EP 172 – NEW YEAR, NEW FOCUS
Hey there Bootcampers! We’re back from our Holiday break, we’re jumping right in and getting down to business and discussing the important awareness of how you live your life as a leader. Our good friends at First Coast Churches hosted an annual meeting where Lance Witt presented some great info on how Pastors can move beyond the grind.
Every leader lives on two stages:
- The front stage-everyone sees
- The backstage-clutter, curtains, chaos not many ever see this
The challenge many Pastors face is staying connected to and loving Jesus, the Shepherd, more than the sheep business. How do you do that? Witt, provides some helpful framework for us from Psalm 23
- Create space and time for unhurried time with God
- Pay attention to what you are paying attention to
- Let rest – restore you
- Grab your calendar by the throat-don’t let life or ministry plan you-proactively plan with the Lord’s guidance.
- Engage good self-care rather than self-medication
- Practice a Sabbath (you need a day off)
- Let your time with God give embolden you with courage
- Receive the voice of God’s blessing
There’s a whole lot more packed into this EP, check it out!
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JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp. Bob, I hope you’re ready for the next episode. The first episode of 2023. recording it in 2022 so we can be ahead of the game because I’ll be at a game the week that this goes out. we’ve already talked about it, LSU Purdue game. So I’m just gonna go ahead and prophetically predict that LSU dominated.
My wife and I had an amazing getaway in Orlando and our marriage has been renewed. at just exponential rates and, we’re all doing amazing. As we’re listening to this podcast going into 2023 in hopes that it’s gonna be way better than 2022.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. Did you have some Cheez.
JimBo Stewart: I, I can just about guarantee you, I will have had some cheezits just to, just to honor the sponsor of the Citrus Bowl, I gotta eat some cheezits.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, well, Jimbo for 2023, I’ll be in the backyard working on my mullet training, my two pit bulls. So that’s what I’ll be doing in the beginning of 2023.
JimBo Stewart: Working on a mullet. Huh?
Bob Bickford: You know, it goes with pit bulls, right? Doesn’t it?[00:01:00]
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. . What? You gotta move into a double wide trailer if you’re gonna do that.
Bob Bickford: Well, I’m about to, I’m tired of this big old house. It’s a lot of work. So, you know, just, and if you can hitch it to a, a ram, you know, 3,500 or whatever it’s called, I don’t know. I don’t have a ram pickup, but ho hook it up to big Ram pickup and drive away cuz it’s freezing cold here in St. Louis. Man. I don’t think I’m gonna hang out in St.
JimBo Stewart: Look, I’m not ready. I’m still in Arkansas as we record this, and today is fine. Today’s in the forties, which I can handle being in the forties, but as I look at the predicted weather for the end of this week, the low is. Four degrees and the high is 19. And I just don’t know that my body knows what to do with that.
Like, I’m, I’m this, this, this is new territory for me, this is pioneering into a new world. I, I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced four degrees before.
Bob Bickford: Well, I think that one time you came up to St. Louis to do the training for us. You did. I think it was below freezing, but I just have one [00:02:00] question. Are you like an iguana that falls out of the tree in Florida when it’s too cold, you just, you fall over and you can’t function.
JimBo Stewart: Pretty close. I do remember coming to St. Louis and feeling like I was gonna fall over. I, I remember just being motivated, let me get from the car to the building as quickly as possible. I wasn’t interested in exploring and going to see what St. Louis had to offer. I wanted to be inside where a heater was working at all times.
Bob Bickford: Well, that’s us here in St. Louis. In the winters, it’s, we get the extremes. We get a hundred degree heat, we get below zero freezing. So welcome to St. Louis.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, no thanks man. My sister was trying to talk me into moving here and I said you picked the wrong season to try to do that. Like , you should have brought me up here in the fall and let me see the beautiful fall and then try to talk me into moving here. But winter is not the right time to get me to move anywhere above Florida.
Bob Bickford: There you go.
JimBo Stewart: Hey, look, today what I wanna do as we start the new year is, at the annual meeting last year for [00:03:00] First Coast churches, we had, as our guest speaker, Lance Whitt, who is the author of a great book called Replenish, which I highly recommend. And he came and he spoke to us. And so I’m just gonna go ahead and steal some of his notes, Bob, and we’ll give him credit and let that just trigger a little bit of conversation because it was a really good framework for. in evaluative period, like the last episode we talked about evaluating last year, making goals, for your church and for yourself. This is more of what does your focus need to be, which we always like to do here on the podcast. towards the end or beginning of a new year, the, the title of his talk was Leave Behind the Grind, and it was really this idea.
