, everyone like that. That’s I’m not that person. I’m the guy that says, I think we all should be reaching our potential. So regardless of what level that ends up being on, it’s just like, No, I hope that you’re, you’re able to reach your potential in the place that God has put you in. So I think what happens for a lot of us, as we say, is it good enough for the herd? Is it good enough for my community? Is it good enough for the people I went to college with? Is it good enough for the denomination box, check, box, check box check. Instead of going, Lord, like, if there’s more that you’ve called me to, I don’t want to miss that. And for some, it couldn’t be less. Some people could be doing too much. Just going, Hey, I didn’t, I didn’t call you to do that you’re not you’re in a lane, you’re, you’re doing way too much. And so I think he can go in one of two directions. But I think for a lot of people, they end up settling just because they check the boxes.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s good, right. And I love that you brought up the point that maybe we are doing some things that God’s not calling us to do, because that’s the flip side of it. Sometimes we can get so driven, you know, and so caught up in our kind of our own agenda, as opposed to sitting back and letting God speak into our lives, letting God direct us that we could, we can overshoot what God’s called us to do. And in that way, we are missing out on things as well. So it’s fascinating that you brought that up, Ryan. As you talk about in your newest book, Leveling Up, you talk about this idea that there are kind of some levels in our lives. And this is kind of how you kind of piece it together. So talk to us a little bit about what exactly do you mean by these levels in our life? And how should we take those? And how should we not take them, you know, I mean, because you’re saying something very specific. And you don’t want people to just like run with it. So, so kind of clarify, what do you mean by these different levels?

Ryan Leak
Yeah, so I use the phrase a lot, there’s levels to this thing. And I think that’s a phrase that’s used, you know, in many different arenas, whenever you see somebody that you would consider a next level person in any arena, you know, it could be money, in sports, you like all that there’s levels of this thing, or whether it’s somebody that has something that is bigger than yours, that could be a bigger house or bigger organization and you’re like, Okay, so there’s there’s levels to this thing? Well, I think when it comes to the most important areas of our life, you know, there’s sort of these levels. I, even one of the phrases I use, like whenever I’m doing like a keynote on this is almost even modes that people can be operating in. So level one is aimless. This is a person that just says, like, I have no earthly idea, like what I’m doing with my life, like at all just clueless. Level two is a person who is stuck. Biggest difference between aimless and stuck is a person that is stuck. It’s like, they know, they should be doing better. They can actually see a promised land, if you will, they’re just got some motivation, I just, I just stuck. Level three is when a person is coasting, going through the motions, their life is on autopilot. They’re doing what they’re told they are indeed, checking boxes. A level four is a person that is developing, they have systems in their life that have served them well, that simply allow them to have incremental incremental progress over the course of their career. They are going somewhere in life, they’re just not going there with a lot of intentionality. They’re just again, they’re, they’ve they’ve they’ve set things up for them to get promoted every couple of years. And they’re, you know, they’re doing they’re doing the deal. Level five is thriving. This is where a person is truly in their sweet spot. They really are in a place where they feel like they’re doing what God has called them to do. Things are rolling on all cylinders. Their life is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. However, they do wake up with a little bit of a pep in their step. They use phrases like we get to, they don’t have to do anything. They they they see life as an opportunity. Level six is what we call mastery. This is where you are so good at what you do that you’re actually able to invest in other people to pull it off for themselves. So, in the Jewish culture, there is what’s called levels of generosity. And the highest level of generosity is actually not giving anybody money. It’s actually strengthening their hand. In other words, for me to give you a job, it’s the idea of teaching a man to fish versus giving him a fish. That’s what happens at what we call level six mastery, is you are investing in other people enough to say, hey, here, here’s some things I’ve thrived long enough, I can make a difference in somebody else’s life.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s great. Right. And that gives us a good framework, I think, to kind of reflect upon, and what’s interesting, as you’re walking through those, you know, there may be some areas of our life where we feel like we’re coasting. Yeah, there may be another area of life where we feel like we’re thriving, you know. So it’s interesting to look at the different arenas within our own lives. There’s different spots and places. But But the beauty of thinking through if I’m in a season where I feel stuck, that’s not where I have to stay. Right? There’s the opportunity. And I love that. Now, one of the things and this is, this is where we get into the, I mean, this is all good stuff. But this is where we get to the really good stuff. One of the things that I love about you, Ryan, is that you… this whole idea of self-leadership, you say it’s absolutely key for us to live into the fullest of what God has for us, right, that, that there does take this piece, we can’t just sit back and let the world and everyone around us, you know, somehow, you know, magically make us into, you know, the life that God has in store for us. That God asks us to lean in, and that there takes us you know, in, you read, you read scripture, you see, there’s a lot of talk about self discipline, this idea of self leadership, this idea of, you know, being intentional, as you’ve said, you know, being thoughtful, that we don’t just sit back and hope God figures it all out, you know, and then we’re just along for the ride. And so self-leadership, very, very key. And I think a lot of people, if you’re just to talk with them, right, they would agree. Yeah, self leadership is important, but we’re busy people. We’re busy checking boxes, right? We’re, you know, we’re doing the tasks, we’re trying to keep all the plates spinning. Right. And often that self-leadership piece kind of falls down the kind of priority list. So talk to us a little bit, Ryan, about how do we begin to reimagine or maybe even restructure our lives as pastors, as ministry leaders, who have, you know, wear a ton of hats, right? In the ministry, we’ve got a lot going on. How do we begin to rethink this idea of self-leadership?

