Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Peter Haas. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For ways to connect with Peter, the notes, and for links to everything discussed, check out our show notes.
Peter Haas: 00:00 Focus less on promotion and more on promotability throughout. Focus, less on business growth or church growth and more on growability. Do you have the integrity and the character God can bless because that’s really the issue?
Doug Smith: 00:16 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 202.
Doug Smith: 00:32 What’s up everyone, and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I am your host. I hope you’re doing well. In today’s episode, you’ll hear an interview with Rave Dj turn Pastor Peter Haas. If you’re unfamiliar with Peter, he is the lead pastor of Substance Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, one of the fastest growing and most youthful churches in the US. He’s also on the lead team of the Association of Related Churches and he has written two books, both of which I highly recommend Pharisectomy and Broken Escalators. And this interview you’ll hear Peter talk about his journey to faith, which is just incredible. You’ll hear him talk about his books, growing leaders ministry and so much more. You’re going to absolutely love this interview and if you enjoy this, we also interviewed Peter for our lightning round and you can listen to that in episode 203 and I highly encourage you to take the time to do that as well, but before we dive into the interview, just a quick announcement.
Doug Smith: 01:25 If you are a ministry leader, a church leade,r or a church member, then I want to let you know about an event that you will not want to miss. My friends at Amplify Church and their leader, Lee Kricher, hosting their annual Future Foward Conference here in Pittsburgh on October second and third this year. They’re going to be having Carey Nieuwhof as the keynote speaker, and if you don’t know Carey, you need to. He is absolutely incredible. In fact, I interviewed him for this podcast in episode number 134, and if you haven’t listened to that interview yet, I highly recommend going back and listening to that. But if you want to take your ministry and church to the next level, you need to be at this conference. I encourage you to check it out, to learn more about the conference and to register your team, go to futureforwardchurches.com. That being said, enjoy the interview with Peter Haas and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements.
Doug Smith: Great. Well Peter, thank you so much for being willing to do this interview. And why don’t we just start off with you telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Peter Haas: 02:16 Well, I’m on Peter Haas. I pastor a crazy church in Minneapolis called Substance Church and we went with kind of a totally bizarre name, but we’re a multisite church right in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. But what we’re kind of now you have so many young people and so we, we just, we have a production company that has its own record label and its own film studio. And so basically I write books. I do films and, I pastor, which is kind of a unique combination to try to explain to somebody on an airplane.
Doug Smith: 02:52 Yeah. So I guess I’m part of that explanation from what I understand, you were a DJ in a former life and so you were a rave DJ and now you’re a pastor.
Doug Smith: 03:00 Can you kind of walk us through that journey and what do you wish people knew about that journey?
Peter Haas: 03:04 What’s kind of funny about it. Is, I’m still, an electronic dance music Dj. So I haven’t given up the license like I, believe it or not, I used to tour nightclubs and spin a progressive house on my turntables. And so I used to make basically a music producer and I would, so I go around to different nightclubs and this is before I became a Christian. I ironically, I was actually very anti-christian at that phase in my life and yet I’ll tell ya, you know, life has a way of forcing you to ask deeper questions, you know what I mean? And, and I, I, at the time I was dating my wife, Carolyn Haas, you did in one of your earlier podcasts.
Peter Haas: 03:51 One of the things, I don’t think she mentioned this, but her, she actually found her father’s body right after he had committed suicide and it was a pretty heavy season, for her. And then for me. And then that same week one of my good friends died in a car accident and you know, you just, you know, when you have two funerals like that and you realize how fragile life is, you just can’t, you can’t fake life the same way you did before. It’s, you know, it’s not about suddenly it’s not about career advancement or about finances or about those types of things. It’s like what’s the meaning of life kind of thing. And I, kinda was a little overly philosophical in that phase, but I, had a Christian once challenged me, you know, Peter, you should ask God to reveal himself to you.
Peter Haas: 04:36 And I remember thinking, that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard. Why would I ever do that? Like, ask God to reveal himself to me. Like, like I’m done with church and religion and, yet I happened to be working at a nightclub that weekend and I’ll never forget it. I literally was on the second story of the nightclub in the Dj booth, kind of looking down on everybody there and everybody was drunk and stoned out of their minds. And I remember thinking to myself like, what are we doing man? This is like, this is miserable this whole life, this is miserable. And all of a sudden, like, literally at that moment I suddenly remembered that Christian friend who said, Peter, you should ask God to reveal himself to you. And so I was like, I know this is kind of strange, but I think I’m going to try prayer.
