The Flourishing Culture Podcast Series
“What Every Exhausted Christian Leader Needs to Hear“
September 13, 2021
Intro: Has the last year and a half left you exhausted? Are you wondering if you have the energy necessary to lead your team or organization? Well, today, listen in on my conversation with a highly respected leader about the importance of a deep interior life and rich relationships that will enhance your spiritual leadership.
Al Lopus: Welcome to another episode of the Flourishing Culture Podcast, where our goal is to equip and inspire Christian leaders to create a flourishing workplace. As we face today’s leadership challenges, we are here to keep you from experiencing the pain of losing your best people and facing the resulting disruptions. Listen in as we help you attract and keep fantastic teams of engaged people, who love one another while accomplishing great things for a higher purpose. Yes, we believe a flourishing culture is more important now than ever before. I’m Al Lopus and will be your guide today as we have a conversation about actions you can take that put you in the driver’s seat on the road to flourishing.
This past year and a half has been a difficult time for many leaders in ministry as well as in business, and we’ve seen that many leaders are just exhausted. In fact, a large number of leaders have retired years before they planned because they’ve run out of gas leading through the pandemic. Is this how you feel? Are you exhausted and running out of energy as you try to lead your teams and organizations?
Well, today we’re going to explore this conversation with one of our good friends and a highly respected ministry leader. I’m delighted to welcome Josh Patterson, the lead pastor of The Village Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Josh, it’s great to have this visit with you. Welcome to the Flourishing Culture Podcast.
Josh Patterson: Well, thank you, Al. It’s an honor to be here with you. I really appreciate you and the work of your organization, so I’m grateful.
Al: Well, Josh, before we get into our discussion today, tell us a little bit about your role and the church you serve.
Josh: Sure. I have served The Village Church now for a little bit over 17 years. So I got here as a 26-year-old and was serving as a college and singles pastor for a year and then transitioned into an executive-pastor role. I did that for five years, and the last 11 years have been serving as one of the lead pastors here at the church.
And so we’re in a really interesting season. We’ve been a multisite church since 2007 and then have proactively been transitioning all of our campuses off to become local autonomous churches. And that was a big vision that we called multiply, and we literally just saw God bring that vision to full completion July 1 of this year. So that’s where we are, and that’s been my role—or roles, I should say.
Al: Yeah. Great, Josh.
And let me ask you. I know you’ve got three lead pastors at The Village Church. Tell me a little bit about how the three of you work together. You know, Cary Humphries, who works with us, just says it’s a remarkable structure and team approach. Tell us a little bit about that.
Josh: Yeah, you bet. Well, I love Cary, and he’s been a real gift to us and has served our leadership team and our staff in so many ways, and so just want to note that, our gratitude for him. But we do. We have three lead pastors, Matt Chandler, Brian Miller, and myself, and we kind of came into this role about 11 years ago over this particular structure. Brian Miller was the chairman of our elders. He had a long 27-year career in the marketplace, and we were looking for somebody who could help lead in a pastoral way, a little bit more on the operational side of our church. And Brian stepped into that role, and we formed this three lead-pastor model. And we’ve said it a lot. I’m not sure that we would prescribe this model to anybody else, but it’s one that we have benefited from and really believe in for our context. And we’re actually in an interesting season because Brian is retiring.
Josh: He’s just gotten to that place where he is looking to spend more time with grandkids, and he’ll be retiring in March of ’22. And so we’re in the midst of a transition ourselves between the three of us and excited about what’s next for us. But yeah, that model served us really well. It’s been a gift. It was a model that was really built on trust. So it’s been great.
Al: Yeah, great. Well, you know, each church seems to have had challenges this past year, and that’s kind of the theme of this podcast.
Al: Some challenges have been in one direction, others have been in another direction, so how would you describe the challenge of, let’s call it, a pastor shepherd this past year?
Josh: Well, it’s been a year, hadn’t it?