The grind as in just always grinding, always working, always making stuff happen. that’s a corporate mindset and it’s a secular mindset, and it’s not one of rest and abiding in the true shepherd in the Lord. And so it’s a challenge to leave behind the grind. [00:04:00] So Bob, I’m just gonna use some of his. Some of his notes and then we’ll see where this goes to trigger some conversation for us, to realign our hearts, our minds, and our souls as we go into this new year, hoping it’s gonna be way better than the year before.
One of the things he started out with Bob was every leader lives on two stages. There’s the front stage, which is the public world, and on the front stage we turn on the lights, we make it look as good as we can possibly make it look, but then there’s the back. and Bob have, have you ever been backstage, like behind a stage, not the green room, like where you look and it was just chaos.
There’s just wires going places. There’s random stuff stored, there’s clutter everywhere. And that’s, have you ever experienced a, a backstage like that?
Bob Bickford: I have Jimbo and there’ve been a couple times where. You know, gone to a place and I’m supposed to go out and speak. And so there’s usually a black curtain and a lot of ropes and some [00:05:00] old props at the back wall. And then there’s somebody there with a like a clipboard and a flashlight and a microphone and around their head like a headset, you know, kind of a Garth Brooks mic only.
It’s not on the PA system. It’s behind the scenes to like, The rivers around the show and they’re like, it’s time for Bob Bickford to step up now. And then the guy would go, go . I’d walk out and then I’d be on the front of the stage. That’s the public area. So what you’re talking about, you’re talking about the curtains and the rope and the dangerous props and the dude with the microphone.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. And sometimes, sometimes you, that can be real chaotic. It’s not what you want everybody to see. and in a way, this is what Lance is arguing, is that our lives are kind of this way. We have the public world that every the, that everybody sees the one, when we step in the pulpit and when we’re at work, when we’re meetings, we’re counseling, but he’s more concerned with what’s going on backstage, what is the clutter back there.
and then if we’re. You know, metaphorical here. Who’s the guy with the clipboard? Like who’s controlling, who’s leading your, your life or what’s leading your life? And he built [00:06:00] really a lot of what he talked about in this talk off of Psalm 23 and called it the Ministry Manifesto. And if you look kind of at the beginning, of the loving, the, the shepherd that we have that leads and guides us, the challenge that he gives is we need to love the shepherd more than the sheep business. I like.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, so by sheep business he’s alluding to like administration and all those details. May is he like that sort of thing? Or even just people
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, just people like just the ministry in general that we need to make sure we’re loving the shepherd, the Lord God Almighty, more than we even love ministry, the sheep business. And it’s not the sheep business is bad, but it’s, the shepherd that gives us everything that we need and enables us to do sheep business, but we need to make sure we love the shepherd more than the sheep.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely, because if we don’t. Connect with Christ, who is our [00:07:00] shepherd. We’re ministering in our own strength and not from the overflow in our life. And that just leads to exhaustion and frustration. And you might, you might yell at the sheep or beat the sheep, or you might lose it.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. It if you don’t control what’s going on backstage, it will eventually bleed out into the front stage.
Bob Bickford: Yep. Will do.
JimBo Stewart: so that comes from the Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need kind of the next point he covered was spiritual depth requires both habit. and heart, and this is Psalm 27 4. One thing I asked from the Lord, this only do I seek that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. One of the things I love about this passage that stuck out to me years ago when, when David says one thing I ask, I mean, David’s gone through a lot of.
Drama man. And I mean, he’s got, the former king tried to kill him. The, he’s got a son that tries to kill him. He’s, you know, has a, an affair that where he kills [00:08:00] the, the husband by order, uh, all this drama, all this stuff going on. And what is the one thing that he’s, he sits down and realizes, man, in the midst of all this, What do I need?
The one thing I ask from the Lord this only do I seek that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. And spiritual depth requires us to not only have a, a heart for the Lord, but really healthy habits.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, absolutely. your life is a collection of habits, the quality of your life is the summation of this. All of the small things that you do on a regular basis. And so you can look at the quality of your life and you can get frustrated. So when our kids were young, they would be frustrated that all of a sudden on the weekend, they’ve gotta do all their homework at the on the weekend.
So you guys public school, are we public school? You guys do home? . So, in public school, man, they’re going from class to class. They’ve got activities, they’ve got friends. They’re doing all this thing. And so I would often, when they were younger[00:09:00] and homework started being an issue, I was like, Hey, just be sure you’re carving out time to do your schoolwork so that it’s not, it doesn’t hit you all at the end of the weekend.
