Overcoming Overwhelm & Unlocking Resilience in Ministry : Daniel Fusco
How can we overcome the overwhelm that so often occurs in ministry, and be healthy and effective in our calling? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Daniel Fusco, author, church planter, and lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, Washington. Together, Daniel and Jason explore the idea of unlocking resiliency, embracing perseverance and grit in ministry, in such a way that it doesn’t tip over into an unhealthy state of exhaustion and overload.
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
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Additional Resource Links
You’re Gonna Make It: Unlocking Resilience When Life is a Mess – Daniel’s latest book which helps you discover the grit you need to persevere through life’s challenging times—with the resilience, honesty, and unshakeable joy of Jesus
Two Minute Messages – Daniel’s short, insightful video messages that relate to many of the questions shared by seekers and believers alike
Crossroads Community Church – The church Daniel pastors in Vancouver, Washington
Complimentary 1-hour Coaching Session for Pastors http://PastorServe.org/freesession
Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- As pastors and ministry leaders we sometimes take on burdens that Jesus does not ask us to shoulder
- The resilience God desires for us to have is the fruit from a personal revival we have with Him
- God is more concerned with the minister than the ministry
- We can not allow the work of ministry to become a substitute for our true devotion to Jesus. We must get back to falling in love with Jesus.
- The Gospel does not change but how we share and live out the Gospel does change
- As pastors and ministry leaders we need to be willing to be uncomfortable and do things differently to reach those who are far from God
- Even though in the history of the Church we have never had as many discipleship resources that we have right now, we have a discipleship problem
- We also have a deployment problem in releasing all of these people out to serve God’s kingdom
- Resilience is doing the right things, the right ways for the right reasons, even if you don’t get the the outcomes that you want
- If we are aligned with the heart of God and the Word of God, we can press ahead knowing we are doing His work as best we can, even if we are not seeing the results we had hoped
- Our culture wants to see everything go up and to the right, but God’s way is not always up and to the right (Consider Jonah and Jeremiah)
- God is concerned with our faithfulness to what He has called us to and God will handle the outcomes
- Real constructive growth and criticism comes in the context of relationship
- If you’re arguing theology on social media, it’s not changing anyone’s mind. But if you’re sitting across the table with a cup of coffee with someone, and you’re working through differences in theology, that will have a much greater impact
- It is impossible to never have experiences of overwhelm because we’re human and we live in a world that we have very little control over
- When we experience overwhelm we must acknowledge it is happening and then take it all to Jesus. He is the all-knowing, all-powerful. We remind ourselves who God is and that He is at work, and then just keep walking forward, honoring God.
- We must make time to rest. The only person who is essential for God’s Kingdom is Jesus, and all the rest of us just play bit parts, so if we can not make time to rest it is because we have a way over elevated view of ourselves.
- Depending on what season of life we are in, how we rest looks differently
- Pastors, falling apart because we do not make time for rest will be way worse for the people that we serve than us taking some time to rest
- We must protect our time with Jesus because it is essential for the work that we do in ministry
- Find healthy ways to release and relax. Many pastors who have struggled and stumbled in the ministry picked up a release valve that was unhealthy.
Questions for Reflection
- Am I shouldering any burdens that God has not asked me to shoulder? If so, what are they?
- When was the last time I felt I had a “personal revival” with the Lord?
- How does the vibrancy of my relationship with Jesus impact the vitality I have for ministry?
- How am I making time to develop my personal relationship with Jesus? What does this look like daily? Weekly? Annually?
- Am I willing to try new things to reach people who are far from God? If so, what have I tried in the past year? If not, why not?
- Does our church give our ministry leaders permission to try new things? If not, how can we foster a culture that does?
- How is discipleship going at our church? What changes, if any, should we consider?
- How is deployment into serving the Kingdom going at our church? What changes, if any, should we consider?
- How do I feel about this definition of resiliency? “Resilience is doing the right things, the right ways for the right reasons, even if you don’t get the the outcomes that you want”
- What do I do when things I attempt in ministry do not have the results I hoped?
- For me, how do I view faithfulness in ministry and the outcomes that arise?
- Our culture is focused on increase, growth, “up and to the right” …how does that impact how I view ministry? Are there changes I need to consider?
- How do I handle criticism?
- Am I overly critical of others in ministry? Overly critical of people who are far from God? How does this impact my ministry?
- Is the work that I am doing aligned withe the heart of God and His Word?
- Do I feel overwhelmed in life and ministry right now?
- How do I handle feelings of overwhelm? How can I better handle those experiences?
- Am I making time to rest? What does this look like daily? Weekly? Annually?
- Does are church provide space for ministry leaders to rest? If not, what changes need to be made?
- If I am really honest with myself, do I have concerns that things at our church will not “go right” if I am not there? What can I learn about myself from this?
- What are my “release valves”? Are these healthy ways to rest and find release? If I do not have any healthy release valves, what will I do moving forward to begin to find healthy ways to release and rest?
How can we overcome the overwhelm that so often occurs in ministry, and be healthy and effective in our calling?
