Leadership

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE BUSINESS OWNERS WHO WANT TO SHARE THEIR FAITH AT WORK.

Have you stopped to think about the legacy you are creating? Part of the legacy that we are leaving is how we talk about God in the environments that we are in the most. Today on the podcast, Jeff, Don, Doug and Sarah offer encouragement to business leaders who want to share their faith at work but aren’t sure where to start.


Transcription of the Podcast


Doug:

It’s not about that. And that’s the sad thing is that getting people to have this grand understanding that it’s not about what we have here today. It’s not about what we have five years from now. It’s about the legacy that you’re creating and where you are going to be when all of this is over with.

Speaker 2:

Your life, your journey starts now.

Doug:

My name’s Doug Wagner, your guest host for this edition of the podcast, sitting with Jeff Carlson. Jeff, good afternoon.

Jeff:

Good afternoon.

Doug:

Thanks for allowing me to take this chair.

Jeff:

Thank you for just jumping into that chair.

Doug:

This is a wonderful idea. Don Evans along with us as well. One of the most fabulous voices I’ve ever heard. Don.

Don:

How you’re doing today, Doug?

Doug:

Wonderful.

Don:

Glad to be here, which I hope to learn some stuff.

Doug:

Could you say the alphabet to me?

Don:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

Doug:

And that’s the show, right there. That’s all it is. And Sarah Banowetz, whose studios we’re in, Banowetz Marketing and Communications. Thanks for freeing up your studios.

Sarah:

Thanks for being here.

Doug:

Well, okay, it’s something, especially this time of year when we get toward the big game, you have national championship games. March Madness is right around the corner. You have lots of athletes. You’re going out there and these athletes at the end of the game, they say, “Well, first of all, I want to thank my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ for helping me become the person that I am today.” And you get a lot of people kind of look funny at them. They used to look more funny at them until Tim Tebow came along.

Don:

Amen.

Doug:

Saw somebody who is really kind of the real deal. The question that we’re dealing with in this podcast today is, what if you took that same passion for Christ and you transferred it into a boardroom or into a business setting? Now, we were talking before about being at a conference where you had a number of people up on stage talking about what makes their company special or different, things like that. And the one thing that didn’t come up, Jeff, was…

Jeff:

The whole spiritual part, because I was really looking forward to this. This was a conference. It was about a very short compressed like hour and a half.

Doug:

Right, right.

Jeff:

It had all these-

Doug:

Panel talk.

Jeff:

Yeah, panel talk. All of these successful business people and I’m like, “Oh, this’ll be great.” We get to the end and there’s like zero mention of anyone’s faith or their spiritual walk or anything like that. And I’m like, “Well, somebody’s got to have something there.”

Doug:

Do you think it’s absent from what their life is or do you think it’s just something they may be scared of saying?

Jeff:

My sense is, it is something that people are just scared of. We don’t all have the spiritual gift of evangelism, like Sarah, so. But even beyond that, I think sometimes, there’s just so much noise out there on social media and people get attacked. And so, I think some of us, we just maybe get scared.

Doug:

Right.

Don:

Could be some men kind of feel inferior over it and just don’t want to… It’s been rough for me being a roughneck to lean into that based on all the people that I grew up with and around. They’re like, “What do you mean, Don’s going all this Jesus thing now.” And I get that a lot and I’m like, “Yeah, well, it’s pretty cool. You ought to try it.”

Sarah:

Wait, what do you mean by inferior though?

Doug:

Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask you. Explain what you mean.

Don:

Confidence.

Doug:

They feel that you’re inferior?

Don:

No. I think we do. I think we are afraid. When I first started being very public about my Christianity, even as forward as I am, I struggled with it, Doug. I mean, I just like, yeah, I don’t want to tell everybody. I mean, it’s just going to shock the whole world. But once you do it for a little bit, it’s like anything. It’d be like we talked about this morning. Now, it’s just become a habit. So now, I’m codependent on Jesus. I think that’s pretty cool.

Doug:

That’s not a bad spot to be.

Don:

Yeah, I think we’re good with that, right?

Doug:

Exactly. Sarah, what are the two things that we’re taught not to talk about in polite company?

Sarah:

Politics and religion.

Doug:

Okay. You think that might be part of it and it’s just being, that’s polite company at that point? Or is there, I mean, is there a place in the corporate environment for maybe evangelism or sharing one’s belief in Christ?

Sarah:

I think people might, business owners might be concerned that they will get sued too, in our day and age. I don’t think anyone really knows what the rules are. There is that talk about the separation of church and government, and we use that in schools. And how does that translate into the working world? I mean…

Doug:

Yeah.

Sarah:

Yeah.

Doug:

Legally, I mean, that’s a completely different proposition. It’s that whole concept of the first amendment as freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. I think so many people have interpreted it as it’s freedom from religion. So, they think everywhere they go, they could be free from somebody pushing it on them. But in a corporate environment, have you been around people who have said, “Hey, let’s take the opportunity to have a moment in prayer?” Or even something as benign as, “A moment of reflection so we can open up our minds and our hearts to what we’re doing today.” Have you ever been in a situation like that, Sarah?

Sarah:

I have done that at Banowetz Marketing.

Doug:

Okay.

Sarah:

I also know that… I’m part of EntreLeadership, which is Dave Ramsey’s business leadership program. And I know that at-

Doug:

Never heard of him.

Sarah:

I know that-

Jeff:

He’s on your station, man.

Sarah:

I know that Dave Ramsey does that with his company.

Doug:

Oh, that guy, he’s going places.

Jeff:

Yeah, right.

Sarah:

But otherwise, I don’t really have experience with that.

Doug:

For you, Jeff, what about you? You can maybe… And I know where you stand personally, but have you been in environments where it’s available, it’s an opening?

Jeff:

Other than my own business that I’ve… This’ll be our 28th year. We’ve certainly incorporated, very intentionally, being open to God’s leading with the people that work there, and even some outreach things. In fact, a few years ago, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Andy Stanley, but he’s got some very good teaching. And we actually invited people in to listen to some of his little teaching segments, so. But no, other than the company I own and run, no, I haven’t.

