Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Carolyn Haas. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For ways to connect with Carolyn, the notes, and for links to everything discussed, check out our show notes.
Carolyn Haas: 00:00 The epidemic that we have in America is there’s a lot of teaching, there’s a lot of knowledge of head knowledge about Christianity and about the Bible, but what we really need is we need accountability and we need fellowship and we need people getting in our face and saying, okay, so that was a great sermon. What are you going to do about it? What does God speaking to you? What are your goals? How are you going to grow in your marriage? Are you going to get a budget for your finances? That kind of thing.
Doug Smith: 00:20 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 176. What’s up everyone, and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I’m the founder of L3 Leadership. I hope your 2018 is off to a phenomenal start. In this episode. You’re going to get to hear me interview Carolyn Haas, who is the lead pastor of Substance Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I was blown away by this interview. Carolyn is incredibly insightful. She’s hilarious and she provides a ton of resources in this interview. Which I’ll include links to in the show notes, but personally I was so impacted by this. I plan on listening to this episode over and over and over again. It was that good and so if you want to learn more about Carolyn and her church and links to everything that we talk about in the interview, you can check out the show notes on our brand new website that just launched this week at L3leadership.org/176.
Doug Smith: 01:13 You’ll also be able to listen to my lightning round interview with Carolyn in episode number 177, but before we dive into the interview, just a few announcements everyone. I just want to take a minute, encourage you to become a member of L3 Leadership. Our vision here at L3 is to connect and develop leaders to help them maximize their potential and when you become a member, you’ll have the ability to join or start one of our mastermind groups. You’ll have access to our community of over 100 leaders and you also have access to the tools and the resources that will help you. Take your life and your leadership to the next level. You can get all of this for just $25 a month. If you want to learn more about membership or sign up today, you can go to L3leadership.org/membership.
Doug Smith: 01:50 I also want to thank our sponsor, Alex Tulandin, who’s a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty. If you’re looking to buy or sell a house, Alex is your guy to talk to as a member in a supportive L3 Leadership. He would love the opportunity to connect with you. You can find out more and connect with Alex@Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com. And with that being said, let’s dive right into my interview with Carolyn and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements. Hey Carolyn. Thank you so much for being willing to take the time to do this interview. And why don’t we just start off with you just telling us a little bit about you and who you are and when you do.
Carolyn Haas: 02:20 Thank you Doug. It is such a pleasure to be on this podcast. So my name is Carolyn. I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I love the twin cities. I know a lot of people haven’t been to Minnesota, but it’s an incredible state. Despite our cold winters of my husband Peter and I, we’ve been married actually in two weeks. It’ll be 22 years. The super excited about that. And then almost 22 years we’ve actually been in fulltime ministry together for 21 years. And so we just, newlyweds got in right away into full-time ministry and they just have been serving together to different churches. We were youth pastors and then we took over the church. We were at a church in Wisconsin for nine years and then we planted our current church that we’re in right now, substance church 13 years ago in the twin cities. We’ve got three kids that are 16, 14 and 11. I love being a mom. It’s seriously as the best. And um, and I love that leadership in the church. I just, I loved serving with my husband. I love being a part of what God’s doing in the local church.
Doug Smith: 03:21 I didn’t realize you were in ministry for twenty-one years and I’m just curious about leadership in the church. What trends are you seeing in leadership today in the church world and really over the past 20 years, what have you seen leadership gun in the church?
Carolyn Haas: 03:34 You know it’s so interesting is I’ve seen. I think so. I think everyone would say this, but social media has so changed the world that we live in. It’s instant everything. You’re documenting your life and, and we actually laugh at, you know, what it was like to do life without, you know, before the Internet, before emailing and texting and all that stuff. But what I’ve seen is social media is so loud that I’ve just seen a real decline in people knowing God’s word, having a relationship, a deep relationship with God, his presence. And I’ve actually just seen the world. It just feels like the world was getting louder and louder because it’s, you have to fight against it because, you know, before you didn’t have the internet and you didn’t have social media and smartphones and so it just wasn’t. You have to go buy a magazine or a book, you know what I mean, or watch the TV and now it’s just everywhere.
Carolyn Haas: 04:24 So I just, I feel like in the church world I’m seeing that even with pastors and leaders where people are so busy and there’s this comparison with other churches, with other pastors, with other leaders, and I know everyone talks about it like living life on Instagram, you know, versus what’s really going on in your life. But part of that, and then I’ve seen the trend of the American light is getting busier and busier and I feel like as the American family continues to fall apart, you know, it’s the American friend who just have your kid in a bazillion sports and every music lesson possible and family dinners are declining. And so you’re just not seen a strong culture of family which really impacts the church in the sense of discipleship. And so we’re seeing trends as far as attendance. People are not attending consistently so they’ll attend once a month. And so we’re just seeing huge trends with church attendance that have just been a battle. So we’ve noticed that we’ve had to actually teach people what it means to be planted in the house of the Lord and not in a legalistic way super life-giving. My husband will give this statistical benefits, research driven statistics. About attendance and what it
Carolyn Haas: 05:29 does. We’re always sharing stories and again, be really life-giving. Not legalistic about it, but we just noticed these trends of dizziness that we’ve seen, you know, just again teaching. And then the other trend I’ve noticed is, you know, our first nine years of ministry, we’re in a rural central Wisconsin and in rural Wisconsin, nobody moved.
Doug Smith: 05:48 Nobody left your church. Nobody came to your church either. You know what I mean? I mean it
Carolyn Haas: 05:51 was like, it was just this steady group of long-term Christian that I can be honest. And then we moved to the twin cities and it’s super urban and transition, you know, everyone’s moving and coming and going. And so it definitely was a shock for us to transition from rural to urban and realize, you know, people are coming and going and so people are Church shopping and their church hopping. So again, we’ve had to really teach, hey, that’s actually, you know, God doesn’t cause people to stay in a church forever and ever and ever, but there are healthy ways. How and when and why do you leave a church and how do you actually do it in a healthy way versus just uprooting yourself and so those are some of the trends that we’ve had to navigate.