In this episode, I’m joined by Daniel Fusco, author, church planter, and lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, Washington. Together, Daniel and I explore the idea of unlocking resiliency, embracing perseverance, embracing grit in ministry, in such a way that it doesn’t tip over into an unhealthy state of exhaustion and overload. It’s an important conversation, and I’m sure that you’ll be encouraged by what Daniel has to share. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to another exciting episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye, and every single week, I have the absolute pleasure of sitting down with a trusted ministry leader and diving into a conversation, all designed to help you embrace healthy, well-balanced, sustainable leadership in both life and ministry. And we are proud to be a part of the PastorServe Network. And every single week, our team puts together a toolkit that complements the conversation we’re about to have. That toolkit is available for you and your ministry team to download, to dig into, to reflect on some of the questions that are raised by the topic we discuss. And you can find that at PastorServe.org/network. So be sure to avail yourself of that great resource as you grow as a leader in the church, and as you help grow your team. Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, it’s good to see you, good to have you along. Please give us a thumbs up and, in the comments below, share your name, share the name of your church. We love to get to know our audience better, and our team will be praying for your ministry. And whether you’re joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to follow, be sure to subscribe, and just share this with others ,with other pastors and ministry leaders, that way you do not miss out on any of these great conversations. And like I said, I’m super excited for today’s conversation because I’m joined by a dear friend, a great man of God, none other than Daniel Fusco. So Daniel, welcome to FrontStage BackStage.
Jason, it’s great to be with you and all the pastors who are connecting with us and all the different platforms that they’re on.
Awesome, man, so good to see you, brother. Appreciate your heart for God, your heart for the Kingdom. And, Daniel, it’s one of these things… today we’re diving into this conversation, this conversation we’re going to dig into is all about this idea of perseverance and resilience and grit as pastors and ministry leaders. And one of the things that many of us who are in full time ministry feel is that we need to oftentimes be strong for everyone else, right? We need to kind of hold everyone together. We need to push through with grit, with determination. And Daniel, you and I both know that that is not always the healthiest way for us to really approach our life, to approach our ministry. So Daniel, I would love to start off for you to just share a bit about what it looks like for us to unlock this idea of healthy resilience that you write about in your newest book, this idea of the way that Jesus invites us to live with determination, with perseverance, but in a healthy, in a healthy way.
Yeah, I love getting to talk about this. And and I realize like as ministry leaders, like we all do struggle, and we’ve all made the mistake of taking on burdens that Jesus actually isn’t asking us to take on. You know, it’s part of being a pastor or ministry leader. It’s like, you know, we’re in it for the glory of God and for the blessings of people. And so one of the things that I think that we’re all learning is that it’s very easy for us to almost stand in God’s way. Not that that’s really possible. But like, we almost get in the way of what God is doing by taking on certain burdens that God has not, isn’t asking us to take on. And I think that part of really growing in a biblical version of resilience or grit or determination, is making sure that we are doing what we’re actually called and created to do. And not just doing things the way that we always do it because we think it’s what people want from us or expect from us or the ways that we choose to kind of define ourselves. So it really boils down to, and I think that part of what God wants to do in all of us, is he wants to give us all a little personal revival. And I think the resilience that we’re looking for is actually the fruit of some of that personal revival that he does. I always tell pastors that God is more concerned with the minister than the ministry. You know, we have a tendency to think it’s about what will, how’s this all gonna work and I get my value if it went well or not well, depending on how I define these things, but God is like, Daniel, I love people, I love you as a person, more than I love the work that you do for me or in my name. And so I think that that’s really the key is to let the Lord unburden us from things, that burdens that we take on that he’s never asked us to.
Yeah, that’s such a good word. And I think it’s really key for us to hone in on the fact that first and foremost, God wants to do a work in our lives. The only way he can do work through our lives, is if we’re open to him doing the work in our lives. And so oftentimes, in ministry, even though Jesus makes it very, very clear that we’re not to worry, sometimes we bring that on, right? We worry, right? Or we have fears or we have these anxieties. So talk to us a little bit about how do we navigate things like worry, and things like fear, in ministry… what’s that look like?
Yeah, so and you know, in the book, You’re Gonna Make It, I really take this idea of how do we have kind of what a biblical resilience would look like a wholeheartedness, in the midst of challenging times through fear and worry, times of stress, or times of suffering, which we all have. And I really believe that it all really begins with our own personal relationship with Jesus. I know, we all know this. And if a pastor or ministry leader like we’d like, oh, yeah, whatever you do, don’t let the ministry be a substitute for your relationship with Jesus. And we all say this, we all know this. But I’ve been doing this for 22 years as a pastor, and I see how much of the way God has discipled me has come in the context of the local church and the context of doing the work of ministry. And so because everything that I do on a daily basis, whether I am, you know, talking to you, Jason and all the pastors out there, I’m in a staff meeting, or I’m prepping for a sermon, or I’m writing a book, or you know, I’m doing an interview, or whatever I’m doing everything is about Jesus. And so it’s really easy to, you know, instead of having those times of just great devotion, where I’m just making much of Jesus, sometimes I can get very efficient in, and I would say in that in a negative way, get a very efficient in my time with the Lord, where it’s like, yeah, I’m doing my through the Bible reading in a year plan. Yeah, I pray through everything on the prayer list. But really, what God is looking for is for us, our hearts to be steadfastly devoted. I mean, I get that out of what Acts chapter 2, it talks about the Early Church, how they were steadfastly devoted to the apostles teaching and fellowship and the breaking bread and prayers. And so I think God really wants to do that work, and especially in the complicated times that we’re doing ministry, and now, I think it’s even more essential for us to really cultivate an awareness of God’s presence, a fresh passion for his Word, like, like, like, you know, I always think of Ephesians, Revelation 2 where Jesus talks to the church in Ephesus. He’s like, Well, you got all this great stuff going, but you had this one thing against, you’ve left your first love. And every time I read that, I’m like, Ooh, this is tough, because it’s like, they got all the stuff going on. Right? Like, it’s it’s solid ministry. But he’s like, Yeah, but the problem is, is you’re doing solid ministry, but you’re not totally devoted to me, you know. And so for me, it’s been really boiling back down to, and in writing the book, it’s like, we need to kind of get back to, you know, all the complicated stuff that we’re dealing with in our world today, with the state of the Church, the state of Christianity as a whole, what’s going on in our communities and in our families, we really need to get back to just falling back in love with Jesus. And you know, we love Him because He first loved us. So as we experienced, we’re really experiencing his preemptive and proactive love for us. And I think that that’s really the it’s it is the entry point. And it is pretty much the whole enchilada, I’d say.