Peter Haas: 05:24 Like I’ve never, you know, done this thing before, what’s happening? And of course, I didn’t even know where to look. I didn’t. I thought, do I look up when I prayed to, I looked down on, I bright, probably not down. But so I, I looked up and I, literally said, God, whoever you are, whatever you are, if you were powerful enough to create the universe, then you should be powerful enough to show me what religion is the right religion, you know, like, give me a sign, you know, show me a miracle. Whatever, you know, lightning bolts across the sky, spelling it, Islam, Buddhism, none of the above, you know, just it. I’ll never forget like I kinda, I didn’t even know how to end the prayer and I just kinda was like, and done, you know, like I didn’t know how to end it.
Peter Haas: 06:09 And I remember thinking, what am I doing? Dude, you are depressed, you, you’re praying. And I, my, next thought, just being totally honest with you, dude, I need a smoke break. And so I handed it off to my assistant and started walking down the stairs from the DJ booth. And I right there in it, as I was crossing the dance floor to get out of the club this guy came up to me and he tapped me on the arm and he goes, dude, I know this is kind of strange, but I feel like I’m supposed to tell you that Jesus has a plan for your life and he wants you to follow him. Right there in the club. And I, I kinda freaked out thinking, oh no, like God just answered the prayer. I prayed 30 seconds earlier and I kinda, I kinda freaked out. And I’m like, and so that was it though, that was the moment that kinda turned my whole life around and I, you know, so I, believe it or not, I still, I still dj, so in fact I’m actually releasing my first national electronic dance music album coming up in just a couple of weeks. So substance Variant. So if you check it out, it’ll be everywhere.
Doug Smith: 07:18 That’s amazing. And so, so you had that experience in it. I mean, did you just say, you know what, I’m going to be a pastor. You end up planting a church in doing what you’re doing today.
Peter Haas: 07:29 When I, when I went to church, obviously, you know, I was open to the idea of God, I just didn’t know what I thought about churches, you know what I mean? And, and, I suddenly started getting sucked into leadership everywhere I went. And next thing you know, it was like, okay, I’ve got these two passions, I’ve got music and I’ve got church and I kind of merged the two. And so I ended up becoming a worship pastor and then a senior pastor. And then I thought, you know, I, I’m kind of a weird dude and I like to reach art communities and take risks. And so, after 10 years on staff at another church, I finally planted substance in Minneapolis 13 years ago and we had no idea how many people would really resonate with a nontraditional church. And so, we, even have Dj’s in our foyer and so yeah, 70 percent of our attendees are under age 30. So we have several thousand young people at our campuses every Sunday. And it’s, it’s pretty fun to watch non-religious people be opened to church as an institution, especially when you know, over 42 percent of them didn’t even go to a church two years ago. So it’s, it’s kind of fun to watch what the Lord is doing there.
Doug Smith: 08:52 That demographic, what, what do you learn? I mean, how you meet them, where they’re at, what are they into, what is drawing them to church? And even when you were in nightclubs and things like that, the, you know, you just looked around and you’re like, wow, this is miserable. I’m just curious, what are you finding when it comes to actually connecting with and relating with and pointing those people to Christ?
Peter Haas: 09:11 Well, I’m finding that young people particularly are sensitive to authenticity. They want to see authenticity. And I’ve never been afraid to ask tough questions. I’ve never been afraid to encourage people to ask tough questions like, why do you believe that? In fact, I’m actually the guy who’s almost interrogating a lot of Christians in our church for don’t be indoctrinated. Understand your faith, wrestle with it. And it’s okay to have doubts. In fact, doubts are what lead us to real faith if you explore your doubts. And so don’t be afraid to be a skeptic. And so we, we have, um, you know, I, I try to preach that way in some ways where I, I, I create soul tension as much as I give answers. And in some ways I think people find that refreshing because, you know, nobody wants to be indoctrinated, they want to wrestle with faith and so making it a safe environment for unchurched people or people that are skeptics to really say, okay, yeah, I hear what you’re saying, but how do we know every book in the Bible really belongs in the Bible? How do we know, you know, the real questions, the questions that people secretly want to ask, but they’re afraid to. And so just creating an environment like that where people are comfortable asking it, it liberates them. All of a sudden we can have these amazing discussions that I think a lot of churches just miss out on.
