EP 115 – No Shame in Your Game
The boys have been kicking it in the Big Easy for the past few days doing some training for Replant and eating their way through some fine NOLA cuisine. JimBo finally paid the bet debt by donning the Hog Hat. After the pleasantries they get down to discussing how shame plays a part in keeping Replanters isolated, separated and struggling.
Here are some of the quick insights:
- Your identity is not tied to your success
- God’s approval is not tied to your success
- The Gospel frees us to be confident in Christ, no matter what happens
- Often God allows us to struggle and develop a limp to humble us and make us more usable in his service
- Every church struggles somewhere
- Success is faithfulness
Are you struggling with shame? Do you need a safe place to talk? Give our friends at the Pastor Hotline a call, it’s free, confidential, and available to serve you. Call 1-844-PASTOR1
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp NOLA edition. We’ve had a great time, uh, do an AE diners drive-ins and dives tour of the city. We, uh, we, man, we’ve hit up for those of you that know no love food. I’m just gonna throw out a couple, just a few of the restaurants that we’ve hit up for those of you that know what it’s about.
We hit out some Drago’s char-grilled oysters. We hit up new Orleans food and spirits. We hit up dat dogs. We had a Parkway Tavern. Po’Boys the second best Po-Boys in the city. We were unfortunately unable to get the best Po’Boys in the city from crabby Jack’s because we landed on a Sunday and they are closed on Sundays.
But man, it has been an interesting time together in the big,
Bob Bickford: easy demo, a couple of things. Number one. Char grilled oysters will change your life.com. Amen. I love those. Those are, uh, I’ve never had those before. That’s probably been, I would say the favorite as of right now, the favorite, uh, [00:01:00] new Orleans food.
I’d also have to say this I’m about shrimped out. I think I’ve done. I think I’m done. So we’re wrapping up a fantastic couple of days here. I mean, we made some good connections with our Korean brothers and, uh, I met a guy here in the send it network center, uh, uh, that I grew up with, um, gutting dare and guard.
Who’s doing some replanting and planting in Indiana. We talked, uh, we met, uh, Jamie do the, uh, president of Inno BTS and, uh, man, this is a really good school Jimbo. I haven’t been here in a long time, but it’s really cool to be back on.
JimBo Stewart: No, this is where it’s at. This is our full endorsement. We would tell you no, it’s been, it’s been a really great time.
We’ve had a very productive and I would say joy giving time. And we’ve got three new friends out of this time that we’ve had with the Koreans. And, [00:02:00] uh, one of the things that we learned about Korean culture when we were talking about church revitalization is. There there’s a shame part of the culture that makes it hard for pastors to want to have the church revitalization conversation.
But here’s what we realized is I don’t think that’s uniquely Korean. It may be more intense in that context. I have encountered a lot of pastors that are Anglo or African-American or Hispanic that struggle with some of the same issues of part of the reason they may not ask for help in a church.
Revitalization is the shame of they feel like a
Bob Bickford: failure. Absolutely. And here’s the deal. We tie our value into what we can achieve. And as pastors, we tie [00:03:00] our value into the church. Numerically primarily. Right. Are there more people here than last year? Do we have more resources? Do we have more gadgets?
How’s our website look, I mean, just on and on and on, those are all external things that are independent of the spiritual work that goes on inside a person’s heart. And the reality is because of. We’re imperfect, we’re sinful. We value, we base our value on those things, and we really need to go back to the gospel and understand that we’ve done nothing to earn our salvation, to earn God’s acceptance that Christ has done all that for us.
So we really have to rest our identity in our confidence, in our security, not in the things that we can achieve. You know, jumbo, I’ve known some really, really sharp guys that have, that are good, godly men that are good leaders and pastors, but they get called to a situation in a church and Jimbo. I don’t think anybody could be successful in certain situations.
And then they’ll move to [00:04:00] another one and you know what? They’re successful. So sometimes in some places, in some context, you just are going to run into things. And here’s the reality that you and I both know in a replant that is like a hundred million percent more likely than not. Yes. But you’re going to struggle to have to get.
Outside of like a campus adoption merger situation, a replant that just explodes. There are not many
JimBo Stewart: outliers. No, it’s a very rare experience. And part of that is the spiritual warfare piece of that year. As our boss claims in his book, reclaiming glory, you can’t reclaim the glory of a dying church and make it missional again without.