Yeah, I love that, you know, there’s been a lot of conversation, especially over, taking into account what we experienced over the last, you know, few years, not just the pandemic, but political tensions, racial tensions, I mean, so much divisiveness and, you know, so much stuff that we’re just dealing with, that there is this kind of call to, you know, strip things back a little bit and get back to basics, like get grounded again, so that we’re not just kind of getting caught up in all kinds of different things. It’s interesting, because one of the things that you wrote about in the book is that our generation is a generation that’s really accustomed to this idea of walking by sight rather than walking by faith. And as pastors, you know, we talk about that all the time, this idea that, you know, we don’t walk by sight alone, we walk by faith. And so we preach it, we talk about it, but sometimes that’s a challenge even for us in ministry, because we’re looking at, as you said, the state of the Church, we’re looking at what’s going on in our local communities. We’re looking at all of these other things that are happening. And it can be a challenge because we’re seeing one thing, but yet we need to be kind of walking in faith. So talk to us a bit, Daniel about how do we as pastors and ministry leaders, how do we kind of develop those faith muscles? Especially in times, like what we’re, you know, we’ve been going through the last few years.
Yeah. And I mean, I love that you call it a faith muscle, because in a lot of ways, you know, with all that’s changed in the world, really, the Gospel doesn’t change. The Bible doesn’t change. But with all that’s going on in the world, how we approach all these things, and how we communicate them to people, like it changes, like I remember in the beginning of 2020, we were hosting a seminary class here at Crossroads in Vancouver, Washington. So we’re like, I live right outside of Portland, Oregon. Portland is literally the next my, my southern neighbor town. You know, it’s 10 minutes from from Crossroads. So we’re right outside of Portland, Oregon, which isn’t known for its Christianity, or it’s great, you know, churches, even though there’s a ton of great, God’s doing great work here, and amazing pastors and churches in our area here. But I was, we were hosting a seminary class on doing digital ministry. And this was like, kind of in January, this was like, we were starting to hear about this thing called the Coronavirus, and I was making jokes about it. And, you know, and literally, like, we’re like sitting in a seminary class. And, you know, seminarians are like kind of grilling me on, like, why we shouldn’t do online ministry and why it doesn’t work. And I made a flippant comment, because I’m apt to do that, unfortunately, I was raised in New Jersey, sometimes I say things that I should not, like, well, listen, if this thing goes really, really bad, we all you can send all your people to Crossroads. We’ll minister to them digitally, if this thing goes bad. And literally like six weeks later, like, even if churches didn’t want to do digital ministry, like you had to like, and it’s like, and so in a lot of ways, what I’ve learned over the last number of years is that, you know, as church leaders, we love Jesus, we love gathering together, and I will never forsake that. But what happens is, is that the world is, is changing in some ways that we don’t have control over. And so rather than being willing to take steps of faith, that is an uncomfortable thing. It’s like if you start going to the gym, and you haven’t gone to the gym, if you haven’t worked out in a while, you get sore immediately, right, and it’s like, but the more you do it, though, you’ll keep getting sore if you keep working at it and pushing it. But you get used to being sore. And I think over the last couple years, what we realize is that with the complexities of our world, with some of the dynamics of what’s happening, we’ve, we’ve forgotten how to take bold steps in uncharted territories, because everything felt pretty safe. So and one of the one of the goals in writing the book was kind of written out of my own, like, man, like, nobody got a chance to train for the race of the last three years. And everybody I knew was just like, man, I don’t know how we’re gonna make it. I was like a common phrase, I don’t know how we’re gonna make it. And then finally, I was like, Oh, well listen, like we’re gonna make it because Jesus made it. And as pastors, it’s like the gates of Hades can’t prevail against the Church. And so I know we’re gonna make it, Jesus promised that we’re going to make it but it doesn’t mean that we’re going to make it in the way that everything’s been going. Like, we have to make adjustments. And so a lot of it is just being willing to say, going forward, I need to rely upon the things that I know about who God is, what the Word says that he is, like, none, none of that’s going to change, but how we’re going to get at reaching people who are outside of the Church, that has to change because the things that we did 10 years ago aren’t necessarily effective now. And because Jesus is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance, we have to just embrace like, we’re going to just try things, we’re going to take a step, and it may or may not work. And so for me, I am always telling pastors that the only way to work at at walking by faith is to try things that feel uncomfortable, and just kind of embrace like that this is uncomfortable. And one of the things that I’ve done, and you know, I’ve been here at Crossroads for 10 years now is for 10 years, we’re like, look, we’re going to try things, everything’s not going to work some things we’re going to wish we hadn’t done, you know, they’re gonna be mistakes that we make. But we’re going to try and fail forward, we’re going to try and if we make a mistake, you know, it’s either we’re going to learn, we’re going to grow, or we’re going to learn, there’s really no failures in it. And I think in the cause of reaching people who don’t know Jesus, and the cause of seeing them come to know Jesus and the cause of them discipling them because obviously, if you look at what’s going on in the church, at large, right now, we have a discipleship problem, even though we’ve never in the history of the Church had as many discipleship resources that we have right now, we have a discipleship problem, you know, and we all see it every pastor is like, Yeah, and like, I didn’t realize that the people in the church are like this, like, these are my people. These are the people and why I didn’t realize that they were gonna go off the rails like this. So we have a discipleship problem. And then we also have a deployment problem because you’re like, man, all these people need to get turned loose in the work of God’s kingdom. And so all of the work of the church, we realized that we have struggles in every area and so I think the only way to move forward is just to get comfortable being uncomfortable, not being reckless but trying things, things that we had never tried before, so that we can reach and do ministry to and with people that we’ve never done before.