Ryan Leak
Yeah, well, one, I want to encourage some pastors right now, because pastoring is a very, what what I’ve never seen on a pastoral job description is be prepared to be lonely. Nobody says that. No, no one. There’s not a class in seminary for that. Right? You can’t go to Harvard and get a class on that. And so you’re just not prepared for the for that, that level of loneliness that you experience, and you pastors more than any position that I can think of truly have to be self-led. I work with C-suite executives all around the world, they don’t have to be on in front of people and investing into souls once a week, 50 times a year. Right. Like they don’t and I know again, they’ve got other problems, and they have to be self-led, too. But in terms of, you know, the, their jobs, allow them to have personal problems, and still do their job. You know, like, whereas pastoring is, it’s, it’s a, it’s a challenge, for sure. And, and you due to the nature of what we do, and the authenticity in which we like to do ministry, it’s like, very difficult to tell people how to raise their children when yours are acting crazy. Yeah, it’s true. It’s very, like so you have a job where you are spiritually guiding others. And that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s a challenge. And so, lead yourself, I think is, is sometimes all you have is that mirror, and you’re getting up on a stage and you’re going into a meeting. And in the back of your mind, you’re thinking I wish someone was pastoring me right now. I wish somebody was leading me right now. And I just know so many pastors and so many leaders who are leading on empty and so I pray that today’s episode is a resource that is refreshing for them, that is fueling them, and is giving them some something to chew on that’s going to help them over the next year. So I think self-leadership, the the idea of that for pastors, I think is vitally important. Because if a pastor doesn’t lead themselves well, I don’t think that they can lead a congregation well, and so I think it starts with us looking in the mirror, and, and being willing to be honest about who we are. I think about chapter two in the book. That’s the self-awareness question, where you ask the question, What’s it like to be on the other side of me? What’s it like to be on the other side of me? I just don’t think enough pastors are asking themselves that question. It’d be great if you had another pastor, another leader to come alongside you and say, Hey, did you know what it’s like to be on the other side of your preaching? Hey, did you know what it’s like to be on the other side of your counsel? Do you know what it’s like to be on the other side of your leadership? Do you know what it’s like to be on the other side of being married to you, parented by you, stuck in a group chat with you, I mean, we could go down the line of thinking about what it’s like to be on the other side of us. And I can’t tell you as, as a communicator, as a speaker, as somebody that gets to teach in churches all around the country. I am amazed by how many teams I’ve sat with in church, too. When I asked the question, What’s it like to be on the other side of your pastor? Nine times out of 10, nine times out of 10? He preaches too long. It’s the truth. He preaches too long. Then I say, Have you told him? No, no, we can’t. We can’t, we can’t, we can’t. And I’m going, Well, why not? Wow. And I know why they can’t, because the last person that told them that doesn’t work there anymore. And so I remember me and my wife, we were sitting with a couple, and they were talking about