Sarah:

Well, have you? I mean…

Doug:

Yes.

Sarah:

Okay.

Doug:

Oh, yes, definitely. There’s a couple of different areas, in fact. As a leader of a nonprofit housing agency, I was… One of the things we did is, we had that act of prayer. But in addition to that, go into places where people had moved out or people were going to move in, pray for the people who left, pray for the people who came in, and this was something that was very reflective. Don, wanted to come back to you real quick because this is something where I worked with what you called yourself. I worked with roughnecks when I worked at an affordable housing agency. It took a while of seeing that, but what your experience was in corporate farming, was that a place where it was welcome at all or-

Don:

No.

Doug:

It was not something-

Don:

When I was in corporate America, in the agriculture business, all through the ’80s, ’90s and even the 2. The last go around with that was in 2012. There was nothing involved with any prayer of any kind there, just excessive amounts of drinking after work. It was horrible. If you even mentioned the word Jesus around there, you got the deer in the headlights look.

Doug:

Exactly. Well, the only way somebody would is that, “Oh, Jesus, I’ve got a headache.” And that’s when they came, from the hangover the next day. So, how do we do something about them? Is it something that we should be doing something about, is finding a way to bring spirituality into the boardroom, into the business environment? Or is it just a matter, Jeff, of saying, “I’m going to be an example for what Jesus can do in my life and by living that example, people can see it.”

Jeff:

Oh, yeah, that’s a great question. So, one of the things that I have drawn a line on is, we do not want to use Jesus to sell cars. I’m in the car business. Because I think too oftentimes then, in these kind of settings, we sort of put our faith out there and we wear it on our sleeve. And it’s like, “Well, gee, I am a good person. I’m a Christian. See? I’ve got my Jesus fish on the wall. Buy from me.” And I think that is, you really got to be careful there. For me, I’ve just drawn a line in the sand and I… In fact, people come in some time and they’ll say, “Well, Jeff, we’ve heard you run a Christian business.” And I go, “Oh, hang on here a second. If you hear that, still do your due diligence. Still walk in with eyes wide open because we don’t sell the perfect car. There isn’t that perfect car out there. You still need to do your due diligence, get it checked out,” so on and so forth.

Jeff:

So, I do think we have to be careful when and how, but I think we need to be open to those promptings. And for me, it’s after that sale’s been done or with employees and staff, to sort of sense, “Okay, what might be an opening here? And what opening might I actually walk through and be bold and clear?”

Sarah:

And I think one of the concerns that I have as I’m sitting here thinking about this is, we write the paychecks. So, how can we say, “Oh, you guys, it’s not mandatory, but we’re going to do a Bible study every Tuesday at lunchtime” or whatever. But then, I mean, you do realize that the employees are sitting there thinking, “Oh, well, that person writes my check.”

Doug:

They sign the paycheck.

Sarah:

Yeah. And so, I don’t want to manipulate or force anyone to do something that they’re not comfortable with it.

Doug:

Yeah. I think that’s some of actually, the court cases that have been in the past and they’ve had decisions one way and then they’ve had decisions another. What about, Sarah, just the whole concept of saying, “You know what? We are a Christian-based business.” Like Jeff said, “We don’t sell the biblically perfect car, but we’re going to do like every other failing Christian, which we all are. We’re going to do the best that we can to live within the rules set by the tenets of Christianity.” And regardless of the Bible study, is that fair game for employers? Is that fair game for small businesses?

Sarah:

What would that look in practical, in practice?

Doug:

In practicality?

Sarah:

Yeah.

Doug:

Okay. Walk into the office. Do you have a cross up? Do you have a religious or faith-based poster? Is it something where you do have a Bible on your desk and a Bible study that you do, whether it’s with other people in the office somewhere? Just, you do it, you example it, but you don’t make a big to-do about it.

Sarah:

Exactly. And that is what that is. I agree with that. I mean, we hit two years for Banowetz Marketing last week and we went out for-

Doug:

Congratulations.

Sarah:

Thank you, I appreciate that. We went out for brunch together. And I did, it was, I mean, the first two years of a business is incredibly difficult and I did feel compelled that we should pray over our meal. And so, I asked one of my employees to do that and she did. But even that felt like walking the line because you’re in a public place and everyone’s bowing their head and stuff and I don’t know what the beliefs are of all of my team members, nor do I ask them. But that felt like walking the line. But yeah, I mean, I have a Bible in my office and…

Doug:

And Don, I mean, when we’re taking a look at something like this, when you look at the ability for it, people are individuals. You’re also a truck driver. You have a completely different atmosphere in which to do that as well. Because there are some long-haul truck drivers I know. They’re the most competent, faithful Christians I’ve ever met because they have a lot of study time on the road that they take advantage of. And how do you, I mean, how can you on the road, how can you be an example for other people? Maybe not in a corporate atmosphere, but say for example, if you’ve got a group of people that run roughly the same route, and you see them over and over again, can you figure out a way to work Jesus into the conversation, where you’re not beating them about the head and neck with the Bible?

Don:

Oh, yeah. It was pretty simple. I’d done it for years, even before I would be what I would consider myself now, a follower of Jesus Christ. And I mean, I’ve said it in podcasts before, Doug, I’m on the Jesus train. I hear people, farmers back in the day, before I’ve gotten this devoted to Christianity, and as recently as now in the last week when his name is used in vain, and we’re not going to say it, but we all know what it is, the listeners do too, is just say, “No, he didn’t. He walked on water.” And they’re just like, “What?” I’m like, “No, think about what you just said. You used his name in vain, but the man walked on water and he died on a cross for us. So, could we just kind of skip over that from now on?” And luckily enough, based on my body size and my voice, I have not got any pushback on that other than-

Doug:

No.

Don:

They just turn and walk by me and go, “Okay, whatever, boss.”

