EPISODE #76 – EVALUATING YOUR CALL PT.1
In this episode Jimbo talks about his transition away from his role as a full time Pastor to full work with the Replant team of the North American Mission Board. As they unpack Jimbo’s story listen in on some of the key insights as you might consider a transition yourself.
- Evaluate your call on a regular basis
- Never abandon your call because ministry is difficult
- Consider “catalytic” moments that reveal your passion or changing passion
- Examine your heart before the Lord: “Is this a distraction?” “Is there any selfish ambition?”
- Consult your mentors and ask them for feedback
- Exercise caution not to “over spiritualize” the decision
- Discuss the decision with your spouse
- Prayerfully consider that someone else may be better suited to lead the church forward
Sometimes the work of Replanting a church can be destructive to you-here are some of the warning signs.
- Difficulty in your marriage or family
- You are spiritual dry and your relationship with God has gone cold
- You are engaging in sin or destructive habits
Are you in need of help? Don’t go it alone, reach out to a local counselor, or call the Pastor Help Line: 1-844-Pastor1
Stay tuned for Pt.2 next week.
The Rail Yard if you’re in N. Little Rock
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[00:00:00] JimBo Stewart: here we are back out it again. Replant bootcamp, diners drive-ins and dives edition in little rock, Arkansas just had some good barbecue at the rail yard.
Bob Bickford: The rail yard was, uh, one of my Yelp picks that’s on the collections for North little rock Jimbo. I would love to have a diners drive-ins and dives show and we got the car for it today.
JimBo Stewart: We do. Yeah. You, you rented a nice fancy challenger because you get paid the big bucks.
Bob Bickford: Well, it’s because I travel so much and I know how to, how to work the deal.
JimBo Stewart: meanwhile, I’m going to Chevy Equinox with a. Failing tire, but you know, that’s fine. That’s fine. It’s all good.
Bob Bickford: Family came along too. So you wouldn’t want to, you wouldn’t want to have the fives twos in the challenger widget.
Yeah. Oh, that
JimBo Stewart: would be intense, but it’d be too much. It’d be a little too much. No. Well, one of the things I think I value about our friendship is there not many people that. If I’m going [00:01:00] to be honest,
Bob Bickford: I always want you to be
JimBo Stewart: honest. Do you really always want me to be honest? Okay. I want your honesty.
Bob Bickford: I may not like it, but I want it
JimBo Stewart: there.
Not many people. That I trust as much as you for restaurant recommendations. And there are not many people that would get how serious that is to me. Right. I remember when I moved to new Orleans, there was a good friend there that I’d made and I asked him, Hey man, what’s the best burger in new Orleans.
And I’m dead serious. The guy looks at me and goes checkers. Wow. I thought, okay, no, we’re not this. We’re not that kind of friends. but Bob, you are that you’re, I mean, you are Mr. Yelp elite three years now, three years running. Um, and so I defer to you there. Not many people I’d defer to. For restaurant recommendations, but I defer to you and you get to fail me.
Bob Bickford: thank you, Jimbo.
JimBo Stewart: Well, I take that back the
Bob Bickford: tractor, but we were in Jackson, [00:02:00] Missouri. Okay. So I mean, you know, there were not a lot of options, but
JimBo Stewart: no, it was the, it was the highest ranked thing, you know, but there
Bob Bickford: wasn’t nary attractor in the building,
JimBo Stewart: but if you’re in little rock, Arkansas, rail yard has our stamp of approval for some pretty good brisket and ribs and, and the most interesting pasta salad I’ve ever had in my life.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. Pasta salad, uh, Kelly, the guy who runs the joint as a former university of central Arkansas football player jumped out of the corporate world and decided to get in barbecue. And he said, we’re known for our. Bill pasta salad. And so we said little chunks of cheddar cheese in it. Yeah. Yeah. Hey look, get your cheese on.
Anything is going to make a winner. I agree. I agree. I’m a
JimBo Stewart: cheese guy. I’m one of those guys that puts cheddar cheese on
Bob Bickford: Apple pie. You know what? I’ve done that before. It’s not bad now. It was a. It was kind of a crime in my family to do that for cause Barb makes a homemade Apple pie. So it makes [00:03:00] a darn good whole made up.