Josh: And it’s one of those—you’re right. I mean, each context is different. The challenges in some ways are unique, and in a lot of other ways, they’re strangely similar. I mean, 2020, if I think about the way that most churches started in January of 2020, it certainly didn’t have in the fore view this idea of just the polarizing political landscape, the challenges with COVID and shut downs and how different that was state to state, the really difficult challenges with race, and it was a year that certainly wasn’t for the faint of heart, I’ll say that. There are things that all leaders seem to have experienced, and then there were some things that, as I talked to different leaders across the country, that were unique to their particular context and set of circumstances.
Al: Yeah. It hasn’t just been COVID over the last year and a half.
Al: I mean, you bring it out, just the polarizing political situation, the racial challenges. Yeah, it’s been kind of a challenge on at least three fronts.
So have you seen some examples of leaders who have really moved through this time with exceptional, maybe, difficulty, where the unforeseen potholes that might have caught a tire, so to speak? Are there things that were common with these struggling leaders?
Josh: Sure. When the pandemic first started, I convened a group of pastors, and, obviously, we did this virtually. This was before everybody was absolutely fatigued on Zoom. And so there was a group of us that met, and we were from coast to coast. We had pastors on the call from California and then pastors on the call in New York and everybody in between. And, you know, we were trying to gain perspective and wisdom and support from one another. And some of the stories were really painful. Some of them were really difficult. Some were financial. I have friends that pastor churches that seemed to be doing well in January of 2020, and then by April, their budgets were cut 30 percent, 50 percent. Those are hard things to work through.
When I’m looking for patterns or similarities, some things that we’ve been talking about here at The Village—and I don’t know if this is the answer, or, at times, I’m not even sure if it’s the right way to think about it, but it has helped us. And we have seen and this has found resonance when talking with others, this elevation of ideology over theology. And what we mean by that is we had this political polarization, this racial polarization. We had health pandemic, which became politicized. And it was interesting to watch people move into camps that were formed ideologically first, and maybe even devoid of theology. And I’m not sure that they would say that or maybe even recognize that, and so I want to be charitable in it. But it felt like theological convictions, at times, were moved to the background, and that became a challenging context. And it became difficult to unify because ideology is tough to unify around unless you’re part of that particular ideology.
But if I think about what—when I’m talking about theology, I’m not talking about a crusty set of doctrines. I’m talking about these precious truths that we as a Christian community have believed together for a long, long time. At times that was harder to locate, and it was harder to navigate, candidly. So you know, Al, I don’t know if that’s the answer. That has found resonance here with us, and it certainly has been a challenge.
Al: It’s interesting, Josh. I mean, we all are facing the red versus blue, the people that are for vaccines and not for vaccines, and so those are what you would consider ideologies, in a sense. Is that diving into it a little deeper?
Josh: Yeah, I think so. I think if I could just kind of make clean buckets and there’s hardly any anything like that, but, yeah, there seems to be a missing element of reasonableness, where we could—conversations were extremely charged. They weren’t reasonable conversations. They weren’t charitable conversations.
Josh: And so looking for that place of conversation and understanding, it was—if you tell me what you believe about one thing, then I will assume what you believe about 10 other things, and I have, then, put you in a camp.
Josh: And it became tough.
Al: Mm-hmm, yeah. In theology, like love one another—
Al: —and be respectful and think of the other as more important than yourself and those kinds of theologies versus the ideologies. Yeah. Well, that’s really something to think about. And so ideology over theology, that’s a great way to describe it.
So, have you seen some examples where a leader maybe handled the season with exceptional wisdom and care, and what marked their response to the chaos that we experienced over the last year and a half or so?
Josh: Yeah, I have. I have seen leaders that stood out to me as worthy of emulation, where they had done things, from my vantage point, I thought they handled it well. That certainly doesn’t mean that everybody agreed with them. In fact, it almost entirely doesn’t mean that. But I saw them exercise a sense of wisdom, conviction, they were clear, and they were charitable.
So this idea of wisdom, these leaders—I did a study a while ago in the book of Proverbs, and wisdom is the skill and the art of godly living, and it’s a muscle that has to be exercised. It’s something that’s developed and honed. It’s a skill. I’m talking about the spiritual gift of wisdom that somebody has or does not have. This is something that’s worked out in the context of life and relationships. And these men and women who led well seemed to have a certain savvy and gravitas about them that required presence. It required discernment. And by present, I mean they were there in the moment, present, strong in their core, and available to lead. They weren’t dodging leadership. They weren’t deflecting. They were there in a place to offer this kind of clarion call to wisdom. And it requires discernment, the ability to make decisions and choose and consider perspectives. And I have people in my mind that I thought, “Wow, that was great. They handled that really well.”