the journey of their marriage. And the wife says something I’ll never forget. She said at the beginning of our marriage, he wasn’t in a place for me to be honest with him, but now he is, and our marriage is different because of it. I sat there and I thought to myself, What am I not in the place to hear that I need to hear? Like, what’s the thing that my family, friends and colleagues are going, Oh, if we could just tell Ryan? Like, this is what it’s like to be on the other side of him. And he’s done? No, he’s just not in a place to hear. So I just had, you know, I get to this conclusion, like, you can handle the truth. And so I think as pastors, as leaders, I think we have to be the ones to start that conversation, to be able to go, Hey, what’s it like to be on the other side of me? And if I preach long, it’s gonna make Okay, so it what was shorter actually look like? Would that be better for church staff? Because what we all we all can fall prey to, is our fan club. So if we hear from five people, man is the best message I ever heard. I don’t preach long, I’m amazing. I’m gonna make this like, well, and so you can’t fall for the fan club hype, because you can hear from 10 people and it feels like 10,000. But it really was just 10. And so to get objective feedback to be able to go okay, man, how, what, what is it like to be on the other side of, of me and experience me and I’ll just tell you, what I’m learning about myself of what it’s like to be on the other side of me is you have a father, husband, leader, friend, who’s consistently multitasking. It’s like, nobody ever gets my undivided attention. In fact, if you were to poll my friends and family, and kids, they’d go, in fact, we always have Ryan’s divided attention. Even my clients would go, he’s here. But he’s also thinking about his family, and then my family would go he’s here, but he’s also thinking about his clients. It’s so I’m realizing like, that’s what it’s like to be on the other side of me. Nobody’s had that conversation. I’m just asking that question a lot. What’s it like to be on the other side of me? And I’m noticing, like even with my son, who is teaching me the most about self-awareness right now, is like man on the other side of sometimes it’s a dad that’s irritable. Sometimes it’s a dad just on his phone or checking email or you know, letting his inbox run his life. And so I’ve just had to be very intentional about that. I think that question makes us consider it, I think that’s what it means to lead yourself well, is to be able to go okay. I’ve asked myself some of these questions, and not that the conclusions are always self loathing, but I think they’re self improving to go man, let me just, next meeting, how about I don’t even bring my phone? What would that look like? Everyone gets my eyes? Everyone gets my literal undivided attention. Like, before we started this, what did I have to do? They had Do Not Disturb. Because if I don’t, it’s gonna ding. Oh, okay. All right. And then, and then instantly, I’m gonna be thinking about replying to them. As soon as this thing is over, and you’re gonna be able to tell you won’t be able to prove it or know exactly what’s going on, where you’re gonna go, it’s like he wasn’t there. So, for me, what I’m doing is I’m going man, I gotta lead myself better. And I’m not waiting for my family, friends and loved ones to have an intervention with me to go, Hey, things may not be as awesome. Have an experience on the other side of me as I think it is. So I tend to err on the side of caution there to go, ma’am. But let’s take this thing to a new level.