Creating spiritual warfare opportunities that the devil is not going to sit by and just let that happen. He’s always going to step in. And so part of it is you just have to recognize one, like if your church is struggling, Hey man, welcome to the team. [00:05:00] Absolutely. Everybody’s church is struggling. The guy’s church that you think isn’t struggling.
Is struggling. It’s just not struggling in the same exact way that your church is struggling. And it, and it may look as kinda like, it’s kinda like when you look at somebody’s life on Facebook and you think, man, that guy has such a great life. And then all you’re seeing are those moments that they choose to put on social media.
And it’s the same thing when you’re with a guy and maybe he’s in a great season, maybe it is a great season and maybe he’s getting to reap that, but maybe that’s not what God’s called you to do. Sure. Maybe God’s called you to go through a hard, hard season. And what success looks like is faithfully doing what he’s called you to do in that moment.
Shepherding that moment.
Bob Bickford: Permission to use the football analogy.
JimBo Stewart: Go right ahead. I guess I, I feel like this could go a direction that I thought we were moving on. Not going to talk about it. I’m not
Bob Bickford: going to, [00:06:00] I tend to bring up that Arkansas LSU game just yet, just yet. This is, I want to use a professional football illustrations.
So, um, I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve shared this on a podcast before, like, um, Tom Brady in his success is always admirable. Right? I mean, it’s just a bit unbelievable. Right. But he’s the kind of guy that I just root against. He’s like at the he’s you, you look at him and you’re thinking that guy’s just too perfect in every way.
He’s got the perfect life, the football team. He, he looks amazing for his age. He’s got a beautiful family, et cetera. And we just kind of root against that guy. Right. Cause he is not average me or anybody. And so, you know, even Tom, Brady’s got difficult. Let’s take a guy like Matt Stafford, you know, Matthew Stafford.
That was a quarterback for the lions. His stats have always been good. He’s, you know, a really solid player, but he plays on the lions and Jimbo. I don’t think the lions are ever going to win another [00:07:00] like game. Not much less ever be in the playoffs. I just don’t think it’s ever going to happen. Right. I’m not Alliance fan, but I mean, it’s just, that’s the reality.
But Matt Stafford, where’s he playing right now? He’s playing for the Los Angeles Rams and yes, I’m still bitter that the Rams got janked out of, uh, St. Louis, but we just want a big lawsuit. Uh, we’ve got $790 million coming to St. Louis to chain that we’re all gonna fight about for years what happens, but Melka Matt, Stafford’s in a new environment and you know what, jumbo he’s been very successful and people are going.
So what I want to say is like, you’re exactly right. The guy that we think, um, could just land anywhere and be successful. So all these not, that’s not always true. And maybe the environment that you’re in for, for right now or for this season, or for this, this time in your ministry career is just a tough one, but it’s shaping you.
And for me in success, uh, love what Jared Wilson says. Success is faithfulness, right? And success is when the Lord [00:08:00] sanctifies you and makes you more like Jesus. And, uh, I think, and I don’t recall you might’ve mentioned this in the term. The Lord’s probably not going to ask us how big our church was. He’s going to ask us if we were facing.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think a great resource that I’ve recommended on here before I believe is Kent Hughes, liberating ministry from the success syndrome, which is a great. Uh, Kent talks about how he planted a church at the height of the church growth church planting movement. And he did it completely by the playbook.
I mean, they did the homogeneous unit principle and figured out exactly which neighborhood he was most wired to be able to attract. He crafted his sermon as well. If you’ve ever heard Kent, he used preach. He’s a good, solid preacher. Uh, he, and he talks about in the book. Everything the way that the playbook said to do it and it didn’t work.
And so he really [00:09:00] struggled with this feeling of failure. And I want to tell you, there’s something very sanctifying about that. Yes. And you need to experience that moment and maybe that’s what God is doing. And maybe as you experienced failure or what seems like failure to you, maybe it isn’t failure. It really may not be, but maybe it is.
And if it is, why is the Lord letting you experience that? Maybe it’s for your sanctification. Maybe you have met. We’ve we’ve, we’ve had whole series of episodes on here called stupid stuff. We did. We got to do another one, another one in system. Maybe, maybe you do need to own it. You’ve made some mistakes, but here’s what you need.
