Refreshing Your Soul as You Serve : Andrew Arndt
For centuries, leaders in the church have wrestled with the temptation to tie our identities to what we produce in ministry, or who we are as pastors, rather than who we are in Christ. In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Andrew Arndt. Andrew is a teaching pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and the author of Streams in the Wasteland. Together, Andrew and Jason explore practices that help us experience refreshment for our souls as the Spirit strips away some of the inessentials and distractions, and grounds our identity in Jesus.
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Additional Resource Links
Streams in the Wasteland – Andrew’s latest book that reveals refreshment for your soul via the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers
www.AndrewArndt.com – Andrew’s website where you can find many of his writings and other resources
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Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- If we tie our identity as pastors to what we produce in our ministry, we will wind up being in a place where we’re not serving God in our ministries, but we’re serving our ministries
- If we are not careful, we can become slaves to our ministries rather than servants of God in our ministries
- Community is really challenging for pastors and ministry leaders because of our unique relationship to those in our care
- When we talk about community, sometimes we place higher demands on the idea of community than are actually present in true community. We often think community means perfectly honest, perfectly vulnerable relationships, and if it’s not that, then it’s not community at all. This is not true. Community occurs in a variety of ways, relationally.
- As a pastor or ministry leader, it is important to have some close relationships, with a spiritual director or coach, for example, where you can be very open
- We need to be more discerning about the kinds of relationships that we have as ministry leaders, and the types of relationships that keep us healthy. And we need to lean into those that help keep us fresh and growing.
- As ministry leaders we need to avoid “sloppy vulnerability” where we overshare unnecessarily and put the congregation in the position of our therapist. Before disclosing many things we need to first process through, receive some healing, and learn from them.
- If we are growing in our faith, we will go through periods where things are stripped away. Rather than fearing this, we must remember Jesus is with us in the midst of it. What we are often losing is not our faith, but the confidence in some of the forms of faith that are no longer serving us well. We are moving to a deeper understanding of God, and that often means earlier understandings must die.
- As a society, we are often addicted to novelty, to the “new” …yet there is so much to be learned from those who have come before us. The ideas and forms of our spirituality that have stood the test of time are much more likely to be a good match for our humanity than new and untested ideas.
- God calls us to faithfulness and to rooting and planting ourselves in Christ Jesus, and the fruit of our ministry just flows out of that. We are faithful and leave the results up to God.
- We are often in a hurry to see results when God has asked us to plant and water
- The reality is that we are all interim pastors. The work of our ministry is to leave the place a little bit better than we found it and setting it up for the next person God raises up.
Questions for Reflection
- Is my identity tied to what I “produce” through my ministry efforts? Do I feel more valuable when my ministry is going well and less valuable when it isn’t?
- Am I a slave to my ministry or am I a servant of God in my ministry? What is the difference? Are there things I need to change?
- Do I find true community challenging? Why or why not?
- Who are the close people in my life, outside of my ministry setting, with whom I can be most open? If I do not have someone in my life like this, when will I find someone? Why is this an important part of healthy community for me as a ministry leader?
- What are the different types of community that I have in my life?
- Have I been guilty of “sloppy vulnerability” in my ministry? How can I approach vulnerability in a healthier way with my congregation?
- Have I gone through periods where God has stripped away some of the forms of faith I was comfortable with? How did I grow during these times?
- How can I encourage others when they are experiencing challenging periods in their spiritual lives?
- When it comes to my spiritual growth, am I looking more to the “new” rather than exploring and learning from the old? How can I incorporate some of the “ancient ways” into my spiritual practices?
- How am I addressing the relationship between faithfulness and results in my ministry?
- How do I view the tension of urgency and patience in my ministry? Are there adjustments I need to make in this area? If so, what?
- What do I think about the idea that every pastor is an interim pastor? How does this impact the way I minister?
- Where am I finding refreshment for my soul? Are there any changes I feel led to make when it comes to my personal spiritual renewal? If so, what? When will I make these changes?