Doug:

It’s definitely understandable. Definitely understandable. One of the things that you brought up, I think, that really sort of is, I guess, the concept, when you’re taking a look at people, the way that popular culture has denigrated, not just Christianity, but most other faiths too, in they’ve just completely diluted it down to something where people, if you say, “Well, Jesus Christ had walked on water,” “Well, that’s just because he didn’t know how to swim.” They tried to make him imperfect. With the point comes down it’s like, we’re imperfect beings as followers of Christ, and you admitted that. I admit that. But there’s an expectation, I think, of people who are Christians, who do believe that they live by the red letters. They’ve got to follow those red letters right down to the T and if you don’t, then you’re a hypocrite. What’s the difference between a hypocrite and a sinner? I mean, in reality, what is the difference between a hypocrite and a sinner?

Sarah:

Nothing, except for the fact that the hypocrite says that they’re not a sinner.

Doug:

There you go.

Don:

Yeah. Because we’re all sinners. I mean, the whole world gets the fact that we’re a sinner. Our pastor at church, our interim pastor, everybody noticed it right away. He opens every sermon in prayer, Doug. And right in the very beginning of the prayer he said, “Lord, forgive me because I know that I too am a sinner and I just hope that you open up the hearts of everybody.” He admits it every single week, four times a weekend, that “I am a sinner.” And we all are. And going back to what you said about Tim Tebow, and take the Kurt Warners of the world-

Doug:

Oh, yeah.

Don:

From Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I’ve watched Kurt, I’ve seen him in person. I shook his hand. So, what I would say and what I’ve been trying to do since October of last year, late teen, is be bold about it, and not be afraid of it. Because what do I got to lose? If there is no heaven and I’m walking around telling people about Jesus, then it doesn’t work out. At least I’ve had a lot of hope. And like Jeff says, about using Andy Stanley. I mean, I hope everybody in the world hears this. If a guy can predict his own death and resurrection in three days and pull it off, how are you going to deny that he’s not Jesus Christ, our Lord?

Doug:

Exactly.

Don:

It just blows my mind.

Doug:

Yeah. Well, let’s bring it back to the beginning here real quick. Talking with Don Evans, with Sarah Banowetz and Jeff Carlson, the original posit that we had out there was this concept that, why are businesses, why are business leaders maybe hesitant or reticent to address their spiritual relationship when they’re talking about the things that help them in their business, formulate what they do on a daily base, when you’re talking a best of kind of panel? I’m going to throw this out there and see what you think about it.

Doug:

Every business leader is expected to be perfect within their business. You look at Boeing, the big mistakes that were made here over the past year with regard to the 737 Max and some other things. They’re expected to be absolutely bulletproof. Maybe the idea that by stating your Christian principles that you are not standing on your own, but you’re standing on the shoulders of a risen savior, that makes you a little bit weaker, like you were talking about. What do you think about that idea from the outside looking in? Could that be a possibility, of why individuals are not interested because they’re not taking responsibility for their own actions? They’re leading at the foot of the cross.

Jeff:

Yeah.

Don:

Well, let’s go a step further, Doug. Let’s be honest. Totally honest. I just had a meeting with a quote-unquote leader, not a church leader, but a leader in a church atmosphere.

Doug:

Right.

Don:

We had this conversation and his comment to me was, “I don’t know that I’m based in the question you’re asking me, Don. I know I’m not really sure that I’m probably leading quite as well as I should be.” And I said, “I know.” Since I’ve been a young boy, I had been taught by old farmers. Some lead, some follow, and some just get the heck out of the way. And I just feel that leaders in corporate America don’t properly know how to lead. And they’re too afraid to step up and say, “No, this is what we’re going to do. This is the way it’s going to be. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We’re going to lead this way. This is how I want my company to run.”

Don:

You’re doing it with your people, praying over lunch. And there’s a few athletes out there, they’re doing it. And I don’t know why everybody’s afraid to just say it. It’s just like it’s killing people to say, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and savior, and without him, we’re all dust.” You can’t work your show and do what you do without Christ. I know you can’t. I don’t even know if you’re a believer. I just met you today.

Doug:

But here’s the thing. Some people, they don’t believe it. Or if they believe it, they just, it’s kind of in the periphery of what they do. It’s not the core of what they do. And I think that’s a big part of it.

Jeff:

Amen.

Don:

They like to pick and choose what they want to follow.

Doug:

You’re right. And we can’t stop them from doing that. That’s, I mean… So then, the question is, again, when you have individuals like that, is there something that we can do as individuals to help raise them up? Is there something we can do as individuals around them in order to empower them? Or is this just, you give them a direction, you pray, and then let Christ do what Christ does? Jeff?

Jeff:

Well, and I think a couple of things there, Doug. One is, to your point, as a first step to realize, none of us are perfect. So, if I’m a business leader and I’m out there giving a presentation on what has made me quote-unquote successful, I need to realize if I stand up and talk about my faith, I’m not perfect. There’s no perfect business person out there. So, I think just realizing that is helpful. And then the other thing is, just what Don talked about, the fear thing too, right? I mean, there’s just that fear of, okay, if I mention something spiritual, if I sort of blur the line of this separation, as much as that’s been mis-queued and mis-skewed, mis-talked about, separation of church and state.

Jeff:

But as long as I’m willing to step into that and blur that a little bit and say, “Well, this is a part of who I am, emotional, physical, and spiritual,” it’s all important. And if I’m willing to just step out there and in some appropriate way communicate that, I need to, “Okay, deep breath.” Yeah, might be a little scary. It might be. I don’t have the gift of evangelism, I just don’t do it naturally, but ought I not think about, “Yeah, I can do that. I can do that.” First couple of times, it might be a little scary.

Sarah:

Well, I think the piece that’s missing from this conversation is the why. Why would… Our business leaders doing it, why or why not? But the big why, which is, why would it even be needed that a business owner would need to say anything at all? And I had just gotten back from… Jeff made me… He is my father. So, although I’m in my late 30s, he still makes me do things.