Jason Daye
Yeah, Ryan, I love that. And I love the idea that, you know, even in talking through this idea of self-leadership, you know, you make it clear that, hey, this, we need to be intentional, we need to take the initiative, right. But self-leadership does not mean solo leadership. In other words, some of the things that you talked about is that self-leadership, you’re inviting other people into the discussion, which I think is a great distinction, because lots of times we think of self-leadership as me, you know, sitting in my office alone, making myself better somehow. Right. Which doesn’t really typically work, because we slip into that, like you mentioned, we’re thinking about all the great things people say about us. So we really don’t change at all right? We just like focus on all the good stuff. So I love that idea that that self-leadership, although it’s initiated by us, and it’s intentional by us, it is not only us, right? So talk to me talk a bit about that, the community aspect of self-leadership, if you could,

Ryan Leak
Yeah, yeah, in the book, I say you need the mirror and you need the friend, you need both. And you need to be able to have have hard conversations with both. I think inviting someone else in, what it does is it produces accountability. I think for a lot of pastors, there is this. One of the things I’ve just been encouraging pastors to do, is to willingly come off the pedestal, because pastors are put on a pedestal, then you feel like you have to like remain on this pedestal. And it’s like this, you create this unrealistic expectation of yourself that if pastors are honest, they kind of start lying about the realities of their life. And so I’ve, I’ve kind of gone the other direction, in my communication, of putting myself in the boat of everyone in the audience. And being very honest about that. So speaking at a megachurch, a couple of months ago, and I said, Hey, my marriage is average. And you heard this, like? Like, people did not know what to do with that statement? It’s like, what? What do you what do you mean? I want Yeah, I mean, we’re seven, we’re at about a seven, you know, like, we, we don’t have blow up fights. And you know, we’re not rubbing each other’s feet every night either. You know, like, about average, like we have the tensions that the average couple has around scheduling and children and what we’re gonna eat for dinner, and oh, I forgot. I’m sorry, I forgot to take out the trash. I mean, like very, were, were average. I got invited to speak to a marriage conference the other day. And I was like, I’m not the one to be doing this. And a couple before us, got up and just are holding hands. They did a skit. They did this whole thing and they pray together every night and I’m just like, that’s awesome. No, I am closing us out is Ryan like, Hey, I’m gonna let you know right now, my marriage is average. My wife’s at home. Just just just in case you’re wondering. It’s 10 o’clock. She’s asleep right now. Like I can’t even believe I’m here. Hey, here’s the deal. You got a couple of those got up? They’re amazing. I’m telling you like we’re average you want and a half and we pray sometimes. Okay. That’s what we do. Okay, we, I’m going to give you four things tonight that I wish I was doing better in my marriage, number one, and I just went through it. And every husband in there goes, I can relate to that. And so for me, I’ve just gone don’t put me on this pedestal, don’t put my marriage on this pedestal. Ni, I am very, very normal. I just spoke on anger this past weekend, I started off the message. I’m angry. And I would love for you to believe that I don’t have anger issue. But the more I started writing the message on it. I think we all do, right. I mean, more and more think about it, every person I talk to has a little bit of something in them that they’re just angry about: politics, referees, their favorite sport. I mean, the airport is where I’m at a lot and talk about a group of angry people always angry. It’s like, No, we’re, we’re all in this. And so for me, I’ve just, I’ve just decided to just, hey, if you think less of me, guess what, thinking less of me is good for me. And so I think, long answer to your question. I think that we don’t want to invite someone else in for accountability because we think well, if they know who I really am, they may think less of me. They should think less of you. That’s good for you. And the reason I’ve gotten so excited about people thinking less of me as of lately is because at least they’re thinking of the real me versus them coming to the conclusion that I’m somebody that I’m not that somebody I’ve actually become okay, somewhat addicted to disappointing people. Man, I, I just thought that you were just superhuman, no regular human. Sorry to disappoint you. Man, I met Ryan and it was underwhelming, I told you that it was gonna be underwhelming, and I’m glad that you are underwhelmed. And I’m glad that you don’t think that highly of me. However, I do think you should think highly of Jesus. He’s awesome. He doesn’t disappoint. But if I disappointed you, that’s a good thing because I am okay coming off the pedestal, right. I’m okay with you thinking less of me. And so I think of I think a pastor leader has to come to that place in their own journey with the Lord, with life with people. And I’m not saying you should bleed on stage. I’m