Doug Smith: 10:34 I’m assuming you’re the same in discussions. I think your wife told me a very interesting way of putting together sermons. I believe you like to have one-third research, I believe. One-third humor, one third. I think stories are scripture. Can you talk about that and how do you actually, I’m just curious when you get asked those kinds of questions, how do you have a conversation with that?
Peter Haas: 10:53 Well, let me say it this way. I, I’ve always been because of my miraculous conversion in, because I did have this miracle moment where 30 seconds after I pray a prayer in a nightclub, some dude tells me about Jesus. Okay, so now some people out there might say, yeah, well Peter, that could be a coincidence and maybe you’re right. But I, that, that experience motivated me to explore Christianity more than maybe the average skeptic out there. I had this encounter. I was highly motivated. Other people, they haven’t had encounters like that and so they’re not as highly motivated and so they, they need to kind of, they just need someone to be like a tour guide to help them walk through their doubts. And so, when I write sermons of, well actually one of those people in my life is my dad who was very skeptical when I started going to church.
Peter Haas: 11:56 He was like, what, what are you getting into some, you know what I mean? Like it was kind of one of those, he’s got his Ph.D. in the sciences and so he’s kind of a skeptical guy and he would just ask me these questions. And over the years, you know, so I grew up around medical research and so I just started reading a lot of psychology journals. I’m kind of a nerdy guy. I tried to hide it, but now I can’t anymore. But what I do is I, I like to find a lot of the scientific evidence that supports the scriptures. And so, you know, so I, I found evidence that you know, people that attend church on a weekly basis have higher levels of sexual satisfaction or have a higher life expectancy. And so I just, so when I preach, I like to share those types of stats just to kind of cause people to think, hey, maybe the Bible is true, maybe, maybe at the very least I owe it to the Bible to seek it out. And so I kind of use, or for example, people that meditate on scripture have significantly lower sick days than the general population or. So why is that? Maybe, maybe Joshua one eight is true that those who meditate on the Bible will be prosperous and successful. You know, maybe, you know, maybe the Bible is true. I just want, I, I kind of want to force people to ask that question. And sometimes that little nugget of research is the very thing that tips them into their exploration journey.
Doug Smith: 13:34 So you wrote a book on Pharisectomy and you said it’s an encouragement for anyone who’s ever felt cynical about the church as we know it. Talk to. I mean, you’ve been doing this a little bit, but talk to the person who’s out there, who’s listening, who may be cynical about the church and said, man, I’m never setting foot in a church or I want nothing to do with God. Would you encourage them just like that person, encourage you to just say, God, show yourself. What would your encouragement be to them? And I’m just, you know, why’d you write this book?
Peter Haas: 14:00 Well, think of it this way. Nobody would go to a restaurant and have a bad hamburger and say, I’m going to give up on restaurants because let’s be honest, there’s, restaurants that are good and restaurants that are bad. And I think the same thing is true with churches. I think that a lot of us, we have this church experience that wasn’t so hot or maybe we went to a church that was almost entirely for senior citizens or, it was entire entirely geared towards spookiness or boredom or whatever. And you know, we kind of give up on it and yet there’s a lot of amazing churches, you know, like as. So I help lead an organization called the Ark and every four to seven days we plant a church somewhere in the center around the world and there’s a lot of, like, there’s a lot of young entrepreneurial, brilliant church planters that are planting fresh churches.
Peter Haas: 14:54 And so my whole thing is just, hey, give it a try. There’s, there’s a church that will fix you. And I, I realized that sometimes it’s our, it’s our own, it’s our own beliefs. We just need a safe place to wrestle with our faith. And I. So I’m always encouraging people that, hey, listen, churches are imperfect, just like everything else and so I wrote the book to really help people fall back in love with the bride of Christ, the church, warts and all, you know, and into really just open up their minds. And actually there’s a, there’s a huge correlation between church attendance and happiness. And I, it’s, it’s really incredible how people who attend church on a weekly basis live seven to fourteen longer than the general population, it’s, it’s insane. I mean, epidemiologists, people who study epidemics, they, they’d been marveling over those stats and it’s for some weird reason.
Peter Haas: 15:55 It’s unique to church attendees. There’s no other religion in the world outside of Christianity that holds a life expectancy that is quite the same for those who attend church on a weekly basis and those who attend church more than once a week at the longest of all, and it’s not just life expectancy. It’s other stuff and we can talk about that later, but I, I, I. The reason why I bring that up is because, I’m just saying, what if it’s true that planted in the house of the Lord, you will flourish, as the Bible says, what if it’s true that, that there’s a special blessing upon those of us who just put God’s church first, Hebrews six, 10, that God has a disproportionate blessing for those of us who do that. Now I know that for maybe the skeptical listeners, they may be like, ah, I don’t know Peter, but that was kind of the goal of the book is just to kind of help people laugh their way into some of this research and think, hey, maybe I should give church and another shot.