JimBo Stewart: if I made a homemade Apple pie, I wouldn’t be offended if you put cheese. Yeah.
Bob Bickford: For, to put it in church terms, since we are re planters and we’re talking, it’s like, if you stood on the communion, Table on Sunday morning and ripped the Memorial Bible in half. That’s kind of how she feel felt about me pudding, cheddar cheese on
JimBo Stewart: her Apple pie.
Okay, good to know. Well, next time in St. Louis till Barb, I want to try some of that Apple pie and I’ll, I’ll keep the cheese away. Look in this episode. One of the things that a lot of people have asked me recently is about my transition out of being a lead pastor and into working full-time for Nam and as a contract consultant with the JBA.
Now I was already working with Nam, some yup. As a contractor and as with the JBA, but over the last 18 months or more, uh, God has been. Doing a transition in my heart and in my life for me and my [00:04:00] wife that has led to us stepping out of that lead pastor position at redemption church, we saw, why did you do that?
It seems kind of out of nowhere. and do you think, when will you be a lead pastor again? Do you miss preaching? Is it just for the big bucks so you can rent challengers?
Bob Bickford: No, we know it’s not for that. It’s not for
JimBo Stewart: the big bucks. Yeah. But, uh, I did want to take it one episode at least. And just talk about.
that process and how to understand, and maybe, maybe there are things for you. If you’re considering transition. Now I can only speak to how God has transitioned me historically, and the way he’s done that in my life. But I think there’s some things you can maybe pull from that and then feel free to
Bob Bickford: ask some questions along the way.
Yeah. So principally, I think all of us. Evaluate our call to ministry, right? Yeah. And sometimes we evaluate it on Sunday after we preach the sermon or Monday morning or, you know, but I [00:05:00] think evaluating recall as a regular occurrence for past. So I just want to set the table, right? Yeah. Most, every guy that I’ve had a conversation with about their leadership as a pastor, most of them.
Evaluate that on a semi-regular basis. And so it’s one of those things that you’re always thinking about. And you’re always thinking either now you can evaluate it from the standpoint of Is there something bigger and better for me to do? And I would say that’s probably not the rise Khorasan to do that.
Correct. Um, you can evaluate it from an effectiveness standpoint. Am I still effective in my role? or is the Lord opening up a door? Right. So for you, when you think about the transition and there’s many others, you could add to that, I don’t want to eliminate it. Right. But for you, when you were evaluating your call and you came to the place where you were thinking, and I think maybe it’s time for me to transition, to tell us about that.
Like w what started that and how did you come to that conclusion?
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, there were definitely moments for me as for any replant or in year three or four, [00:06:00] where I would have loved to transition at any point. And I remember, I remember saying, Hey, I’ve heard, you’re not supposed to quit on a Monday, but what if it’s still around on Thursday?
I mean, if it’s still here Thursday, Friday, are you supposed to quit? Yeah, and I honestly, I had moments where I thought I really. I really wanted to go. I was not in a good spot. It was rough, but I had some good moments with the Lord and I asked him to give me permission. And he said, no. So this was not that I’ll say that.
I would say for the most part, that shouldn’t be the reason that you leave. Now, if it’s destroying your family, if it’s destroying your health, that’s a whole nother conversation. But if it’s just that it’s difficult. And that it’s exhausting. That’s not necessarily a reason to abandon a call.
Bob Bickford: I think that’s super important to say because replanting and the guys that are listening to this podcast, the majority of them are experiencing [00:07:00] difficulty and challenge. And so if you’re, if you’re listening to this and you’re a new replant or, or you’re thinking about replanting because you’ve had a bad day a week, month, or even a year, that doesn’t mean.
Pack it up and go home. No. Right. difficulty is not assigned that you are in the wrong place or you should step out of ministry. In fact, one of the things that difficulty might be a sign of, is that something good is actually taking place. Absolutely.
JimBo Stewart: And that’s what I would say is, is if people have asked me about this and when I say this wasn’t that moment, this was actually the opposite.