not saying that. But I am saying like, for us, we can have this larger than life thing. Because we’re on stage. If you’re in a larger church, you’re sometimes even being streamed and people associate stream with TV, which, if you’re on TV, you’re what? Famous. Now you’re Christian famous. And so they can kind of make conclusions about your life and whatnot that are just not true. That’s the thing is it’s not true, like so I just, I, I love the whole theme of your podcast, front stage backstage. Every single one of us has met a pastor at some point that we thought was something different. And we saw them backstage, and we went Oh, right. And in that moment, it’s like, what do we do with that? And again, we’re not talking integrity stuff, you know, I mean, it’s just like, there can just be. So I think it’s on us to say I was speaking at a church, really large church, and they were I can’t believe you came to the lobby. Oh, my God, you came to the lobby, and shook hands with people I want it. Yeah, people stood in line to start taking pictures. And I was like, why don’t you take him in again and there? Because I’m like, I don’t think of myself as as famous pastro, that’s weird. Then but but in their mind, we’ve always wanted meet you. Okay, well, I’ll do well, I just started doing it more and more. And you know, what they started doing, they stopped taking pictures. Because it became normal. It became like, oh, okay, he’s, but as long as I stay in my green room, or whatever that is, or stay away from it. It becomes this elite thing. It’s like not an elite thing. it’s just it’s and when once I came off that pedestal it’s like he’s just a normal guy. Yeah, I tried to tell you that a long time ago. So I think inviting someone in it humbles you to go Yeah, I got somebody in this church who’s like not a pastor that’s holding me accountable on things that I confess sins to, I sit with and talk about struggles and frustrations and try and have healthy relationship. Yeah, I’m in a small group in this church, I think you should be in one too. Like, I’m not just overseeing the small groups, I participate in them, like there’s somebody in my life that’s going, Hey, how are you really doing? And I actually tell them, I think you should have the same.. So I think that, that, that that’s the hard part about self-leadership is inviting someone and that you can trust. Because sometimes people when you are in charge, there are there are people that will use your kryptonite against you, so to speak. And so that can be very, very difficult for people. And so I think the, the having a trusted friend, a lot of times pastors elect to have a trusted friend outside of their church, not not within it. And again, I’m not going to give you a bunch of rules on how you should do that. But I do think it’s important that there is a, a high level of accountability, and that we should be the type of people that seek that out. I tell church leaders all the time, if there’s something that we’re doing that we can’t share with the congregation, that’s probably a clear sign that we’re doing something wrong. And I get that everything doesn’t need to be shared, because people can’t handle information. However, when we find ourselves hiding, if we find ourselves with stories that we wouldn’t be proud to tell, I think we’re trouble. And so the, the worst thing a pastor can do is be on that island and have no accountability.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s good. And I think that’s, you know, as you’re sharing there, this this idea of people talking about authenticity, transparency, these types of things. And I think you’re right in saying, you know, obviously, everything doesn’t need to be shared. But you need to be in a posture where you’re not hiding things, right. Because those are two different things. Right, sharing things versus hiding things. Right. That’s, it’s, there’s a difference. I think that’s an important distinction. I love that. One of the things Ryan that I love in this, this, this, this new book of yours, leveling up. So you go through, I love this 12 questions to elevate your personal professional development, because really what you do is you make this idea of self-leadership very accessible to everybody. And you do it through these questions. Like it’s just very like, hey, like you were talking about that first question, self-awareness question. You just, you just take one of these questions, and you just dive into it. So this whole idea of self-leadership doesn’t have to be… sometimes we make things a lot harder than they have to. Right. And when we think they’re harder, then we don’t do them. But But you’ve distilled this down, I absolutely love it. In Leveling Up, you’ve distilled it down to these 12 questions, and I shared with you earlier, I’m fine to share now, for 2023 Like I got this book for 2023, this is one of the books I’m going to spend on those 12 questions a month on each of those questions, and just kind of do a deep dive, man, and just like, just allow myself to commune with God over these questions, reflect on these questions, my relationship with God, my relationship with my family, and professionally, and everything. So this idea of of making it accessible. Talk to us a little bit, Ryan, about how sometimes we make things a lot harder than they need to be and why the accessibility piece is so important.