Doug Smith: 16:54 Yeah, so your advice to a skeptic as find a church that you actually attended and actually enjoy checking them out?
Peter Haas: 17:00 Check them out! There’s a whole bunch of different churches out there and find, find one that gets you excited about life and uh, and not, not every church will do that.
Doug Smith: 17:11 Yeah. So, so on that end of the spectrum, talk to the person that’s been attending church maybe forever the same church and they don’t feel alive. They just, it’s a weekly thing. They just show up. And I know you’ve also written extensively on the subject of why, when, and how people should leave a church. So tell us what, when, why, and how should people leave at church?
Peter Haas: 17:29 Well, here’s the deal up. The number one statistical predictor of spiritual growth is how many friends you have in your church at any given moment is the number one, and number two is, do you have a weekly ministry in that church that charges you up? So in other words, so at our church we have this principle called four to seven friends in a ministry. If people have four to seven friends and a ministry in your church, really they have a 98 percent chance of being very satisfied in your church, which I know sounds kind of funny because most people, they critique the music and they critique the preaching. And don’t get me wrong, those things do matter. But, I, I do believe that, if you or your family, your kids don’t have great Christian friends and a ministry that charges you up, first off, I always encourage people to reinvest in the church you’re already at.
Peter Haas: 18:29 But if you know that the church you’re going to simply will never be able to provide that, then I think it’s time to start looking. I’m, not a big fan of people being overly consumeristic about churches, but I do believe that there’s a lot of people who are just they’re spiritually dying simply because maybe they were overly loyal to their parents’ church or, they, they were overly loyal to a particular denominational tradition and they just, you know, don’t have any other options that are that specific thing, that they were trained, indoctrinated to, you know, that, same model that they were indoctrinated to attend. And so, you know, find a pastor, you love a leader. You could follow a place where you get friends and so, and if you leave, leave gracefully, don’t be posting on social media. Oh, I finally found a good church.
Peter Haas: 19:22 Not like, you know, don’t be graceful about how you do it. And um, and really thoughtful. I think a lot of, a think a lot of young people have this tendency to be overly consumeristic and overly mercenary, they switch churches every, every other year. And I think there’s, there’s, that’s the opposite extreme is that you need to, you need to invest your life in a place, but choose well in the first place so that way you’re not. I’m constantly hopping. Every single time you have a new little spiritual wave that you have, you suddenly want this more than that. Well, find a, community that you can grow with and that can grow with you.
Doug Smith: 20:10 You’re very well connected in the church world. Can you talk to pastors as well? I’m just curious, what trends are you starting to see in the church world and what advice would you give to pastors today who are leading pastors are leading churches when it comes to reaching the next generation and really just being an effective church?
Peter Haas: 20:25 Yeah. Well, you know, I suppose there are a million things that I could, I could tell pastors on how to lead better, but first off, maybe my first advice would be is, you know, I know pastors tend to be so obsessed with the church service experience, which is very, very important. I do believe that, you know, you could have the best mid-week discipleship program in the world, but if your weekend service experience is odd and leaves a bad first impression, people won’t even come back enough weeks to even give your other stuff a shot. So obviously if you, you know, it, your website matters, your parking lot matters, your church experience matters. Those things. But even beyond that, I will always want to encourage pastors that again, if you can just be a relational church and help people find those amazing friends and that ministry within your church, that, everything else tends to fall in place.
Peter Haas: 21:25 I mean, I, there’s people that go to dying churches all the time and that have bad preaching, bad worship, bad church governance, backwards church governance even. And you’re like, why do you go there? And they say, well, I go there because my best friend goes there and my best friend is the one who helped me through that dark season in my life. In other words, that one friend, his friend, friendship is these, not just the greatest statistical predictor of spiritual growth but of church satisfaction. And so, you know, for a lot of pastors, if you could just really be an expert in creating a culture of connectivity in your church, I think it’ll give you a little more political leeway to work on some of those other things that, that we always dream about and, and are trying to improve on. And so, you know, to kind of take the pressure off of leaders, if you, if you, if you have that as Jim Collins puts it, that undiversified portfolio in which you are right, in other words, focus on that one thing or those two things, ministry involvement and relational connectivity.