It’s not completely your fault. If this thing falls apart, it’s not completely your fault. It’s kind of like when we watch a football game, all right, here we go. Okay. You watch a football game and let’s say arguing salt versus LSU. Let’s say your team loses by [00:10:00] three points and they missed a field goal.
Let’s just say, you’re your kicker missed a field goal. There’s a tendency for most fans to go. It’s a kicker. Yeah, he missed the field goal. That’s why we lost. And maybe it’s that last second moment. And he needed to get it or whatever. And you miss that, you miss the two point conversion, whatever it was.
And you’re you think that last play you think of that last play, the last opportunity to score or that big missed opportunity in the game. And it’s easy as a fan to get mad and just go. Is that one moment, that’s the whole thing. But if you were honest and you took the game film and you really analyzed the game film, You would see that there were missed tackles, you would see what they were miss blocks.
You see what they were dropped passes that should have been caught. You see their overthrown passes that should have been caught. There were penalties that changed the trajectory of momentum or possession of the field, uh, position on the field, [00:11:00] all those things. Right. And you really would have to take all of that into factor and account to actually figure out why you lost the game.
Here’s the deal. I don’t know that that would be a beneficial thing to do. In ministry. Do you really want to do that deep dive and have an autopsy on, on why things aren’t going the way you think they should
Bob Bickford: go? Well, maybe if you’re writing a book called autopsy of a deceased church,
JimBo Stewart: Okay. Maybe if you’re writing a book, but you’re not writing to go book, then
Bob Bickford: the question that’s good asking. So I don’t know.
JimBo Stewart: I don’t know how helpful it’s going to be.
Bob Bickford: Well, it’s not helpful to here’s who it’s not helpful to Jimbo. It’s not helpful to the re planter. Okay. And especially the re planter who is struggling with confidence.
And feeling like a failure. And here’s what I want to say. Every it’s just true of every [00:12:00] pastor. Every pastor feels like a failure at some point. And I want to say this, that is absolutely necessity. It’s a necessity. And that is a good thing. And here’s why, um, I, you and I have both met pastors who have, uh, they’ve never failed.
And I don’t know if we were having this conversation. Uh, or if I was having this conversation with Barb, but I think that, oh, it was us. We were having this conversation, uh, and, and we were just making an observation. Uh, and I just said, you know what? My impression is, um, that the particular individual we were just kind of having a chat about was like, I don’t, I think they’ve always been successful.
Right. And here’s the, here’s the, here’s the good part of that. It’s great to always be successful. Here’s the bad part of it. You start to believe in yourself more than you believe in, in your need for God. And I love this book. Here’s another book I’m going to recommend. Um, there’s a book [00:13:00] called leading with a limp by Dan.
Fantastic book. And, uh, Allen is a great writer. He’s great story. And his whole point in that book is every leader that God uses has been shaped and marred in such a way by life and his experience that the limp that he leaves that he walks with, he, he depends on God because he walks over to him. So he’s telling the story of Jacob, right?
So he’s, you know, Jacob wrestles all night with the angel, the angel touches a socket and he forever walks with Olin Jimbo. The failures in our life are sanctified. Uh, touches of God that caused us to lead with the limp that caused us not to be arrogant, cocky self-assured, but God dependent. And here’s what I’ll I will, I love to handle.
With the humble limping leader who has a confidence in God, that’s based, not on their circumstances or their points on the [00:14:00] scoreboard, because I, I feel like that’s a guy I can relate to. That’s a guy I have connection with. That’s a person who gets me and I get them. And so I think that’s something that I just want to say, look, if you’re in season where you feel like you’re wrestling with the Lord and things aren’t being successful, can you just let the.
Do do, uh, something in your life to cause you to be more dependent upon Jesus and less dependent upon yourself, because the reality is every pastor that you would ever see at any kind of conference replant or event associational event, every single one of those pastors in some way, feels like they have failed or are not done well.
And the ones that are acting all arrogant and confident and. Just either haven’t failed yet or they’re trying to overcompensate. And so what I appreciate about the guys, I know there’s a deep fellowship of, of some brothers who were just aware of, of our limp, right. And aware of our failures. And that really shapes us in a way.