Doug Smith: 06:27 Can you talk more, I’m just curious, can you talk more about how you combat that specifically the American life being busy. I know you said you guys kind of share the statistics, but talk to that person who doesn’t necessarily see the benefit of planting somewhere. What? What would you tell that person?
Carolyn Haas: 06:43 Well, we, preach on it and our services, we talk about it in our small groups. We definitely talk about it with our staff and our leaders. We share stories and what we’re seeing is that those who literally attend every week like they have dramatically more miracles happen in their life. They’re thriving in their spiritual walk there. Their kids are thriving. They’re seeing the presence of God. Whereas people who are like attending once a month, they’re disengaged, they’re disconnected, they’re not seeing the miracles and there’s literally those who are in attendance, not just once a week, twice a week or we’re talking to small groups and weekly church attendance, you’re like head and shoulders. The happiest, like the like you are going to live longer than everybody else. You’re going to thrive. You’re going to have further education, like less sickness. My husband has all the statistics in the study and I can get that to you and you can post it on the podcast but the research is
Doug Smith: 07:38 Yeah that’s amazing.
Carolyn Haas: 07:39 crazy and then are you ready for this? The worst group, the most miserable group of people on Planet Earth Are Christians who attend once a week or once a month, so it’s like because they have this parcel belief, but it’s not actually, it’s like a form of godliness, but denying the power. They’re not actually allowing, you know, the church community, the body of Christ, they’re not giving consistently. They’re not serving. They don’t have ownership in the church. They don’t have a community, so they’re going through life alone. They think their God, they think they have head knowledge, but they haven’t converted it into heart knowledge.
Doug Smith: 08:10 Wow, that’s so good. I mean, so often I hear pastors just say, well, you just need to go, go every week to stay connected. I know what they mean, but actually, that’s the best answer I’ve ever heard with that. So, I would love to see the statistics if you have them.
Carolyn Haas: 08:28 It’s literally so fun as a pastors because I even told our congregation, I said, listen, I’m not telling you to come to church because it makes me feel better. I don’t need your attendance and your numbers and that doesn’t boost my ego. That doesn’t something I brag about like I feel better as a person because there are more people in my church. I really care about you as a person and I don’t know about you, but if I wasn’t forced to be at church every week and in small groups and in leading, I’d be glutting out on Netflix and you’re becoming obese and lazy because if we all live by feelings, that’s what it’s going to lead us towards. And there’s something about the discipline of being planted when you don’t feel like it, and I’m telling you, God speaks. And so the other thing that we encourage people to do is, again, not be consumeristic with their church attendance, but it’s not all about you.
Carolyn Haas: 09:09 You know? Yes, you come to church to receive, but you also come to church to give. There’s more blessing in giving than in receiving. And so I come to church trusting God for divine appointments, divine conversations, Lord, who am I going to pray for it today, that’s going to get healed. What am I going to pray for that’s going to give their life to Christ? Who can I connect with that’s been lost and discouraged, and that doesn’t know the peace of God that I can help impart life to them. So I think it’s giving people a mission, not just consumerism.
Doug Smith: 09:38 I’m ready to go to church right now, that’s amazing. You said you said the discipline of being planted. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about writing a book or if you have but that might be a great title and book for your future.
Carolyn Haas: 09:52 Yeah, well and people are afraid to be honest. People are afraid of that concept of being planted because they’re afraid it comes out of a heart of control or abusive or there was an old mute movement, I think called the shepherding movement where people felt oppressed by pastors, the heart, to be honest, we’ve seen so many young people uproot their community and go to a different church because the grass is greener or we just started challenging them on some of their character issues and they upped and left because they weren’t comfortable with being challenged and they went to the church down the street where they could hide in anonymity and not be known. You know what I mean? And we’ve watched them five years later go on this crazy five-year detour and it’s just so. I mean that God loves them the same. We love them. We’re not mad at them.
Carolyn Haas: 10:32 There’s no rejection or again, it’s not about my ego or identity. It’s I truly so care about this person. And when I watch you take this detour my heart now with wisdom and experience in watching this for 21 years, I’m going, there’s something about the people that they planted that have tough conversations that press through the pain. And, my husband would have blog on literally the three ways of how, when, and why to leave the church. And what’s brilliant about it is, and we teach this to our people. Hey listen, we even as the senior leaders have to reinvest in the church every two years and we are friendships change and our emphasis in our seasons of life change. And so the hardest time is when your friends changed, when they move, when they transition, like, or a ministry change as a leader changes, people feel lost and that’s the moments where they disengage and all of a sudden they transition out.
Carolyn Haas: 11:22 And so we have to teach people, hey listen, we all have to reinvest and re-give ourselves to the Lord. We give ourselves to building his church and we have to navigate what is ministry in ownership and the local church look like in my current season of life. And so everything we do at Substance really helping almost like guidance counselors. We want to help navigate with people. Okay. So you just had some kids. What does that look like in your current season with the job that you have? How do you have community, how do you have involvement so you’re not just a spectator and so we really are very individualistic in our approach of just trying to help each person. Each family find their place in the current season they’re in.
Doug Smith: 11:58 I love that. The other trend that you said that you have to navigate the world of social media and our world getting louder and louder. I’m just curious maybe just for you personally or even maybe how you guys teach your staff and your church body. How do you combat that? How do you get quiet? How do you grow in the word of God so you’re not just not going deep? Don’t have a great relationship. Can you just talk more about that asset? I thought that was interesting.
Carolyn Haas: 12:22 Great question. Again, my husband has written blogs on social media, like how to get your social media saved, how to not vomit and puke all over facebook and even during. Just to be honest, during the election this last year, I think all of America was polarized, and every church was polarized, and people were vomiting on both sides, all over social media and it just didn’t feel safe and so we went pretty hard in our church services and just said listen, social media is not the place to be having these conversations. You have face to face conversations with people, but do not be puking out your fears and don’t be name calling and judging people on your social media. Like if you’re losing influence. And so we teach our staff, we have a lot of strong social media policies of listen, this is not where you don’t debate with people on social media.