For centuries, leaders in the church have wrestled with the temptation to tie our identities to what we produce in ministry, or who we are as pastors, rather than who we are in Christ
In this episode, I’m joined by Andrew Arndt. Andrew is a teaching pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and the author of Streams in the Wasteland. Together, Andrew and I explore practices that help us experience refreshment for our souls as the Spirit strips away some of the inessentials and some of the distractions, and grounds our identity in Jesus. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to another insightful episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye, and it is my privilege every single week to sit down with a trusted ministry leader, and to really dive into a topic to help ministry leaders just like you embrace a sustainable, healthy rhythm for both life and ministry. And we not only provide an episode, a conversation, every single week, but our team goes the extra step and creates an actual toolkit that accompanies every single one of these conversations. And these toolkits provide a lot of resources, including a ministry leader growth guide, that you and your ministry team at your local church can go through with questions to reflect upon, and really dig deeper into the conversation that we have. And you can find all of that at PastorServe.org/network. Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, give us a thumbs up and drop in the comments below your name, the name of your church… our team loves to get to know our audience better, we’ll be praying for you and for your ministry. And whether you’re following us on YouTube or joining us on your favorite podcast platform, take a moment to subscribe, or to follow, so you do not miss out on any of these incredible conversations. And I did say that I’m very excited about today’s conversation. And I would like to welcome Andrew Arndt to the show. So Andrew, welcome.
Good to be with you. Jason. Thanks for having me.
Yeah, brother super excited for what we’re going to dive into. You, brother have really, you just really have grasped and embraced, I guess I should say, just this idea of refreshment, your soul being refreshed, as a pastor, as a ministry leader, and you’ve been sharing this in so many different ways, through your preaching, through your writing, just through conversations with other ministry leaders and pastors, we know that there’s this great temptation, really to kind of tie our identity to what we might produce in ministry. And that that practice or that mindset can be very debilitating. It can actually at times work against what God desires to do in us, what God desires to do through us. And I’m curious, Andrew, what have you discovered about this temptation or this tendency, in your own life in ministry?
Well, I think the temptation is present for all of us. And I think, until we identify it as a temptation, I think we’ll always be conquered by it. And I think that our ministries will be less than God intends them to be. I think that we will wind up being in a place where we’re not serving God in our ministries, but we’re serving our ministries, because we’re hoping to get something out of them, and fill up something that only God can give us. And to that extent we actually become I think we become slaves to our ministries rather than servants of God in our ministries. And I know this because I’ve walked this path. I talk about it some in the recent book I just released, but I was a church planter in Denver. Moved there when I was 28 years old to help a friend out and really felt a strong call, to go there and to do this thing, and it was amazing. And God blessed it. And I think, you know, maybe it’s just the occupational hazard of being a young person in ministry getting started, but I had so much of my identity wrapped up in what we were doing there. And I loved being the guy of that church, kind of the representative of that church. When the church was succeeding and doing really well, I felt a strong sense of well being around that. When the church was not doing well, I felt great desolation around that and, and really struggled to kind of find my own footing inside of it. You know, I was very dictated and determined, I think by the ebbs and the flows of that ministry, and it took a real sovereign act of God sort of interrupting we had hoped to have talked about this, but we had hoped to be at that church for our entire lives. I wanted to retire at that place. And the Lord’s plans are higher than our plans and better than our plans. And that wasn’t in the cards. You and having to let go of that ministry was a real identity crisis. For me, I didn’t really know it really exposed, I didn’t know who I was, apart from it. And so I spent the next several years, we moved here from Denver to Colorado Springs and took a role at New Life Church in 2017. And I spent the next several years really feeling like the Spirit was almost reducing me to the nakedness of my own soul with God, you know, like, Is God enough for you? Or, or it? Or is the only way that you can be happy by being a recognized ministry leader of this thing? You know what I mean? So I think what I’ve discovered in this process of kind of like having all that stuff stripped away, is that if you can reclaim the center of your life with God, that that’s, that’s that’s the place where you have ballast, I think what it does is it frees you to be inside the ministries that God’s called you to in a way where you’re not dictated and determined by them. It’s not like a codependent relationship, you know, like, when I don’t need a thing, I can really serve the thing, when I don’t need the ministry, I can really serve the ministry, when I don’t need the platform that God has given me, then I can really use the platform in a way that is more about God and other people than it is about me. And I think that all of us as ministry leaders, we’re gonna have to, we’re gonna have to come to that one way or another, we’re either going to have to revision our spirituality inside the ministries that God has given us or like me, you’re going to have to come to a crisis or a crossroads where you need to… you have to… your forced to let it go and lay it down. And if that comes, then I think the call is to discern what the Spirit is doing in it, and to say yes, to what the Spirit is doing.