So, Jimbo, there were countless times where they would roll in. , I don’t know, five or six o’clock on Sunday night. And this be in a panic, right? Because they had frittered away their whole weekend and now all of a sudden they’ve gotta do all of their homework right before Monday. So they would be stressed about it.
They’d be angry, they would be, you know, sometimes there’d be tears. It’d be frustration. Well, if you look at it, Sunday night didn’t create itself, right? It was a collection of decisions that led up to that. Well, same thing that’s true about our life. Like every small decision we make matters. in a collection of, all the other decisions because they all add up to a trajectory for our life.
So, this isn’t like a John Maxwell leadership statement, but it’s more of a, like, we have got to take care of the spiritual things as well, because that informs the practical things. Spiritual first, pragmatic, [00:10:00] practical second, and so it’s so important for us to, to pay attention to that.
JimBo Stewart: So one of the habits that Lance encouraged us with is create space for unhurried. Time with God. There’s a lot of debate, and we’ve even talked about this some on the podcast of, you know, people say, well, I’m not a morning person, so I don’t do my quiet time in the morning. you know, I do it at night and here’s, I, I get that.
My argument would be, I’m fine with you doing if you wanna do your in depth kind of in bulk time with Lord. At night because that’s when you’re sharpest. I’m not gonna argue with you on that, but I would still argue that there’s gotta be something you’re doing at the beginning of the day. I’ve heard that over 80% of people, like I think over 85% of people look at their phones before they get outta bed.
and I would argue, man, it’s, it’s wise if you can make sure you are spending time with the Lord through prayer, and preferably sometime in the word, even if that’s not the bulk of your quiet time, that’s unhurried that you’re not. I think when you start to look at your phone first, it, it aligns your [00:11:00] heart and your mind toward the task of the day, toward what’s going on in the world, toward what’s going on on Facebook.
and there’s something about, it’s almost like a. duck hatchling, the first thing that they see is what they imprint on. And I think in our, with our minds, there’s something like that. the first thing you engage with in your day, I believe ought to be the Lord and not some sort of, trite routine for the sake of checking a box.
But unhurried, restful, abiding like we see in John 15, like actual. But that sets your mind on that. What happens in the backstage, what happens between me and the Lord matters far more than what I’m gonna accomplish today, or what the schedule looks like or what’s going on in the news. but I need to just set my mind in the right direction before I get my day going.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, there’s really something about first thoughts of the day and last thoughts of the day. And if you can bookend your, the beginning of your day and the end of your day and focus in on, you know, reflecting on [00:12:00] scripture. Reading a passage, reading through, you know, a devotional book, doing some time in meditation and prayer, those sorts of things.
It really helps you and I think that’s super important. First thoughts and last thoughts? There was a pastor that, was doing a sermon, preaching a sermon, and he just, that, that stuck out to me and it stayed with me ever since I heard it. What are your first thoughts of the day? , right? What are your last thoughts of the day?
And it, it’s so important for us to, to set our frame of reference. Like Jimbo, I don’t know if you’ve ever overslept. and then the alarm goes off and then all of a sudden you’re just like in a panic, right? Well, that, that impacts the trajectory of your morning, maybe even your whole day because you have this adrenaline rush and you’re frustrated and you’re trying to find everything and.
Thinking, man, I’m, I’m gonna let this person down, or I’m gonna miss this flight, or I’m gonna, you know, whatever it is that you’re, you know, you’re anxious about that typically carries, carries with you all throughout the day. And so if the first thing you read is the news, and Jimbo, I don’t know about you, but everything in the news right now doesn’t look good. I’ve not seen anything good. I’ve not even seen the Christmas [00:13:00] stories Jimbo, that, you know, are good. Like, it’s just not there. Right? So, If you’re checking, you know, the news before you spend time in prayer, open the Bible, then you’re, it’s gonna frame your mind, right? And if, if you’ve got that E S P N app that does the little da, da, da, da, da, and you realize that your team is the cowboys and they suck and they got beat by the Jacksonville Jaguars,
JimBo Stewart: Yes.
Bob Bickford: that’s gonna, that’s gonna put you in a frame of mind, right?
And so we just need to eliminate all of those distractions and tell ourselves, How we’re gonna start the day and what we’re gonna need. Really need to ask the Lord what we’re, what we should be thinking about today. Right? Then head off and take your day on.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely one. First, uh, I appreciate the shout out to the js, victory over the Cowboys. I’m not primarily a Jags fan, but by necessity of living in Jacksonville, they are my secondary N F L team, second to the Saints, and I was so excited to see that the [00:14:00] Jags, I mean, look, Jacksonville needs this man.
