Women in Ministry: Creating Opportunities to Flourish – Jo Saxton

Women in Ministry: Creating Opportunities to Flourish - Jo Saxton - 40 FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

As ministry leaders, regardless of gender, age, or stage in life, we all need to be connected to meaningful community that helps us develop and resources us to lead effectively. In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Jo Saxton. Jo is an author, speaker, podcast host, and leadership coach. She has led ministries and nonprofits and has pastored and planted churches. In a spirit of generosity, hope, and respect, Jo shares opportunities that we have as the Church to help women and the next generation live into their God-given potential. Jo and Jason also explore ways that every ministry leader can experience healthy relationships that help us overcome past wounds and feelings of loneliness.

Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!

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Audio Links

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Additional Resource Links

JoSaxton.com – Jo’s website where you can find helpful resources for developing as a leader

Ezer Collective – Jo’s leadership intensive which is made up of about 75 women from all industries, life stages, and leadership roles

The Lead Stories Podcast – Co-hosted by Jo Saxton and Pastor Steph O’Brien, is a weekly conversation on leadership and life

Connect with Jo Saxton – Twitter | Instagram

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Feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or just want to talk?  Complimentary 1-hour Coaching Session for Pastors http://PastorServe.org/freesession

Ministry Leaders Growth Guide

Key Insights and Concepts

  • If we believe women are called to serve in any type of ministry capacity, what are we doing to equip them?
  • “When we look at the arc of scripture, and we see what women were actually doing, would those women be received today? And if not, why not?” – Jo Saxton
  • In some churches, the pipeline for leadership development for women is hindered
  • Mentoring is as much “caught” as “taught”
  • Regardless of one’s theological stance on women in ministry, women are serving in leadership positions in most churches. Even if women are only leading other women, they need to be equipped to serve in the fullness of God’s calling.
  • Many ministry leaders experience loneliness, and for women leaders the loneliness can be compounded because they may feel distance from other male leaders, as well
  • Healthy boundaries and healthy leadership development can co-exist. It takes creativity, but ministry leaders are called to seek creative solutions.
  • In order to raise up new leaders, we need to give them access to our proximity and to our stories

Questions for Reflection

  • How are we equipping women to lead in our church? In the workplace? In their homes?
  • Are we sharing the diversity of stories of women in scripture with our church? Where are they shared? What does this currently look like? How can we improve?
  • How are we mentoring women in our church?
  • Do women get invited into spaces that allow them to flourish as leaders? Why or why not? Do we need to make changes in this area?
  • Do we have a pipeline to help women develop as leaders? If so, is it working? If not, what steps do we need to take?
  • Are we capping the leadership development of people in our church? If so, what is causing the “cap”? What changes can be made to ensure we are helping everyone live into the fullness of God’s calling on their lives?
  • How are we helping develop the next generation of leaders? What would it take to increase our church’s effectiveness in this area?
  • How are we addressing loneliness in our leaders’ lives? Why is this important to address?
  • How are we inviting new leaders into spaces where they can hear other leaders’ stories and engage in ministry activities that will help them grow?

Full-Text Transcript

As ministry leaders, regardless of gender, age, or stage in life, we all need to be connected to meaningful community that helps us develop and resources us to lead effectively

Jason Daye
In this episode, I’m by Jo Saxton. Jo is an author, speaker, podcast host, and leadership coach. She has led ministries and nonprofits and has pastored and planted churches. In a spirit of generosity, hope, and respect, Jo shares opportunities that we have as the Church to help women and the next generation live into their God-given potential. Jo and I also explore ways that every ministry leader can experience healthy relationships that help us overcome past wounds and feelings of loneliness. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye
Hello, friends, and welcome to another insightful episode of FrontStage BackStage. I am your host Jason Daye, and every single week, I have the honor of sitting down with a trusted ministry leader. And we dive into a topic to help you, and other ministry leaders like you, really embrace a healthy, sustainable rhythm in both life and ministry, both on the front stage, the more public part of our lives, and the backstage, the personal, private side of our lives. And we do more than just have a conversation. We also provide an entire toolkit that complements the topic we discuss, that helps you and the ministry team at your local church dive more deeply into this topic. And you can find that toolkit with all the tools and resources at PastorServe.org/network. There you’ll find the resources along with a ministry leaders growth guide, with questions for reflection, just to again dig more deeply into the topic at hand. Now, it is a privilege and a blessing to be a part of the PastorServe network. And if you are a pastor, or a ministry leader, one of our coaches would love to offer you a free coaching session. If there’s someone that you just want to talk to, have an opportunity to just share some of the things going on in your life, in your ministry, we encourage you to avail yourself of this opportunity. Again, it’s a completely free, complimentary coaching session. And you can find that at PastorServe.org/freesession. So be sure to check that out. Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, we love to see you with us, give us a thumbs up, and in the comments below, if you just take a moment to drop your name and the name of your church. We’d love to get to know our audience better. And we’ll be praying for you and your ministry. And whether you’re following us on YouTube, or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to subscribe or to follow. So you do not miss out on any of these great conversations. And we do indeed have a very important and very insightful conversation for you today. And at this time, I’d like to welcome Jo Saxton to FrontStage BackStage. Jo, welcome.