They also had a sense of conviction. I said earlier this wasn’t a season for the faint of heart, and this was a tough season, and it still is, to be flimsy. And if you are lacking conviction, then I’m not sure how you showed up to lead. You know, the winds were blowing in so many different directions. And so those who handled it well seemed to lead with a sense of conviction. And I don’t mean that they were unwilling to listen to others. I don’t mean that they weren’t willing to entertain other perspectives. But it does mean that they were strong in where they stood, even if where they stood changed from time to time.
And then they were clear, and their communication was consistent, and it was clear. And I think about that, gosh, well, that goes back to churches being shut down. We were in that season of extreme uncertainty. Those who lead with clarity and a consistent communication, they were winning the day. And it has become almost a joke to think about how much competing information we’ve gotten as latent and the flip-flopping of information and all of those types of things. But these leaders, in the midst of all these competing narratives and all the complex information, they were clear and consistent in their communication.
And then, finally, especially if I’m thinking about Christian leaders, I’m not sure how you can be a Christian leader without leading with a sense of charity. And these men and women were charitable. They lead with kindness. They give others the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t mean that they’re pushovers. It just means that they’re emulating the Lord that they serve, who is gracious and loving and kind. And, you know, there are other elements, but when I think about those folks who led well in this season, I do think about those four things.
Al: I love those. Right now, let’s call these four strategies for effective leadership in a pandemic.
Josh: Let’s take it.
Al: I’d love to come back and just talk a little bit about presence and discernment under your wisdom category. What does it take to develop a sense of presence and discernment, as you talked about it? Any thoughts on that?
Josh: Yeah, you know, I have a lot of thoughts on that. I hope they’re helpful. But when I think about presence, this is something that, in my own life, I’m trying to work on, just to be a man who is present. I am where I am. I recently—and this is the second time that I did it—but I went on a long, extended hike in the Colorado backcountry, and I had no phone. I had no device. Thankfully, I had some guides that were well equipped where I lacked total competence. But their phrase to me was, we just want you to be where your boots are. Where you are on the trail, be on the trail. If you are where your boots are, you’re going to be better for the team; you will experience what is to be experienced now, here. And when I think about presence, I think about being where my boots are.
Those type of people, those men and women who are present, they feel accessible, they feel empathetic, they feel like they are with me, like I matter. They’re communicating some things by their presence that is deep. And it’s kind of the subtext of communication that is saying something on a more meaningful level, even by not saying something. Those type of people have a sense of inner light, a draw to them, that I find to be really compelling and powerful.
And I think a lot about this phrase, the ministry of presence. If you think about a hospital room, where there’s some type of tragedy or illness, and sometimes when you show up in a room like that, just being there, that’s what the ministry is. It’s not what I say or what I bring; it’s the fact that I am there. And sadly, to my own regret, there have been so many leadership moments, whether it’s here at the church or other places or maybe even in my family, for sure, in my family, when it’s like I’m there proximally, but I’m not there relationally. My mind is somewhere else. My heart is detached and somewhere else. And so when I’m thinking about presence, I’m thinking about something on a deeper level, that I’m not just proximally around you, I am here with you. I think that’s powerful.
The discernment piece is just the ability to sense and hear from the Spirit, listen, and discern. You know, the scripture talks about there are men and women who have this gift of discernment. That’s actually not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the ability to synthesize and decipher and consider in a way. And I think a lot of that comes from experience. I think a lot of that comes from previous trials and challenges that we’ve walked through. A lot of that comes from the inputs of my life, being fed by the scriptures, being fed in healthy relationships, and then being able to discern what is best next. And can be challenging, but I always admired those leaders that have that.
Al: Yeah. Presence. I just love your thoughts on both presence and discernment. But just a challenge to our leaders is we don’t really talk about presence and developing presence very much as a characteristic of leadership. But it clearly is, isn’t it? Great leaders have a presence. They can walk into a room and command leadership, in a sense, because of their presence.