Peter Haas: 22:29 Your small groups at your church, people will give you a lot of grace to work on other things in your church. So, as a pastor, especially with young people, I noticed that we’re, very, very big on catering to youth culture mainly because the vast majority of young unchurched people are, they call it the four to 14 window and the 18 to the 21-year-old window. Those are the two most receptive to those age categories. Four to 14 and 18 to 21. Those are the two groups that psychologically are most receptive to the Gospel, compared to anybody else. And so when you talk about being effective with unchurched people, if, if you want to be a great commission church that’s again evangelistic and growing through conversion growth, you got to have a great kid’s ministry and you gotta have a great, focus on 18 to 21-year-olds because they do not focus on the 14 to 18.
Peter Haas: 23:34 Well, here’s the thing, you focus on everyone focus. You also focus on people over 21. It’s not like we’re, it’s not like we’re throwing it those people out and saying, Oh, you’re too old for the gospel. We’re just going to live know, like nobody, nobody thinks that way. But what I, what I, what I do encourage pastors is that you can actually go into any church in the United States, believe it or not. And if you just took the median age of their platform on Sunday morning and just the media and took the age. Like, how old are you? Oh, you’re 52. How old are you? Forty-two. How old are you? Thirty-eight and you did a median age. Whenever that median age of the platform goes over 40 years old, the odds of that church actually reaching unchurched people plummets. And I know that sounds kind of funny to say that, but why would even something as simple as that actually predict odds of unchurched growth or you’re, you know, it’s not that churches with a median age platform over 40 can’t grow.
Peter Haas: 24:38 It’s, that it’s transferred growth. It’s Christians from other churches coming. But the reason is, is, is actually quite simple. It’s as simple as demography issue. It’s that the vast majority of receptive unchurch people are young. And yet unfortunately in the American church, the vast majority of church decision makers are in their late fifties, early sixties. And so there’s a three, four-decade difference between the average church decision maker and the average receptive unchurch person. It’s like, it’s like having your grandpa decide your outfit for you as a teenager, you’re going to be cultural conflicts. And so I actually think that most churches simply aren’t addressing the questions that unchurched people have because the people that are making the decisions are just not really in sync with even millennial culture or now younger culture than even millennials. They’re just not thinking about the spiritual questions that young people are even asking. And so as a result that that cultural disparity ends up resulting in lack of conversion growth.
Doug Smith: 25:43 So talk to pastors and leaders that are in their late forties, fifties, and sixties, to find themselves in that position. What advice would you have for them to start really reaching the next generation if they’ve never done that before?
Peter Haas: 25:56 Well, I think a lot of people, when they hear me share stats like that, they, there’s this impulse that makes them feel like less valuable when you get older when in reality the opposite is true. When you’re older, you actually become invaluable. I like every older person in our church, that comes ends up becoming the mentor of like hundreds. You know what I’m saying? Like even if you’re like in our church, it’s so youthful that if you even logged 10 years of marriage, it’s like you’re an elder. You’re like, how did you survive and become so seasoned? And so, you know, and yet a lot of older people are like, well, gosh, I can’t even get my college student to ever listen to me. Why anybody? Why would any of these people want to listen to me? And they, have this kind of fear that nobody needs them anymore.
Peter Haas: 26:51 But let me tell you when your church fills up with unchurched people because you’re more strategic about empowering young people on your platform, um, the mentoring demand skyrockets. And then pretty soon you end up becoming really the ultimate spiritual discipler and a church like that. And so it sounds funny, but like I always encourage people just keep, keep empowering young people to reach their own generation and make sure there’s places on your church boards, on your church staff for young people on the platform. And when you do that, when you lower the median age of your platform, all of a sudden the older people in the church become indispensable because when you fill up your church with floundering, 20 something marriages you, there’s a greater need for you than ever to be helping people stay married and helping people not kill their kids, helping people not kill their bosses.
Peter Haas: 27:49 Just fundamental Christian values all of a sudden have the demand increases. So a lot of the older people in our church, they love it. They’re like, keep filling this place up because, you know, all these young people are constantly saying, would you mentor me? Would you adopt me? Would you, you know, like, it’s, almost overwhelming for the older people. How loved do they feel when-but it’s just like the Gospel says, you know, who, whoever wants to find his life will lose it if we think consumeristic Lee about our churches. And we picked churches that cater to us. We just are always lacking the blessing that comes from giving and so it’s for, for pastors to help people kind of switch that, that mindset and just, it’s an empowerment issue.