Jo Saxton
Hi, good to see you.

Jason Daye
Yes. So good to have you with us. Thank you for making time to hang out with us. Now, Jo, you spend much of your ministry, really helping women flourish as leaders, this is something that you’re passionate about. This is something that you’ve personally lived, obviously, as a ministry leader yourself. But you’ve really, really invested a lot of time into this conversation, invested a lot of time into relationships around this. And I’m just curious, what are some of the shifts that you have seen over the years related to women in ministry leadership?

Jo Saxton
Shifts is a really good way of putting it, I think, I would say it feels more like cycles than shifts. I think there are seasons, where it seems that there are lots of women coming through and lots of opportunities. But it hasn’t ever been a flow to it. And then a quieter season where the challenges present themselves with a new face every era. I think that would be my honest answer. I would say however, the past few years, with the pandemic and its, well, the joy of the 2020s in all its myriad ways, has compounded things, intensified things, for women in leadership in distinct ways. Not to say that worse, but distinct ways. So I would say there is a there’s obviously a growing awareness and longing for women in leadership. And there have been areas where people have said it’s a justice issue, but more often than not, people say it’s a theological one, to be honest, it’s a theological reflection. I think that added nuance in the recent era has been the rise of #metoo. Right? And how that has impacted churches, and how that as the voices of some of the women who have shared their devastating stories were women who were emerging into leadership and then derailed. So I think hearing that aspect of it, it has been, has been a shift in recent years. And I think a growing sense of okay, women are called… How do we best equip them? I think those would be the two, in some ways that extremes, well, actually the #metoo one is more of an extreme, a devastating extreme. But those would be the particular things in the past couple of years that I would say have been louder and louder and louder.

Jason Daye
Yeah. Yeah. That’s fascinating. And one thing you mentioned there, Jo, was the distinction between, you know, being a justice issue and being kind of a theological issue. Can you dig in a little more on that, and kind of the nuances between approaching it in those two different ways?

Jo Saxton
Yeah. And in some ways, it feels a bit like splitting hairs when I say that, because it’s not like theological, theology and justice are separate, right? I think, so I think sometimes. So maybe it’s maybe justice is the wrong word, maybe almost like a current culture, like people say, Well catch up, or come on, it’s 2022. And I think that, don’t get me wrong, I think they’re valid things to say. And I think there has been justice issues as part of it. And God’s heart for justice is undeniable. I guess my point that I was making probably weakly, was the sense of the wider conversations are actually, I’m not asking you to do this, because it’s not fair. I’m not asking you to acknowledge women because you’ve left people out, and it’s really naughty the way you’ve done that. Or, it’s time to right some wrongs, although it is. And generally overdue, whenever, whenever, wherever in culture, when it’s time to right some wrongs, it’s normally a bit late. Just how humanity tends to work, sadly, but I think it’s the louder voices I’m hearing alongside those would be actually when we look at the, when we look at the arc of scripture, and we see what women were actually doing, would those women be received today? And if not, why not? And if we see women in the Bible, living into the fullness of their God-given identity, and they are business leaders, and they are pastors, and they are church planters, and they are judges in that, are we investing in image bearers so that they are free to live into the fullness of that calling and joining what God is doing in the world? Yeah, and, and so that it’s not like, oh, let’s do this, because, oh, it’s time, guys. It’s time or let’s be sensitive. But let’s recognize the arc of scripture in that we are simply responding.

Jason Daye
Yeah, no, that’s helpful. Because, you know, culture responds in different ways, you know, just kind of on its own, as we understand culture does what culture does. But whenever we tie it back to kind of the biblical account, like you said, the arc of the story of Scripture, right. That’s when we within the Church, I mean, this is our calling, specifically, and how do we lean into that? How do we help celebrate those things that God obviously celebrated, you know, in Scripture? And then how does that influence what we do on a daily basis? I would love for you to kind of detail Jo, if you could, what some of the major hindrances are for women flourishing as leaders, specifically within the Church that you’ve recognized.