Jeff:

It ain’t easy, though.

Jeff:

Here’s how I make Sarah do something. I say, “Sarah, don’t go do that.” “No, I’m going to help you.”

Sarah:

So, he sent me off to a leaders…

Don:

I have witnessed this happen.

Sarah:

Yeah, Don knows our relationship, Jeff and I, our relationship very well. So, Jeff sent me off to Chicago in December, this last month. And it was about city catalyst movements. Essentially, business leadership, and mixing business leadership and Christianity and impacting society as a result. And one of the speakers said that, and I did not know this, but when we’re talking about actual fishing, 90% of the world’s fish that we consume and use for products and stuff are caught in 10% of the world’s bodies of water.

Sarah:

So, let’s just say that again. 90% of the world’s fish that we use are caught in 10% of the world’s bodies of water. And so, what good fishermen know is that they go where the fish are at. So, they don’t fish where there’s not fish. And so, they were essentially saying that in today’s day and age, the fish, and this was two pastors. The speech was two pastors that I was just there at and they said that that’s where the… What would I say?

Doug:

Go to where the fertile soil is.

Sarah:

Yeah, go where the fertile soil is. And they were just calling to action pastors and saying, “You really do need to pay attention to the businesses in your church body, because you get to talk with your congregation on Sunday morning. But the business leaders are leaving your congregation on Sunday morning. And they are the ones that are interacting with the community where the fish are at, where the fertile soil is, the rest of the week. And so, you really need to take those business leaders seriously.” As a result, the global leadership summit started years ago. How many years ago, Dad?

Jeff:

Oh, my golly, yeah, decades.

Sarah:

It started as a training to train up pastors, and what it has morphed into is training for business leaders and their teams. And so, this is a nice plug for the upcoming global leadership summit in August, where business leaders can bring their teams and hear Craig Groeschel, Lysa TerKeurst, just some big names in the secular world, and in the Christian world, to teach their leadership teams and just their staff on solid leadership principles.

Doug:

Making faith a seven-day-a-week object and enterprise.

Sarah:

Yes. Yes.

Doug:

I mean, really, that’s… I mean, I guess that’s really the big thing is pulling this from the middle of this conversation is taking faith out of just a one-day-a-week on Sunday or the two-day-a-week Sunday and Wednesday, and making it seven days a week, so that not only are you exampling but you’re also creating an environment in which it can grow.

Sarah:

And Doug, I’m going to throw a question back at you then.

Doug:

Yeah.

Sarah:

Why is that important? Why is it important that we have human beings living out a Christian faith seven days a week?

Doug:

Because you have examples everywhere you go.

Sarah:

But what does that do for humans?

Doug:

What does it do for you? It gives them the ability… Well, it does a number that I could sit here. That’s a 30-minute program [crosstalk 00:23:21] itself.

Jeff:

That’s another podcast.

Doug:

Yeah. That’s a whole nother [crosstalk 00:00:23:23].

Doug:

No, but what that does is, it gives them the opportunity to not only learn but also become mentors, so that they can spread this and other people can learn. And you also can draw one another together in community because we are meant to be a people of community in Christ. That’s the whole point of it is that you can worship on your own. You ask any… John McCain, great example, that the folks who were in those cages in Vietnam, they worshiped on their own, figured out a way to worship in community by tapping out in Morse code Sunday services. And then pretty soon, it became more than Sunday services.

Doug:

We need that kind of community. We need to be able to do that, as brother and sisterhood in Christ, because that brings us closer to our creator, closer to our maker. That brings us closer to the ideals that we want to example, not only for the people that we work with, but also for the people that we live with, walk down the street with, the people that I honked the horn at because they were stopped on a green arrow and they were driving through a red light.

Jeff:

Those people.

Doug:

I am so sorry about that. I do feel bad, but it’s like I was like, “Man, I’m really going to do this right now, and I just did that.” So, yeah, I-

Don:

You never prayed they’d go to heaven, but real soon?

Doug:

So, for me, that’s it. I don’t know if that was a right or wrong answer.

Sarah:

Well, no. And Don, the community that Doug was talking about, what has that meant to you?

Don:

The community?

Sarah:

The community.

Don:

The people around me?

Sarah:

Yeah, the community and people around you and living for Christ seven days a week.

Don:

Just the raining of blessings. That’s why I’m so on fire to share the word of Christ with everybody, because not just 14 or 15 months ago, you could have considered me a homeless person, and I was in solitude. Our current message up right now is loneliness that you and Terry and I did. I just listened to it for the first night since it’s been aired, but… And here’s something that I want to throw out, not to get any sympathy, and only Jeff and Sarah know this, Doug. I physically… Andy Stanley, we use him a lot and we’re going to, I think, in Journey. The coaches that coached me, Doug, go into the Mount Pleasant prison. I’ve got certified, I can go in there with them now. And we watch Andy Stanley messages. He talks about all the time that people that are young, getting out of college, “Oh, I’ve got to hurry up, I got to get married. I got to do this because time is not in my favor.”

Don:

And he said, “You’re wrong. Time is in your favor.” I’m circling back. So, bear with me. Okay, in my case, to be very candidly and not wanting sympathy from nobody, time is not in Don’s favor because of the way I’ve abused my health. It’s very, very poor. So, I share at meetings, recovery meetings, “Please, I beg of you, don’t wait so long to quit and break your addictions.” Because then I have to go contrary to what Andy Stanley says, and tell everybody that you don’t want to be me, that time is no longer in my favor. So, what time I have left, I want to utilize that to the best of my ability, and let anyone I can touch know that I’ve had blessings. I’ve reunited with my kids two weeks ago, 13-year gap. There’s just been all kinds of stuff to answer, why I want to tell everybody. Do I to need to say anymore? There’s so many things you can receive.

