Resiliency in Ministry and the Gift of Benevolent Detachment : John Eldredge
Resiliency in ministry is such an important topic and that’s exactly what we get into on this episode of FrontStage BackStage with my guest, New York Times bestselling author John Eldredge. Be watching and listening specifically for what John has to say about benevolent detachment. So powerful for pastors, especially if you’re wrestling with burning out, or perhaps even tapping out of ministry altogether.
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Additional Resource Links
Resilient: Restoring Your Weary Soul in These Turbulent Times by John Eldredge
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Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- The offer of the Gospel goes way beyond forgiveness… it is an invitation to enter into the fullness of the life of God and experience how our humanity is healed through the life of God in us
- When we face challenges, we rally. As we rally, we are tapping into our reserves. At some point, we need to replenish those reserves because they do not just replenish naturally.
- Resiliency, as the Christian understands it, is something that is imparted into our inmost being by God, and by the presence of God
- People don’t need more to do, what we need is to be able to tap in –to replenish our reserves– by the presence of a living God in us
- You have to be intentional to recover, replenish, and find resiliency
- After you have been through trauma, you seek self-soothing behavior. This behavior can be healthy or unhealthy. Take notice of where your soul is going for relief and make sure it is something from God that actually replenishes your reserves.
- Christians are amphibians. We live in two worlds at the same time. We must be aware that most of our life is dominated by this world –the pressures and chaos and demands– but we need to be sure we are experiencing the water of life by living in God’s presence.
- God activity is not the same thing as being replenished by God
- Benevolent detachment is when you release everything and everyone to God. You empty your soul of all the chaos and the clutter so that you can then receive something of the presence of God. We do not do this cynically. We are not checking out. Rather, in love, we release everything to God.
- Just as the glory of the living God would fill the Old Testament tabernacle and temple, the glory of the living God is meant to fill our humanity. This is the only thing that can empower us, that transform our character.
- Your humanity, your being, doesn’t function well without a regular infusion of the beauty and goodness of the presence of God. We must seek this regularly to replenish our souls.
- There are many competing narratives in our world, but only one true story… God’s Story
- The war is for your attention and your affection, to pull both away from God’s Story to the competing narratives that surround us
- A helpful exercise is to look at however many minutes you are giving attention to a competing narrative, like the news, each day and then committing at least that many minutes to the Story of God
- Knowledge is seductive and it has been since the fall of humankind. We must daily choose the Tree of Life over the Tree of Knowledge.
- The pressure on the modern pastor is to be a global pundit and expert commentator on all global affairs. That is not your job. Your job is to know God and to help your people into his transforming life… to disciple your people into God’s presence.
- Reflect on all you are doing in ministry today and ask yourself if it is sustainable. Then ask Jesus. Not everything you are doing today is likely necessary for you to do to fulfill all Jesus is asking of you.
- There is a global phenomenon now of tapping out, of giving in, throwing in the towel. Be aware that your decisions right now are being influenced by things that are operating globally by the kingdom of darkness. Ask Jesus to help you assess your ministry and life without darkness and desolation getting into your heart, or even your perspective on your calling.
- Pastors are vulnerable, just like everyone else. Assess on a regular basis where you are feeling vulnerable and where are you going for comfort. Reflect on where you are finding mercy. Look for it in the beauty of God’s creation.
- If you are not finding comfort in healthy ways you will look for it in unhealthy ways
Questions for Reflection
- How am I experiencing the fullness of God’s presence in my life?
- The past couple of years have had many challenges. How have I rallied to these challenges?
- Do I feel like my tank is empty? If so, what can I do to replenish my soul?
- Am I being intentional about recovering and replenishing? If so, how? If not, why not?
- What daily practices am I engaging in that help me experience God’s presence and replenish my soul? Are there some practices I need to take up?
- What type of self-soothing behavior am I engaged in? Where am I going to find relief?
- Are these behaviors healthy or unhealthy? Why?
- How are we helping people in our church find healthy places for relief?
- Reflect on the idea of benevolent detachment. Am I practicing benevolent detachment? Cynical detachment? No detachment at all? What steps will I take this week to encourage healthy benevolent detachment in my life?
- Assess the time I am giving to competing narratives each day. Am I balancing that time with time focused on God’s Story? If not, am I willing to commit to making this needed change in my life?
- Am I being seduced by knowledge, or the desire to appear I am in the know? Why or why not?