Jo Saxton
Yeah, I’d say there are a number of areas. One, I think, I think the stories that we tell about women in the Bible are often very limited ones. We might hear about Mary, at Christmas, and rightly so. And Anna and Elizabeth. And that is often it, you might bring out a random woman on Mother’s Day. And that is often someone who’s not a mother. But, do you know what I mean, they’re mentioned. But when you think of the stories that are being told, and you see yourself in the stories, are they hearing about Sheerah who built three towns? She’s in Chronicles. Are we hearing about Huldah who was an advisor to kings? are we hearing about Lydia as a business woman who’s integrating her faith and her work? Are we hearing about, what are we hearing about Deborah? Are we hearing that, that the legacy of 40 years and that she was a military strategist, a prophetess, and a judge? What are we… and what what do those stories when they are not told, what impact do they have? I remember, I was gonna say, doing deep research, but what I actually mean is on Instagram, writing a list, writing a list of a number of women in the Bible, and I had people slide into my DMs and say, Are they real? Did they really exist? Because I’ve never heard of them before. And I said, yeah, they’re real, and they, and I give them the references and stuff like that, and a number of women said they were angry because they had been denied hearing the story. They said, when everything around a woman’s purposes is around childbearing or marriage, what happens if that’s not part of her story? If her only contribution… Now, there are many significant men and women in the Bible, but what’s definitive about them is the hand of God on their life, not their marital status. Not their, not whether they’re having children. Now, there are women who are mentioned in the context like Eunice and Lois, who are who are known as being a grandmother and a mother and raising up Timothy. So it’s not that they’re not there. And it’s not like, oh, we shouldn’t have those, I’m just saying have them all, because they’re all there. They’re different ethnicities, a different marital status, they’re different socio-economic status, and all of them are defined by the hand of God moving in and through their lives for human flourishing in and through their communities. And so I think one of the things that, one of the tensions is when we don’t hear the stories, what do we hear? And what happens when you’re not? What’s what’s missing, because it’s hard to be what you can’t see. That’s what I think was Marian Wright Edelman who said that it’s hard to be what you can’t see. When these leaders, these women are influencing spaces, and they don’t recognize that they are following in the footsteps of a Deborah, Sheerah or David or Joseph. It leaves an impact. And so sometimes that’s one of the struggles.