There were so many things. Headed the right direction at redemption church that before this transition started to happen, I really thought, man, I’m really excited to see what the next 10 years here look like. And I I’d really come to peace and contentment with what God was doing at redemption.
that that’s what made the transition harder was to think. I’m now at a place where I really want to [00:08:00] see we’ve worked hard for seven years to see this church, get replanted, have a healthy culture, missional culture that loves the word of God that loves discipleship. And it’s starting to see all that stuff.
Really bear fruit in. I wanted to stick around and see all that play out. I will say there’s one catalyst moment that made me start to evaluate. It was a, it was in December of 20, 19, early December or late November. It was a really great couple of weeks at redemption. I mean, there were some really good things.
Discipleship wise, leadership development wise missionally, And it was very exciting, but that’s one of those same weeks I, through the Jacksonville Baptist association had an opportunity to sit with a. Local pastor in help him work through some difficult things he was having at the church.
And we had had a conversation about it, helped him develop a game plan on how to address those things at the church. [00:09:00] The next week we had a followup meeting and he was so energized and so excited, about how those things had started to work, the things we had talked about and the direction. And then we got to talk about some other things and.
I remember telling my wife, there’s so many amazing things happening at redemption, but I can’t get that lunch off my brain. And so I had a moment where I thought, okay, either one of two things is happening here or there one I’ve gotten distracted from my primary call and I may need to step away. I know I may need to pull back from what I’m doing with Nam and JBA.
Or got us starting to transition me. And so I began praying about this in that timeframe, December, 2019 and January, February, March, before COVID really landed hard in, uh, 2020. Uh, some beginning conversations with Mark [00:10:00] Clifton in, you began of what, what a full-time position may look like with Nam. Yeah.
What does that
Bob Bickford: the, about the time you came to St. Louis to do the, association assessment planning
JimBo Stewart: with us? I mean, we’re talking 2020, and so, yeah, so this was a couple of years after that. So even then, uh, when, uh, when I met with you. Two little over two years ago in St. Louis to talk about assessments and those things, it was fun.
It was fun side stuff. Uh, and I enjoyed it cause I get nerdy about those things. And I just enjoyed the conversation and meeting you guys and talking with you.
So started to pray about that talking with Audria. So here here’s some steps that I took that I would encourage. One is I did a lot of time of prayer and in the word and asking God to search my heart and make it clear to me. Do I have any selfish ambitions? That I am pursuing in this, is this a, Oh, that seems like this new shiny [00:11:00] thing.
And I want to go do that because that is part of my personality. I do. I get distracted by shiny things and new ideas and visionary stuff. And so I knew that that could be a possibility. Ask the Lord, is that what this is? Or is this you and continued to feel. A confirmation that it was what Laura is calling me to.
So then I started to reach out to some mentors, some guys who had been in ministry longer than I have, who know me know my heart had seen me and just said, Hey, what are your thoughts about me doing this at some point. And they were all very affirming and gave very specific affirmations as to why they could see that happening.
Um, and I think that’s one of the key things is you need to spend time first and foremost with you and the Lord and, and check your motivations. Anytime you’re starting to evaluate a transition. I think one of the key pieces has to be what’s motivating you. [00:12:00] That’s good because when you, I always go back to the sermon on the Mount.
It’s one of the most life-changing pieces of scripture for me and Jesus over and over says, you have heard that it was said, but I, and he doesn’t, re-interpret what he does is he, he actually raises the bar and makes it even more difficult if not impossible, to really accomplish the thing. And, but also makes it less black and white and more of a heart.
Issue. Right. So you’ve heard, it said do not commit murder, but I tell you, if you have anger in your heart, towards your brother, if you call him a fool, then you have committed anger and then you’ve committed murder in your heart. I’ll tell you not to. You’ve heard it said. Do not commit adultery, but I tell you if you have less than your heart, so he takes it back to this idea of don’t not just, Hey, don’t kill anybody.