I think that allows God to move. Significantly in are in us and through us,
JimBo Stewart: there’s something, yeah. That I am [00:15:00] so convinced that God works so much more through you when you’re humble. Then when you’re full of yourself and. That whole needing to experience failure part was a part of my story. As we’ve discussed before that, before going into replanting, the ministry experiences I had had in youth and college ministry had, had been numerically successful on every measurable front, uh, and raising up volunteers and seeing salvations in numeric growth and church involvement, and people called the ministry.
And so what I got my first taste of just epic failure, I mean, it was hard. It was a hard pill to swallow. But I’ll tell you, and Adria will tell you. And I think people who have known me before and after that moment will tell you, uh, I grew a lot. I mean, I grew a lot in that moment that, and I, I honestly, to this day, cherish that season now I prefer to never [00:16:00] go through it again.
That was really hard, but I feel like I have a sweeter and deeper relationship with the Lord because of what I experienced in that season. Now also one of the things that it did for me is it had it, it made me not only seek the Lord in prayer and in study of the word, but in wise counsel and man, more than ever in my life.
And I’ve always been somebody who kind of tries to seek out mentors and people to learn from, but I poured gasoline that fire man, I thought, okay, I gotta get some wise counsel. In my life in my marriage, in, in every aspect of my life right now, I’ve I feel like I need some outside perspective and insight.
And so man, I started reading what I could read. I started interviewing people, taking people to lunch, to get people, to coffee, talking to them, calling them, emailing them, whatever I can do, how are I going to learn and trying to figure out what to do with that information? Uh, and so I think it’s important in [00:17:00] that moment to understand.
That we need to learn from others and look to learn from
Bob Bickford: others. Yeah. If we can’t learn from other people that the challenge for us is where we’re going to struggle in life, uh, in, in struggle regularly. So I think that learning lessons, particularly from people who have. Struggled and failed, uh, learning from those who have gone through a similar experience that you have in your life in really not doing well in ministry and wrestling.
They’re going to give you information that will help you, uh, understand. How to navigate it and then how to survive it. And then I think also more importantly, what they’ll, what, what that’ll help you do is it will help you understand perhaps what God is doing in your life. And how God is changing you and shaping you into who he wants you to be.
So the wisdom thing is, is a great thing to [00:18:00] understand and pursue, and God commands us. It calls us to pursue wisdom and to go after it. And I know you have a favorite verse from Proverbs that talks about wisdom and, and the necessity for it in our life. I love
JimBo Stewart: it because it’s the simplest wisdom I’ve ever heard in my life.
The beginning of wisdom, is this you ready? Bob? That’s such a great introduction. The beginning of wisdom, the start, how do you get it? Where do you go to it? What do you do? The beginning of wisdom? Is this get wisdom? Yes, that’s it. That’s the beginning of wisdom. And then it says, and whatever you do. Good insight.
Yeah. And that’s where you need those outside voices to be able to speak into you and help you have a greater self-awareness so that you can grow and be depend on the Lord. And so here’s one of the main things we want you to know. Pastor, there will be a temptation for you to feel shame because your ministry is not as successful as you think.
It’s supposed to be. We had dinner with a guy that [00:19:00] was talking about how a church that we know of that before COVID was four 50 about, was starting to trend towards 500 growing. Uh, one of the, one of the healthier churches in the, in that. And now after COVID there about one 50, maybe 200 on a really good Sunday, but usually not there.
And, and that’s, that’s a pretty large percentage drop huge. Here’s what I’ll tell you. We also know from talking to other people in our community, it’s one of the better churches in that community. Right. And so I’m sure there are moments where it’s tempting to think and we failed. We failed and there feel shame about that to be nervous about who you are and, and, and lose that contentment and confidence that we get in the Lord.
Listen to me past. That shame is a lie from the devil. It is, Jesus died for the church. It’s not your job to die for the church, and it’s not your job to produce results. [00:20:00] I don’t care who you read, who you talked to that tells you that you have to produce results. I kind of get frustrated with the statement.
People say, well, healthy things. You know, what else grows cancer? My belly,
Bob Bickford: my bad attitude,
JimBo Stewart: my bad attitude. A lot of things can grow growing is, is not a foolproof indicator of
Bob Bickford: health, right. Jimbo hair in our ears as well. And when nobody wants that, ain’t nobody don’t thought he
JimBo Stewart: wants hair and your ears.
No. All kinds of all kinds of things can grow. Gross does not mean health. That doesn’t mean you get to get lazy and just go, okay, well, I’m just going to be faithful. I’m just gonna preach the word. Yeah. That’s all I’m going to do. Uh, no, you need to do the, the hard work of the hardworking farmer you need till the soil.