Al: And I like your thoughts on discernment too, where you have to take time to listen. You have to be in a position to listen to the Spirit, as you say, where you can then synthesize and weigh what you’re experiencing, what you hear. And I found in this pandemic, in this last year and a half, leaders have felt like they’ve really had to be active all the time and not take the time to really listen and discern, especially in private quiet times.
So, yeah, great, Josh. Wisdom, conviction, clear communication, being charitable, leading with kindness—gosh, sounds like a beatitude there, leading with kindness. Yeah. I wonder who had something to say about that.
Al: Yeah. Josh, as you reflect on the moment and all we’ve been through, what’s the message that leaders must need to hear right now? How can their organizations understand what they’ve been through and support them best?
Josh: Yeah, that’s a great question, Al. There’s a refrain that goes through my head a lot. It’s this: if it was easy, it wouldn’t be called leadership. And, you know, there are just those moments, and we’ve certainly been in one, and what’s ironic is this particular pandemic, political, this moment has had a thousand smaller moments that are much more personal to my family and to me and the challenges that we’ve experienced. And that’s true just across the board. And so I just tell myself, “Josh, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be called leadership.” And I have a real deep sense of calling to be a leader. I think that’s what God has put in me. It’s been a part of my story for nearly all my life, and it’s something that I want to steward, but I’m sobered by the call of leadership. There are elements of it that are beautiful, and it’s amazing. I love it. And then there are elements of leadership that are just difficult. There are conversations that have to be had, decisions that have to be made, risks that have to be taken, criticisms that have to be absorbed. And that comes with it. And I just tell myself, hey. It’s like I’m looking myself in the mirror, and I certainly have friends that have said the same refrain to me, “If it was easy, it wouldn’t be called leadership.” And that’s right.
And so I remind myself at its essence that this is challenging. And I have learned so much about myself and so much about other people in and through the context of leadership. Here’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot, and the pandemic only has highlighted this more is leadership does not have to be lonely. I can remember hearing this, I’ve probably said it myself, that leadership is lonely, and oftentimes, it feels like it’s set up as like this sort of martyrdom for the leader. And I actually talked about this with our staff a few months ago as I was sharing some reflections that I had on that particular phrase. But when I think about the loneliness of leadership, I heard that, and maybe it was intended to be so, that if I’m a leader, it means that I can’t really have a bunch of friends. You know, I’m on this different playing field or whatever it might be. And my experience has been the lonely part of leadership has to do with the burdens and not with the relationships. And what I mean by that is there is a burden to being a leader that is unique to the leader.
One of the benefits that Matt, Brian, and I have had in this three-tier leadership structure is we’ve been able to share a significant amount of burdens, and I’m so grateful for that. At the end of the day, there are things that I just have to go home knowing this is mine to carry, and that’s tough. My wife knows that, my kids know that, and that’s part of it, and that’s okay.
But what the loneliness of leadership does not have to mean, it does not have to mean that I am alone as a leader, meaning I don’t have friends. People can’t know me. I can’t let people in because if they did, it may jeopardize my leadership or whatever kind of falsehoods we want to project. And I think there’s a lot of reasons that we may protect those types of things. Very often it’s self-protective. But the reality is I find myself with deep, rich friendships, who help support me as I carry the burden of leadership.
You know, I think about this. Have you ever seen or read the Lord of the Rings? And you’ve got Frodo and you got Sam. But I’m not going to ruin anything for those who may not have seen it. Frodo’s got this burden, and it’s Frodo’s burden alone.
Josh: Nobody else can take this burden from him. But he’s got his buddy with him, Sam. And Sam is with Frodo on the journey as Frodo was carrying the burden, and they get to Mordor. And it’s tough, and it’s as painful as it’s ever going to get. And Frodo gets to the place where he’s like, “I’m not sure that I can take another step.” And Sam is saying, “If I could take this from you, I would. I can’t. So I can carry you, but I can’t carry the burden.” And I think about that a lot in my relationships and with the burden of the leadership that I just have to carry.