Carolyn Haas: 13:09 You don’t confront people on social media or even text, you know. So we have very distraught parameters of anything that the emotional, anything that’s emotionally charged and that that is all personal, that is face to face. Because in the world of text, I mean, I’ve made so many mistakes of texting somebody or emailing somebody and it just, they didn’t hear my heart. They didn’t hear my voice. They didn’t know what was going on. They read it wrong and it offended them and I’ve had to apologize and so we’ve all made mistakes and we’ve all made mistakes with getting defensive and reactive on social media and so to us it’s more of a let’s use it to influence people. Let’s be life-giving. Let’s, let’s, you know, we can put scriptures let’s, you know, so anyway, so we just try to keep encouraging. Hey, mature communication, healthy communication, face to face when it comes to debatable issues.
Doug Smith: 13:58 I feel like I’m going to take all of your resources, but is that something that you guys make public? The social media policies?
Carolyn Haas: 14:04 Oh yeah, we have our staff policies but my husband’s written so many blogs so I’ll look those up and get those to you and then I’ll look because I know we even have had social media policies for staff that have transitioned off and you know, in this world of young people you know what I mean they’ll go to the best leadership teaching I ever heard and all their friends are confused. Like what? You just touched up since and now you’re tweeting about this other. It’s just confusing. And so we said, hey listen, there is some social media protocol when you transition off, and again it’s not, we’re not trying to be controlling, we’re trying to actually help the people who are grieving. As you transitioned out of your job, as you’ve transitioned to another place, there are people that are grieving your loss, the loss, have you been in the organization and so how can we handle our social media in a way that that honoring that’s life-giving. So we have some of those that aren’t published, but there’s somewhere in our archives.
Doug Smith: 15:02 Sure. No that’s so good. I’ll make sure I’ll share all those links, I can look them up as well. So you talked about creating policies, but really you’re shaping a culture within your organization. Can you, can you talk about culture, maybe the culture you’ve tried to create, how you’ve tried to create and sustain that culture throughout the life of your church?
Carolyn Haas: 15:16 Absolutely. Those are great questions. Part of it was, so my husband is a learner, one of his strengths finders is learner and he, he just loves to research and we kind of joke that he’s this nerdy guy who reads scientific researches all the time and he loves to bind research studies that back up what the Bible teaches and honestly, when you’re preaching to a postmodern culture and especially Minnesota, it’s very post-Christian and it’s not Bible belt. And so people have no problem telling you they’re not a Christian, you know, it’s just a very different than in other parts of the United States. And so in that culture, you know, so all of his sermons and even his books are all in his blogs are all one-third scientific research, you know, one-third scripture and one-third humor. So that’s kind of been my husband’s recipe.
Carolyn Haas: 15:58 And so when it comes to our Substance organizational culture, there are actually two research studies that really helped formulate, you know, you’ve got, you’ve got the Bible, the Holy Spirit. Of course, that’s a given culture of prayer. But, but one of them was, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, it’s called the NCD method, natural church development, and it was an assessment that was done years ago by a German author and over 10 years, hundreds of thousands of churches. He researched and studied globally like what are the universal health and growth measurements that you can predict that church is healthy and you can predict that they’re going to grow based on these eight universal principles and it’s not about what works in California versus Minnesota versus Florida, but it’s or Africa, I mean, but it’s, these are universal and so we took those eight principles and then you can actually test your church and see where you’re at.
Carolyn Haas: 16:45 And it’s just so cool. So we took those eight principles and really those were a formation for our culture, for our church, for our methodology. Even in just how we are. All things that we’d all agree on. It’s inspiring worship. It’s empowering leadership. So you have a culture that you’re empowering people to lead. It’s gift-oriented ministry. So you’re helping identify people’s gifts and getting them involved in ministry based on their gifts. It’s passionate spirituality, so you passionate about the Bible, you’re passionate about fasting, scripture memory, those kinds of things. Then it’s functional structure. So that’s speaking to your church governance, your finances, making sure that your actual behind the scenes structures are functional and healthy. It’s holistic small groups. You can’t be a church that just has small groups, you have to be a church of small groups. So that’s one of the eight universal principles of health and growth.
Carolyn Haas: 17:33 Another one was need-oriented evangelism where you’re actually meeting people’s needs while evangelizing them not just sharing the gospel with them. And then the last one was a loving relationship and it was literally talking about how again Jesus said, you will know, they will know you are Christians by your love. And so it’s our community, so full of love and relationships doing life together that that’s what causes health and growth. And so we took those eight things and literally incorporated everything we do in the church. And so we’re super relational, super small group driven. And then the other study that we did, this is kind of interesting, actually 2004 group publishing did a study and they actually said what, what actually causes spiritual growth? And anyone could answer those questions. Well, it’s God’s presence. It’s his word, it’s prayer, it’s Christian friends. Those are great, but the number one statistical predictor of spiritual growth actually came out as how many intimate Christian friends you have in your life right now.
Carolyn Haas: 18:28 And they actually said you can preach God’s word to the same two people, but the same quantity of God’s word. Yet the one who has the intimate Christian friends is the one who statistically likely to actually apply God’s word. And so I feel like one of the epidemics that we have in America is there’s a lot of teaching, there’s a lot of knowledge, there’s a lot of head knowledge about Christianity and about the Bible. But what we really need is we need accountability and we need fellowship and we need people getting in our face and saying, okay, so that was a great sermon. What are you gonna do about it? What does God’s speaking to? What are your goals? How are you going to grow in your marriage? Are you going to get a budget for your finances? That kind of thing, so we literally, even when as far as if you can get four to seven strong Christian friends in your life, you will have longevity and Christ and you will experience more miracles.