The Cowboys had their day. They were America’s team. That, that season is over. it’s been over for a long time, Jacksonville needs this. They need a, I mean, people in Jacksonville are convinced that the Jacks are going to the Super Bowl now. Like it’s that the whole thing. It’s, we’re, we’re winning the big game.
It’s gonna be the whole thing. Uh, and I’d, I’d love to see it happen, but hey, look, after you get past your first thoughts, the next thing I think we have to do, and this was, I loved this phrase, it’s so simple. It’s kind of like, Proverbs in order to get wisdom. Get wisdom, this, pay attention to what you are paying attention to, like watch throughout your day.
What, what pulls your attention? What is it that you spend your idle time naturally gravitating towards mentally. Um, because that’s kind of a barometer on your soul in what you’re aligned to, and it matters. He, he gives us great quote from Simone Wheel. [00:15:00] attention is the only faculty of the soul that gives us access to God.
Pay attention to what you pay attention to.
Bob Bickford: I remember somebody saying one time that they were so poor they couldn’t pay attention. Have you ever heard somebody say that?
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: And I think, in our culture today, Jimbo, we are so focus. that it’s difficult for us to actually pay attention in the sense of, I mean, have you ever done this? I’ll find myself doing this. Like I’ll be engaged in, in writing something or returning email and then I’ll some, I’ll have a fleeting thought go through my mind and the next thing you know, I’m grabbing my phone to look and see what’s on my phone.
Or I’m, you know, hey, well I wonder if, I wonder if Jimbo’s liked the latest Twitter thing that I put out. So I’ll, you know, I’ll go to Twitter and see that you haven’t, right. Or I’ll go to Facebook and see. , you know, what’s Kyle Bierman Heaven for lunch today? Or what is he, you know, what silly thing has he put on the Baptist Review?
You know, those sorts of things. And [00:16:00] then like 30 minutes later I’m like, whoa, whoa, what happened? You know? Have you ever done that?
JimBo Stewart: Oh, absolutely. I find myself all the time reaching for my phone. So one of the things that I’ve done is I’ve used the screen time settings on my phone to limit all so all social media for one hour a day. So I get a maximum of, of one hour. That’s for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, any of it.
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: and, so one of the things I like to watch is, at what time of the day do I get that little notification from my phone?
Hey, you’ve got five minutes left on social media. Or, I like to celebrate if I can go the whole day without even getting that notification. and so I, I’ve done that because I mean, it’s so e look, this stuff is, is designed. To pull your attention for as long as possible. Cause that’s how they make money is by your face, looking at a screen and seeing advertisements.
And if they can pull you in, they’re gonna pull you in for as long as they can. And so, man, social media is one of those things that [00:17:00] there’s some good things about it, but it can so easily rob our attention. And it, it really does matter what we pay attention to and how we spend our time. And so I love the way that Lance.
Uh, words. The next, point, he says, grab your calendar by the throat. that feels like a, uh, early two thousands Mark Driscoll esque style way of saying, Hey, have good time management grab. Like I feel like, I mean, I’m not trying to say Lance Whi is Mark Driscoll, cuz he is not. But that feels like something Mark Driscoll would say, grab your calendar by the throat and, and manage that.
Bob Bickford: he might scream it. This is probably what we would hear, but.
JimBo Stewart: Who do you think you’re.
Bob Bickford: yeah. . I, man, it’s so true. Uh, have you ever known somebody, and this drives me crazy, like when I was in college ministry, we had a, a really great worship band. and this is pretty stereotypical statement, so I’m an old guy, so, you know, just gimme a little grace.
Those, [00:18:00] those guys were really creative and they were real artisty. and so, , they were not known as guys who wrote stuff down on calendars they would just kind of figure out life as it presented itself to them, because that’s just kind of the way they were, right? And so some people can do that and some people are, you know, that’s, they don’t have to worry about calendar stuff.
But these guys were in college and they were deleting ministry and they were doing some things. And I remember having a conversation with several of ’em going, Hey guys, you gotta plan your time. or time is gonna end up planning you, And you’re always gonna catch up on stuff, so I would encourage them.
You may not be like a calendar guy, you may not be a list guy, but you need to understand, I’ve gotta schedule some routine in my life and I’ve gotta schedule some time to do certain things. And when I do that, I end up realizing that I can get stuff done quickly, more quickly than I thought.
And then I don’t procrastinate things. and otherwise you’re gonna always let life plan. . And so you gotta be intentional about your life. So I think that’s what wit is really trying to say there is like, do you be in charge of your calendar? Right? [00:19:00] So one of the perfect things is you tell yourself when you’re gonna return email, right?