- How can I choose the Tree of Life over the Tree of Knowledge each day? What changes must I make in my life to do so?
- Is what I am doing today in ministry sustainable? Why or why not?
- Are there any tasks, duties, demands, etc, that I sense Jesus is asking me to give up so I can be more focused on what God has called me to do and be? If so, what?
- Are my decisions regarding ministry being influenced by the loving presence of God or the cynical kingdom of darkness? How do I know?
- Where am I vulnerable right now? How will I guard against those vulnerabilities?
- What will I do each day to find mercy in the beauty and goodness of God?
Resiliency in ministry is such an important topic and that’s exactly what we get into on this episode of FrontStage BackStage with my guest, New York Times bestselling author John Eldredge.
I want you to be listening specifically for what John has to say about benevolent detachment. So powerful for pastors, especially if you’re wrestling with burning out, or perhaps even tapping out of ministry altogether. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to FrontStage BackStage, I’m your host, Jason Daye, and so excited to have you with us for this episode. We are all about encouraging and equipping pastors just like you to live healthy leadership, both in your ministry and in your life, that healthy, well-balanced leadership. And we are blessed to be a part of the PastorServe network. And if you’re watching us on YouTube, we encourage you to like, comment, and subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of these amazing conversations. If you’re listening to us on your favorite podcast platform, be sure to subscribe as well, because these conversations are very insightful, and I’m excited about today’s conversation, we have the opportunity to be joined by none other than New York Times bestselling author, and the founder of Wild at Heart ministries. John Eldredge, John, welcome to the show.
Hey, thanks, Jason. Great to be here.
Yeah, so good to be chatting with you, again, brother. And you have been spending and focusing a lot of time here recently, on the topic of resiliency. In fact, you have a new book that is being released very, very soon, and titled, Resilient, Restoring Your Weary Soul in these Turbulent Times. So we’re excited to hear about that. But I’ve got to tell John, as I was reading through the book, I couldn’t help… and I, I’d love to have some of your feedback on this… I couldn’t help but think about all the other books of yours, that I’ve read over the years, the different teachings and the different things that you’ve kind of put out into the world and blessed the Church with. And I was thinking, you know, there seems like John has had a bit of this thread of resiliency, through everything. And it made me think about the idea of resiliency as being a kind of a core part of what it means to follow Jesus, right. And so as I was reading that I was reflecting back on all of these other things that I have, have read of yours. And so I’m just curious, where does kind of resiliency fit in, when you look at the scope of your life and ministry? How does that kind of fit in and connect?
That is a beautiful observation, Jason, I, I hadn’t connected those dots myself. But now that you’re naming it, of course, of course, because John 10 “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” I think that the… I’ve spent a lot of time as a Christian therapist, and then in doing retreats, and author and all that, thinking about how does God heal the human soul? How does he restore our humanity? And first, just helping people understand that the offer of the Gospel goes way beyond forgiveness, and, and to enter into the fullness of the life of God, how our humanity is healed through the life of God in us. So, yeah, that’s resiliency, that is the presence of God bringing us resiliency, yes, through this angle, and this angle and this book. And yeah, that’s, that’s beautiful.
Awesome, brother. As I was kind of looking through this, one of the things that you brought up and kind of in the front end of the book, which I thought was powerful, kind of set the stage for everything for me, was you made this differentiation between resiliency and reserves. Which I thought was powerful, because there’s a lot of talk coming out of the pandemic, and all the tensions that we’ve been under for the last several years now, of resiliency. You know, there are lots of conversations about resiliency. But one of the things that you share is that resiliency is one thing, but really, reserves tell the true story. So talk to us a little bit, especially from the perspective of, you know, kind of a pastor, a ministry leader who we’re trying to be resilient in our ministry, you know, in our own lives and in the people that were shepherding, right. So what is that connectivity between resiliency and reserves?