I think the other is, other challenges for women, women leaders in the context of ministry, is what the pipeline of their leadership development looks like. In terms of, if you’re the only woman in the room? Or is someone going to mentor you, there are certain things you and I both know, in the context of our mentoring and training. It’s Yes, it’s what’s taught, but it’s also what’s caught, it’s caught when you’re hanging out with that leader, it’s caught when you’re watching that person, maybe on a trip, or you’re invited into a meeting. Do the women in your community get invited into those spaces? And if not, why not? Now, there may be a theological reason as to why not, maybe there are certain views that you have about what, where women can be. But But then, for those of you for whom that’s not the case, what are you doing actively, to invest in these leaders to come into their own? And this is delicate. And I think the honest, the honest truth about this subject is it’s delicate. So for example, a number of people who say, Well, you know, we do it for boundary sake, and we want to have healthy boundaries. And we want to honor the men and the women and the men in that situation. But honestly, when we look at the devastating stories that have happened, in the past few years that have come to light, the women weren’t the problem. And I’m not gonna say and the men were, I’m gonna say those specific men who were abusing their power, and who were abusing their privilege, and abusing their reputation, were the problem. And it didn’t matter where that woman was because they manipulated and they deceived men and women, and they and they bullied, and they took advantage of people. And so rather than shutting an entire opportunity for a woman to lead down, we’re leaders who’ve had to be particularly creative in the past couple of years. Rather than say, Okay, we can’t do this, say, Well, what are we going to do for them? So what, we’re going to do nothing? Because it does have an impact. If you cap someone’s career because you’re concerned about how it looks, or concerned about how it, what it could develop, then don’t cap their career, create other environments. Send them on things… what about group training? Are there creative ways to ensure that? I don’t think it has to be either/or. I think healthy boundaries and healthy leadership development can exist for men and women. And it may require some different creativity, it may be a little harder, um, it may be a bit more awkward. It may be that the things that we’re used to that leader doing, as would be with male leaders, we can cap male leaders because they’re coming into their own. And that means it feels like a little less of the pie for us. There there are all those things around but it’s still possible to have healthy boundaries and healthy development things. We just got to think about it, and it will look different for us in different churches and denominations. I respect that. But we do need to think about that. We can’t just pretend it doesn’t sit alongside because it’s understandable why we would cap opportunity if we’ve not seen those people develop. But what are we doing to develop them? You don’t want to become that. I think that’s another issue. And then I think the staggering overwhelming thing I’ve heard from women leading, women leading, is the loneliness. The loneliness of there’s a loneliness that you can have in a crowd of people if you feel misunderstood. If you feel like you don’t know whether you’re welcome there or not, whether you’re welcome there because generally people are welcome, but are they allowed to show up as fully as leaders there? Those those are some I mean, there are lots of challenges. There are lots of challenges in terms of pay equity and whether we’re honest about that. I’ve seen again and again women not get paid or being given a different title when they’ve been doing the work of somebody else, the same level as as one of their professional peers, they don’t resent that peer for getting what they’re paid. It just doesn’t make sense that they’re not getting paid, you know, right, or when their pay is, when their pay is, well you’re married and so your husband’s pulling his weight. Like, I’m not even one I’m not sure that’s legal, and two, it’s really not healthy to do those things, so and, and that’s not to say every place does that at all, or every leader does that. But when, in response to your question, what are the things I hear from the women I talked to? of different ages, different ethnicities, different stages around what those would be the common ones that keep coming back. Again, the loneliness, the leadership pipelines, the equity and how they’re employed. Um, yeah, those are the growing edges that I think that we can explore in this time. Here.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s very helpful. And, Jo, I’ve got, I love the way that you kind of tackle this subject, because you approach it with a sense of hope, one, and with a sense of really consideration, I think, for all parties involved. Because you can come at topics like this, you know, really like, like hot and heavy, you know, like, really like, hey, you know, this is, this is wrong, and just, you know, poking people in the eye and saying straighten up, but you come with an attitude of, it’s very heartfelt, it feels very gospel-centered. The perspective you have, because you’re saying, Hey, I respect theological differences. I respect that this is challenging, but we were up for a challenge. But I mean, you’re actually encouraging people like, like, let’s get right through this, let’s lead in this area, as opposed to lagging behind.

Jo Saxton
Because I think at base level, let’s say for our brothers and sisters here who are listening or watching who are like, Yeah, but I’m not sure women can do all of those things. That’s fine. Because it’s not just it’s not just men who, there are women who are like, No, this, as I look at the Bible, theologically, this is where I land, you still have to equip your leaders, though. Because if you believe that those women that the space where God is operating, their calling, is in the context of other women, well, those other women out there are still image bearers. They’re still image bearers, they are still important. So so therefore, you still have to sit down and think long and hard about how you will equip your leaders not just to share the Bible, but to lead people, to lead people in their community, in other parts of the world. I would, I would ask in those spaces that they would stay consistent, that they don’t say women can… that like the leaders that they send overseas, it’s not a different ballgame. Or they’re just not, you can lead men in another continent, just not on this one, because then that’s not theological. Let’s be clear. That’s not. But but But you see, I’m saying it’s like if, if it almost doesn’t matter what your theological space is on that? I mean, obviously, I believe, do I believe that women can lead those spaces? Yes, I do. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing this. We know that. That’s not a it’s not like a spoiler alert or anything. But, but what I’m what I’m saying is if if you there’s not a reason to not invest in your women who are leading, there’s just not a reason right? And, and to do so in a way in which they are empowered, like I have spoken in churches where women have women’s ministries have hundreds of women 300, 400, 500. That’s a lot of people. Yeah, that’s a lot of people have you, have we given them… Are we making sure that they know how to develop teams, run budgets, deal with conflict, deal with pastoral issues, because that’s a whole situation, those leaders are doing that that are coming up in the daily warp and weft of their lives. So do you see I’m saying? So for me, I can’t see any reason why we’re not going to invest in them. Are they raising children? Or, you know, that’s the big thing. So have we have again, every every kind of distinction I hear all brings me back to Yes. So we really have to do this well, then.