Right, that’s good. And you’re in. So let me ask, how, okay, if you don’t hit that crossroads, if you don’t hit that crisis, then oftentimes in ministry I mean, we are busy, we’re doing a lot, we’re trying to keep things moving. Right. And yeah, we may not necessarily come to that point where we recognize things do need to be kind of stripped down. Right. Yeah. So what would your as brothers you know, what would your your advice or recommendation be to someone who’s not necessarily hitting those crossroads? But they’re caught up, like you say, because it’s very easy for all of us in ministry to have our identity so related to what we’re doing. So what would you recommend?
Well, I think that there are I think you need to pay attention to the tells in your world, you know, like in the world of poker, or gambling or whatever, somebody might have a tell, you know, you go, okay, something’s going on there. I think that there are tells that we all have that let other people in our worlds and if we, if we live an examined life will also let us know if we’re not doing well. And one of them, I think would be I’m just thinking of a few off the top my head, like one of them would be if like your highs from being like, let’s say you’re a preaching pastor, you know, your highs from being on the platform are just so high. And then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, you’re really just kind of a bear, until you get back into the pulpit again, like you’re not the same person in the pulpit as you are out of the pulpit, you got a problem on your seat, like that might be a thing. Or another way that this manifests, I think, for ministry leaders is that we’re so addicted to our ministries, that we don’t have a rest. And so we’re working 80, 90 hours a week, and we’re dishonoring the Sabbath, we’ve pulled our lives completely out of proportion. And and it might be that we’re achieving really great results with it too. It’s amazing. Ministry is flourishing blether and the seeds people are coming, the programs are doing well, the budget is growing, but our family has been pulled out of proportion and our hidden life with God has basically evaporated if that’s you. If you’re a workaholic and ministry that might be a tell for you. Another tell might be, and this was actually, I think, when I think about my early years of ministry, this was one for me was that sometimes I could become so fearful of the church not doing well, or fearful of the church slipping away that I actually, some people, people react differently to pressure like that. So some folks will get more aggressive and they’ll push in, you know, and try to just make sure that it goes their way. Others will retreat inside themselves, and they’ll have a tendency to become rigid and fearful. And that was me. I often became rigid and fearful. And I had a difficult time opening up to people. I was mistrustful of people. And so there there tells you no. Okay, so then what do you do? That’s your question, what do you do? I think that you need to take those tells to the Lord. And I think you need to get some discernment going. I think that you need to take those tells to the closest people that you have in your world and get some discernment going. And if you don’t have this, I’d highly recommend it. I think you need to take those tells to somebody like a spiritual director, somebody who’s got gifts of discernment and wisdom. And who isn’t, doesn’t have like a dog in the fight of how you’re doing in your church, or that can speak to you and give you really bold advice. And then when you’ve got that advice, and you’ve got the discernment around you, now you need to obey, you need to, you need to start taking steps forward and seeing that process through to completion. So I do think that you don’t need to have a crossroads forced upon you, where you’re sort of taken out of your context, I do think that we can reinvent ourselves in our context, although I’ll just say this, it’s harder to do it. Because every social system that we’re a part of tends towards the status quo, it tends towards a kind of homeostasis. So if you start changing, what’s going to happen is you’ll disturb the equilibrium of the system. And you can bet that there will be sabotage from the system that will try to fix you back in it. So at that point, you’ll need to press in through the sabotage. And if you can, you’ll transform it, but I think we got to pay attention to our tells.