Carolyn Haas: 19:14 You will actually love your church and you’re going to experience stay in Christ over the long haul. The second predictor of spiritual growth in statistically according to this study in 2004, was that you have people have a weekly ministry in a local church that charges them up. That just energizes them, that their owners in the church versus a spectator in a church service. And so actually, so those two things that kind of became our slogan when we planted the Church four to seven friends in the ministry, four to seven friends in ministry. Our goal at substances to get you when you come through our doors, we’re trying to get you four to seven friends and we’re trying to get you a ministry that charges you up. And those things obviously fit with the eight universal growth and health values from natural church development, so it kind of all worked together as being super friendly church that’s super into small groups and relationships and accountability and again, not in a legalistic way, but those are really the core values and the culture that, that we definitely have tried to build the church on and, and I would say the DNA of the church has stayed the same for 13 years. Now
Carolyn Haas: 20:16 the culture has definitely bounced up and down and changed a little bit based on different leaders, different staff. And so we’ve had to really, we’ve really learned a lot about, you know, there’s the culture, you allow the culture, you create, there’s the culture you’ve maintained. And so we’ve learned so many mistakes have, you know, we believe this, but we didn’t manage it and we thought everybody knew what we believed on this. So we didn’t do a good job of stopping that are having some tough conversations. We’ve definitely learned some lessons on sustaining the culture and recreating it. I don’t know if that makes sense.
Doug Smith: 20:54 Can you dive a little bit deeper? So if I were to come work for you today and you wanted to get your heart and mine and your staff and your people, how do you guys just, do you guys teach it every week? Is it just consistently communicating it? You kind of mentioned having hard conversations when someone’s not applying to the values. Can you talk about how you embed that?
Carolyn Haas: 21:15 So I don’t know if you’ve read the book The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni, but one of the things I love about that. Oh, it’s brilliant. What I love about the book is he talks about getting your executive team together and really identifying what the core values are of your organization and then you kind of implement it out of it’s amongst staff and, and one of the things that he identified. So for example, in that book he talked about one of their values have we sweep the floor and it was purposely something fun that only their culture would understand. We sweep the floor literally means no matter if you’re an executive or not, we do anything. We will do whatever is needed. We take out the garbage, you know, like we aren’t above doing anything too small in the organization and so what that did is by identifying some of these values, they were interviewing somebody and all of a sudden the executive was like, dude, I don’t sweep the floor.
Carolyn Haas: 22:01 I’m sorry this is not a fit. Because they had some of these values identified. It really helped in the interview process and I feel like it’s actually taken. I mean, I hope it doesn’t embarrassing or awkward. It’s taken us 13 years as a church to really identify what are essential to being a staff member at Substance. And we’ve learned from so many mistakes of, oops, we didn’t patrol that. That was an attitude that we let slide and that really was damaging to our staff culture. And that had an influence over here. And, and again, God is growing us as leaders and so, you know, if I never write a book, it’d be here’s all the leadership mistakes I’ve made, you know, please learn from my wisdom, you know, here’s things that you can do differently than I did. I like, just now we’re actually kind of a secret document.
Carolyn Haas: 22:44 Our staff haven’t even seen it, but if it’s a working document that’s just where are our core values that as we hire and as we vet different staff members, we run through a list of probably 15 things that we just kind of over hours and hours of conversation we’re checking out their character and we’re checking out, you know, their issues and where’s their identity and that kind of stuff. And so some of the mistakes we realized was we were just two, two nights. I’m, you know, if you’re in here just so nice and we’re definitely not going to be militant leaders. And so like we would just let people get away with things that we wouldn’t be willing to have the tough conversations because it was hard, especially as the founding pastors to have some of these tough conversations. And so to be honest, the best thing that has changed our life is our, our executive pastor, Nate Pachini is brilliant and he just hears our heart, loves you, know the vision and doesn’t have his own vision and is all about helping manage the culture of our staff and helping shape it based on what our heart and he gives us permission to be able to speak to everything in the church and say, what do you guys want and what do you want for this and what do you want?
Carolyn Haas: 23:51 And then he enforces it. And so he’s constantly having tough conversations and correct, you know, but, but he’s got his. John Maxwell says he does it with care and candor. And so a lot of leaders are all candor and then a lot of leaders are all care and so it’s really walking that balance of you’ve got to care for people, but you also have to be able to speak some truth and say, hey, we gotta work on this. That’s not the culture that we have here at Substance.
Doug Smith: 24:14 I love that. While you’re talking, you had mentioned at one point that Peter was a learner, according to strengthfinders. I actually watched a talk that you gave when you were talking about how much you love Myers Briggs and you actually went through a list of everything you can tell about someone through their Myers Briggs thing and I was like dying. I’m like, well, I’m not telling you what I am but you can probably guess, but can you talk about self-awareness and why these assessments like Myers Briggs or strengthfinders disk, all these ones are so important for leaders.
Carolyn Haas: 24:46 Emotional intelligence is really being able to identify your own emotions and then it’s identifying the emotions of others around you and then it’s negotiating a win-win and so a lot of people don’t even know their own emotions and or you might know I’m angry right now, but you don’t know what. You can’t control your anger, you know, so it’s knowing your emotions, but then being able to control your emotions, being able to correctly learn what other people are feeling, reading the room and then being able to navigate a win-win. And so emotional intelligence is something you can actually grow in. Peter and I, you know, newlyweds, first year of ministry, we both had our personality assessments done with Myers Briggs and I’m telling you, it changed our lives like our fighting went, like from hours of fighting to literally barely any because we’re so different with our personalities and we will forever see the world differently.