Jason Daye
Right? Yeah, no, no, I love that as well. I love that. And I really appreciate that. You know, Jo, all of us in ministry, we all have scars, right? That just comes along with serving relationally, you know, with other people, that there are painful times. Scars come from wounds, and if wounds do not heal, really in a healthy way. They can actually hinder us. What have you seen or even maybe experienced yourself, that helps lead to healing wounds that, like we said, will come in a healthy way, rather than just what we oftentimes see, kind of dismissing the woundedness or perhaps kind of suppressing, you know that those wounds even exist.

Jo Saxton
Yes. Well, thank you for asking me a question of which I’ve done all the things so I haven’t Yeah, I think I and I understand why we would suppress the wounds, I would understand why as leaders, men and women, we suppress wounds, sometimes we can default to thinking we’ve got to be strong for everybody else. And we’ve got to keep going. And we do that, that lie, which is the whole idea of sticks and stones can break my bones. but words can never hurt me kind of thing. And we pick up the child’s nursery rhyme. And we wear it like a badge of honor, and break inside. And it’s understandable because we want to keep going, we want to keep leading, but as you and I both know, and all of us know, to odd that it’s to our detriment, that that avoidance doesn’t actually avoid it, it just means it comes out sideways. And so what I have found, I found a number of key things that have helped me just stay on top of things. depending on you know, not every wound goes as deep as everything. I, it’s been important for me to know, what are the wounds that I would, I’m particularly sensitive to? And when I say sensitive, not like, Oh, she’s got a sensitivity there, it’s just they’re vulnerable parts of your story, they’re vulnerable parts of your history, or they are particularly pressing moments that are happening in the world and culture right now that hit, that just hit differently. I need to be aware of those, I need people in my life to be aware of those because I’m not gonna be able to avoid all of those. I’m not, I’m not going to avoid certain situations. But I do need to, I need to be aware of them. So I think self-awareness is a great help for us in this as leaders. And that will have, that will include needing to admit that we are more vulnerable than we are comfortable with being, we are more vulnerable than the credit we get on a Sunday for our sermons will will allow us don’t I mean, all of those things, right? I wouldn’t, I would invite us to ask ourselves, what are our temptations? What are our vices, always good to know those in advance? Always good. Because that, because you have an open wound and a vice hanging out waiting for you, you have a whole problem on your hands just waiting to happen, all happening in the dark. Yeah, I mean, those are the things. And so I like to be proactive about my brokenness, rather than wait until it breaks all over me. Because I’ve done that. And it wasn’t fun. So, so. So being aware of my vices, being aware of my vulnerabilities, and then it’s the relationships I have, like, I like I have a prayer partner, we pray regularly throughout the week. I have a therapist, because there there are moments that actually you’re there. I have wonderful key relationships where I talk with life, but there are certain things that are that aren’t, don’t work in the context of that in your friendship or your relationship, right? Because they’re not a therapist. I mean, they are your peer, they speak into your life, they challenge you, I’m vulnerable about it, that their accountability to me might be. Have you spoken to somebody about this gentleman? Right, right. There’s still an openness about it. But the details of certain pieces are unpacked in the context of the therapist office. And that’s just been helpful for me. In seasons of my life, there’s been a spiritual director, I just, I just believe in community. I believe in, I believe our faith, you know, God in His very nature is relational. And his very being is relational. And if we are imitating him, I do think there is some kind of relational dynamic, none of this lone ranger stuff, which was never in the Bible anyway, and it’s just Western culture. I think I think though, I think some of it is the environment that we we were in, but also the environment we create around ourselves can help us in those things, and help us process the brokenness because it you know, if we get the gift of a long life, if we get the privilege of a long life, then like you said, scars are an inevitable part of the journey. Disappointment is, and sometimes it’s like, we protect ourselves from the big things. But we don’t, we don’t attend to the kind of way that disappointment can grow in your life. And bitterness can grow in your life, though, you know, the ones that just, the drifts, drifting, or the things that I like, with respect to women leaders, the erosive things of the things that have happened again, and again, and again. And again, like the dripping, the drip feed, things are drip feed pain, so drip feed insults, or over or minimizing or all these things. And in one day, you have this huge reaction that you feel is like, someone says something, and it was a dumb thing to say, it was a stupid thing to say, but they didn’t mean anywhere near the, the response that you have to it. And it’s because that drip has been going on for the last 10 years. And now you’re done, right? Now you’re done. And now that person was turned to ash by your words. So you know, so I think those are, those are the things I’m, I’m particularly mindful in this chapter of our history, of our world, that we have to really pay attention to this. And we have to keep on because tiredness when you’re just done. Yeah, you’re just done. It can be real, it can be real hard for us. Does that does that help?