Yeah, I love that. Just the idea of not getting stuck and not getting comfortable, right. And I think that’s important, the attitude that you have kind of the permission, I guess, you’ve given your team at Crossroads to say, hey, we’re gonna go after this. We’re not always going to get it right. But we’re going to explore, like, we’re not going to just sit and hope everything comes to us, because this is God’s mission. We are going to go out, we’re going to try things, not everything’s going to work. But that’s okay. Because like you said, either it works and we see fruit from it, or it doesn’t quite work and we learn and we can make adjustments. I think that is a key piece of this idea of resilience that you’re writing about and talking about. This idea that if we try something, and it doesn’t necessarily work, that that’s okay. Sometimes it’s hard. And I think it’s hard because as ministry leaders, we make it even harder, because oftentimes, we will slap the approval of God onto something that we’re trying to implement, right? And then if it doesn’t go as we had hoped, then who’s to blame? Right? So talk to us a little bit about what that looks like in, you know, this, you know, being innovative, and exploring and pioneering some things, but doing it in a healthy way, that allows people to understand if it doesn’t, you know, go off incredibly effectively, that this isn’t that we missed God somehow, or isn’t some issue with with, you know, our ministry per se, but it’s just us, you know, living out like the Early Church did, you know living out the call, as best we know how?
Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think really, it boils down to, we have to, it’s a gospel problem. And I say it’s a gospel problem, because, you know, you know, living here in the West, unless it’s up and to the right everyone thinks that there’s something wrong with it, like, obviously, like, God must not be in it, because if it God’s in it, it’s up and to the right. But if you’d like, let me give you a tale of two prophets, one prophet, you know, God says, hey, I want you to go to to Nineveh, and I want you to preach, and that prophets like, Yeah, I’m not going there. I don’t like those people. They’re mean to us. And, you know, we kind of find out later he’s like, and I knew that God, you’re merciful God, and so I don’t want to go. And so he runs the other direction, obviously, you know, story is Jonah. God, you know, it gets picked up via via fist. Back in Nineveh. Jonah preaches and it’s a huge revival, the whole city repents, right? And so and then you look at another prophet, a guy who all he did was say exactly what God asked him to say. And all he did was get in trouble the whole time. He ended up in jail. He’s so distraught by what’s going on. He’s like, Yeah, God, I’m never gonna preach again. Because every time I preach, I get thrown in jail. It’s lousy. Everybody hates me. And then gods were kind of boils up in his heart, he keeps going. And Jeremiah we’re talking about Jeremiah was faithfully, as much as he could, preaching what God has asked him to, and he saw no revival. And actually, he ended up, he watched his entire community go into the Babylonian exile, and they released him. So he didn’t have to go but but it was like it was horrible, but who was faithful, it was like Jeremiah was faithful. Jonah wasn’t. Jonah had the great fruit, quote, unquote. And Jeremiah had the ministry that got nowhere. Now, I’m not saying that everything that’s big is carnal, or everything that’s small is faithful. That’s not what it is. But what we have to realize is God wants to do things that only God understands. And what I have learned, and what we tell our team, is that you need to have permission. And if we’re trying to reach people in the name of Jesus, not using sinful means or anything like that. But like, if we’re doing the right things, then we can keep going forward, no matter what the outcome is. And that’s the way I define resilience. Resilience is doing the right things, the right ways for the right reasons, even if you don’t get the the outcomes that you want, initially, like you think about Moses, like Moses, God said listen, I want you to go and I want my people to leave Egypt. And it got worse before it got better with Moses. And you have like, you know, those first 18, 19 chapters of the book of Exodus, which tells us that every time Moses got involved with Pharaoh, things got worse for the children of Israel. And then when they left, it wasn’t easy either. You know, and so what you realize is that it’s up to God to bring the increase. But I think if we are honestly trying to reach people, who are, who don’t know the Lord, if once we reach them, we’re trying to have them make decisions to begin following Jesus because no one’s a disciple unless they make a decision to follow Jesus, no matter what anyone says about evangelism, I’m like, listen, the percentage of people who don’t follow Jesus if they never made a decision to follow Jesus as zero. So like they need to make a decision to follow Jesus, and then how we disciple them and thus deploy them into the work of ministry. If we’re honestly trying to do that, then it might, it won’t all work. But we’re lined up with the heart of God, which is the purpose of the church. It’s why we all got into this in the first place. We got into it to to glorify God, and to see God change people’s lives and see those people become the people God created them to be. And so if we’re doing it, then we can keep moving forward and saying, Look, I’m not seeing the outcomes I want. And I’m not going to blame God that we don’t have the outcomes. We’re doing our best to try and figure out how do we reach people? How do we see them come to know Jesus? How do we disciple them once they’re caught? And then how do we turn them loose for God’s glory? And that’s going to be and I always tell pastors all time, read the book of Acts, you want to see a manual of things not going the way it’s supposed to go? I mean, the whole and every one of Paul’s letters, all of the pastoral epistles, it’s all fixing all the problems as these things are happening. And so it’s not like in the Early Church, I mean, yeah, on the day of Pentecost, 300, people got saved and then went to God that every Sunday was the day of Pentecost in our churches, but but that was just one day. And then the rest of it is like Paul’s got like people who he’s serving with, and they’re going sideways, and him and Barnabas can’t agree on John Mark, and they’re splitting up and like, Oh, it sounds like church, it sounds like life. And so it’s not always up and to the right. But if we know that, hey, we’re lined up with the heart of God, with the Word of God, then we can keep going forward and making those course corrections and being okay, look, yeah, we’d love every time I preach it to be the day of Pentecost, that would be awesome. You know, but really, for Peter, it wasn’t like that. You know, he had the day of Pentecost. Then he had Cornelius’ house where it’s like, the Spirit of God fell, and they all got baptized. It was like a little house church, a little gathering and a house. And then we never really hear about Peter having like a great preaching moment. Like, more of them, you know, actually, and then you’re like, oh, yeah, Paul rebuked Peter, in Galatia. So Peter got in trouble at the church, and Galatia you’re like, oh, this sounds like church a little bit. And so I think it’s the key is to really realize that God’s way is not always up and to the right. That might be like our culture’s hope. But even we’re seeing in America, especially, everything isn’t up into the right anymore. And it hasn’t been for a good long time. Right?