Ryan Leak
You know it we do overcomplicate I think leadership, self-leadership, and we overcomplicate church and overall experience. It’s interesting. I’ve had an opportunity to travel the world, corporate America, church. I’ve traveled enough. I have status with every airline, every hotel chain. I’ve stayed everywhere. My clients have flown me first class. I have stayed in Ritz Carlton’s I have stayed at the Holiday Inn. I have stayed at Four Seasons, your everyday Marriott, your Hilton, your Hyatt, your eye when it comes to customer service. I am the the prototype of what the experience like I’ve experienced in every city, you name it. Here’s what’s so interesting to me is the sheets at the Ritz Carlton are not that much nicer than the ones at your regular Marriott. Fellows are pillows. You sleep on them. That’s what you do. Okay, like, but here’s what’s interesting about some of the top brands in the world. It’s not that their stuff is nicer is that the people are that’s it. Like, it’s not like at Nordstrom, they’re massaging your shoulders when you walk in. Now, you could get that same sweatshirt at Macy’s but the people are not as nice. It’s amazing to me that you’d be surprised by how much things would change in your life with a little bit of a smile, just being nicer. But, like being nice and being kind, it’s just being considerate. That’s all it is. It’s I did a Chick fil A event one of the mantras that they have at Chick fil A is if you are a leader there, you pick up the trash. You see trash on the ground, you just pick it up. Not that hard. That’s a crazy concept. Yeah, pick up trash. I go to this next event. And there was a piece of trash on the ground, and I saw leader kick the trash underneath the bleachers. And I thought, Oh, yeah. Is that so revolutionary? Because that’s what most people do. Most people won’t pick up trash. And so I think sometimes we overcomplicate it, and we look, we think that to take things to the next level, it’s gonna take a lot of money, or it’s going no, You’d be surprised what can happen when, when I think we’re just not isn’t like it can’t be that easy. I’m like, I didn’t used to like that. I pulled up to a Ritz Carlton one time. And I picked up food on the way from the airport, the valet guy, and I’ve had my car valeted a lot in my lifetime, never had a valet guy do this. You open the door, and he said, Hey, can I throw that away for you? What is that? He’s just nicer. That’s it. He’s just like, like, he didn’t say, Hey, can I wash your car for you? Which some valet services do you didn’t say Hey, can I vacuum cannot No, no, no, no, no. He just said, Hey, can I throw that away for you? Yeah. And I it that was my first time out of his car, and I went other places next level why? The food wasn’t that great. What is that, Egyptian cotton? Yay. The TV’s aren’t bigger. The bathrooms aren’t big, like no, people are nicer. They are very, very considerate about somebody else’s experience. And so I just thought. Disney’s whole customer service training is all around doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. They’re just nicer than the workers at Six Flags. That’s it. theme park, rides, things for kids. But they just train people to go, no, like we should be considerate. And I honestly when I think about all of the different experiences that I’ve had around the world think Man, it wasn’t it had nothing to do with money. It had everything to do with people’s mindset around Hey, like, I want to be really good at my job. And and here’s what working with teams doing events that require so many moving parts. What I’ve discovered is that when everybody commits to doing their job well, it’s amazing what we can pull off together. So if you’re a sound guy, and the sound guy is gone, it’s gonna be the best sound they’ve ever had to amazing what happens when he does his job, and I do mine. And the lighting guy doesn’t say, in the musician does the same thing. And the host does the same. And the like when everyone comes to the table and they go listen, if I’m a greeter, I’m gonna be a next level greeter. But like, like, it doesn’t matter what my position is, like, I’m gonna be really, really good at my job. And I’m gonna be nice. Like, I’m gonna go out of my way, like what would what would what would be an amazing experience for these people? It’s just, man, some of the top brands in the world teach their people look beyond the status quo. And I think it’s accessible. Like, in so many people’s Oh, my pastor, he’s a jerk or my leader or my boss, and I’m just like, Yeah, but you don’t need their permission for you to level up. Right? Are you waiting for them to level up before you do? And so I believe what these questions give people is the opportunity to take ownership of their own development to say, hey, no, this is this is on you just because your leader has an attitude and not giving you permission to have some people go no, no, it was the leaders fault. You think that I would look at one of my leaders and go it’s his fault that I’m a rude person. No, that’s not a thing. I’m sorry. I’m not buying it like now if if if you want to grow you will, right and if you won’t, you won’t and so that’s that’s the that’s the overall heart of the book is gone. So like man, or do you just teach people to be nicer I want to sometimes why? Because people are mean, that’s why revolutionary, and it doesn’t sound revolutionary, but it’s just like you just you think the next time you go out, you just take inventory of the people that are going out of their way. A to say, hey, I want to make sure that you have a good, good experience that I went to get a candle from Nordstrom one time, three employees started helping me. Okay, well, if he gets the candle for that, and I’m just like, what’s going on? What? They’re just being nicer? If I go to bed bath and beyond here it is. Thanks. Where’s the other lines of, it’s just a completely different experience, the candle cost the same. People at Nordstrom are just taught, hey, let’s give them an experience. And I think that we should be thinking about that as as leaders, going oh man, and someone walks through the doors of our church. And I hope that they’re first off. Do you know the mental hurdles people have just to go through the doors of the church, right? I mean, I just I just try and recognize that at the door to just go, man, like you get your kids ready, took you two hours to get ready. This next 60 minute should be amazing. Like, that’s the least we could do for you. Like, thanks for coming today. I really mean now not just saying welcome to church not take no for real, like, I take time to recognize that people, like they paid a price to be there way beyond tithes and offerings. And it makes a difference. You’d be surprised. So. So that’s what that’s what I think, you know, is is important around some of those self-leadership components. Yo, I can talk about this stuff all day long, dude.