Carolyn Haas: 25:39 We will forever communicate differently. We tell stories differently instead of trying to correct each other and to my way is right or his way is right. There is no. I love how Myers Briggs puts it. It’s the concepts that they teach. It’s your right and left hand, your right and left handed. You use both but one of them stronger and so it doesn’t mean your left hand or your right hand is bad. It’s just which one are you stronger in? What’s your preference? And so understanding how my husband operates and thinks just helps me. It helps me appreciate him. It helps me pull on his strength versus compare myself to him. And I wish I was more like Peter and I wish I thought like him. I’m never going to think like him, so therefore instead of being insecure or comparing myself to other people, I can actually understand and I love what Shawn Covey talks about in Seven Habits. Seek first to understand then be understood. Well, how am I supposed to understand people if I don’t know how they’re wired. Andlet me give this disclaimer. We don’t ever believe that personality assessments aren’t excuses for behavior. Like I don’t. I tell our staff all the time, I don’t ever want to hear, well, I’m a
Carolyn Haas: 26:44 Jay, I’m a J, I whatever it is, therefore I always do this. No, no, no, no, no. This is not an excuse for behavior. This is a launchpad for growth. So let me give you an example. When I was early in ministry, I read my personality assessment and it literally said your particular personality, I’m an ISF j and it said you work, work, work, and then play, when the work is done, but because the work is never done, you never play. And when it said that, it just unlocked something in me because I’d seen a trend in my life for 10 years of being more on the workaholic side of life and I just appreciated seeing that, but I didn’t say, oh, guess I’m going to be a workaholic for the rest of my life. Instead, my prayer 21 years ago was, Lord, teach me how to play, teach me how to rest, what is Sabbath look like?
Carolyn Haas: 27:29 And then it was more, why am I so driven? What am I trying to prove? And literally, the Lord instantly took me back to one of my first job in ministry. I know the youth pastor took me back to literally the exact moment when this situation happened. You stuck a stake in the ground and said, if I’m the perfect leader, if I understand everybody, no one will talk bad about me. And so like, that’s why you work so the way you do because you’re trying to have the perfect reputation and just stop it like it’s never going to happen. And so it’s understanding those things of why I’m wired the way I am and then say, God help me grow. I don’t want to stay this way. And so that’s what we love about strict binders and Myers Briggs is seeking to understand. And even on a marriage of things you know First Peter talks about husbands live with your wives in an understanding way.
Carolyn Haas: 28:15 Well, you know, I think everyone jokes like, yeah, you can understand women or the husband understand why it’s both. It’s I need to understand my husband. And so honestly, the top thing I do is I studied my husband. I study him, I study him. I still ask him questions daily, do you need this? What can I do for you? I don’t assume. I know we’ve been best friends for 25 years and I still don’t assume I know what he needs. I know what he’s thinking. I’m always studying him so I can understand him like a. serve him, but also appreciate him and not compare myself to him.
Doug Smith: 28:48 That’s so good. While we’re on the topic of family, I’m just curious. So obviously you study him. How have you guys balanced working in, leading together with raising a family? Has that been easy? Have you had to set boundaries around work and family?
Carolyn Haas: 29:03 Those are great questions. I think it helped that we got married at 20, started serving in the church at 21 together, our first ministry job and I laugh because they, they gave us one office, we had one computer, we were both called youth pastors. He was not the senior youth pastor. I was not the junior, it was just your youth pastors figure it out and so we would fight like cats and dogs, you know, and so it was definitely so many people say to me, I could never work with my husband or wife. Well, we definitely fought it out and really had to figure out our roles and our strengths and what we were good at. And so part of it was just kind of coming into ourselves and realizing, you know, my husband is good at, he is a brilliant thinker, a strategic, futuristic. He’s a speaker, he’s a writer, he’s a big picture vision person.
Carolyn Haas: 29:48 I’m the detail girl. I love administration. I love making lists. And so we’re a good team and in that I’m like, you dream big, I will help make it happen, you know? And so really being secure in that role and not feeling like I don’t need credit for helping write his sermon or for helping write his book. Like I don’t need to prove anything to him. I just love doing what I’m called to do with the way that God has wired me. And so when it comes to. So we waited five years, had kids, you know, I always say the word balance. It’s actually not a good word when it comes to life and ministry family. Like there is no balance. It’s not something that’s even I think you should strive for because balance so that everything is equal. And I don’t even think Jesus lived the life of everything.
Carolyn Haas: 30:28 Being equally balanced. What, what, what will you do see Jesus doing and what? I believe it’s navigation. And so I compare a marriage, family ministry, life, children, all of it to really, you’re driving a car and you’re navigating. And if you think about it, like you have to pay attention to not just the weather, the road conditions, the drivers around you, the people in your car, you know what I mean? Is The music too loud or people being crazy in your car and you’re constantly adjusting to everything around you so your hands are on the wheel, you’re alert, you can’t go into autopilot when you’re driving. And so I would say the same thing with life. It’s constantly adaptable. You’re adjusting. And so Peter and I are constantly having conversations of how are we doing? We’re analyzing, we have four questions. We just ask ourselves a lot and when I say we ask ourselves these questions, we don’t sit down for coffee and go through a list, but it’s, there are always these questions on the back of our mind and these are the four questions.
Carolyn Haas: 31:21 What’s working, what’s not working, what’s missing and what’s confusing. And it’s that concept of what’s working in our marriage, what’s working in our exercise, what’s working in our parenting right now? What’s not working? You know? And we’re just having those questions and we’ve chosen to not be defensive or offended and we make sure it’s a safe place to have those conversations so we can say, hey, date night isn’t working and we’re not getting all insecure and offended by that and our schedule isn’t working right now. Working out isn’t happening, what are we going to do about it? So we’re having those conversations about saying, Hey, are you saying I’m fat? You gotta be able to have those conversations in your marriage without getting defensive and insecure and just saying, Hey, I love him. He loves me. We’ve got to be able to have a safe place to ask those questions.
Carolyn Haas: 32:04 And then we even look at our schedule a month in advance and kind of map out when’s our date day when our family night. Because life will fill up with tons of things. And so we make sure we have margin. You know, that we know what we can handle, but it’s because we’ve made lots of mistakes and we’ve had what I call lots of freak outs. And so I tell our staff, I tell leaders all the time, freakouts are good, freakouts are healthy, they actually show you your limits. And so what do I mean by a freakout? Peter and I will have a freakout of I hate life. I hate people. You know what I mean? Life isn’t working. I overbooked my schedule, I’m crashing, physically are crashing emotionally. This isn’t working. And instead, there are two ways you can respond if you have a freakout in your home or work you can like go into shame, condemnation, insecurity, and be like, what’s wrong with me?