Sarah:

There is. Well, and if anyone-

Don:

And we get taught in church all the time, the more you sow, the more you reap. I’m a farmer. If we planted right, we got more bushels. The more people I touch with Jesus Christ, I just keep getting more blessings. So, let’s, it’s-

Sarah:

And there are lots of episodes of the Journey podcasts where… Go on the website, search for Don, and listen to several of the podcasts that he’s talked about. He dives into that deeper.

Doug:

Now, mind you, and we’re going to wrap there. We’re not going to Wrap on a negative note, but we do have to say is that in all realism, is that, Don, it is a blessing what’s happened with you. But even if none of that happened and you still are a follower of Jesus, those blessings, the ultimate blessings are in the hereafter.

Don:

Amen.

Doug:

Where you know that you are going to be in the presence of and the glory of Jesus, right? And that’s the big one, is there are a lot of people who say, “Well, what about those Christians that don’t get those blessings? What about if I’m a business leader and I throw my whole lot in with Jesus Christ and my business goes belly up and I’m homeless and I lose my wife, my kids, and my cars, and their education, their whole future?” It’s not about that. And that’s the sad thing is that getting people to have this grand understanding that it’s not about what we have here today. It’s not about what we have five years from now. It’s about the legacy that you’re creating and where you are going to be when all of this is over with.

Don:

Well, we were never promised there weren’t going to be storms in our lives, and we’re supposed to learn from the storms and the trials that we go through.

Doug:

Absolutely.

Don:

And so, there’s a lot of ways to look at that.

Doug:

So, Jeff, what’s the best way as business leaders, when you go back to a place like that and you have these business leaders sitting in front of you, what would you like to hear when they ask, best practices, within your life, within your companies?

Jeff:

Nothing pushed, nothing forced. Just open, honest, “Hey, here’s the spiritual part of my life.” Just incorporate it in. It doesn’t have to be a hundred percent of your talk, but at least have something there, if it’s there, and just share that clearly and boldly.

Doug:

All right. If you’re listening, you’re getting a good coaching right here, because this is the kind of stuff that you’re probably looking for. Take this to heart. These are words that are just off the cuff. None of this stuff has been rehearsed. My name’s Doug Wagner. I’ve been sitting here with Sarah Banowetz, Jeff Carlson, and Don Evans. And thank you for inviting me on this edition of the journey. I really appreciate it.

Jeff:

Well, thank you so much.

Don:

Thank you, Doug. I appreciate you being here.

Sarah:

Thanks for being on.

Sarah:

You’ve listened to another episode of the Journey podcast. We’re glad that you are with us. Feel free to like and subscribe on your favorite channels. And we will talk to you later. Thank you.

Announcer:

Thank you for listening. Tune in next time and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org. And check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org.

Speaker 2:

Your life, your journey starts now.

Leader’s Leading: Everything Rises & Falls on Leadership

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode Jeff, Lianne and Annie discuss why it is so important that leader’s lead in their area of giftedness.


Transcription of Podcast


Jeff: One of the things we want to talk to today’s topic about is really about leaders leading. It’s something that is a topic that is so important. Everything does rise and fall on leadership. We’ll unpack that a little bit and do that with Annie, and talk about this whole concept of leaders leading.

Lianne: Welcome to Journey. Welcome back. Today, we’re going to have another interesting conversation. I’m sitting here. This is Lianne. I’m sitting here with Jeff and Annie. First, we want to welcome Jeff because I’m quite interested to hear about the topic today. Can you share a little bit about your background? What led you to this topic?

Jeff: Well, this is actually a topic about life and ministry and relational growth and all that stuff, which is a weird topic for me because I’m a marketing guy. You think, “Well, what is marketing having to do with Journey Coaching or relationships or people growing in their emotional and spiritual and physical health?” I guess the common thing with marketing and the definition of marketing is you’re trying to meet the needs of a consumer. Well, if you take the word consumer out of there, and you say, “Well, in marketing, we’re trying to meet the needs of people, and what greater need do people have than healthy relationships?”

Jeff: There’s not many. Really just a quick synopsis of my background, I grew up in the car business. I swore I’d never get into the car business. I went away and got a degree in marketing. I worked at a very large ad agency. I worked in radio and TV media. I had a marketing consulting company and got back into the car business. That was 27 years ago. It seems like seven years ago, but 27 years ago. Through all this, even though my day job was in these different marketing arenas, I’ve always had a heart for the local church and for Jesus.

Jeff: It was an easy sell. It’s like when I was a kid, I even remember, “There’s a God. I’m not it, and Jesus is who He says He was.” I got that. I get it, there’s a lot of people out there that really have a lot of questions and they haven’t crossed the line of faith, but I was that easy, simple line of faith crosser at an early age. Anyway, in terms of my background then, so I’ve been around church world for a long time, and so one app that was opened in my life was this marketing thing. The other app that was opened in my life is church world, and these things came together and collided. That’s where this stuff is bubbled up to the surface, and where I just have helped Journey have been birthed over the last five plus years.

Lianne: Let me interrupt you real quick. Now we’re talking about marketing and we’re talking about things like this and car dealerships, but the big surprise here is that we’re really going to be talking to pastors today, so pastors, church leaders, we’re inviting you to lean in and hear a little more about the topic. I’ll leave that up to you to introduce it.

Jeff: Well, and before I introduce that, maybe we should introduce Annie here who I’ve gotten to know, and my wife and I have gotten to know over the last probably, what, six, seven, eight months. Annie brings a perspective of… Well, I’ll let Annie introduce herself. She can tell her own perspective.

Annie: Tell a little bit about myself, I too have a heart for the people, God’s people and the church, but being a church person myself, I’ve recognized that there’s something that there’s a hole that needs to be filled where connection has been lost or missed. It’s something that in the church world we’re craving just like the rest of us are craving. It’s just the desire for connection and desire for fulfillment, being around God’s people.

Lianne: Awesome. Welcome Annie as well.

Annie: Thank you.