Yep. That’s good. That’s a great perspective. I love what you said there about the idea of, you know, as long as we’re being diligent to know that we’re aligning with God’s Word, we’re aligning with God’s heart, then we have great freedom at that point, right? We have great freedom to go out and to just do our absolute best because we’re choosing to honor God and that we’re not getting caught up in other things. We’re staying grounded in God’s Word. We’re staying grounded in, like you said, God’s heart. And that gives us freedom to step into things. And if it doesn’t always work out, that’s okay. There’s plenty of examples, as you’ve shared throughout Scripture, where things don’t go incredibly well, in fact, where things go really, really badly. And yet, God’s in the middle of it. So I love that perspective. One of the things that you touch on in the book, as well, that just kind of stood out to me just again, reflecting on where we are as a society right now is this idea of complaining, critiquing. And it seems like we live in an age right now where the default mode for media, the default mode for now, a lot of people, because they’re being I think, influenced by media is complaining, is critiquing. I mean, everything tends to be negative, there’s always an issue with someone else, you know, there’s always this. And as ministry leaders, we’re not immune to that mindset. You know, I mean, and and there are times whenever pastors, I know, we’ve slipped into, I know, there are times I slipped into a mindset where I’m being overly critical. Daniel, how do we prevent ourselves from slipping into that, ust complaining, critiquing? What can we do in our lives, you know, to replace complaining? And what does that kind of look like for us?
Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think I love that you said, like, we’re all on that journey, because our the default condition of our society is to look down on other people to critique them. You know, and I think also within the church, you know, you know, there’s theological concerns and tribal concerns and all these different things that are very, very real. I’ll paraphrase something that I read from the great prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon, Now obviously, he’s gonna say it better than I can because he’s way more eloquent than I’ll ever be on my best day. But in effect, he said that when when a hunting dog is in his kennel, all it can do is complain about the fleas, but when the dog is on the hunt, it barely notices the fleas at all. And I remember reading that and being like, ooh, like, because because the point he was trying to make was that if you’re out doing what you believe God has asked you to do with the people that God has called you to be with, then you’re on the hunt. And whatever every other hunting dog group is doing, you can be like, Oh, I don’t know that I would do it that way. Or I don’t know if I even agree with that. But I’m busy on my hunt. And what’s in front of me is more important than watching what everyone else is doing. And so for me, one of the things that I’ve tried to do is, obviously, I want to know what’s going on in the world, as a whole, I want to know what’s going on in the body of Christ specifically, because I am part of her, and I love her, and I want to, I want to see the bride of Christ without spot or wrinkle and grow up into her head who’s Christ and, and so I want to know what’s going on. But I just made it a point that like, I’m going to watch what’s going on. But I’m never going to get too invested in what I think they should or shouldn’t be doing. Because if I’m doing that, it’s keeping me from being on the hunt that God has called us to, whether it’s here at Crossroads, and what we’re trying to do in the Portland metro area, our global goals to see the least engaged people groups in the worl, have a church planting movements put put into it, all the stuff that I do with media, and stuff, try it, you know, because I don’t look like every other pastor. And so just trying to get the gospel out in all these different ways. And so for me, it’s if I’m on the if I’m doing from about the mission that God has given me, I can trust that I’m not the entire body of Christ, that God will use Crossroads and when I get a pleasure being involved in to reach a part of the group of people, I’m not going to be the person who reaches all 8 billion living souls, it’s going to take the whole church and so I can trust that God is leading other people. And when things come up, where things go bad, and it goes public, I want to learn from those mistakes. And and so if people start critiquing what we’re doing, which happens often, you know, I want to keep a decent ear to what we’re being critiqued for, just to make sure we don’t have anything wrong. But like, if someone’s like, yeah, like, we just don’t like what you know, Fusco is doing because he’s got, you know, long locks. And we think that that’s wrong, then I’m like, Okay, well, we can argue about First Corinthians 11, you know, send me a picture of your wife and her head covering, and then we can talk about it, you know, and so like, I have some of those things. And I won’t take that personally, because I get it’s not for everybody, and they’re not, I’m trying to reach a different subset of people, you know, I’m okay with, I just try and I trust Jesus in the, in the totality of the church. And I realized that God actually doesn’t hold me responsible for what happens in the entire body of Christ. And really, what I’ve also learned is that my critiques of people, especially if I’m doing it online, which I don’t do, but if I were to do it, it never impacts those people. Because real, real constructive growth and criticism comes in the context of relationship. You know, it’s like, it’s like the guy who sees the speck, but he’s got the plank, you have to be really close to that person. And I’m here to tell everybody listen, if you’re arguing theology on social media, it’s not changing anyone’s mind. But if you’re sitting across the table with a cup of coffee with someone, you know, and you’re kind of working through differences in theology, that will have a much greater impact. And so there’s no greater waste of time than critiquing people outside of relationship. They’re not listening, and nor should they, you know, you don’t know, you don’t know them, you don’t know why they’re doing it, you don’t understand the parameters. But in the context of relationship with Jason, if you if you reached out to me said, Hey, Daniel, can we talk about something? I noticed at Crossroads you’re doing this, it has got me concerned. I’m going to take that call, we’re going to talk through it, I’m going to hear your concerns, I’m going to pray about it and seek the Lord, because I know you and I love you, and I trust you and I, I know you’ve got my best interest in heart, and the cause of the gospel. And if some random person who I don’t know is mad about something, I’m really not going to pay much mind to that because there’s the people around who all love Jesus and are all trying to reach the people, you know, they’re going to talk about it. So for me, it’s just a fool’s errand. And it’s one of the ways I think our modern culture keeps us from actually being about the, the Father’s business that He’s given us to be about.