Yeah, that’s good. That’s super helpful. Now, one of the things that, and you kind of brought this up, one of the things that you talk about in Streams in the Wasteland is you talk a lot about community. And as I was reading through that, you know, just kind of processing back on my life in pastoral ministry and colleagues, friends, brothers, sisters, you know, who are serving, oftentimes as pastors, we love the idea of community, but we often approach it from the perspective of it’s part of our role to help foster or create community, right, where it’s something we’re kind of doing, as opposed to something we’re being or living. So I know that community is such a key component of, you know, this kind of refreshment. So talk to us a little bit about how we can begin to reframe how we look at community.
Yeah, I think I’ll just say that I think if we’re a pastor or a ministry leader, community is really challenging for us, and precisely for the reason that I mentioned before. And that is that we, the people that are in front of us that we can have a relationship with, they also have a, they have a stake in that relationship, they have a stake in our performance in the community. And we also have a role of spiritual authority with them. So it makes it it makes it challenging. The other thing that makes it challenging, I think, is that when we talk about community, sometimes what we think is community equals perfectly honest, perfectly vulnerable relationships. And if it’s not that, then it’s completely fraudulent. It’s not community at all. And I think that is not true either. And what I think is especially challenging for pastors is understanding the kinds of relationships that we need to have that that will make our lives whole and sound. So you need to have some relationships, in your little community, your little world that are that kind of like perfectly honest, perfectly authentic, vulnerable relationships. So I think about my own life, right? I have my wife of 22 years. And that is one of those relationships, and she’s a member of our congregation, yes. But she’s my wife, first of all, and that meets a need for me, that fills a role for me, I have several really good friends here at New Life Church that are part of my close circle that that they know my soul inside and out. And I talk to them, you know, I have my work colleagues on my staff. And I am as open and honest and vulnerable with them as I can be. But now the moment I’ve sort of moved beyond my wife and my closest friends, now I’ve got to start thinking about there are different kinds of rules in those relationships, you know, and there are some kinds of conversations that I can’t have with my team, because they’re my team and they hold what they hold in our community. So if I don’t have a good relationship with my wife, or those close friends, or I’ve got a spiritual director, like I’ve talked about, I’m gonna wind up having the wrong kinds of conversations with those members of my team, and it’s actually going to skew the way that those relationships need to be. That doesn’t mean that those relationships with the team aren’t community, it’s just a different kind of community. Same thing with the congregation. You know, like I my relationships with the members of my congregation are authentic relationships. They’re not fully disclosing relationships, there are some things that are for certain eyes only and for certain ears only. But because I have those places where I can have those conversations, I can be in relationship with the members of my congregation, in a way where I’m not depending upon them to meet some need that somebody else ought to be needing in my life. So I think we need to be more discerning about the kinds of relationships that we have the kinds of relationships that keep us healthy. And then we need to lean into those that keeps the ecosystem I think fresh in our lives.
Yeah, I love it. I love the just kind of freedom. Yeah, you know, to not set the bar too high on every type of community, like you said, you know, and be like, Oh, no, that’s not really community because of that, but to understand that there are different as you mentioned, different types of community and, and one of the things that I think is an important distinction. I’m glad that you share this is on and you’re not saying that there are things we should hide from everyone else, right? Because that’s where I think that’s where we could get in trouble, right? If there’s anything that we’re hiding and unwilling to share with our spouse, yeah, that close inner circle or spiritual director or coach, whomever, whoever that person might be, then that is definitely a red flag. But the idea that, that there are some things there are levels to this community. Right. And that’s, and we shouldn’t feel badly about that. Because that’s part of the construct of community.