Doug Smith: 28:35 So you said to encourage young people to reach their own generation and you’re a part of the Arc and the people planting churches. I think you said every four to seven days you’re a church planner. I know you had all kinds of opposite and downs after the church planting, so sending to this, what advice do you have for them for the journey that they’re about to partake in, or maybe just starting?
Peter Haas: 28:53 Yeah, well for church planters that first off, I always encourage people don’t plant until you have about 500 sermons under your belt because I think a lot of people, they just want to, they want to get into it prematurely simply because they have this vision for church and they may be a lot of times, a lot of people that are planting their planting simply because they haven’t, they’re, they’re like orphans, sons who’ve never been in a great church before. And so they’re planting a church simply because they’ve never been in a good church. And I always say, no, that’s the wrong motive for planting. You need to be in a great church before you can plant a great church. And so, it’s so don’t, shortcut the process of leadership development and it’s like a person. It’d be like a person straight out of peewee baseball trying to try out for the major league baseball, you’ll die.
Peter Haas: 29:49 And that’s why there’s such a high failure rate in, in church planting, in. So in the Arc, we’re always trying to decrease the failure rate and increase the success rate. And one of the ways that we do that is, is by just making sure that church planners have some benchmarks that they can cause you don’t want to be learning how to preach while you’re planting. You don’t want to be learning how to run a church governance while you’re planting. If you don’t know a lot about church bylaws before you plant you probably that’s a sign you’re a little bit green. And so I’m always encouraging church planners, make sure you, really spend some time giving your life to another person’s vision before you go out and start doing your own vision. Which I realized, um, you know, a lot of young people aren’t exactly patient.
Peter Haas: 30:41 And so I feel like every week I get about four crisis calls from an idealistic church planter who thought I would grow faster than I did and thought it would be easier than it than it is. And is now kind of suffering through the trauma of writing sermons every single week. And a lot of people are like, why don’t I have the Substance Story where you guys grew fast? And first, off I’m always like, oh, we didn’t grow fast for many, many years. And you don’t even know our backstory. Number one. And number two, I had 1500 sermons under my belt before I even planted. And so I had nine Christmas sermons. I have nine Easter sermons, maybe only three good ones, but I could recycle those sermons. And so I could spend the entire week recruiting new people to our church, doing coffee with people, working on systems for our church and instead of writing a sermon that week, and so you can’t even compare your story to my story because you know, like you didn’t, you didn’t log as many years, you didn’t have a backstory like I had
Peter Haas: 31:54 and as a result, your, your, your growth is just going to be a little slower. And I think, I think people just need to be realistic. That fruitfulness is born out of the fires of mundane faithfulness. It doesn’t happen overnight and it happens so, church planters, I always encourage them, be patient, don’t lock into where you could be two years from now, locked into where you could be 10 years from now because it’s like the old saying goes, people overestimate what they can accomplish in one or two years and they underestimate what they can accomplish in 10. And so just be patient. Don’t ride the emotional rollercoaster and love your life even as you’re living.
Doug Smith: 32:34 So I love that advice and I think it’s something we need to hear over and over and over again. In fact, again, you wrote a book called Broken Escalators on, I believe this very subject and I love that. Again, you have a great tagline. So it says in the book about why God intentionally breaks the escalators in our lives, slows our promotions and out of love doesn’t answer prayer in ways that we expect. And I know I read this, Carolyn sent me a copy and I read it in just a few days and I just want to throw this out there. Literally like every other paragraph was hilarious. So I would, I’d be like laughing out loud while I was having devotions downstairs in the morning. My wife’s like, what are you laughing at it? So you’re just hilarious. So thank you for your reading stuff. This was huge, I believe everybody needs to read this book and you talk about different myths that people believe. Can you talk about why you wrote it and why leaders need this book in today’s world?
Peter Haas: 33:23 Yeah. Well, you know, so a lot of it was based on what I was saying about how almost every overnight success was actually 10, 20 years in the making. We just didn’t know the backstory. We didn’t realize how slow it actually was because we all perceive it’s happening. Promotion and life is happening faster for other people than it is for us. And I think about Moses, how everything great in his life that we study didn’t happen until he turned 80 years old and he wanted it to happen at 40, which is why he killed the Egyptian. If you read the story, but like God’s plan, he wasn’t ready for God’s plan. His character wasn’t ready for God’s plan. And so God slowed him down. And if the idea of our greatest exploits not happening until age 80 disturbs us, then chances are we probably have some, idolatry in our hearts that God is wanting to deal with us.