Yeah, let me let me first say I take my shoes off to pastors, I think you have the most difficult job on the planet. The variety, like you are required to be amazing in so many ways: relationally spiritually, as a communicator, but also as a leader, kind of a CEO, but also like a real estate executive. Right? You know, you’re supposed to be the the pundit, a commentator on global events. It’s really pretty staggering what we expect of people in ministry these days. And so the difference is this in order to overcome something like a global pandemic, you rally and in, what was the Christianity Today survey that I saw it I was back in November, 40% of pastors have thought about leaving the ministry. Yeah, yeah. Because of because of the crazy and, you know, the vaccines, no, vaccines, masks, no masks, all that stuff. So in order to rise to the moment and to overcome the challenges, you tap into your reserves, it’s what we do. And you do this for good things. You do it for, you know, birth of a child or a wedding, you know, you do it to overcome, you know, a new career challenge, anything like that, go back and get your graduate work. Okay. We tap into our reserves. But at some point, you have to replenish those reserves. They don’t just naturally replenish. And I think I think we’ve done a good job of rallying, I really do. People have done well. We’ve remained kind and loving and civil through a whole lot of stuff. But in order to do that, we have tapped pretty deeply into our souls’ reserve tanks. And a way to assess that is to just let me just ask you, if a new pandemic were to start tomorrow, and we found ourselves exactly in the same position we did two years ago in March, what would your reaction to that? Or if your house burns down, and everybody survives, everybody’s okay. But you lose everything, all your documents and your precious things and the photos and stuff, you have to start over? How would you feel? You go? Oh, okay. Yeah. Because those things require your reserves. And so the idea of resiliency, one of the things that differentiates it, I was just reading Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 about God strengthening us in our inmost being, by His Spirit within us. Resiliency, as the Christian understands it, is something that is imparted into our inmost being by God, and by the presence of God. And so I that’s very hopeful. For one thing, this isn’t, hey, we just gave you a gym membership, surprise! People don’t need more to do, what we need is to be able to tap in, to replenish our reserves, by the presence of a living God in us.
Yeah, that’s really good. You know, John, after enduring ongoing stress and tension, as we have you shared that, that sometimes we think, you know, coming out of that, that we’re going to return to the joy of what once was, right, that somehow we will be able to kind of get back to that. But you say that it really doesn’t work that way, right? We don’t have just a big reboot button for our lives, you know, we can’t just take three months and go to Bali and and, you know, get restored and just, you know, hit that reset. Instead, we are faced with, you know, as pastors Sunday comes once a week, right? And, and in between Sunday’s there’s a lot of you know, it’s kind of the every day ongoing life. So talk to us a little bit about that, because you mentioned that whenever we come out of stress, you know, we are hopeful that we’ll get to catch our breath, but then oftentimes it leads to disappointment because we realize we’re just back in the throes of life.
Right. Right. Yeah. Part of the global denial right now, is that these two years have not been traumatizing. And so it’s kind just to say, look, the reason you’re congregation is acting out, you know, the Substance Abuse and the divorces and the affairs and all that is because everybody just went through global trauma, including you, friends. So it’s very kind to name that and say, whoa, whoa, this is not just a quick reset. We actually are going to have to be intentional to recover, replenish, find resiliency, because I would love to tell you that, hey, everybody it’s smooth sailing ahead. Right. But like we were literally at the two year anniversary of the pandemic, when Russia invaded Ukraine. And in on and on it goes. Now we’ve got, you know, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is heating up again and the stuff going on in Yemen, and whoa, like the world is a heartbreaking place. And so after you’ve been through trauma, what you do is self-soothing behavior. Okay, everything from healthy stuff, like I’m going to Hawaii with my family, to not so healthy stuff like pornography, and you know, alcohol abuse and that sort of thing. Notice where your soul is going for relief right now. Okay, it’ll be a really helpful thing to just gauge that. Notice where you are going for relief and make sure it is something from God that actually replenishes your reserves. Because I’ll be honest, I found myself drinking more as the pandemic wore on, and then as the next thing, and the politics, and the tensions, and all that. And I was talking to a therapist, friend of mine, who’s a brilliant trauma therapist, and he confessed it to me, he says, I’m drinking wine with every meal now. And we looked at each other and said, bro, this is not good. Like, this does not have a good future on it. So you know, we both like, backed off, but where are you going for relief? And will that replenish your reserves?
Yeah, that’s great. And I know you talk about this idea, and this is exactly what you’re discussing right now. But getting our thirst back for the fountain of life. I love that phrase that you use in the book. And I know, it’s kind of what you’re driving at is, you know, this idea that where are we being replenished. But let’s let’s dig in just a little bit more on that, in regard to the fountain of life, because there’s a lot of hope in that phrase. Right. There’s, there’s, there’s a lot of beauty there. So talk to us a bit about how we, like you said, wearing so many different hats and trying to juggle so many different things. And we ourselves personally, you know, in ministry, we’re going through things ourselves, we’re also carrying burdens for our people. What what does that thirst for the fountain of life look like?