I have friends that have carried me in seasons, as I have carried burdens, and they can’t take those burdens from me, but they sure can buoy me up in relationship. My wife has been this for me, even, at times, my children in an appropriate way have nurtured me and cared for me. And so I guess if I could just encourage a leader, you know, the question was, what do leaders most need to hear right now? I don’t know if this is what they most need to hear, but I just want to encourage them and say you don’t have to be alone as a leader. Oftentimes, I think that’s a choice.
I trust you’re enjoying our podcast today. We’ll be right back after an important word for leaders.
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Al: And now, back to today’s special guest.
Josh, you mentioned early on in our discussion that you, early in the pandemic, were part of a community or group of leaders that talked on a regular basis. Did I catch that right?
Josh: Yeah. That’s exactly right.
Al: Yeah. So that’d be an example of relationships that support you in your leadership. Yeah, that’s a great example of how relationships are important and how you’ve developed broad relationships, really, across other organizations.
Josh: Right, yeah.
Hey, we recently heard John Stonestreet. Cary and I were at the C12 Conference in Orlando, and his talk was titled “The Story and the Moment.” And the focus was to remind Christian leaders that the story never changes. That’s the story of God’s amazing atonement for His Church and our call to live restorative lives in the world. But the moment is the cultural moment that shifts and changes with the winds of secular thought in our post-Christian world. You know, what have you learned this year that will serve you as you lead in this moment? And we’ve talked about this moment, particularly the last year and a half, but what have you learned that you might share with us?
Josh: Well, first, I’m envious that you guys got to hear from John Stonestreet at this Conference. I think highly of him. And he, like Cary and like your organization, I just find myself thankful for faithful leaders like John, and I listen to his voice often. And so I wonder if I’ve learned anything new, in some sense. And that’s a good question. Like, a thought experiment. Did I learn anything new? I don’t know. But I definitely grew in my convictions and in areas that I already knew. There’s a quote by Richard Niebuhr, where he says something—and forgive me, Al. I’ll butcher it—but he talks about the greatest Christian revolutions don’t come from discovering something new but a reclamation or a reclaiming of something that was old and has always been. And that’s why I said I wonder if I learned something new or if it was just affirmed to me the precious truths that were always there.
I have believed this for years, and I only grew in my conviction that we need more spiritual leaders. I believed that in 2019, I believed that in 2015, I believed that in 2007, but absolutely was the spotlight clear on the vacuum of spiritual leaders in 2020 and into 2021. And so I know that we need more men and women with a deep interior life of character, who are shaped by the power of the spirit of Jesus Christ. I know we need more of those people. I want to be one of those among an army of those types of people who love well and lead well. More. More, please, Lord.
Josh: And then, you know, it’s clear that—and again, the pandemic, I heard one leader. It was actually on one of those calls that I referenced earlier, where he said, I don’t know that everybody’s going to be exposed to the virus, but everyone is being exposed by it. And his point was our brokenness only became more visible, our coping mechanisms only became more bankrupt, our ways of numbing only became more of a crutch, and so it’s clear to me that we’re operating in a broken world with hurting people, who, at their core, are longing for something different and are looking to a thousand different ways to satisfy an ache that I believe and the scripture would affirm, and I believe it because the scripture says it, that the Gospel is for those types of people like me. And so I believe the Gospel shines bright in moments like this, and so I’m eager to see the Church offer real hope, lasting hope.
And so it’s like I knew those things in January of 2020. That wasn’t new to me. But my conviction around those things has really just deepened. And so I hope that makes sense, Al.
Al: Total sense. Four years ago, in fact, almost today, I finished walking the Camino de Santiago, 500 miles across Spain. And I came back with a conviction, a similar conviction, that the world needs Christ now more than ever. And in that 500 miles, I walked with people, and we had long conversations, and people from 25 different countries. Just a fascinating experience to see that kind of humanity around the world. And that was just clear to me.
Josh: Awesome. I want to hear about that on some podcast.
Al: Okay, yeah.
Al: We’ll turn it around. You can interview me—
Josh: There you go.
Al: —on my experience on Camino de Santiago.