Yeah, that’s good. It becomes, it can become such a distraction, and we know the enemy, I mean, CS Lewis is famous in talking about the fact that the enemy, you know, isn’t looking to turn us all into Satanists. The enemy is just looking to distract us, right? That’s all the enemy has to do. If the enemy can distract us from God’s mission, from our calling, then the enemy wins. And so I think that’s, that’s so important for us to keep in mind. One of the things, Daniel, that you that you write about in the book, again, is this idea of overwhelm. And overwhelm can come in a variety of ways. Overwhelm can come from, you know, something tragic that happens in our life or in our ministry. It can come from just not taking time to rest, you know, to Sabbath. Overwhelm can can come with us not putting up, you know, decent boundaries, healthy boundaries. So if you could talk to us a little bit about how this idea of overwhelm plays into this idea of perseverance, and you know how they combat each other, and in ministry, how do you protect against overwhelm?
Yeah, it’s a great question. And, and I love that because overwhelm is the enemy of resilience, of grit, of hope, as well. So and one of the things that I always try and do is first when I like, it’s impossible to never have experiences of overwhelm, I believe, because we’re human. And we live in a world that we have very little control over. And very often things will go on that we feel like I have, this is horrible, and we get frozen, like we, you know, we freeze up, you know, and when that happens, you know, even if you look at the kind of the scientific research on when these things happen, we start to hold our breath. You know what I mean? It’s like, like, it’s funny, like, one of the things that I’ve learned in this journey of looking at resilience is that anytime I am holding my breath, I know that I’m feeling already overwhelmed. So I have to, like, I have to own that like, right as I catch myself holding my breath, like maybe I’m in a meeting, something goes on, or I’m talking to somebody and they say something that’s completely inappropriate, and right away, I can feel like I stopped, like my I stopped breathing and kind of clenched up a little bit, I can catch myself. And I’m like, Oh, I’m overwhelmed. And so I have to acknowledge that it happens. But then I always love it. It says Psalm 63, was it chapter, Psalm 63, verse 2, it says, you know, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. So it’s like, right, as I catch that overwhelm, I have to be like, Okay, Lord, You are the all powerful one, I am not. You are the All Knowing one. I don’t know that all that much, God, You’re the God of all the omnis, and you are the all loving one as well. And so Lord, will you help me to love this person? I don’t have to fix them, Lord, I don’t have to change them. That’s your job. You’re the one who transforms people into Christ like this Lord, this situation that I’m dealing with, be it financial, be it a work related, be it a health concern, or family concern, God, I don’t know how this is going to work. But I know that you hold everything in your hands and God, I believe, help my unbelief. So it really boils down to first we have to acknowledge like, it’s okay to be overwhelmed. I mean, like, there’s so many Scriptures where, you know, you know, I thought my foot would slip, I mean, Psalm 73, it’s like, I see that I see the prosperity of the wicked, I thought my foot was gonna please like, look, I’m overwhelmed. Like, I don’t know how this is going to work. You know, you read David, the great warrior king, he’s soaking his pillow with tears. You know what I mean? Like, we can do this all day, like, like, you know, Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, or Savior, He’s like sweating drops of blood. He’s literally, he knows that the cross is upon him. And it is going to be horrible, the most horrible event in the history of all humanity. And he’s like, if there’s any other way, Father, let this cup pass from me. He’s like, Lord, this is crazy, what I what I’m going to walk through, but he was able to not only walk through it, but it says that for the joy that was set before me, endured the cross and despised the shame and is now seated down at the right hand of the Father. And so right there, you get this kind of what I call the resilience equation. One, it’s like it’s hope plus grit equals unstoppable resilience. And like Jesus was able to get his eyes off of the fear and overwhelm of what was going to happen, he knew that the out the outcome of what was going to happen was going to be God’s glory in the redemption of people, you know, which is why he was there. He was able to get his eyes off of what it was on to God’s bigger picture. And then, of course, he was able to endure the cross. And He despised the shame. And because of that, he walked through and he was ultimately exalted at the end of it, you know, and so for me, that is very much when I’m overwhelmed, which happens all the time. Whether it’s like, you know, just yesterday, I got a 17 year old, he was out, coming back from youth group, it was like 11 o’clock at night and all of a sudden my phone rang, which immediately, like, you know, Hey, buddy, well, then I’m gonna just spit it out. Don’t like, don’t just tell me what happened. And it wasn’t that bad. But right away, I’m like, okay, am I like, I go into the hospital, and he just broke his leg, like six months ago. So it’s like, we had those like, you know, going in the hospital, you know, mangled his leg. And so for me, I like automatically I caught myself holding my breath. I was clenched up. I said, Oh, no. And it wasn’t that bad. But I was like, oh, But Lord, I need to trust you in the midst of so first I think you acknowledge it. Second, you have to bring it all to Jesus and say, like, I preach to myself, like Lord, I know that you’re good. I know nothing happens that is outside of the work that you’re working. You’re a sovereign God. You know, and Lord, but you know, I’m overwhelmed, I believe, help my unbelief and help me to be able to trust you as I walk whatever this is. And to me, that’s very, very, it’s life-giving, because it actually creates the testimonies that we tell people about, like, where we have these stories and horrible things that have gone on. And then you’re like, Yeah, but I saw God work in these ways. This is what I learned in it. So acknowledging it, bringing it to Jesus, preaching to ourselves, and then just keep walking forward doing the right things.