Jason Daye
Oh, yeah. That’s excellent. Very helpful. In one of the pieces that you talked about there, and that idea of community I think is so vitally important and one that as leaders, sometimes we are not the best at, at living in community, right? One of the things that you mentioned as a hindrance to women in ministry leadership is the loneliness. Yeah. And in ministry in general, regardless of gender, loneliness is a reality. So, and then with women in ministry, that loneliness can even be compounded. So can you talk a little bit, Jo, about how do we, how do we practically, those of us in ministry, how do we practically overcome a sense of loneliness? What are some practices or things that we can do in our life, that can help us experience, that community that you talked about, and not let ourselves become lonely? Or even worse, isolated? Because when we’re isolated, you know, a lot of bad things could happen, right? When we find ourselves in isolation. So what would you suggest?

Jo Saxton
I think this is such a crucial question. And you’re right, I think there is a, my observation over the years has been that there has been an acceptable loneliness for leaders that we have, we spiritualize it oh, well, you can’t be on the same page as people around you. We’ve spiritualized distance, spiritualized isolation. Sometimes we didn’t ask to put ourselves on pedestals, people put them, put us on them, and we’re like, I want to get down I want, let me see nobody let me down. They’re like, No, no, no, you stay up there, Pastor. So it’s hard, um, and in time, and so I would encourage a couple of things. First of all, I think we need to set ourselves a goal. Um, you know, like, as you look to the year ahead, is it that you need to invest in one kind of retreat or event where you are with other pastors? You know, we’re praying and fasting into all kinds of things. And we often don’t pray and fast into all the relationships in our life, even though they are so definitive, we might pray and fast into the spouse or something like that for a while. And that, but to actually, I want to ask you what you prayed about the friends you’re making, you know, Jesus prayed all night about who He’s going to invest in, went up a mountain and came down and picked them out. And it would, it wouldn’t hurt us to commit to prayer on one level. And I don’t mean that glibly. I just think it’s that desperate, right? It’s like, get your spiritual firepower in. So that’s one thing. And then I want to ask you, what do you have to invest in financially to do this, and it feels weird to invest financially in relationships. And you know why? It’s because when we went to school, we made best friends with people, and we don’t know how much our parents spent on our shoes, or clothes, or everything, on the paperwork to get us into that school… and then we went to college and all these things, and you became friends with the people who you had an interest with, or just sat next to you. And so we are used to somehow it just happening, but it doesn’t just happen, somebody else makes it happen. Right now, because we’ve grown, that someone else is you. So now we’re grown and that someone else is you. So I want I want you to think of financially what you need to invest in? Do you need to join like, for some of us, you probably have spent enough time with other believers, real talk, and you might need to find some place outside. So is it, is there again, is it an affinity, an activity that you’re really into where you can connect with some people and begin to build relationships? Or is it an event or a leaders event or something that you can go to where you are not the only one who’s like you, where all the aliens are welcome, do you hear me, all the unicorns are welcome. And I would encourage you to seek that out. And if you can put that into your budget. That’s because because the returns on this kind of investment can be years, can be years, and like you said, Jason, about the cost of isolation is so great. It’s so great. And we hear these devastating stories of these leaders who had no one to talk to them, felt that there were no other options and stuff and had the end and make devastating choices and you’re like actually I would rather find the money. I mean, I would rather I and I’m and who in those because by the time you have that isolated you’re not able to say well what I need great this than the other you know, it’s so desperate I don’t know if you ever way you felt you have no other choice, you felt you’ve had no other choices and the decisions that you make in that moment. And they didn’t even feel like decisions. And so what I’m suggesting is not what we do then, but what we do way way before then, and if there are some internal reasons for some of us, we don’t make friends with people because friends have been mean during a lot of some of our our church scars or ministry scars that person stepped on you on the ladder on their way up to their job and everything so you don’t make friends with ministry people now it’s like you keep your enemies at your distance. You just call them other brothers in Christ or something and and that, but you because you’ve been scarred and if that’s the case, then there is a healing work alongside it because otherwise you’ll meet all these great people and you’ll be like, nope, not going there. They’re weirdos. Some people are weirdos, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be your friends. If you need if you need some healing works, consider that but I and then I want you to give yourself time. Like I have a friend in the corporate space and she she she’s a really good friend of mine we walk we go for walks regularly and we say it’s saved our our family’s lives, that we go on these walks. But um, she has this thing