Man? This is so good. So, you know, gang, that the ancient battle or the human heart is over this issue? Where do we turn for life? Where do we turn for life and when the prophets are really railing it is because they say, “You have forsaken me, the fountain of life.” Right and you’ve gone off into the wilderness pursuing your own versions. Okay. So let me let me make an observation. Christians are amphibians, we’re all people are, but Christians especially are meant to be. We are amphibians. We live in two worlds at the same time. We’re meant to have a comfortability with that. And this is a fascinating thing. If you take a real amphibian, a frog, and you put it only in a tank of water, it will drown. If you take a frog and you put it only in a terrarium with no water, okay, it will die. Okay, it needs to move between both worlds, just as we do. And the problem is the human world, the natural world, everything from your Instagram, you know, to your kids education, just the chaos of normal life, crowds out our time spent in our facility with right the rest of God’s Kingdom, the supernatural world tapping into something like the river of life. So the River of Life flows from God to His people. And in John 7, Jesus says it’s going to flow through you, as you love me, as you believe in me, springs of living water, right, are going to flow from your inmost being okay. It is the very presence of God in us. And so I think we just have to be aware of, I’m an amphibian. Most of my life is dominated by this world, this reality, technology and chaos and demands and meetings and emails. You know, all the crazy stuff. Where am I enjoying the rest of the kingdom of God? Where am I enjoying his presence enough that I am actually experiencing some of that water of life sort of saturating my inmost being so that I can thrive, so that I can live? because everything is designed to strangle that out of you. Right, the whole mess of this planet is designed to just strangle that and keep you in the chaos?
Yeah, that’s good. As we kind of think through this, you’re speaking there, John, I was thinking about as people in ministry, oftentimes we are spending a lot of time with quote/unquote, God, or godly things. All right. But that doesn’t always refresh us. You were talking about the enjoying, you know, you’re talking about the beauty of it. But oftentimes in ministry, it becomes more of a task, in a way it’s part of our job description. You know, it’s part of just what we do. So how can pastors, you know, be attentive to experiencing that joy that you’re talking about, the enjoyment, the pleasure? What are some of those supernatural graces that you talk about that can help us get to those beautiful places?
Okay. So let’s clarify a couple of things. Because I’ve spent, I spent my career in ministry, I know exactly what you’re talking. And I served on the staff of a local church. So God activity is not the same thing as being replenished by God. So you know, good meetings, good purposes, conferences, pouring into people’s lives, sessions, prayer for people, all that, is not the same thing as being replenished by God, enjoying his presence, enjoying his conversation, what he’s revealing to you, what he’s showing you, all that. So, but then we get to the end of our day, and we’re like, I’m just so done with spiritual things. I just want to play pickleball. I just want to go for a run. I just want somebody to leave me alone. So footnote, benevolent detachment is going to save your life. Okay, benevolent detachment, where you release everything, and everyone to God. Okay, we’re invited to do this 1 Peter 5, verse 7, “cast everything on the Lord” because He cares. He cares. So I have to practice benevolent detachment every day, my clients, my staff, you know, all that, project meetings, exciting things, I give everything and everyone to you. You empty your soul of all the chaos and the clutter, so that you can then receive something of the presence of God. Now, you asked about the supernatural graces, so the human heart, the heart of the believer, is the new temple. Okay, so you had the tabernacle, you had the temple, and in the Old Testament, that was where the presence of God came down, and dwelt among us people. Which is why you get all these songs saying, Let us go up into the Lord, let us go experience His presence, because that was the locus for it, that’s the location. But in the New Testament, God did something radical, and Paul writes about, he says, You now are the temple of God, because this is where the presence of God dwells in the world now, and this is where the presence of God expresses itself in the world now. So I got all these Bible guys tracking with me going, I think that’s true. We are now the temple of the living God. Ephesians 3 Christ dwells in your hearts. Okay, well, if that’s where Christ dwells, then that’s the new temple, that is the location of the presence of God in the world. Okay. So the glory of the living God would fill the tabernacle and the glory of the living God would fill the temple. The glory of the living God is meant to fill our humanity. It’s the only it’s the only thing that can empower us. It’s the only thing that that can transform our character. It’s the only thing that works. But very few of us say, and this is right out of the Ephesians 3 prayer, right, Paul says, “I pray to the Father, the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth, that He would strengthen you out of his glorious riches, by His Spirit in your inmost being.” So there we go, okay. But we don’t stop and ask for it and say, I need to be saturated with the beauty of creation, because the glory of God fills the earth, as Isaiah says. I need to be saturated with the glory of Cana, because when Christ turned water to wine, it says He thus revealed His glory. I need to be saturated with the resurrection power of the Almighty, because Paul says in Romans 6, it was by the glory of God that He raised Jesus from the dead. So your humanity, your being, doesn’t function well without a regular infusion of just the beauty of the presence of God, that the splendor of it the love, the goodness, the riches, it’s not a weird thing, it’s not a woo-hoo, it is all that you see in nature that you love, right? It is the goodness of God, saturating your humanity, I recommend asking for it on a regular basis.