Jeff: One of the things then that’s really been on my heart over the years is just a love and a care for people, because, again, whether it’s marketing, whether it’s church, whatever, I mean people do matter. One of the things we want to talk to today’s topic about is really about leaders leading. It’s something that is a topic that is so important. Everything does rise and fall on leadership. We’ll unpack that a little bit and do that with Annie, and talk about this whole concept of leaders leading.

Annie: That sounds like a great topic. I’m ready to get going on that. Let’s talk about what leadership is talking about different kind of leadership. Can you break down the difference between leadership and pastoring?

Jeff: Right. This, again, is something that if you’re not a church person, hang in there because you may get insights on how the church can be better and how it might attract you more. Maybe it might even help you to understand why maybe you’ve walked away from the church a little bit. Let’s unpack this a little bit. It’s between leadership and pastoring. There’s a lot of really, really sweet, a lot of really good hearted, a lot of really wonderful pastors out in the world. Most pastors feel the call, and they go into the ministry because they might be teachers. They might be more of that mercy, have that mercy gift, that caring gift where they say, “Boy, we really want to come alongside people in their hurt,” more of that shepherding gift.

Jeff: You’ve got these teachers. You’ve got these shepherds. They get into local churches, and then they’re also required to be organizational leaders. They don’t do a lot of teaching about that in seminary. In fact, most seminaries do very little teaching about that. On the other hand, in the marketplace, you’ve got some very strong organizational leaders.

Annie: One thing that I’ve heard it said, the difference between shepherding, pastoring and leadership is that pastors are really focused on soul care and the care of individuals, the care of people. However, leaders are focused on organizational care or structure where they take on the organization, the things that need to get done, and they’re the driving force behind that. They’re driving almost in two separate directions. One is focused on soul and one is focused on task.

Jeff: Exactly. Exactly. There’s another challenge that comes into play there is if you’ve got a very strong organizational leader, they’re looking at mission. It’s like, “What is the next big hill that we’re going to identify and then build a team around and then move forward on?” That’s very different than that pastoral shepherd person. They’re going to look at each person and look at their hurts. You come down to… You’ve got these very two different personalities. God’s wired these two different people very differently. How do they serve together?

Annie: By wiring, you mean strengths?

Jeff: Well, I just mean overall wiring, and so the strengths, the weaknesses. I’ve heard it said that’s cool is I would love a pastor there after the battle’s over, but I don’t want the pastor leading me in the battle. It’s how does that organizational leader who’s ready to go into that next battle or reach to that next initiative and really move that out well? How do those people work together? That’s a real challenge.

Annie: What do you think that means when somebody says, “I don’t necessarily want a pastor to lead me into battle?” What does that look like practically?

Jeff: Well, the reality is if you look at most churches out there, we, as people that go to church, pay pastors to lead and to do a lot of things, because it’s like, “Okay, pastor, teach me, care for me, marry me, bury me, baptize me. Lead me. Administrate all of this stuff that’s going on.” It’s about a 150-hour week job if it’s done well, which is a little hard to do for one person.

Lianne: Not only is that 150-hour a week job, it also draws on such diverse skill sets is what you’re saying-

Jeff: Exactly.

Lianne: … that it’s difficult for one person to traverse the whole entire skill set that that needs to have happen.

Jeff: That’s the model, but, again, in the world, that’s the model that typically keeps being worked, and so for the people out there that don’t go to church and they’re continuing to drive by these church buildings, it’s just showing that it’s not really working that well. I mean, we’d have to be leadership starts with defining reality. The reality is if you take a city, like we’re in here, the size of our communities, probably let’s say the surrounding community, 150,000 people, and if you take the number of churches, and if your church has 50 or 100 people and you add them all up, you ain’t going to get anywhere near 150,000 people are engaged actively in their churches.

Jeff: I mean, it’s maybe 10 or 15 or 20. It’s not the majority, let’s put it that way. I think what the call to action here is, “Okay guys, well, let’s look at doing something differently to better go reach people and help them grow. Again, going back to this marketing thing, if there’s a need, let’s try to meet it and do something about it. Let’s do something differently if we want something different to happen.

Annie: Practical speaking, what does it look like if a leader is leading in the church so that the pastor is shepherding? What do those two roles look like if they are worked out in action?

Jeff: Well, a leader is an interesting thing because a leader is one of these people that doesn’t do any one thing super well when you think about it other than lead. Let’s just look at a simple thing. For instance, if you are leading an organization and that organization has a building, and you walk into the building and the doors are falling off of it, the windows are falling off. The doors are locked, whatever. That’s not good, right? Well, he doesn’t necessarily or she doesn’t have to go and unlock the door and make sure everything’s in its proper place and the windows actually function, the air conditioning works, but you need that person that’s really has that skillset that can do that.

Jeff: It is about building. It is about building teams, and it’s just a very key thing that that person is able to build teams very well and to encourage and motivate. I forgot what the question was.

Annie: Practical speaking, what is leaders leading and shepherd like pastors shepherding.

Jeff: It also comes down to the fact that we have to look at, let’s say, that a pastor who is working lots and lots of hours. How do we help that person out? Well, there’s a lot of us, and I hope some of you out there really connect with this right now because there’s a lot of us, not necessarily marketing, but a lot of those marketplace guys out there who have sat in pews for a lot of years and listen to a lot of messages and patted a lot of pastors on the back and said, “Hey, nice job,” and maybe if they’ve been fortunate enough to be well resourced, given lots of money to churches and to hire more staff, but it’s like, “Well, ought we not change that model and ought then a few?”

Jeff: There’s probably not a lot out there, but there’s a few people who have the spiritual gift of leadership who have a proven marketplace experience. I mean, you can tell they just… When they ask people to move, people move. They have people around them, right? They’re growing things and they’ve got healthy families, because that’s another thing that this model can fall down all of a sudden, this hypothesis thought of leaders leading. This pilot thing we’re looking at can fall down.

Jeff: You can think of people right now, nationally known people, and they can take that next mountain. They can move that next initiative, but you look at their personal life at their character, and it’s just a wreck. That’s not good.