Yeah, and knowing that there are different kinds of relationships that support us actually helps us shape expectations in those relationships. So in my relationship, like a person’s relationship, for instance, with their coach or their spiritual director, because that occupies a certain place in your life, then you can put the right kinds of expectations on it. Like we have these certain kinds of conversations. But I’m not going to be mad if I don’t get a text message from you congratulating me because my favorite team just won the Super Bowl. I don’t need that. Right. Do you know what I mean? So it allows us to have the right kinds of relationships again, and the right kinds of conversations with people. And it allows us to set the expectations and I do see pastors, I think that this is probably more of an issue with younger pastors. But I do see pastors mess this up again, like in the name of community, they’ll wind up being fully disclosing to their congregation about some crisis that they’re in the midst of, or some conflict in their family that they’re in the midst of, or some trauma that they experienced, that they haven’t had healing around. And I know that it comes from a good heart when they do that. They’re just wanting to like model vulnerability. But I think that’s a kind of sloppy vulnerability, but it just winds up hurting people. Because what it does is that it puts the congregation in a position that they can’t possibly like, they can’t rise up to the expectation, like you’ve actually made them your therapist at that point. And they’re not positioned to help you. So if they’re not in a position to help you about it, don’t say it to them, like be vulnerable with them about that thing, after you’ve worked through a process, where it’s come to that kind of conclusion where you can share it in a meaningful way that will actually help them and what guides all of this, you know, is the law of love. What actually is the most helpful thing for the person that’s in front of me? And and also God loves me and wants me to flourish. So what does God need from me in terms of these different kinds of relationships? So yeah, no, it’s not about being dishonest. It’s just about knowing what belongs where, and how we function best. What it takes to thrive.
Yeah, that’s so helpful. So helpful, brother. One of the things you talk about, in your own experience, was this kind of the stripping away? Yeah. Right. And, and over the last several years in evangelicalism, there’s been a lot of conversation about, and a lot of different words have been used, but one of the main words that’s used as deconstruction. So this idea of deconstructing our faith and, and I would love to hear Andrew, because it sounds like you, you went through a process, I don’t want to put words in your mouth. But like, there was some deconstruction that you were working through from, from things that you were thinking, things that you were doing in ministry, you know, your identity piece and all that. Can you talk to us about kind of how to approach some of these bigger questions that a lot of people have, whenever they put Jesus up against some of the things that the Church is doing today? You know, painting with very broad strokes, obviously. And in wrestling with that, like, and just moving through that process, can you can you help us kind of think through that?
Yeah, I think what’s helpful, you know, it’s, it’s funny, that language deconstruction is not language that I would have used, really, until the last several years. But when I look back over my journey, as an adult Christian, up through the last, you know, 20, some odd years, I had been through many, many times, you know, it wasn’t just five and a half years ago, when we left Denver, but I’ve been I’ve been through many times, where, who I thought I was, and what I thought I believed, all of a sudden, that started shaking, and it started falling apart. And I think what I’ve learned, I think, what has always guided me, I’ll just say this. What’s always guided me through the through those seasons is the conviction that God is real, that God is good, that we know God and Jesus, and Jesus is completely trustworthy. And no matter what is shaking around me, if I feel like the bottom has fallen out of my life, and it feels like I’m actually in a freefall, well, the bottom of reality is God. And I’m going to fall into the arms of God. And the odds are really, really good that who I become, on the other side of this falling apart, it’s actually bigger and it’s better and I’ll see God in a bigger way and a better way because of what I’ve experienced. And again, if the story that we’re given in the Gospel is true, then we know that that must be true. Death and resurrection is kind of our thing, you know, like Jesus goes to the grave, and comes back up again by the power of God. And we’re told that in baptism, we die with Christ, and we’re raised with Him, our lives are hid with Christ and God. So we don’t have anything to fear. From the stripping of our identity, we don’t have anything to fear from the loss of a job, loss of a position, the loss of something that was really meaningful to us. I don’t even think that we have anything to fear from the shaking of how we’ve come to understand Christianity. And I have said this so many times over the years. But sometimes I think what happens to us is that we go through kind of a, let’s call it a Christian deconstruction process. And what we think is, oh, my gosh, I’m losing my faith. And I’ve often said to people, the odds are really good, that you’re not losing your faith, what you’re losing, is your confidence in the form of the faith that was given to you. And that form is just not serving, it’s just, it’s run its course, like it was it worked for you, and you were 18, it worked for you, and you were 27, it’s not working for you anymore, God is calling you to a bigger and a better understanding of him. But you’re not going to get there unless you’re one understanding dies, what will probably be a pretty painful death. And if you’re willing to go there with God, I promise you, you’ll see him in a new way. So I think that we need to approach approach all the strippings of our lives, even the deconstructions of our lives, with a confidence that God is on the other side, not just on the other side of it, but God’s in the midst of it, and he’s making a new creation out of us. And I think as pastors and church leaders, when we’re watching people go through that stuff, I think what we need to say to them, like too many Christian leaders, I’ll just say that they wring their hands, like oh, my gosh, no, this can’t be happening to you. And they try to forestall the process. And I think trying to arrest that process is the absolute worst thing that we can do. What we ought to do is say, man, God is at, He’s at work in you, to will and to act according to His good purpose and His pleasure, and we’re with you. So let me know how I can serve you as you’re walking through this, you know, and I think that that makes those processes much more bearable, and much more likely not to miscarry.