Or when you’re gonna check social media or when you’re gonna, when you think the best and most clearly when you need to write something, when you need to read, when all that stuff is. And so schedule your, calendar according to your high energy moments and. admin, best administrative moments, all those sorts of things, and that’s just taking charge of, your time, which is so important.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, you don’t have to have your notifications on all day, and you don’t have to be accessible to everyone at all times. There are some people you probably need to be accessible to, at any point if you’ve got a boss or a supervisor, your spouse, you know, your, your favorites. I really, I would point you back to Jordan Rainer redeeming your time, and he d has some really good.
Discussion on this in several of his chapters, dissenting from a Kingdom of Noise and things like that. That can give you some really practical tips on how to take that next step. But I wanna move to the next point where Lance says, practice good self-care, [00:20:00] not self-medication. and that’s man’s such a good word.
I think sometimes when we have had a stressful day, week, year, month, or whatever, , we tend to self-medicate rather than do self-care. And so what I mean by that is we’ll go, oh man, I’ve earned this, and we’ll sit down and binge Netflix while eating a sleeve of Oreos because we’ll think, oh, today’s been so stressful.
This is, this is how I feel better. and so you. What you’ve ultimately done is you’ve, you’ve led to yourself to self-medication, not to self-care that’s gonna actually make you healthier. And so it’s, it is linked to that. Pay attention to what you pay attention to. And what I would, what I would say is pay attention to what you pay attention to when you’re stressed out.
Like when you get. Stressed out, overwhelmed. Anxiety is high. What are you going to to relieve that? And is it just numbing the pain or is it actually bringing you to a healthier place mentally and spiritually?
Bob Bickford: Yeah, some people go to amusement, so they’ll, you know, they’ll check out on video games or they’ll, [00:21:00] you know, watch, you know, some shows, or they’ll do something like that. Some people go to food, some people go to, uh, exercise and activity, maybe just whatever. Right. I think that, it’s critically important to know the phrase.
If you’re telling yourself that you deserve something and that something is a reward for you, I won’t say that’s always bad, but be very cautious and be very discerning
what you’re rewarding yourself with. Right. . And why are you, why are you pursuing that? Are you pursuing it for healthy reasons? For, yeah, I just need, I need some recreation.
So we’ve talked about this, Jimbo, like we, those of us who work with our minds need to work with our hands, right? Because working with our hands rests our minds and vice versa. So there’s some real legitimacy and, those kinds of, pursuits. But if it is a, a self-centered pursuit, that’s not product.
And is just fleshly and satisfying. That’s where we might find ourselves getting into trouble.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. These are all things that we need to pay attention to as we come towards the end. One of the last main points [00:22:00] that Lance made was let your communion with God inform your courage for God. Psalm 23. Even when I walk. Through the darkest Valley, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect me and protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. We need to make sure that it’s our relationship and our communion with God that drives our courage and our identity, and our security and our steadfastness. Not just our grittiness, not just our ambition or our desire to get things done and be product.
But it’s an overflow of our communion with God that gives us courage to do what God’s called us to do because replanting is hard work, ministry leadership, and let’s just be honest, Bob, if you’re a dad, being a dad and a husband is hard work and there are hard times, and we need to be courageous men of God, courageous leaders of God in whatever avenue.
Being a stay-at-home mom and raising [00:23:00] kids, it’s all of this is going to, at some point, require you to be courage. In how you step out and lead, and that needs to be fed out of an overflow of your communion with God.
Bob Bickford: I a hundred percent agree. I think there’s a difference between courage and anger,
and courage is this strength that comes from thinking things through and knowing truth and pursuing or walking in the difficult or dangerous thing. because of the truth that you understand, That’s courage. Anger is just reacting because you’re frustrated, I think if you, if you exhibit anger and frustration more than you do courage, it’s probably an indicator that you’re not spending time with the Lord. You’re not thinking through some things. And so I would just en, I would encourage you guys to determine, you know, am I walking confidently through difficult season?
In circumstances because of my relationship with Lord, or I’m just, or am I angry and frustrated? Am I checking out because it’s hard.
JimBo Stewart: We need the [00:24:00] resilience given to us to let us be steadfast and content regardless of our circumstances. Like Paul talks about in Philippians four, the way that Lance wears the. He says, we need some callouses on our soul. we need such a strong soul that we have the strength to handle whatever circumstance it gives us.
And then out of Psalm 23, he concluded with Receive the voice of blessing. From the Lord and it says in Psalm 23, you honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life. Healthy leaders hold in tandem their brokenness and their blessedness, and so we come before the Lord with humility, knowing that we are broken, but knowing that because of him, we are.
Bob Bickford: Good.