Jason Daye
I know, man. I know.

Ryan Leak
I grew up in the church, I work with churches. Man. I just like you said, I think we can grow I think we overcomplicate some of this.

Jason Daye
Yep. That’s good, brother. That’s good. Hey, listen, it’s been awesome conversation. I know, we could sit here and talk for hours. Great stuff. So just a couple things before we wrap up, Ryan, one, what’s the best way for people to connect with you if they want to get the book? Those those types of things?

Ryan Leak
Of course, how is the easiest way for you to get all things Ryan Leak, you can go on Amazon, target Barnes and Noble, wherever books are sold, you can pick up your copy of leveling up. I also have an assessment on my website to where you can answer some questions. And it’ll tell you where we think you are on the levels professionally versus personally. Like you said earlier, you could be thriving at your job and coasting at home, you could be coasting at your job and thriving as a parent like those those, those are real things. And then we give you some next steps and different things that we think would be helpful for you to take your life to the next level.

Jason Daye
That’s awesome, brother. So we’ll have links for all of that at in the toolkit that goes along with this episode. So we’ll have links. So those of you watching along or listening along, you can go there, and we’ll get all that stuff for you. And then Ryan, as as we close down, I want to give you just an opportunity to final thoughts that you’d want to share with brothers and sisters who are in ministry serving. What words do you have for them as we close down?

Ryan Leak
Give your absolute best. And there’s a fine line between learning from another church and comparing yours to theirs. And that that line gets blurry really fast. And in the process of seeing what God is doing through his kingdom, your churches all around the world, you can lose sight of what God has called you to do. It’s just easy. It’s just an easy trap for any of us to fall for. And so I just want to encourage brothers and sisters that are watching this podcast to lock in in 2023 on what God has called you to do and the people God has called you to serve. Because sometimes what can happen is you can get so focused on the future, because we’re these visionary leaders. And we’re thinking about the future and growing. And sometimes you can find yourself talking to a group of people that aren’t in the room. And I just, I just want to encourage each and every brother and sister in Christ, hey, be in the room. Serve the people that God has put in front of you right now really well. And sure, prepare for the future. But in the process of preparing for the future, do not ignore the present. Be present and serve those people well. And don’t fall for the trap of looking over at another church and then going we’re just… no, if only we would… no. Like God, God put you in that neighborhood and that community for a reason, to show up for that community. That’s what I would encourage people.

Jason Daye
I love that, man. That’s a great word, Ryan. Appreciate it, brother. Well, thank you so much for making time to hang out with us on FrontStage BackStage. It’s been a joy.

Ryan Leak
Yes, I appreciate it.

Jason Daye
All right. God bless you, my friend. 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 at 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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