Yeah, now, that’s good. That’s, that’s, that’s really good brother. One of the things that you’ve shared in Streams in the Wasteland, through your kind of process, your crossroads, you know, as you were really stripping things down, are some unique voices that that helped you through this. And they were in the Desert Fathers and the Desert Mothers. And as you reflect on that…well, let me say this, a lot of times, especially as ministry leaders, a lot of the things that we are looking at, we’re doing, you know, we tend to get caught up in this innovative mindset, right, like we are trying to, you know, and it’s, I think, with good heart, you know, we are seeing the world change around us. So we’re saying, Okay, how do we lean in? How can we make a kingdom impact? Like, what are the fresh things that are happening around us that we can lean into? And yet, oftentimes, it’s much more helpful, and much more refreshing for ourselves, if we look backward, right? And that was part of your experience. So can you talk to us a little bit about, you know, how the entered into your life, what that has done for your life and how your life has changed, and how your ministry has changed as a result?
Yeah, I do think we live in a society that is so addicted to novelty. And we think the thing is not good, unless it’s brand new. And there’s something in our faith, I think that speaks to that, behold, I’m doing a new thing. God is the god who makes all things new. And yet, there is a call inside the gospel. Like I think that I think that God never changes. And I also think that human nature never really changes. And so even though we think that a lot of things are new, Ecclesiastes also says there’s not actually anything new under the sun. And one of the scripture verses that I used to kind of frame out Streams in the Wasteland, is Jeremiah 6.16. The people of God were lost, they were in a messy season, had not been following the Lord, their society was in chaos. And Jeremiah said stand at the crossroads, stand at the crossroads and look, ask where the ancient path is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. And then, of course, what they say is, well, we’re not going to do that, like they refuse to go back. I think that we’re, I think that one of the things that evangelical Christianity in particular is often guilty of is historical amnesia. We don’t remember where we’ve come from, and we neglect the voices of the past. And I think that that is very much to our detriment. And I grew up in a tradition. I’m born and raised Pentecostal charismatic and nondenominational kind of Pentecostal world. And we just didn’t have any voices in our lives that were really earlier than 1900, you know. And I can remember at 18 years old, 17 years old, my mom putting Richard Foster’s The Celebration of Discipline in front of me. And I remember just devouring that I was in a, I was in a time of great spiritual awakening. And I read that book. And I remember being so floored not only by the vision that he presented, but by all of the voices from the past, that he leveraged and created this, like hunger and thirst in me to let go find wisdom that scattered throughout church history, you know, and so, I have become fanatical about that, you know, I read probably three or four old books for every one new book, because I think that ideas and forms of our spirituality that have stood the test of time, are more likely to be a good match for our humanity, and novelty usually isn’t, you know. And so these Desert Fathers and Mothers, you know, I mean, this, they’re 1700 years old. And these were people that saw that their society in the church around them were kind of crazy. And so they retreated into the wilderness, really, to try to figure out how to be human in the way that Jesus calls us to be human. And they did it. And they in a way, one scholar says that they actually re evangelized not only the Roman Empire, but Christianity by