Well, speaking of that, exhaustion can trap any leader, and, you know, this last year has been an exhausting year. But the Christian leader has a special calling to lead on multiple platforms, the spiritual platform. And you’ve talked about how that’s really a passion. We need more spiritual leaders, but also the organizational platform, the physical platform. What is unique to this challenge of the spiritual, organizational, physical, emotional? It’s even broader. But what do you feel is the unique challenge for a Christian leader?
Josh: When I think about a Christian leader and I think about the privilege and the responsibility of Christian leadership, what makes Christian leadership distinctly Christian is the presence of Christ. And if Christ is not present, then you have leadership; you don’t have Christian leadership. And so I think a lot about John 15. I think about what Jesus says, when He says, “I am the vine, and you’re the branches. If a man remains in me and I am, he’ll bear much fruit. And apart from me, you can do nothing.” That’s a strong statement, that apart from Him, I can do nothing. And yet when I look out, I see a lot of people seemingly doing something. But Jesus would say what they’re not doing is Christian leadership. They’re not building the kingdom; they’re building something else. And so I think, like, a real warning for the Christian leader is the consideration of, I can build organizationally, I can build physically, but if I can’t build spiritually or I can’t build in a Christian sense without the presence of Christ in my leadership, which means it’s an inside-out leadership. And so I just want to be mind—it’s so easy. It’s easy for me in my role. It’s easy for church leaders anywhere and everywhere or leaders of Christian organizations or leaders who find themselves in a marketplace role but want to do it distinctively Christian. Well, that requires an inside-out type of leadership and a maintenance of that deep interior life that we’ve talked about.
Al: Yeah. Yeah, I think about inside-out leadership and your comment and going back to our comment and discussion about presence and discernment. I mean, they go together. And often on this podcast, people have said you can only bring who you are to leadership. And if you don’t have the spirit of Christ living inside of you and that inside-out approach to leadership, you’re not bringing all that you can bring, especially in a spiritual context. That’s great thought. Thanks.
So, considering where we are, what does the spiritual leader need to hear now, Josh? What would you like to say to a spiritual leader based on our situation where we are?
Josh: Well, I know what has ministered to me when I have had people say this to me, and again, it goes back to the simple truths of what I know but yet need to be reminded of. And that, had people that I deeply respect say to me, “The Lord has you, and He loves you. And regardless of how you think you led or how you think you performed or what you did or didn’t achieve in this season or that season, the Lord’s love for you hasn’t changed. And it won’t.” I think it’s real easy to look back over the last year and a half and think, “Oh, man, I missed that,” or “I blew that,” or “That decision seems so easy now, given hindsight perspective. But in the fog of it, I missed it.” And just to be ministered to by the love of God, that He has me, and He loves me. That’s irrespective of how I performed or how well I think I did or others think I did. And so it’s just in those deep, quiet places of my heart that the questions, the deeper questions, that nag me, that’s where the Lord ministers to me, with those simple truths.
Al: Yeah. You saying that kind of makes me think about the song, the worship song, “The Blessing.” And there’s this—towards the end, where “He is for you. He is for you. He is for you.” That’s the Lord’s love for us hasn’t changed, and that has ministered to me in these times.
What does the spiritual leader need to do to exhaustion proof her or him in this season? Do you recommend any specific disciplines for leaders to help?
Josh: I mentioned it earlier. When I think about John 15 and I think about that abiding life and the call to abide, I’ve taught through that passage several times. I think about it a lo, where, on repeat, Jesus is saying, “Abide in me. Abide in me. Abide in me,” which is the idea of remaining, this continual aspect of being in communion and fellowship with. I’m not sure that abiding in Christ keeps me from being tired or keeps me from being fatigued in certain seasons. There are just some seasons that are tiring, they’re heavy, and they require deep rest. And when I think about the book of Hebrews, when I think, again, about John 15, I think about the deep rest that Christ offers is really not a rest that sleep can provide, although I think sleep is certainly helpful. It’s that soul rest that is often elusive to a lot of us. Again, I’m going back to presence. And there’s something about those men and women who have a presence about them that I get the sense that their soul is at rest and at peace, content, settled, that their core is not disintegrated, but integrated, strong. That comes from deep communion.