where she sets a mount I set aside an amount of time every week to building relationships, building professional relationships, and, and she builds network, she builds friendships, some people are people, she’s just helping out with jobs. Some people become peers. But I was really humbled by just that illustration, she’s in the C suite, she’s a busy woman, a busy woman, her husband is working as well. She’s got three kids who are very active life, and somehow in the scheme of her work, and and she’s a volunteer at a church. So this girl does busy. But somehow, in the midst of her time, she’s thought, yeah, but relationships are so important that I need to give a percentage of my time just for that, even if I don’t know what the return is going to be immediately. And so I want to invite each one of us as leaders do, we need to say, for 15 minutes, once a week or an hour, once a week, I’m going to send a couple of texts out, I’m going to email someone, I’m going to encourage somebody I’m going to build, do you know what I mean, I’m going to contact the other pastor in our city and say, Hey, we got to get coffee sometime. We’ve been saying that for about a year, let’s let’s get on our calendars, or something. Because we have to make this physical. We have and I think you have to do it as a discipline, until it becomes a habit, until it becomes a rhythm, until it becomes your life. Does that mean? So right now, it’s just going to feel clunky and awkward. And you’re going to feel like you’re saying somebody be my friend. And you kind of are, you kind of are. But the, rest assured if we’re talking about these sorts of things on podcast, it means because we’re all feeling like this. So I’m going to ask you, what does it mean for you to set aside time to connect? And I would say, you know, let’s start easy. So if you’re, if you’re a youth pastor, do with younger youth pastors in your neighborhood? Do they know you? Do you know them? Are we all still busy competing, like there isn’t a big enough thing out there? Sometimes they become the competition, I’m like, have you looked at the world around you recently, there are millions of people plenty to go round, many friends. So okay, let’s not do that anymore. But or at least, if we feel those feelings, just ignore them for a second while you make the call. And if you’re a children’s pastor, that doesn’t mean that, you know, connect in that way if you are. So it might be about the job you do. If you’re like, I just don’t know where to start, start with the job that you have, and start in the area that you are that you’re in and just say I’d love to connect. And that just wanted to end. And you know, everybody’s got time. So So again, I have to say this, please don’t go searching for your one friend. Didn’t mean, let’s not be weird about this, folks. Don’t go searching for the one friend, you might have to contact like five people. And you might get one callback. That’s okay. We just got we just got to get doing it. We have to wait. And I want to be as granular and as specific as this. Because I think we get really wealthy about it, right? I mean, I’ll bring someone in. I’m like, do you say that? This is a target? This ain’t Amazon Prime. You’ve got to go and get it. You’re like, Lord, are you gonna bring someone into my life? I’m like, Are you gonna go like, You’re grown? Again. It’s like you’re, we send our kids to school, and we tell them to go make friends. And then we’re asking God to divinely dropped somewhere in our backyard. That’s weird. That’s weird. And we shouldn’t do, we should do that anymore. And, um, and I know, it’s hard. And I know, I don’t think it’s hard because the return on the investment is worth it. I think it’s hard because it’s just hard. And we used to be an isolated and maybe we’re used maybe, maybe some of us have gotten little into the pedestal. It’s convenient. And, and we’ll take it back to the thing we said earlier about the self awareness thing. Maybe we were like, Okay, have you begun to believe you’re impressed? A little bit? Have you? Deep? Do you think you’re a little bit of a special flower? And yes, you are fearfully and wonderfully made? No doubt about it. Go make a friend. Gotta go make a friend. Yeah. And, and I think there are, when it’s when it’s been a long time as well. There’s so much backup. Like there’s so much in our stories that we’re like, I don’t know what I’m, I don’t know where to start. And it’s okay. It makes it but we’re just gonna get on the journey. And so that’s what I would encourage us to begin to think about and, and then maybe invite someone in our life to hold us accountable about doing I think you just got it we’ve got to do it.

Jason Daye
Yeah, I love I love that. I love the the intentionality of it. And and it does feel kind of odd. You know, I mean, it takes us back to, you know, to middle school or whatever, junior high, you know, like going to the new school and hoping to make a friend but the intentionality of, of understanding that relationships are so vitally important in our lives, God created us to be not only in relationship with him, but in relationship with others. And so if it is that important, then we do need to make space and time and be intentional about how are we cultivating healthy relationships. So I love that, that’s a great piece. It’s been great conversation, as we’re closing down, I do want to ask one thing if you could kind of share with us, because you also have a heart for the next generation of leaders, and one thing that I would love for you to kind of leave us with in this conversation are just some thoughts about how we as pastors, as ministry leaders, can really invest in the next generation of leaders, and really provide them with an avenue to live fully into all that God has for them.