Carolyn Haas: 32:51 I can’t do it all. Or you can actually interpret it as a healthy sign of limits and going, thank you God for giving my physical and emotional body limits and I need to be okay with what I’m able to do. Help me navigate with the hours of time that I have, help me be strategic. And so it’s energy and it’s managing our time. And so we’ve learned we can only do that so many nights out a week. We’ve learned like when I speak at a conference or if I speak even at our own church, there was a cost on my family, there’s a cost on our eating and so like literally we eat terrible foods whenever I preach it. So people are like, why don’t you preach more? And I’m like, terrible that we’ve done like an absentee mother. I felt a whole team of ladies that like bring me food whenever I preach because they just want to make sure that, you know, it’s just fun. But it’s identifying I can’t do it all.
Carolyn Haas: 33:38 I’m not supposed to do it all. God gave us limits for a reason. And again, not as an excuse for laziness, but just as an excuse to navigate. Wait, who am I, what are my strengths? So for, so again, for Peter and I, I study him, he knows me, we know ourselves, we know each other, and then we create a win-win. And, and when you do that, it’s not about am I stay at home mom or am I working mom, you know, am I paid or not, do I have a title or not? You know, like, do I get credit for what I’m doing or not? You’re secure and I know who I am. I’m a daughter of God. This is the family I’m in. I know my husband. The best way for our family to thrive is for me to fill in the blank. It might be working, it might be being home, but I don’t get my identity from that.
Carolyn Haas: 34:23 What I’m doing. It’s I’m secure in that, hey, this is a win for our family and when our family thrive, everything is great. You know what I mean? The idea of what works best and so that’s kind of been our philosophy of how we’ve navigated all the seasons of marriage ministry, kids, church planting. My role changes every year. It has never stayed the statement. Every senior leader, every pastor’s wife I know never has the same job description for years. You know what I mean? It’s a constant evolution of changing to what’s God doing? What’s my season? Who am I, what’s my spouse? How can we work together, and then in that security I also can’t. Then I don’t compare myself to other pastors. I’ve got so many brilliant pastor friends and they’re just so different than us and instead of comparing myself, years ago, insecure Carolyn would have compared myself to other pastors and when they’re extroverted, they have all this energy and they’re super organized and this and that, and we have different strengths and instead I can just go, you know what? This is how God wired us. This is our gift to the body of Christ and so let’s just be who we’re going to be. Let’s love life. Let’s love God. Let’s love each other and let’s be faithful and everything.
Doug Smith: That was so good. I mean this is our first time connecting, but I can’t believe you’re introverted. You
Doug Smith: 35:38 have such like you have very, very high energy and you’re very passionate and I love it. That’s great.
Carolyn Haas: 35:44 It’s a learned behavior. People are shocked about my husband because he comes up extroverted in the pulpit and in life, but he has such an introvert, but again, part of that was he’s 20 years old, started out as a youth pastor and he literally read his personality and his personality as an Inpj. It said you come off aloof, arrogant people are intimidated, the views and you’re unapproachable and if you will, that’s not gonna work for you. Literally, 21 years he has worked on being approachable and not coming off aloof and not coming off arrogant, but it has been a learned behavior and so that’s again why we also say personalities are not an excuse for behavior. It’s how God wired you, but you do what God’s called you to do despite your personality.
Doug Smith: 36:28 That’s so good. I’m just curious, did he naturally, are you just naturally growth-oriented where you wanted to change because sometimes when people are just blind to their blind spots or the downfalls of the person or the quote-unquote dark side of the personality and they’re unwilling to change it. Is that. I’m just curious how you help people grow it. I mean, do people just have to get a revelation themselves of, hey, these are areas I need to grow in and do it. I don’t know. I don’t know if I asked that properly, but do you know what I’m asking?
Carolyn Haas: 36:54 I think so. I think growth is a tricky thing. I think you have to realize your need for growth and I think a lot of times we don’t realize it until we hit painful moments until you know there’s an issue with our children or there’s an issue in the marriage or there’s an issue in the, in the workplace or in the church or the organization, and you hit a lid, you hit a wall and you go, oh, I can either grow or I can start making an excuse for what’s happening right now. And so, you know, immature reactions would be, I’m going to blame other people for the current situation I’m in. I’m going to blame others for this wall that I hit for the pain, you know, and, and, and a mature person is going to say, God, what do you want to reveal to me right now? And what do you want to speak to me? And what do you want to reveal to me about myself? And then what do you want to reveal to me about yourself? And that really asking God and then having honest people in your life that you can be their safe, that you can say, hey, what do you see in me? How can I improve my communication? Or what are some blind spots that you see? But it has to be a really safe, safe place to have those conversations.
Doug Smith: 38:03 Yeah. I just wanted to open-ended. Just advice to two groups of leaders. One, I want you to talk to young leaders and then after that we’ll talk about women in leadership. But what would, if you had any advice to give young leaders, what would it be?
Carolyn Haas: 38:16 I love that question because, you know, when I was a young leader, honestly I was trying to prove out my calling and part of it was because our first pastor and mentor said to us, you think you’re called into ministry, prove it. And so we would work 80 hours a week, prove out in that in a legalistic, but trying to show, we’re called, we can build something. You know what I mean? So part of it, there was a healthy, he just threw it in the deep end of the pool and said, build the youth ministry and we did, but I feel like even when I go back to the nine years of pastoring and Wisconsin and then we planted Substance, if there’s any regret, if I go back to myself, you know, in those early church planting years is I feel like we the word prostituted ourselves. But like we gave of every part of our lives, every space of our home, every bit of our moment to just reach every single person that would possibly come to Substance.