That’s a pretty easy, pretty easy bar for
Bob Bickford: most people. I’m doing okay on that one
JimBo Stewart: right now. Yeah. I’ve I have, as far as I know, I never [00:13:00] murdered a single person. Um, I’ve wanted to though. Oh, well, that’s the thing. That’s the thing, right. But I have wanted to, I have, I have had. Such anger in my heart that I really strongly desire to harm someone.
Um, and what Jesus says is. Okay, well then you’re in the same camp with murderers, right? It’s like you yet desire in your heart to do that is the same. And so I think the key has to be not, I think we have to get away from open door theology, right? Well, you know, God, if you want me to move then open the door.
Um, I guess that’s a dangerous, dangerous way of doing
Bob Bickford: things. I appreciate you saying that. And, and so I think there’s a tendency. To over spiritualize, uh, a transition or. A decision in order to justify it. Right. Because how do you come [00:14:00] back on that? How does somebody challenge you on that? That’s the, the, you know, the one that we have heard sometimes in churches as well, God told me, and then it’s something about, you know, a platform or authority or position open door.
And so there’s this no comeback right for that. Cause that’s the. That’s the black box. I get what I want, or I am the arbiter of truth on this one. Yeah. So I think you’re, you’re raising a really, really good point there that, uh, you’ve opened yourself up to some mentors and people that know you see you speak into your life.
You’ve evaluated your ministry. You’re looking at what creates passion and energy in your life. And then, um, you put all of that together. And then I think part of your story too, is you run that through the filter of family. And so do you want to segue there and talk about that a bit? Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: So I would say you go from seeking to know your motivations, talking with the Lord, get [00:15:00] outside wise counsel, that can, that either affirms or, or denies.
and then, and then in that process as well. So I go to Audria. And I asked her, what, what do you see is maybe the next cause I don’t know about you. But my wife seems to have like a clearer connection with the Holy spirit than I do, consistently. She seems to know things before I do, uh, in these types of transitions in our life, at 17 years of marriage in ministry, she seems to always know.
What’s coming next before I do. And so I asked her, and she said, I see you work in either full-time for the Jacksonville Baptist association or for Nam here soon. And she said, I see you light on fire. Just in your soul when you get to help pastors, when you get to come alongside a pastor, encourage him and help him.
And so that’s, I would say two things out of that is one, [00:16:00] you and your spouse needed to be on board with what’s happening. But I appreciate it. She identified even specifically, Hey, I see your passions in this, right? And she said, I see your giftings. And the, and my mentor said the same thing I see you passionate about collaborative ministry.
Is he passionate about helping others and supporting others? And I see that you have gifting and talent in that area. And so getting that affirmation from mentors, from time with the Lord and. Most not most importantly would be the Lord. Second. Most importantly would be, the dose of the Holy spirit, the Lord, let me marry named August.
And, she, she. She was very affirming of that, as well of that understanding. Yeah. And she said she could see it in her heart. She has a passion for being encouraging to pastor’s wives and helping them and the pastor’s kids. I mean, she’s a pastor’s kid PK she’s been, and she’s been in this whole business.
[00:17:00] Her whole life since she was two years old. Nah, she was a guide for me coming in. I had, I had no clue what I was walking into. I mean, all the time she would be like, eh, I don’t say that don’t do that. Don’t wear cargo shorts on Sunday morning, you know? And so she, she would often. Pull the reins in on me a little bit and help tell me the directions I needed to go.
Cause she can navigate this and translate culturally stuff for me. but she was very affirming and, and just to be honest for her, she, she had hit a little bit of a wall with, with some of this stuff, but here’s, here’s what we saw is where redemption was, even though it was starting to fire on all cylinders in a lot of ways.
And, and is, I mean, missionally in the culture, there’s just a passion for the community. they, they love hearing preaching of the word of God through expository preaching now, which has not always been the case at that [00:18:00] church. Discipleship is, is not just a stated value. It is an actual value of the people in the congregation.
And all of those are things I celebrate greatly, but here’s what I’ll tell you. The truth is that there are some administrative things there that I, I don’t have the ability to do. And what I could see is I, stepped back. So as someone who consults others, One of the practices I try to do to myself is step back and go.