And I want to differentiate between communion and connection. It’s easy to be connected to people. It’s different to commune with them. Connection, again, speaks to, like, proximity, around, near, or we even talk about being connected over a social-media platform or something like that. But communion is more soul to soul. It’s deeper. It’s what I hope to have with my wife and kids. It’s what I hope to have with Jesus. It’s what I hope to have with deep and meaningful relationships. And I need those types of communions to refresh me.
And you mentioned disciplines, and there are disciplines that lend themselves to those. I think of Sabbath. I think of solitude. I also think about just the discipline of confession and repentance. I think about Psalm 51, when David talks about when he stayed silent, his bones wasted away. And I think about how exhausting that is. And so for the Christian leader to be serious about these types of elements in his or her life, that it not only brings about what you called exhaustion proof, but it brings about life.
And so, you know, on the contrary, I think about things that take away life and snuff life out. I think about hidden sin. I think about just lacking relationships and those types of things. And so that would be my encouragement.
Al: Yeah. Wow.
Josh, who has helped you stay fresh and maintain a healthy perspective as you lead in Christ’s bride, the Church?
Josh: Well, I think about in the book of Jude, in the opening verses of that book, it says, “To those who are called beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ,” and he’s writing to Christians, and he’s saying you were called, loved, and kept. And so I go back to that a lot. It’s just, “Jesus, you have called me, you love me in the Father, and you are keeping me.” That is sustaining. And I am reminded of his sustaining work through his people. I don’t want to say I feel guilty about it. I feel thankful because God has been generous to me in my relationships, and I know that’s not the case for everybody, and that, candidly, that wasn’t always the case for me. But it has been a mainstay for me in my adult life, that my wife loves my heart and cares for me well; my friends are present; they know me; and God has used all of those people to aid in my perseverance, as you say, to stay fresh and maintain a healthy perspective as I lead. It would just be another story for me to not have those, and that story would be fraught with challenges, that’s for sure. Or more challenges, I should say.
Al: Well, Josh, gosh, we’ve really enjoyed all we’ve learned. And just looking back over my notes, how do we lead in challenging times? And as I reflect on our conversation, I’d summarize it in a way, you didn’t use these terms, but it’s by developing a rich interior life. And I think it goes even back to being in community with other leaders, that you described at the very beginning; having personal strategies for dealing with difficult times, where it requires wisdom, conviction, clear communication, and being charitable. You know, I think about the way you fostered presence and discernment, inside-out Christian leadership, where we are really reflecting the love of Christ that’s inside of us and how that just comes out, and it must be part of our Christian leadership, and how we really should foster an integrated core that just comes out through deep communion through John 15 and abiding in Christ. This has just been a great conversation.
After reflecting on it, is there anything else that you’d like to add that we’ve talked about?
Josh: I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you. I think you summarized it better than I would. When I’m considering this conversation, which I have enjoyed, I see the themes of healthy relationships and a deep spiritual life that contribute to the flourishing of Christian leadership. But the reality is most leaders that I know, either personally or have a view into their world, who have struggled or fallen or whatever it might be, it really almost never is due to a lack of competence. They’re competent. They know how to do it. There’s something else that is dragging them down. And it makes me sad to think about the lack of relationships that a lot of leaders operate in or maybe a failure or a neglect, because there’s just not a lot of margin, that they don’t spend time developing this deep awareness of who they are and who God is and how those two things come together. And so I want more for us. I really do.
And how about one final thought, Josh? One final encouragement you’d like to leave with our listeners.
Josh: I would just say stay faithful, and the Lord loves you. He has you. Stay faithful in the work. It’s a good work. It is a good work. Stay faithful in it.
Al: Josh Patterson, lead pastor of The Village Church, thanks so much for your contributions today. And most of all, I appreciate your devotion and service to our loving God and your motivation to have a rich interior life reflected in rich relationships. So thanks so much for taking your time out and speaking into the lives of so many listeners.
Josh: Well, thanks, Al, to you, your team, and we’re just so grateful here at The Village for the work that all of y’all are doing. We have benefited from it greatly, so it’s truly an honor to be on here with you.
Al: Oh, thanks, Josh.
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