Peter Haas: 34:19 So for example, I started doing all this research on unhappiness. They started finding all this really interesting stuff on, just what, what really creates happiness statistically. And I started seeing how it interacted with scripture in such unique ways in, one little factoid I found is like, did you know that, circumstantial things like money, good looks where you live, all these types of things, your marital status, they only affect our happiness by about 10 percent. Circumstantial things only affect our happiness. So your income level, your vocation. And I thought 10 percent really it only affects. So if I live in California under a palm tree with a million dollar income and I’m married to a supermodel, all of that really only affects a happiness by about 10 percent. It made me start thinking, well, what, what accounts for the other 90 percent of happiness?
Peter Haas: 35:27 And, and so out of that research, I ended up coming up with 10 really counterintuitive myths of both promotion and happiness. And so kind of diving both into the science and then the scripture of happiness. And so I just kept coming up with, so for example, myth number three in the book is a myth that I call the oversimplification myth. And it’s this myth that promotion will make our lives easier or happier, you know, we always dream if I could just make that decision that my boss gets to make, or if I could just have the resources of that person and that leader or that pastor, then all of a sudden if I could just have that staff member, then all of a sudden, it’s circumstantial happiness. We, we, there’s circumstantial happiness from our vocational standpoint. There’s circumstantial happiness from a family of financial standpoint.
Peter Haas: 36:23 And so like oversimplification myth is, is we’re constantly on this rat race, pursuing these things that don’t ultimately even scratch the itch. And so for example, in the book, I tell the story about how my first senior pastorate, how I, you know, for years, I would always, you know, I worked for different senior pastors and I thought, Oh, if only I could make that decision. If only they knew what I knew and you know, I just. Or if only I could control that budget, then suddenly, you know, not only would I be happier, but people would be happier. And of course, I’ll never forget the day that I’m against all odds I became the senior pastor of that and it’s not, it’s not the church that I pastor now, but I remember sitting behind this awesome desk. The desk was worth more than my car at the time and I was in the executive office now sitting down, this is, this is my office, like I am the senior pastor and I could just hear, you know, just, I was imagining all the great things that I was going to do as the senior pastor and the staff are just going to love me and I could just hear the crowds chanting.
Peter Haas: 37:33 Yes, you can. What? What I, I didn’t expect at all was just the moment I became a senior pastor, I, I never, I never expected the crazy rude awakening that although I had 10 times the budget now to control, I never expected to have 50 times the number of people begging me for money. So if you really, if you do the math there, you divide that up. You actually have less control. Although I had 10 times the authority I now had 50 times the politics to deal with. I mean, it felt like it felt like staff members would emerge from dark crevices to question my every motive. You know what I mean? Like on top of that, because I was a senior pastor, now I’m obligated to show up and all these stupid political events. I mean, come on, do this, our Christian school to kindergarten, really need
Peter Haas: 38:23 a kindergarten graduation? You know what I’m saying? Why, why? Like ironically, I had less time than ever before. And the great irony I learned through that is once I finally had the authority to do everything I, I wanted, I didn’t even have the time to enjoy the authority I now possessed. And ironically I had to delegate it all the way to my youth pastor, right? The position I held and ironically, that promotion was probably, it began one of the most miserable seasons of my life in it. It led to a really profound lesson for me that, you know, there’s no promotion or circumstance that will make my life easier or happier. And so if you’re out there praying for more income to manage or more authority, you’re praying the wrong prayer. If you think that’ll make you happier or simply, your life won’t be simpler.
Peter Haas: 39:18 It’ll just be more complex. In fact, really, the reward of success is more complexity. You know what I mean? And after I thought that after I had a first best selling book, I would somehow feel different. You know what I mean? I, I thought I, you know, I did it, which I, yeah, I had an accomplishment therewith, with my first book Pharisectomy. You. But ironically, all I could think about at that point was I had twice as many phone calls distracting me. I had twice as many people, you know, thinking I’ve got resources to help them, even though I don’t, I didn’t make any money off of my best seller. And then I had ultimately all I could do is think about what’s the next mountain to climb. You see, at the end of the day, your soul finds rest in God alone, Psalm 62:1. And so it’s a myth. And so the book, I deal with these types of myths so that you can get off the treadmill and of started thinking, okay, what is the plan that will actually make me happy? Does that make sense?