If I were consulting someone in my position, if I were coaching, advising someone in my position, what, what sort of pastoral council, what sort of advice would I give someone if they described my position to them? And I thought if I went to a pastor in my position, I mean, there’s a part of me that would say you may need to pray about it.
You’ve got to either raise up somebody that is going to be administrative and take that on. Or maybe someone else a different style leadership has maybe it’s time to pass the Baton. and that [00:19:00] became even more of an affirmation for me. And it wasn’t a med, things had gotten bad and I want to go, it wasn’t, it was, it was an honest assessment self-assessment that I, there are structural procedural things needed, needed at redemption church that I am not capable.
Of giving and I’m looking and I’ve got a guy who’s been doing a replant residency with us for a year who is very gifted in those things. And he’s chomping at the bit to serve and lead and. So when he agreed to be, when he, I asked him if I were to do this, would you be willing to be the interim? And he said, yes.
And that was another confirmation for me that I knew I was passing the Baton to somebody that could tighten up a lot of that stuff. So whoever ends up getting to be the next pastor of redemption church, if you see any smooth processes there at all. I had [00:20:00] nothing to do with that surfboard surfboard, Donald shot did that, not me.
and so you can thank him for his hard work he’s doing right now. and in that, and so. Seeing that missional, biblical discipleship culture get undergirded and supported with the framework and structure and that he’s putting in place. There now makes me really excited about the future of that church and knowing that the future that church is better without me being there.
Bob Bickford: guy. Yeah. We have everyone on, this has a lid that we hit or a wall or a barrier as a, as a leader. And, um, you’re gonna run into it. Multiple times and it, it scales up. So, so if your barriers administration, it’s going to be that everywhere you go, it’s just going to look different depending on your situation.
If you have some staff and volunteers around you that can handle that, then. You know, it’s going to look different for you, but eventually you’ll hit that [00:21:00] barrier again. It’ll just, it’ll be different. So we talked a lot about in terms of your transition, it was a, a transition on to something else stepping out of the church world.
A lot of our guys, especially re planters, seven years in, right in that’s when you hit that transition. Yeah. And so we say preach, pray, love, and stay. We told guys stay five to seven years. Some of our guys that are listening probably are in the first three to four years. And, some of them may need to leave because it’s destructive to them.
Right. So if you were to give like two to three signs or four signs that it’s disruptive and you might consider. Making a transition. What would be some of those warning
JimBo Stewart: flags? So I would say a warning. If it’s, if it’s destructive, you’ll see it in your marriage. You’ll see it in your own spiritual walk.
You’ll see it in your family. If you are [00:22:00] spiritually dry, like, and it’s, it’s taken everything in you to get a sermon ready because you’re in a spiritually dry season and you’re not. Working from an overflowing cup, that that either means you need a sabbatical or you need to step away, or you need a sabbatical to figure out if you need to step away.
because one of the things we have to remember in this is what we do is supernatural. This is not a business. and you cannot strategize your way to spiritual health. And so you have to be a spiritual leader. so you’ll notice if it’s fracturing your marriage. you may need to ask your wife some hard questions and give them permission to speak truly and say, is, is this damaging our marriage?
How I’m leading and be ready for her to answer. Or if your wife has just flat out said, I’m not going to church anymore. I don’t want anything to do with that place. [00:23:00] You need to figure
Bob Bickford: some things out. Yes. Now there’s two aspects of this. Okay. the reason I bring this up is because I. S I’ve seen both sides of this.
There’s there’s the aspect of the churches, this one of those churches that chews up pastors and spits them out. Right. And every guy before you and every, every pastor and his family before he has gone through the same thing, it’s just your turn. All right. Yeah. That’s probably a church you just need to step away from.
And that church needs to be dealt with significantly in some other ways. Right. So that’s a given, right? If, if it’s a destructive to your family, the five other pastors before you try to as hard as you and we’re spiritual like you, and there’s something wrong in that church embedded. Okay.
Stronghold, right. It’s going to take some really significant things. That’s one
JimBo Stewart: thing, but you can always go to the wing carry strategy. So I graduated from William Carey college and so every professor thought it was just, just unique and brilliant to make us watch the William [00:24:00] Carey movie. Right. And if you don’t know his story, his first wife.