That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. You know, it’s interesting, as we’re kind of talking through this idea of, of, of all the goodness that God has created for us, longs for us to live into and experience. Again, we’re faced with a messy world. Right. And, and one of the things that you touch on is this idea of where we are focusing, and how we are focusing our energy. So thinking from a pastor’s perspective, you know, there are so many competing narratives in the world right now, you know, and they’re vying for our time, they’re vying for attention. Whether it’s, you know, narrative of politics and power, social narratives, economic narratives, you know, whatever it might be, competing stories of belief, even, all these hot button issues that, you know, we live in a world of 24/7 regurgitation of everyone’s opinions, right. And oftentimes, we call that news, but it’s a lot of opinions, so many competing narratives. Yet, there’s really only one true story that we’re living in. Can you talk to us a little bit how, because we see this happening in the church as well, and even in church leadership? How, or maybe, why do you think we are allowing ourselves to be swept up into all of these different stories and how do we get back to God’s story?
And again, I just, my heart just goes out to you. Right, because everybody in your congregation is trying to get you to buy into their narrative, right? Yeah. Okay, so two thoughts, that will be very helpful. First off, the war is for your attention and your affection. That’s what the war is over. And everything is clamoring for your attention. It’s trying to get your attention, this and this, and this and this. So if we’re trying to stay rooted in the story of God, which is the true story of the world, I mean, every human heart is beating right now because Jesus Christ is sustaining it. The sun rose this morning, because Jesus Christ is sustaining it, like, the story of God is the story of the world. Therefore, you have to however much time you give to news media, you know, intake of the competing narratives, right? The circus of narratives right now, you need to give equal time to the story of God. And this will just help you measure kind of your day. So if you’re cruising through your newsfeed and you blow, you know, 20 minutes on that, you’re going to need 20 minutes at some point in the day in the Psalms, 20 minutes in the gospels, 20 minutes in the book of Revelation, you’re going to need to get back… or like a good, you know, good Bible, podcast, good teaching, that kind of thing. It’s just a matter of attention. What has captured your attention? For most of your day? What? Because I guarantee you it’s the world because, yeah, it’s the chaos, right? Okay, but let me add something else. Because you ask why do we do that? So, the allure is always the knowledge, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That is always the temptation, because fall of man. Because we feel like, if we can understand more, if we can know more, we will have a sense of mastery, we will have a sense of control. It’s a very seductive thing. And it is untrue. Okay, the tree of life is the tree that we need. Just be aware of the poll in you know, no, it’s knowledge. I gotta be up on what’s happening in Ukraine or I’m not going to look educated to my congregation, I need to I need to be up on what just happened in Palestine and, and, like, okay, just be aware of the pull that knowledge will secure you. Knowledge will give you control. It’s a lie. But it’s very seductive. Because we exchange the reach for the knowledge, you know, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we exchange that for God, I need you. I need you, I need you. I need the tree of life. You are the vine, I’m just a branch I have got to receive from you the life that I need, even at the expense of not being as informed as certain members of my congregation.
Yeah, that’s good. That’s fascinating, because I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people, where people defend, you know, watching 24/7 news because, well, “I need to be aware of what’s going on the world around us. I mean, that’s the responsible thing.” You know, I mean, like, it’s this idea of awareness, and it’s almost, they almost try to make you feel naive or out of touch if you don’t know every nuance of every single thing that was the breaking news that particular day, which just just that contrast, and the truth of that contrast between the tree of knowledge and the tree of life, I think is powerful, because that that really brings that entire tension between those two things. It makes it very, very clear what it is that God is asking us to do. Yeah, God is inviting us to live in his presence.