virtue of their witness. And so they’ve recorded all these sayings and stories for us, that are very much in some ways they’re like the book of Proverbs, and in other ways, they’re like little parables, but what they do is they help us see the way that God is calling us to live. So I’ve immersed myself in their writings for the past five and a half years. And what I’ve found as that they’ve been, they’ve become like little guideposts for me, they’ve helped me identify the insanity of our culture. They’ve helped me identify how superficial church culture can be. And they’ve introduced me to a better way. So I do hope that people read Streams in the Wasteland, I also actually, the better hope is that they would go and they would read the Desert Fathers and Mothers. They’re bizarre people, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. But there’s something that they do, like they kind of strange up Jesus for us. And they help us see the gospel with fresh, fresh eyes. So they’re surprisingly relevant. I mean, I just sat in a lunch with a, you know, one of the young pastors on our staff, and probably two times during the, two or three times during the lunch, I quoted a desert father to him, and they have it’s like, really pithy advice. You know, like, one of the quotes I gave today was Abba Poemen, who said, Teach your mouth to say what’s in your heart. And isn’t that like one of the challenges of community? How do we speak what’s really inside of us. And part of the reason that we don’t have intimacy with one another is that we don’t know how to tell the truth about what’s going on. And so we rely on sound bites, or we are afraid and we hide. But it takes it takes a lot of spiritual maturity, and it actually creates spiritual maturity, to tell the truth, so teach your mouth to say what’s in your heart. You know, it’s like little things like that, you know, that I found to be really helpful in the quest to be human.
Yeah, brother, I love that. And that does bring refreshment I love the way when we look at those who have come before us, in some of those principles, as you said, kind of was was stirred centuries. Yeah, regardless of what’s going on in the world, right. And all the changes happening in the world, the refreshment that can come from that. You know, just the rest, we could rest in some of those things. There’s something beautiful about that, especially in a world that seems to be pretty chaotic. We started this conversation, talking about how, you know, we have a temptation as pastors to tie our identity to, you know, what we’re producing. But kind of the flip side of that, Andrew, is we all, that are in ministry, we all desire to see the beauty and transformation in the lives of those whom have been entrusted to us by God. So we have this desire, as shepherds, praying for the flourishing of our sheep to, to see, you know, some results, to see some outcome. And ministry can be exhausting. It can be demanding as we know, they can even be disheartening because, you know, we’re pouring our lives into others, and we don’t always see the outcome of our service, right? We don’t always see, you know, some of the end results. We’re doing some renovations on our house right now. And, and it’s like, you step into a room, you get ready to paint a room, you know, you dip the paintbrush in the bucket, you know, you get the paint on there, you paint the room, an hour and a half later, whatever, the room looks completely different. Right? But ministry, it seems like there are times when it feels like we’re painting with invisible paint, you know, I mean, like, like we’re doing the work, we’re doing the ministry, we’re serving, but we don’t always see those results. So Andrew, how have you found help or what have you found that’s been helpful as you live in and serve out of a place of refreshment, that helps, especially in these situations when we may not really see the results this side of heaven, right?