Bob Bickford: Did she get sick and die?
JimBo Stewart: Or did she know that was his second wife. His first wife went crazy and tried to kill him. I may get those out of order. I can’t remember one got sick and died. One. I think that was number two, one lost her mind and tried to murder William Carey. That’s a
Bob Bickford: bad day. You need to leave the church.
JimBo Stewart: Do you need to stay? We can carry seven years before he sees a salvation in three wives. All right. That is not a model to follow. Uh, don’t, don’t drive your wife to the point she wants to murder you in your sleep. Uh, you need to step away before that happens. Yeah. I want to just drop this in. We’ve talked talks about this, about mental health.
Go see a Christian marriage counselor on a regular basis. me and my wife check in every once in a while with one, just to, just to get an outside perspective and help. And they’ve helped uncover things [00:25:00] before that we were not aware of that that helped us grow. Then it was life-changing man. It was no good sweet. And we went in, I mean, and uh, people who love each other and came out like with just new knowledge about ourselves and each other, and it strengthened our marriage greatly.
And so seek outside help and figure that stuff out. Don’t do it. Don’t sacrifice your marriage at the altar of that specific local church. Now, if the Lord says, preach the gospel and you’re gonna get arrested and you’re gonna, you know, that’s one thing. But if it’s just that I’ve chosen to give the best of myself to leading this specific local church.
And so in turn, I give the worst of myself to my wife and kids. That’s not okay.
Bob Bickford: No, it’s a bad move. It’s a bad move. we don’t, yeah. You’re neglecting your first, point of ministry, right? Yeah. Um, certainly back there, there are some guys out there, And this is a tough one, cause we’ve experienced this before.
Uh, and recently where [00:26:00] the guys legitimately called the ministry gift the ministry, and there’s nothing really wrong with, at the church or with him. And, but his wife just says, I don’t want to be a pastor’s wife and she’s out. Yeah. Right. we had that happen in our church with a guy who was helping us and, uh, and it happened to him a couple of times.
Yeah. And at that point, um, there are some significant struggles and some significant issues. And we may have some brothers whose, who are married to, wives that just don’t want to be a pastor’s wife. Yeah. At that point, I don’t know that you have another option. Uh, other than to just get out of ministry, earn a living, love your family, love your wife, and be a good lay person somewhere in some church.
Yeah. in, in, so obviously there’s some significant transitions that that may have to take place in that regard, but that’s a unique situation.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. And that comes down to listen. I was thinking about the other day, we, we created a term vocational [00:27:00] calling. You’re, you’re not necessarily going to find that phrase in the Bible, nor that concept that I’m not saying pastor shouldn’t be paid.
I think that’s clear in the Bible. Uh, he roost very clearly talks about that. Right. And other passages. but it’s one of the things I realized is I’m called to serve the local church. I don’t, I don’t know that I’m called to be paid by the local church. I don’t really, that I’m called to always be a lead pastor.
I don’t know. I don’t think I’m. I know that I’m called to love and serve the bride of Christ. But if my bride is saying it’s time to step away, it would be foolish of me to throw my marriage away over a ministry, paid ministry opportunity. I just would be foolish to do that. Yeah.
Bob Bickford: Jimbo. We, we might want to do a part two on this, where we talk a little bit more about, you know, what you see as your specific calling in the role that you’re working with JBA and then also with Nam and then how you can, uh, how, how you became aware of your [00:28:00] gifts and how you exercise those.
Cause one of the questions that we get a lot when, when we are out different places is guys look at what we do with. The bootcamp podcast and in particular with Nam and you always ask them, they always think about this question. How did you guys get that job
JimBo Stewart: tune in another time? We’ll tell you the seven step pathway to yeah,
Bob Bickford: no, no, no, no, no, but, but that’s one of the questions is like, how do you get, like, how does, how come you and not someone else?
That’s a good one. And so why don’t we, uh, put a bookmark in this one and then maybe we’ll pick up on that. All right.