Yeah, that’s good, brother, that’s good. One other thing I’d like to ask of you, because those of you know about you and your ministry, you’ve been very engaged in kind of the digital world, long before most everyone else was engaged in the digital world and, and have a huge ministry there. And you’re engaged and involved in a lot for the kingdom, right? And then you have your family, you know, three kids, and you have a church, local church, you’re pastoring, and all kinds of amazing things, writing books, speaking engagements, all that. Daniel, how do you rest? How do you find that time? And that place? What what do you do? What would you suggest for other pastors, because, again, God’s mission is a big mission, right? And there’s urgency to it. Because I mean, this is life-transforming, the mission of God, right? This is the difference between life and death. So it’s easy for us just to be like, you know, excuse ourselves for not resting or not, you know, taking that time. But we know that that leads to burnout, I mean, you know, horrific burnout. And in the midst of burnout, lots of things can happen that can come crashing down. So Daniel, talk to us a little bit about what does rest look like in your life, or you know, when you’re working with your team, and you’re encouraging your staff pastors and those you’re mentoring? What do you talk about when it comes to rest?
Yeah, it’s a great question. So I heard I heard a phrase from Pastor Rick Warren, who that I kind of I heard it, I was like, Oh, this is really good. And he said that you need to abandon annually, you need to withdraw weekly, and you need to divert daily, which I love. It’s so it’s so simple. Obviously, the withdrawal weekly is, you know, like, you should take a day off, you know, because we’re the only person who is essential for God’s Kingdom is Jesus, you know, and all the rest of us, like, we just play bit parts in this thing. And if we can’t rest it’s because we have, we have a way elevated view of ourselves. So having like a weekly Sabbath, which is rest. Abandon annually, which means taking a clip off, where you don’t take the clip off, and you check in every day, you know. And I know that, you know, like, for me, like I, you know, I pastor, a larger church. And so there’s a larger team here. But like, listen, there’s so many different great organizations, if you’re a pastor of like, a smaller ministry, they’ll send pulpit fill, like, it’s going to be okay, it’s still going to be there when you get back. But you need like a longer break to be able to kind of clear everything out. And then obviously, we need to divert daily where we have to have healthy hobbies and habits that are holy, that that help us during the day. So like, for me, I’m able to do a lot because I’m also I have the pleasure of being part of a big team. So I don’t do everything myself. And I always tell people that, it’s like, they don’t know how you’re doing, you have the radio and TV and books and podcasts, and you passed this great church and you do all this stuff. And I’m like, Listen, I have a lot like, I don’t do this myself. There’s a lot of people who take a lot of pieces off of my plate, so that I don’t have to do that. And so that’s part of it. And I think also it boils down to, can we acknowledge the season that we’re in, like, we were just talking before we started recording, like, I have three kids, I have, you know, two in high school and one in elementary school. So my world looks different than like someone who’s, you know, they don’t have kids yet, or they have super littles, you know, like, our kids go to school. So when you have little kids, and I was like, you had six, below the age of six, which I don’t know how you guys did that. How was that? That had to have been crazy. And so like, depending on what season of life you’re in, how you rest looks differently. You know. And so I think the key is, is first you make a commitment that you, we all we all know it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And if you try and do the marathon without any stopping, stretching, bathroom breaks, nourishment breaks, you’re gonna come up, you’re going to get broken in it. It’s inevitable. And what I always tell pastors is that you falling apart will be way worse for the people that you serve, than you taking some rest. Like it’s like it like it’s way worse. It’s way worse for the people if their pastor falls apart, not only like famously falls apart, which we see all the time, unfortunately, with pastors who are you know, are well known, but like even as we move from a place of being wholehearted and healthy to a place of unhealthy, all like the little transgressions that happen in the midst of that, the way we don’t, we’re not patient with people we get frustrated easily, we roll our eyes, all these things. Like, they wound people, because we’re, we’re called to be shepherds. So I think putting ourselves on like, this is about God’s glory in His ministry that I get to be a part of, and putting very specific things in place. So like, you know, for me, I take Friday’s off. So I have Fridays and Saturdays, because I used to do the take Monday off, and my poor wife would have to deal with me drained from Sunday. You know what I mean? Like, as I’ve gotten older, you know, so there’s that piece. So I have my weekly, my Sabbath day, I try and work on in the midst of the week having healthy rhythms in the midst of the week as well. So like, for me, Tuesday’s become a more heavier meetings day, whether it’s executive team meetings, pastors meetings, leadership team meetings, board meetings, staff meetings. So you know, I realized, if I have one of those days, I try and lighten up a little bit on on Wednesdays. One of the things I always tell people, if you can, keeping your mornings… whenever you do your best work, really kind of protecting those. So like it took me years to realize what everyone had told me it was that you shouldn’t take a meeting before noon, lunch should be your first meeting. I used to hear people say that, like that’s not possible, you don’t realize what I’m dealing with. And I was actually though they do realize what I’m dealing with and that’s why they take their mornings, because they make sure they get the most important things done. And one of the important things for pastors to hang out with Jesus, not just sermon prep, not just writing the bulletin blurb from the pastor. No, it’s like you spending time with Jesus spending time in prayer, that’s essential for you to do the work that you do. So I try and keep the mornings pretty