Well, I think what helps me is again, it’s that like, Do you have a codependent relationship with your ministry? Could you live without it? You know. And I think when you come to a place when you go, you know God, you’re, they say with the psalmist, whom do I have in heaven but you, and Earth has nothing I desire besides you, my flesh, my heart, may fail, but you’re the strength of my heart, my portion forever, that frees you to endure the ebbs and flows of ministry. Or when you’ve when you’ve really come to a place when you’ve put the need to have a growing ministry to rest. I mean, I’ve told people that in our, after our departure from Denver, being here in the Springs, I think I knew that God’s process in me, that specific process that he had, I mean, I just felt so dead, it really felt like I was being laid in the grave, you know. And I remember during those first couple years of being out here, I kept like concocting resurrection stories for myself, like, how can I get back to doing what I was doing before? How can I get back to being that guy, you know, I felt like the Spirit was just like, stop. I just be like, where I’ve put you. Like, lay down in the grave, because the grave is a good long nap for you. And I got to the point genuinely where it was like, you know, if I never get up out of this grave that I’m in, Jesus is with me in it. And Jesus has all the resurrection I could ever could ever want. And when you get to that point, you know, where it’s like my God and my all, whom do I have in heaven, but you. I think that’s what I think really frees you. I and so for me, I you know, I’m 41 now, I’ve been in ministry for going on 20 years. I’ve been through the stuff that I’ve been through, I think I endure the ebbs and flows of ministry much better when things are going great, sweet, when they’re not going great I go, it’s fine, it’s fine, just keep on truckin. Because what God calls us to is faithfulness and to rooting and planting ourselves in Christ Jesus, and the fruit is just a run off of that. So with my team I focus on it’s about the health of our church, and it’s going to flourish as long as we focus on health. That helps me. The other thing I’ll tell you, it just helps me a ton, is a sense of historical perspective. You know, we are, in American society in 2022, we are as instant and on demand as any society, more than any society that’s ever lived. And that conditions us to think, look, if I start an initiative in November, it ought to have visible results by December, or this whole thing is just like a huge waste of time. And the church has been around for 2000 years, and it’s taking God a long time to do what he’s done to bring us to this point. I don’t think that God all of a sudden is getting hasty. I think we’re still inside this long panorama of the work of God. And I remember, a friend of mine years ago, got invited to a, an ecumenical conversation at the Vatican. And I was asking him about it. And he said, you know, the most bizarre thing he said you sit with some of these Catholic bishops and cardinals who have been, you know, they’re a part of an institution is 2000 years old, an institution that has continuity for 2000 years. They were saying things like, you know, we really feel like if we make a couple changes here and there, that we could really start to see some results in the next 125 – 150 years. No, we’ve got to, like, reach people this fall, you know, and he said, It was so jarring for him. And I have thought about that so much over the years, you know, that is, are we okay with planting seeds that we’ll never see bear fruit? Are we okay with tilling soil? You know, are we okay with building laying foundations where we’ll never actually see the building get built. My pastor, Pastor Brady Boyd here at New Life Church, he says, I love this. He says, we’re all interim pastors. So we’re all working hard and just trying to leave the place a little bit better than we found it and setting it up, right, for the next person. So those things help me, you know, staying centered in God and, you know, keeping a sense of historical perspective, that, that that helps me amid the ebb and flow of ministry, for sure.
That’s good. Yeah, brother, this has been such a great conversation. There’s so much from your own experience so much from from how God has worked in your life and is working through your life that that you’re so freely sharing with so many people, your most recent book, Streams in the Wasteland. Excellent, excellent book. Andrew, if people want to kind of connect with you, connect with more of your writings, those types of things, your ministry, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Yeah, you can head to andrewarndt.com. That’s got a bunch of stuff there. I’ve got blogs going back a long way. Lots of resources there. They can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at theandrewarndt, on Facebook, I’m Andrew Arndt. I write some for places like Missio Alliance and Mere Orthodoxy, and the Other Journal. I’m in the midst of a doctoral program right now, so the next year of my life has really taken up with writing for that. So I’m hoping to turn that into a book in a couple of years, but I’ll be a little bit lighter on the interwebs over the next 12 months is what I’m saying.
Awesome, brother, and we’ll be sure to have all those links that Andrew mentioned at PastorServe.org/network in the toolkit for this episode. So if you guys are driving or, or running or whatever you’re doing while you’re listening to this you can always come back to PastorServe.org/network and get all those details. Brother, it has been an absolute joy to hang out with you today. Love you, appreciate you… so thankful for your heart for God and your heart for the church. Thank you for all that you’re contributing to the kingdom.
The feeling’s mutual. Thanks for having me on Jason, appreciate it.
Awesome,. brother. God bless you. Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, 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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