Carolyn Haas: 39:05 And I feel like I spent more time doing that, striving then actually prayed and I didn’t get that sounds so spiritual. You got to do both. You’ve got to work hard and you got to pray hard. But what I’ve seen, especially even in church planting, I seen there’s so many church planters that part of there’s a naivety and that’s actually what causes some of the plant to church. And you gotta have that. You gotta have. You know what, there’s also this. I’m going to be the next fill in the blank superstar church plants are. That’s going to become an instant megachurch because I’ve got something unique to give and that’s actually not what God has for the majority of us and I don’t and I’m all about talking about church size, being right or wrong. It’s a journey and you don’t get a kid.
Carolyn Haas: 39:45 You don’t adopt a 25-year-old and then they instantly have all of your DNA you’ve got gives you a baby and then you have to raise the baby and then as you raise this baby, you don’t get frustrated at your three year old that they can’t be logical. You know what I mean? Like you. So you celebrate what a three-year-old can do. And so I think part of it, I tell young leaders like, hey, understand the season you’re in and expectation management and stop comparing yourself with other people because they have a different backstory and you have different experiences and they have a different calling and different gifts. I know the season that you’re in and celebrate it. And so when we were a three-year-old church, we would tell people, hey, we’re a chubby, fat, toddler that’s right now. You know what I mean?
Carolyn Haas: 40:25 And so like we’re going to celebrate the fact that we’re a church and not a 30-year-old church. You know what I mean? Because 30-year-old churches have way different systems and what makes much more assets and somebody. That’s one thing I would tell young leaders is it’s the striving to prove really proving themselves. And the other thing I’ve seen is if as a leader you have not dealt with your issues, if you have not dealt with your identity, if you have not dealt with your ego, if you got daddy issues or mommy issues or wounded from past leaders and you are trying to do what you’re doing to validate yourself as a person, I’m telling you, you’re going to crash and burn. So I see it all the time. If leadership or ministry is done, you know, to build your own voice, your own platform, your own vision.
Carolyn Haas: 41:14 Because if you’re trying to, it says something about you, it’s going to get funky and awkward, and so I would say to a young leader, focus on your character, focus on your issues. Your job is not to be the expert. Your job is to learn and ask lots of questions. If you’re in a staff or an organization, your job is to serve vision. You’re not the visionary. Your job is to honor, to work hard, don’t add drama. And I would say to you your confidence and leadership, it’s directly tied to your intimacy with God. Don’t let your ego or identity, in what you do or the org chart or your title or your pay like, don’t let that get in the way like you are most indispensable to an organization when you’re not distracted with your own issues and you need to be affirmed in your feeding the monster of your ego.
Carolyn Haas: 41:59 You know, like that’s where I’ve seen things get crazy and dysfunctional in ministries and nonprofits. It’s when, when we haven’t dealt with our own issues and so what I would say to a young leader is your counselor read as many books by Henry Cloud is you can deal with your issues. Say God break me now because I’m telling you, I hit a breaking point in my leadership where I all of a sudden couldn’t do it all and I’m a crier, and I cried for three months and it was like because I couldn’t pass her everybody and I couldn’t meet everybody with too many campuses and too many services and then people were talking about me and saying, oh, Carolyn believes this and she this, and they misunderstood our hearts and I couldn’t defend myself and you know what? That breaking of me was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me because it just, it caused me to let go of my reputation and trust God to be my defender.
Carolyn Haas: 42:50 And it shook me in such a good way of going, this isn’t about me. This isn’t about me as a leader. This is about God and him growing the church and I’m going to be faithful and I’m going to work hard and I’m going to be healthy and I’m going to be in the presence of God and I’m going to get my confidence in leadership from the presence of God, not striving in my own strength. And a biblical example of this would be Moses. You know he tried, you know, he tried at age 40 to deliver the Israelites with his own giftings, his own strength, his own ego. He’s well educated in the palace and it backfired and had to go to the desert for 40 years. And then he used this reluctant leader that’s really becomes insecure and, and God had to really do a deep work in him to even bleed.
Carolyn Haas: 43:33 And then you see in Exodus 33, Moses gets to the point in his leadership where he like, if your presence does not go with me, I’m not going anywhere because it’s your presence that sets me apart. And that’s honestly, I don’t feel like young leaders understand that and hear my heart. I’m not saying let’s all be revivalist and we’d just sit in the presence of God for nine hours a day and we actually don’t do work and we don’t do leadership and organizational teachings and I’m not talking about extremism. I’m just saying there is a healthy understanding the presence of God and then look forward to in the Old Testament was forward, you know, years to Joshua and you look at numbers when it’s the story of the spies and the 10 spies. They, say we can’t, there are giants in the land under Joshua and Caleb is saying, no, God has set it.
Carolyn Haas: 44:16 You’re going to do it. Joshua was Moses assistant and Joshua was in the tent of meeting when Moses was in the tent of meeting in the presence of God. And there are times in the Bible where it talks about Moses would leave the tent of meeting and Joshua stayed in the tent, so Joshua knew the presence of God. And I believe again, that intimacy that Joshua had with God is what caused him to be the leader in the book of numbers. Saying, Hey, we can actually do this again. His competence wasn’t because he was a Ninja warrior that had the skills to conquer the giants. The circumstance didn’t change. The facts were the same for all 12 of the spies, but we saw the competence in the presence of God. That Joshua had that made him differentiated as a leader.
Doug Smith: 45:03 That’s so awesome. Can you talk to women in leadership? It’ll be the last group.
Carolyn Haas: 45:07 Yeah. Okay. So I love. I love women in leadership and I first want to say I’m really blessed because I didn’t grow up with any wounds or any wounds from men in leadership. I have a husband who has believed in me from day one and has been my biggest cheerleader and has constantly trying to empower me. In fact, he actually gave me the title in the organization of co-lead pastor of this church. It’s not like I said, hey, you know, I think I should be the pastor of this church. He’s like, baby, you are the co-lead pastor, you need this
Carolyn Haas: 45:39 title. And I was like, okay, sure. Whatever you want. Because again, I don’t need the title, but he’s the one that gave it to me. So I feel like I’ve been able to navigate women in ministry and women in leadership as a woman without some of the baggage of being in circles or teachings that were maybe oppressive towards women or just not inclusive towards women. So I think that that’s helped as far as when it comes to women in leadership, one of the things I do a lot to invest in women, but I’m pretty strong like even with our staff, with the women in our church, I’m always telling them like, hey, I don’t want to hear the gender card. I don’t want to hear I’m a woman there from not being promoted or I’m not getting a certain opportunity because I’m a woman.