Yes. And again, let me relieve you of a burden that the pressure on the modern pastor is to be a global pundit, that you are an expert commentator on all global affairs. That is not your job. I want to relieve you of that…. it’s not your job. Your job is to know God and to help your people into, you know, his transforming life, okay, to disciple your people into His presence. You are meant to know God, and the expertise of the world thing has just been saddled on you, and it’s crushing, and it will exhaust you. Because, hey, how’s that going? By the way? Right, exactly.
Exactly. How’s that working? Yeah, yeah, not so much. Right. Yeah, that’s interesting, that kind of kind of brings us into this idea of, you know, you mentioned earlier, we see, you know, kind of an alarming rate of pastors who are kind of raising their hand and saying, I’m considering walking away from ministry. You know, I’m considering just stepping away altogether. And, as you kind of think through that, I mean, a lot of what you’ve shared, you know, these tensions, this weight, these expectations that are placed on us. What encouragement do you have for the pastor of a local congregation, as they are contemplating their calling, and whether they can sustain life in ministry, because oftentimes, it’s not only having a toll personally on the pastor, but on their spouse, their kids, their family… there’s a lot engaged, a lot involved, and a lot of pastors are asking the question, you know, they’re saying, I love Jesus, and I’m willing to suffer for Jesus, you know, that’s okay. But when is enough enough? Or, you know, how do I navigate this? What would you say to that pastor?
Yes. Yeah, this is such a good show. This is Okay, so first. You do need to ask, is this sustainable? Is my current way of life when all that’s expected of me? You just look at it and go, will I have the same level of joy and energy 10 years from now. Will I even love God 10 years from now, because of all this? It’s fair to ask yourself, is this sustainable? And this would be something to do with God, with your spouse, and with a couple of trusted friends. I don’t recommend it’s your elder board. Yeah. Is this sustainable? And then to ask Jesus, is there another way? Is there another way? Are there some things that I actually can offload that would make this more sustainable? Just across the whole, you know, battlefront of your life? Are there some things that would I could offload, honestly, that would make it more sustainable? And it’s so important to ask Jesus that, because we’re involved in a lot of things out of fear… we’re involved in a lot of things because of what people would say, if we didn’t, you know. But Jesus might say, you actually don’t need to be on that committee. Or you don’t need to go to those conferences. You don’t actually have to, you know, he’s shocked me how much margin he has actually been able to give back, Jesus has, into my life by things that I just thought were non negotiable. I’m like, No, you don’t understand that. So assessing with Christ: How do we make this sustainable? How do we make this sustainable? But but now I’m gonna pause, I need to mention something else that’s operating. So there is a the forces of the kingdom of darkness, you know, the hatred in the world, Gadzooks, there’s so much hatred. You can’t even say something casually, without people just jumping all over it, you know, like, whoa, okay. Hatred. Um, there’s a lot of death, just ask them the world and death that we’re hearing about and, but there is also a kind of desolation. And as a therapist, I began to notice this to my clients. And then I began to notice it in my staff. And then I began to notice it in myself. And I’m like, Whoa, wait a second, there is a global phenomenon now of tapping out, of giving in, throwing in the towel, whether it’s a marriage, a career, people just giving up on their health, or, you know, or, or, or falling back into their addictions and all of that, you know, self harm behavior. There is this desolation in the world that that is coming against our hearts, which is why it’s so beautiful to have the glory of the living God, just the resplendent presence of God fill your heart, because it fortresses you against this stuff. But just to be aware, your decisions right now are being influenced by things that are operating globally by the kingdom of darkness, what he’s up to in the world. And so to say, Jesus, I don’t want that to influence my decision making right now. Because the temptation is going to be “no, this isn’t sustainable. I’m out of here.” Woah, hang on, hang on. Jesus, help me to assess this without darkness and desolation getting into my heart and into my life and into even my perspective on my calling. I got into this because I love you. I got into this because I love God. Right? That’s everyone’s right. Yeah. Okay. The glory of the living God will strengthen you against desolation in the world and this pull to tap out. And so I just add that as a footnote, because it’ll it’ll be hard to think clearly without being aware of that.