Jo Saxton
Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a point when, when we realize that it can’t just be about us and our achievement. And again, I think some of this is when we look at the life of Jesus, when we look at the leader that he was, and we and we recognize that he’s the best leader that ever lived, and everything and we see how he did it, he gathered people around him. He poured his life into them, and he gave them opportunities to practice things and fail. And he talked them through it. He taught them, He healed them, he came alongside them, and then he commissioned them. And that was an ongoing, like many commissions along the way, wasn’t it. He sends out the twelve, sends out the seventy-two. I mean, they see him pray, they see him, they see his closest, his closest friends see him real vulnerable, that he gives them some access to his life. So I and I think, again, it’s that thing I was saying earlier, when we were talking about women leaders there, there was a lot about leadership that is caught. That happens when people are, are watching you lead other people. You know, we, when we think of our heroes, the like the people who have been in our life, we don’t remember everything they’ve said, but we remember who they were, remember how they treated people, what they did, and stuff, and that takes some access and proximity. And so if we’re going to raise up other leaders, then we need to give some somebody’s got to have access and proximity to our story. Yes, but also to some of our time, and some of our life and, and, you know, oh my goodness, where would I be if I had no one to process my failures with I would have lived under condemnation or been or been like, addicted to overachievement for years just to make up for the mistakes I’ve made, where it’s like to have a chance to talk through failure with someone and to have that wobbly vulnerability of trying to build up again, it has been crucial. So I think I would ask again, I’d say go and pray about who you are meant to invest in. And and think of the correct answer and assume it’s your job. I don’t mean it’s not like if this is right, it’s it’s a win, right? It’s a win. And I get in the seasons of our life, we might be taking care of parents, we might be dealing with other juggling that we can’t do everything to the same degree all the time. That That makes sense. But, but sometimes we don’t have to give everything to the same degree all the time. It’s like maybe someone is just one phone call. Or maybe someone’s like, you know, I’m applying for a job, what do I negotiate? There is there is a wealth of things that you can offer, whether it’s the information, you know, um, and with respect to women leaders, the information you guys know, is a lot the things that you take for granted of knowing because you were in the room, start sharing it with people who weren’t in the room, that will that will do a lot for the next generation of leaders, that’ll do a huge amount, but opportunities and you know, the thing, Jason, I must confess, when I was growing up, I heard a lot about, I heard a lot about how we handled money, and like how we interacted with people, the opposite sex. Didn’t hear much about power, much in terms of the corrosive nature of power, the seductive nature of power, and how to share power, how to surrender power, how to not be, do you know what I mean, all of those things. And I think we have to reckon with some of that, because I think some of our difficulty is because we’re holding power, and it’s comfortable. And or, we just don’t know what we don’t know about. You know? And so I want to encourage us and and, you know, if you’ve got a lot of resources in your own right, not all of us have a lot of resources. So so. So we have to think about that. If we’ve got a lot of resources, then what what vehicles can you create in your space, or for the next set of leaders to come through? For those of you who have hidden like, I’ve got little, I ain’t got anything to give. You’d be surprised. Let let people ask you questions, and all your unconscious competence will start pouring out and it’s worth more than you realize.

Jason Daye
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I love that. Jo, it’s been so great to have you with us. I know that you do a lot, you write you have communities, you do a lot of speaking… if our audience would like to connect with you, learn more about your ministry, the things that you’re doing, your podcast, all those things, what’s the best way for them to connect?

Jo Saxton
I think your first port of call would be my website josaxton.com. And because you’ll see the books there you’ll see Ezer Collective, which is my intensive for women leaders, my coaching community and and you’ll you’ll see, you’ll see the lineup of things, our podcast or you can pick what you like. And then on the social media platforms @JoSaxton …I’m hovering around various spots.

Jason Daye
Nice. Excellent. And for those of you who are watching along listening in, we will have links to Jo’s website or resources or social links, it’ll be in the toolkit for this conversation at PastorServe.org/network. So, Jo, thank you again, so much for making time to hang out with us. Thank you for sharing your experiences, what you’re seeing. And just the, again, I just love your, not just your perspective, but kind of the hope, and the kind of respect and just the nature of how you approach these topics is super encouraging. It’s kingdom stuff, sister, and I absolutely love it. So thank you for being with us today.

Jo Saxton
Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Jason Daye
All right, God bless you. Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, 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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