You need to sow the seeds. You need to equip the saints through the work of ministry. You do have work and it is work. And [00:21:00] even you look at it’s not works-based or anything like that. But if you look at Ephesians four, a passage, we bring out all the time on here. It says, equip the saints to do what the work.
Yeah. Well, we equipped them partially by leading by example. Yeah. So we’ve got to do the work, so don’t be late. But also, you cannot sit in shame. And so listen to me, hope. I hope, I hope this is divine timing for you as you’re listening to this.
Bob Bickford: I love, uh, just the farmer analogy. So, uh, what, what I think about is, um, you know, Paul talking about how, um, There’s there’s a, there’s a planter of the seed.
There’s a water of the sea, but who gives the harvest? Right? Well, it’s God, God brings in the harvest, right? He’s the one that causes it to grow and causes the harvest to happen. So what I would say is your faithfulness could be planting. Seed could be watering seed, and sometimes God might use you to bring in the.
[00:22:00] Um, everybody that brings in a harvest gets the glory and that’s what we all want. Right? We all want the harvest, but the harvest is, is the Lord’s responsibility and the Lord’s call to send us in the field. Now Jesus said the fields are wide to the harvest, so there’s always opportunity for us to harvest and we should always pursue it and seek it.
But we also have to realize that maybe a season in our life where we’re planting or watering, but even before you can plant, what do you got to do? You got to till the ground and he got to break it up. And so. We know there’s some re planters out there and guys, here’s what we know. Um, it’s you, you’re in hard soil and you’re struggling and you’re breaking up hard ground.
And so keep doing it. Uh, keep being faithful and let the Lord give you the energy to, to do the work and rely on him and then take the small wins and celebrate the small wins when the.
JimBo Stewart: I think sometimes we’re looking for God to give us a Moses moment where we get to split the red sea, where we get to bring hand [00:23:00] manna down from heaven.
We get to strike the rock. We get to go up on the mountain. We get to do all these things. When a lot of times God’s called us to an Ester and a Mordecai moment. And it’s just this mundane every day faithfulness, obedience that God uses to eventually bring great redemption for his people. And you may not know, and you may not get to know this side of glory, what God has done with your faithful.
Yeah, you just may not know. I’ll tell one last story and we’ll come to a close and I’ll go put on my hog hat. Yes. One of my elders at redemption is a battalion chief in the fire department. Now Jacksonville is a really big city and so battalion chiefs get divided. The city is divided in half and each half gets battalion chiefs.
So there’s this other fireman on the other side of the city that he hasn’t talked to in 20 years, he receives it every once in a while, but they. [00:24:00] Not, they’ve not worked together in 20 something years. Well, he runs into the guy about a year ago and the guy tells him, Hey, man, I want you to know I’m a believer now.
And I go to church and I’m leading a church and I’m sharing the gospel with my family and my friends. I’m seeing some of them come to saving faith. And a lot of that started 20 something years ago. When on shift, you shared the gospel. He forgot he’d even done that. Right? And so this incredible moment happens in this guy’s life from 20 something years prior.
Now he got the good fortune of getting to hear that story. You may not get to hear the other side of that story. You may not know, but know that you have no shame to see. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and that includes, and your ministry effectiveness or your perceived ministry effectiveness.
You’re not the one who actually gets to great debt. You’re not the one who gets to make that [00:25:00]evaluation. Do you should set goals. You should evaluate if you’re trying to do things, but you don’t get to evaluate if you’re a failure or a success, the Lord gets to do that and you’ll stand before him one day.
And you’ll hear well done. Good and faithful servant. Not because you grew it numerically, not because the budget was what it needed to be, because you were faithful in what God calls you to
Bob Bickford: do. Our definition of success is often so shortsighted from what the. Views as successful. And, um, and I think we’re going to be surprised at the end of all time when the Lord pats on the back and some guys and says, well done, though.
Good and faithful servant. Won’t be like that guy. And the Lord will say, yep. That guy.
JimBo Stewart: All right. I’m going to go put on a hog hat, eat some pizza, hang out with some seminary students, talk about revitalization, replanting, and then we’re going to get some vignettes, kept this whole thing off. Right?
Bob Bickford: New Orleans. [00:26:00] It’s been really.