Yeah, that’s good. That’s really powerful. And just the idea of taking the time to process I think, a lot of times, and especially coming through what we’ve been coming through, right, because there’s so much being thrown at us and there’s a heaviness, weightiness of expectation and, and uncertainty and we feel responsibility, but we don’t even know all the details. You know, it’s that whole navigating all of that and just the idea of stopping, pausing, processing, praying, assessing before making a decision. Yeah, I mean, that’s just that’s one of the things… I think right now. Vulnerability is high. I know that you touch on that, you know, the idea of disappointment leading to disillusionment, which just kind of makes us extremely vulnerable to the enemy. And so the vulnerabilities are high. And we see this not only with pastors who are kind of burning out and tapping out and stepping away, but pastors who are making very, very poor decisions, right, you know, moral failures that hurt themselves, or their family hurt the church or the witness of the church. And so talk to us a little bit about the correlation between everything we’re experiencing, and those vulnerabilities and how we need to be attentive to that.
So good, Jason, can we just say it’s okay, that you’re vulnerable? Like, you’re not, you’re not meant to be Superman. But there’s the expectations again, like that, that the pastor is somehow impervious, that they don’t have a humanity to them. Like your humanity is real. Your vulnerabilities are real. And they matter. Okay, to say that. It is very, very important, on a regular basis to assess where you’re feeling vulnerable, and just where are you going for comfort? Okay, that’s a really simple question. Where do you go for comfort? Okay, what are you doing to comfort these days? are you daydreaming about vacations? are you daydreaming about quitting? Or you know, a daydreaming about, you know, another woman? Just notice it and go, Wow, my soul is really longing for some solace, and some care, and to invite Christ into the vulnerability in the live moment. Don’t wait till your personal retreat four months from now… that’s way late. Like in the day, in the moment where you feel the vulnerability, Oh, Jesus, I need your solace. I need your care. And a lot of us, yeah, we’re willing to suffer for long periods of time, but you actually can’t do that as a lifestyle. Okay, you have to have solace, you have to have mercy, you have to have comfort in that. And God is available. But you will need… Augustine said we must empty ourselves of all that fills us so that we may be filled with that of which we are currently empty. Which by he meant the presence of God. Benevolent detachment, gang benevolent detachment. Benevolent meaning, it’s not cynicism, it’s not anger, I’m not checked out. It’s not resignation. In love, I release everything to you, God. I can’t carry these people. I can’t carry the global news. I release it so that my soul might receive some solace. And then I would say on a pretty regular basis, what do you do for mercy? Where do you go for mercy? I recommend beauty and I recommend nature. So like, listen to beautiful music, watch beautiful things, you know, nature shows on whales and stuff, like just let beauty minister to your soul and get out in nature. Take a walk every day, go to the beach, get somewhere, go to your garden, where just nature and its healing properties can bring you solace and comfort. Otherwise, you’re gonna go find comfort. And if you’re not finding it in healthy ways, you’re going to find it in some way that’s going to end up you know, blowing things up.
Yeah, that’s good. That’s good brother. John, I so appreciate your wisdom and in the benevolent detachment and the distinction you make about that benevolent detachment where it’s rooted in in the heart behind it, I think is so vital right now, for us in the world in which we’re living and the things that we’re navigating. So I certainly appreciate you making the time to be with us here on FrontStage BackStage and this new book that you do have releasing, Resilient. When is that available? How can people get that book and how can they connect with you if they want to follow up with you?
Yeah, so the book comes out first of June. I recommend the audio book, by the way, because in the audio book, I’m able to do this: I’m able to be more conversational and riff and I go off on tangents. But most importantly, at the end of each chapter, both in the book and in the audio book I lead you in prayer. I lead you into being an amphibian and into tapping into things like, Oh, the glory, the resplendent presence of God filling your being. So yeah, that’s gonna be super helpful for folks.
Yeah, I love that. I love that. If they want to connect with you, can they find you on social media? Or?
yeah, yeah, well just look for Wild at Heart. We’re wildatheart.org. And if you type in John Eldredge Wild at Heart, you’ll find your way to us.
Awesome. I love it. Well, thank you, brother. Thank you so much, again for being here. Appreciate your heart. Appreciate your words of wisdom. I know it will be encouraging to pastors and ministry leaders.
Oh, I truly hope so. This has been an honor. Yeah, my heart goes out to all of 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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