Annie: I think that’s biblical too. You look at examples in the Bible or the elders. What are they doing? What does their home life look like? What does their relationship with their spouse look like?

Jeff: Exactly.

Annie: Then they’re the ideal spot for the leaders who have managing their family well.

Jeff: There’s a sweetness about how they act and interact with people. There’s a sweetness there. Well, the call to action here is then for those gentlemen to step out of the pews and into that leadership role, again, it’s the difference. People go, “Well, we don’t do that. We just, again, we pay.” There’s some of these proven people that they can just do this on a volunteer basis. They’re resourced well enough. They have time. I know a guy. Actually, he’s had his own business for years, decades. His name is Tom. Tom, if you’re listening, get on board, man, let’s go. Tom gets done more.

Jeff: I mean, he goes in the morning. He’s done by 12:00 or 1:00 every day. He runs a multimillion dollar business, and he does it part-time. A lot of these folks have that margin where they can actually go and they can serve a church in other organization, a ministry, and do it really well and do it really well. That’s really the first step. That organizational leader needs to step out and say, “Ah, I’m really going to utilize the gifts that God has given me for the local church, which is just so needed.”

Annie: I think it comes back to we’re supposed to be the body of Christ and we’re supposed to be in that body of Christ. We’re working out of our strengths and our God-given gifts and talents. One of a God given gift or talent is the gift of leadership. Whereas, the gift of shepherding is a different gift. If we’re all in the body of Christ and we’re all utilizing our God given spiritual gifts that He’s given us, we are working together to be the body of Christ. We’re not one person is carrying the whole weight because not everybody can be the head or the arms or the feet. We all need to stand up and the gifts were given, and utilize those so that the church is a good example of Christ.

Jeff: Now, here’s the challenge though is as I’ve been starting to cast out this vision and talk to different people about it, and it’s… The concept overall is get into the game, the game of using your gifts to give a life, really get into the game, right? Well, right now, the model says the pastor is really carrying that ball. If you imagine this football and the pastor has it, he’s got it, right? He’s been hired. He’s a seminary guy. He’s gone to a lot of school, and he’s got the ball. I remember this one conversation. This is a years and years ago.

Jeff: We were offering to do this one event for a pastor to help him out because he couldn’t. It just didn’t work out. It was like, “We’ll do this.” Much of us started talking and laid out, “Well, we can do this and then this could happen,” but halfway through that conversation, he was like, “No, I can do it.” It was really his first. “I can do it.” He’s just grabbing that ball back. You guys hired me to do this. I’ll make it work. I was like, “Oh, rats.” It’s like, “Rats.” The thing is the path for this to work, the pastors have to be willing to pass the ball, and then that organizational leader needs to actually catch the ball and run with it well, but it’s that team thing there.

Jeff: You’ve gotta have both happening, because I can’t go up to a pastor, grab the ball away and say, “Guess what? I’m going to lead this thing really well,” and he goes, “Excuse me?”

Lianne: We’ve talked a lot about trust being something that you develop. It’s not something that maybe happens right at the first instance, but developing trust. Probably, it sounds like the people that are caring about that pastor and doesn’t want the pastor to go through the burnout and the stress of all the things being laid on their shoulders, so it sounds like the people of the church, those that maybe have the skill for leadership, but even other people can help and come in and just encourage and say, “This is something because we care about you. We care about all the people of the church, and maybe you’re stretched thin and we want you to be able to work to your strengths.”

Lianne: “So maybe let’s talk for a minute about the gains that the pastor and therefore all the people that the pastor would be serving my gain from having.” You were talking about football analogy, so I have to hit my head. I gotta picture. You said you got the one guy carrying the ball. The other guy carrying the ball. I don’t know much about rugby but I always see pictures and they’re all carrying the ball down the field. That’s the picture you gave me when you were talking about that.

Jeff: That’s a great point. I mean, a couple of great points there, Lianne. One is for others that come around the pastor and say… because, I think, sometimes, and again it’s just the mindset, it’s the mindset of the model. The mindset says if you lay this out that somebody else is going to take over point leadership organizationally. I’m not talking about executive pastor. That’s a role that I’m not talking about. I’m talking about point leadership of the church. If you’re talking to people in existing models and the pastors, they’re like, “Whoa, what am I doing wrong?”

Jeff: It’s like, “Okay, I’ll work 90 hours a week then. I’ll just buckle off [inaudible 00:20:38].” It’s like, “No, no. No. How about instead of maybe working even 40, why don’t you budget in like 28 to work?” Here’s the thing about being a pastor. If you budget in 20 hours to work with all the stuff that how life happens, things are going to come up. Somebody’s going to get sick. Somebody’s going to die. Somebody is going to have a crisis, some situation. To have that margin built into your life as somebody that’s always caring for people, frontline soul care things, let’s not budget pastors out at 60 hoping for 80.

Jeff: Let’s budget pastors at 20 hoping that maybe they can functionally handle 40 or 45.

Lianne: This is a call to action too for people that maybe have the gifts of leadership within the church that are sitting on the sidelines. It’s a call to say, “Hey, there’s a spot for you within the church to use your God given gifts of leadership to take off some of the weight that the pastor’s carrying so that they can truly focus more on soul care, and the people with the gifts of leadership can focus on leadership and organizational care.”

Jeff: Again, so biblical. I mean, you talked about the body of Christ and the hands and feet. We can talk about how Journey fits into that a little bit. Lianne, I want to go back to your comments there about how good they were of people need. I think this really does start with people that the pastor trusts, people coming around that pastor and just saying, “Hey, this is something different we’re talking about here. This is a hypothesis that needs to be tested. It’s not based on just butterflies and unicorns. It’s based on the Bible. Like, how can we live out the Bible today? Romans 12 kinds of things, leaders lead. Teachers teach.”

Jeff: To have those conversations and just say, “We care about you, but here’s how it could look if an organizational leader ran point, and let’s at least start the discussion. Let’s start talking about that.” That’s a really good point you make is just to have those conversations and not as hammers like, “You’re not doing a good job,” but as, “Hey, we all need to come together and serve out of our strengths and to do this well, because at the end of the day, this isn’t about just an organization. It’s not just about marketing and making more money. This is about God’s church and how we can steward and care for that in a healthy way.”