Carolyn Haas: 46:24 Just because when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, there is no one that can stop you, your age, your gender, your background, your ethnicity. No one can argue with someone who’s filled with the Holy Spirit. And so, you know, the biblical example we all know is Deborah, which we love. But what I love about Deborah is it was a time in an era where women weren’t leaders and yet she was this judge, she gives us a word from the Lord and called the commanders of, hey, you’re supposed to do this and God’s going to give you victory and this is what you’re supposed to do. And I love his response, like, okay, sure, but I’m not doing it unless you come with me. And so I always, you know, was it because Debra was a soldier? No, it’s because she could hear from God. And so I thought, I want the men in my life to not want me in the room because I’m a woman.
Carolyn Haas: 47:15 And it builds, you know, affirmative action, like I want them because you, Carolyn, is filled with the presence of God. We do not want to have this meeting without her. Again, not because I’m a woman, but because I’m a leader. And I think the other scripture that’s important is first Timothy 4:12, Paul talking to Timothy, who’s young, you know, I think estimate maybe he was 17 and, and Paul’s saying, don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young, but set an example for the believers. And I like to take that scripture and honestly say, don’t let anyone look down on you because you are uneducated or because you’re poor or because you’re divorced or because you’re a single mom or unemployed or black, white, brown, old young, pretty ugly, overweight, too thin, short, tall on staff, not on staff. You have a title or you don’t have a title.
Carolyn Haas: 47:59 Listen, we are told, set the example. Set the example with your faith, with your purity, with your life, with your words. And I would argue one of the ways that we set an example is by spending time with the Lord. And so that’s really been my encouragement to our women leaders. I’ll invest in them. I’ll do special teachers for them. I’ll help navigate that. You know what it’s like to be a woman in ministry, but I am absolutely, I will not allow anyone to have an excuse or a chip on their shoulder or you know, use it as a victim card of I’m not getting a certain opportunity because, because anytime you have a victim mentality, you’re actually not trusting in God. You actually are revealing that you don’t believe God can open any door for you to look at Revelations, you know, the book of revelations that says I have opened a door that no man can shut. I mean, that’s the God we serve, is he opens doors for us. I don’t need to push doors open for myself and again, but that’s all rooted in your identity in Christ. And do you know that God is your father and he’s generous and loving and so it’s that to a healthy leader and, and being rooted in your relationship with God.
Doug Smith: 49:11 This has been phenomenal so far. And I know for me personally, so I’m asking of myself, but I would say if someone’s listening to this and they’re saying, Carolyn, is amazing. I love this content. I want to connect with her, I want to get their content. What’s the best way that we can connect with you and Peter and consume the content and maybe you’re putting out in God’s putting in your hearts.
Carolyn Haas: 49:31 Absolutely. So Substancechurch.com is our church website, my husband’s PeterHaas.org, and then he’s got two books that he’s written that I helped him right there. I’m so proud of them because they’re really our story and they’re the lessons of what God has shown us and through the journeys of 21 years of ministry and pain in their written sp funny. So they’re literally one-third, one-third research, nerdy research deep theology that like nobody ever talks about. So the first book is called Pharasectomy, how to remove and other religious we transmitted diseases. It is so good. And then the second book he wrote that’s more recent. It’s called Broken Escalators and it’s literally the 10 myths of promotion and happiness and what we think will make us happy. And so part of even what I’m talking about is some of these myths where it’s the idea of, I feel stuck in my life
Carolyn Haas: 50:23 feells stuck on this escalator. Everyone else’s life is zooming up and they’re escalators moving, but mine’s broken. What’s going on? And so 10 myths that we think things that we think will make us happy, but actually God’s working on us and working on our character. And so my husband wrote it over four years of literally four years that were some of the toughest years for us in ministry where God was shaking us and it was delays and it was the betrayals and it was just years of pain where you know, we were being shipped to the core and just seeking the Lord and seeking the Lord and the lessons that God taught us. And so I’m so proud of them and not just, I don’t want to sound like I’m just promoting my husband’s books, but there our story. You know what I mean? People will be so encouraged about who God is and that he’s writing a story that only he could get the credit for.
Doug Smith: 51:09 I love that. I’ll include links to all of those in the show notes as well.
Doug Smith: 51:16 Thank you so much for listening to our interview with Carolyn. I hope that it added value to your life. You can find ways to connect with her links to everything that we discussed and more in the show notes at L3leadership.org/episode176. Also, if you enjoy this interview, you can also listen to our lightning round interview with Carolyn and episode number 177. I want to thank our sponsor, Henne Jewelers. They are a jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife Laura and I got our engagement and wedding rings through many jewelers and we just think they’re an incredible company. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people. John gave Laura and I booked to help us prepare for marriage and he’s also been investing in me as a leader, a dad and a husband now for many years.
Doug Smith: 51:55 If you’re in need of a good jeweler, check out Hennejewelry.com, and as always, if this podcast added value to your life, we would encourage you to subscribe and leave a rating and review and it would also mean the world to us if you would share with your friends. Thank you so much for being a listener and if you want to stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at L3 Leadership, just go to our brand new website at L3leadership.org and you’ll find everything that you need to stay up to date with what we’re doing. As always, I like to end with a quote and Unquote Brian Houston this time he said, “Strength of character will help keep your life intact when the world around you is unraveling. Integrity is the key to longevity.” I love that. Thanks for listening and being a part of L3 Leadership. Laura and I appreciate you so much and we’ll talk to you next episode.