open, you know, so that I can do those things. And, and then also, again, I’ll say it one more time healthy release valves is huge. Most people that I know who’s who have really struggled and stumbled in the ministry along the way, they picked up a release valve that was unhealthy. I say, if you don’t have healthy tension release valves, you will choose unhealthy ones. And so for me, it really boiled down to likes like one of my bride, Lynn, loves to take walks after dinner. That’s a very, very healthy release valve for the day. I’m here to tell you I’m so happy she wants to do that. You know, because that’s a healthy one for me. I remember when I first started serving as a pastor, my Sunday release valve was to watch movies to one in the morning and eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s, I’m here to tell you that is an unhealthy release valve. Like I ballooned. I was, Monday morning, I was just sugar crashed. And it’s like, you know, after preaching through a Sunday morning and a Sunday night, it’s like the last thing anybody needs is me watching movies to one in the morning, you know, getting sugared out as much. And I’m not knocking Ben and Jerry’s, it’s still my favorite ice cream. But that’s just an unhealthy release valve that ended up kind of diminishing my vitality, my energy. And so and now that I’m older, I mean, I’m 46 now and I’m kind of right in that center of middle age right now. And I’m also realizing like I need to work out and I need to watch what, I need to be careful with how I eat, and all these things are part of God, I want to have as much energy as I can to get at your work in the most beautiful and life giving way possible. And anything that kind of diminishes that, I need to step away from it because, like you said, like what we’re doing is so important that it needs healthy shepherds. You know, our world, as it becomes more unhealthy, we need to be healthier than we’ve ever been. We need to have more clarity of thought, we need to have more emotional bandwidth, to be able to walk with people through really hard things. And so for me, it’s very much on like the anything that diminishes and I stole this from Jonathan Edwards were in his resolutions. He said, You know, he was resolved to see if he ate anything that made him feel lethargic, and he would never eat it again. And and I remember reading that and being like, Man, this guy is serious now, like, he’s seriously smart. Like, if anything, like, keeps me from feeling energized. And you know, you know, revitalized. And even that makes me feel spiritually dull. I just don’t want to be near it because I want to I want to be a good pastor and I want to point people to Jesus, and I don’t want to be in the middle of the race just kind of crash and burn famously, it’s like, that’s the last thing that I want. That’s, that’s, alas, that’d be no good for anybody, including me and my family. And so just really making that commitment and everyone’s different. So there’s different ages and stages of life, different variables, but within that making that commitment that I just want to be the best version of me for God’s glory and with the knobs on my side of the wall. I mean, some of those knobs are on God’s side of the wall. I don’t know how many breaths I’ll get. I don’t know, you know what could happen today. I don’t know any of that but with the knobs on my side of the wall. I want to rest well, I want to take care of myself. I want to you know, put my wife and my kids first, like the first church of Daniel Fusco is the primary church that I get to pastor. So I want to be a great husband and a great dad. And I know that if I take care of my walk with Jesus, I take care of myself, so I’m not falling apart. I take care of my wife and kids, then I can be a good pastor at Crossroads. So
Yeah, love that man. That’s good brother. So good, such great stuff. Super excited about your latest book, You’re Gonna Make It… excellent stuff as always from you, so encouraging. I love hanging out with you brother because I always get so pumped up and filled up. And I’m sure our audience is feeling the same way right now. Brother, if people want to connect with you, with your ministry, if they want to get the book, those types of things what’s the best way for them to do that?
Yeah, so if you just put my name into your your, wherever you want to put my name into, you’ll find us. We have ministry kind of going on in all the different channels. Obviously, You’re Gonna Make It: Unlocking Resilience when Life is a Mess, my newest book, is wherever people like to buy books or whether it’s like you go into a store and there’s a you know, there’s a there’s a Christian section, you probably find it in there or Walmart or Target or all the online places that you’d like to buy books, it’ll you can find it anywhere there. And listen just for all the pastors out there, if there is any way, we can serve you. I can serve you, like we love pastors and, man, I love that we all get to just serve in God’s harvest field together. And I realize that for some of us, you’re like, Man, this is a harvest time, and others of us, and I feel like this sometimes being living and where I live, I’m like, man, Lord, I want a harvest field over here. This is hard, man. I feel like I’m like trying to get the soil back together after you know, we just had like a huge scorched earth go on over here. And I’m trying to get like, I feel like I feel like remember the movie The Martian where he’s trying to like make some food on Mars. That’s how sometimes I feel in the Portland metro area. I’m like, man, I’m like on Mars, trying to see if I can get something to grow. This is amazing. So but of course God knows his work. And anyway, we can serve you guy, I’d love to.
Appreciate that brother. And I always love you, always love your encouragement for brothers and sisters who are serving. It’s always so good. And and for those of you watching, listening along, you can find at PastorServe.org/network we’ll have links to Daniel’s book, all the different places you can find them online, toolkit there with questions to dig more deeply into the conversation that Daniel and I just had. And if there is anything we can do to help support you and your ministry team as you’re seeking to honor God. Love you, brother. Thank you so much for making the time to hang out with us on FrontStage BackStage.
Oh, Jason, you’re the best. I love you, man.
All right, man. God bless you.
God bless you, too.
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.
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