Lianne: I am anxious to know how Journey ties in with all this.

Jeff: Well, here’s the tie. Again, I want to go back now if by some miracle, there is still somebody listening that hasn’t crossed the line of faith and they’re like, “Man, okay, that’s nice all that church talk and pastoral talk and leadership talk, but I’m the guy or gal that keeps driving by the churches. I have really no interest in this whole topic at all.” Well, here’s where hopefully the interest is you have a wonderful life that’s been given to you, and it is a limited time here on earth. Whether you believe in God as the creator or not, I think we can all agree, we all have a limited time here on earth.

Jeff: Anybody listening to this, wherever they’re at on their faith walk or lack of faith walk, can jump into coaching and they can jump in with somebody else, and just start where they are starting at, wherever that is, and share their story, look at their strengths, look at their weaknesses, and they can just begin that conversation to say, “Okay, how has God wired me up? Even if I don’t believe God maybe wired me up, what are my strengths? What are some limitations or weaknesses? What’s my view of the world? What’s a healthy Christian view of the world?” Then to take a step and say, “Okay, what are one, two, or three next steps then that I can take?”

Jeff: It’s that very relational one-on-one step. That would be the first thing that somebody can do.

Lianne: Purpose, you have a purpose here. Your life is for a reason.

Jeff: Exactly, and getting a sense of that. That’s the first step. The second step then becomes this coaching champion. People who have crossed with a lot of faith, they’re healthy. They’re solid. They’re growing. They say, “Wow, this coaching thing, this is really neat, seven sessions getting together with somebody. I want to do more of that.” They’re like this coaching champion, so they take this out and they share it with other people and they coach another person in the next six months and then somebody else and somebody else.

Jeff: All of a sudden, they’re just coaching a lot of people. They’re this coaching champion. They’re like, “Wow, I’m just going to come alongside people, and I’m not the expert. I don’t have… We’re all on this journey together. I’m not this expert, but at least I’m willing to listen.” There’s this process that you we’ve put out there that people can follow. That’s the next step is that coaching champion. The third step would be these leaders lead this person, this guy that was saying, “Okay, I’m going to really step up and look at being that point person at a church big or small,” because there’s a lot of organizational leaders out there that have had organizational leadership experience with smaller kinds of organizations, so that might fit better.”

Jeff: Well, maybe not, but it might fit better with a smaller church. There are some really big churches out there, right? There are some what we call mega churches, but there are some organizational leaders that have had very effective, proven results with huge business marketing outside the church organizations. It could even be the guys who run a chapter of the United Way had 200 staff that he supervise, so smaller organizational leader, bigger organizational leader. Either way, they can apply that acumen to that small, medium, large church.

Lianne: Let’s say that I have the gifts of leadership, but I don’t know how to get started with church. Where do I fit in? Where should I go and how should I get started?

Jeff: Well, and this will probably sound like a broken record as we do more and more podcasts, but it’s a boring next step, but reach out however you reach out, through the Journey website, through… I think there’s a phone number on there, through whatever, reach out, and let’s talk about you, the person who is now going through the coaching. I had a conversation today. What people tend to do is a lot of people, and I’m not saying everybody, a lot of people look at the material and go, “Oh wow, this is like these.”

Jeff: It’s not huge, right? It’s like 80 pages or something like that. There’s these seven sessions like, “Oh yeah, this is really neat, and I’ll go look at it.” I say to people, “Well, that’s fine. You can go look at it, but then bring it back and either give it back to me or experience the coaching. Don’t just put it on a shelf because we don’t write this material so that somebody can put it on the shelf and it can be on their big bookshelf with the other 800 books there.” This is really the experience in it.

Jeff: The specific answer that will be always the answer when somebody asks what do you do next is go through the coaching with somebody, experience it, and take that chance. It’s something that I was sitting here listening when we were doing an earlier podcast where there is talking about sharing stories. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anybody who has said, “Hmm, sat down with you, Jeff. Shared my story. Oh, I’ve been there, done that. I’ve done that so many times throughout my life. It’s just what’s different about this journey thing than anything else I’ve gone through?”

Jeff: I mean, that’s zero. People just don’t have the opportunity to sit down with another person and actually have them with open ears listen to their story. I mean, that’s a pretty cool thing in and of itself. Even if you don’t go through the whole thing, you don’t have to make it like nobody here today needs to make a commitment for the next decade to lead their church. Nobody needs to make a long-term commitment to lead other people into coaching. Nobody listening even has to make a commitment to accept Christ or even become a Christian. Don’t even…

Jeff: Forget about all of that stuff. Just make a call. Find out more about the coaching and just sit down for that initial time where you just hear that person’s story, what coaching is about and then go from there. Take it a step at a time.

Lianne: Awesome. Our time is coming to an end so we’ll wrap it up. We have a few things left to do. One of them is I want to thank Jeff for bringing this topic and sharing insights that you have, and Annie for taking time out and being part of this conversation. I’d like to continue the conversation after we even go off the air. I have a couple of questions to ponder. The first one is are you a pastor carrying the weight of leading in all areas of your church? The second question is are you a leader and do you have talents and gifts that you can share and maybe step in and come alongside your pastor and step up and offer to be a leader?

Lianne: If you’re in either of those two categories, it might be nice to just do a little exercise. Make two columns. One of them would be pastoring or shepherding, and one of them would be leader or administration. Maybe separate out some duties and start to look at what types of things could be carried in a community manner rather than just piling on to one person. The third thing is if you are interested in Journey Coaching in either of those two categories or you are a listener out there who just is interested in Journey Coaching, please reach out to us and find out more.

Lianne: It’s been great having this conversation today and having you listening. Bye.

Jeff: Bye.

Announcer: Thank you for listening. Tune in next time and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org, and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org.