Doug Smith: 40:19 Yeah. One of my favorite statements in the book, as you said, we should pray more for promotability and less for promotion. Can you just talk about that and I’m just curious as you were talking about that, you know, again, you have tons of authority now. I’m sure you guys have a budget to manage all those different things. How do you simplify your life and make sure that you don’t lose your family, lose your ministry? Lose your kids in the midst of all of this business?
Peter Haas: 40:46 Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I think that first off, we don’t look at success in our lives holistically. We tend to think, especially when we’re younger, we tend to think about vocational success as if somehow vocational success will compensate for failure in another area of our life, marital failure or financial success, somehow compensate for parenting failures when in reality that’s not the way life works at all. And so I think a lot of times when we have our priorities totally out of whack, I think God intentionally slows us down, will actually hold back our promotion because he actually knows it’s going to destroy us. And I think about a lot of the things that I even prayed for 10 years ago were so dumb.
Peter Haas: 41:40 The Lord was up in heaven thinking, Peter if I granted that request gave you three more staff, you would just screw up their lives. If I gave, if I am trusted you with more growth in your church or more platforms to broadcast to your book, actually you’re just going to fail at a higher level. You see, opportunity never changes your character. In fact, actually, it amplifies and reveals your character. You’re just going to fail on a bigger platform. Your marriage is going to fall apart on a bigger platform. And unfortunately that’s, that’s why I’m always telling guys, focus less on promotion and more on promotability throat, focus less on business growth or church growth and more on growability. Do you have the integrity and the character God can bless? Because that’s really the issue. Gods from God’s perspective, he’s thinking up, Peter, I already want to bless you.
Peter Haas: 42:38 I already have a plan of overwhelming success for your books, for your albums, for your church. I’ve already got a path of blessing, but right now your marriage isn’t ready. You won’t even get a budget, and so why would you think I would trust you with more money if you can’t even steward the money you already have? You see, at the end of the day, the problem is not promotion. God can snap his fingers and give us promotion. The problem is promotability. That’s why the Apostle Paul urges us to live a life worthy of the calling you’ve received. Ephesians 4:1. These are God’s already given you a huge calling. The question is, do you have the character and the integrity to match that calling? And so a lot of times if we’re not thinking holistically about our lives, if we’re not thinking about our marriages, our kids, then God is going to hold us back on purpose.
Peter Haas: 43:32 Really, he’s going to break our escalator is kind of a metaphor that I use in the book on purpose, not because he’s mean to us, but because actually, he loves us. He loves us too much to answer a lot of our prayers. And so how do you know if you’re promotable? That’s kind of the ultimate question, right? Well, I think the simplest way to know if you’re promotable is simply look at your prayers. If you’re praying for circumstantial things more than you’re praying for character and intimacy with God, then you’re probably out of sync with God’s plan because again, if we really believe that our souls find rest in God alone, Psalm 62:1 if we really believe that God already wants to bless us, that he’s already given us a huge calling. Ephesians 4:1, we wouldn’t even be worrying about that. We would simply be praying for character and intimacy.
Peter Haas: 44:19 You see what I’m saying? And so it’s kind of, it’s really, a gut check or reality check. I wrote the book. So if we believe any of those 10 myths of promotion, then that’s actually what’s killing us. That’s probably why there’s a delay happening in our lives and as soon as we take care of that issue, Gods like, finally, you focused on the thing I really wanted you to focus on and that’s I wanted you to deal with your, your temptations. I wanted to do to deal with your, budget, your stinginess, your marriage, your, lack of Sabbath in your life, your lack of rest.
Doug Smith: 44:58 That’s so good and I can’t recommend the book enough. Again. I flew through it. It was amazing. It was just such a good timing for me, so I’ll include links to all of the books and everything we’re talking about in the show notes and leaders listening. I can’t encourage you enough to get a copy of this book by for your team. Share it with them. I really do believe that every leader needs to read this book. Really every person.
New Speaker: 45:18 Hey everyone. Thank you so much for listening to our interview with Peter. I hope that you enjoyed it. You can find ways to connect with Peter and links to everything that we discussed in the show notes at L3leadership.org/202. As I mentioned, you can also listen to our lightning round interview with Peter and episode 203 and I’d highly recommend taking the time to do that is fantastic.
Doug Smith: 45:39 I want to thank our sponsor, Alex Tulandin. Alex is a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty and if you were looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy. He’s a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and he would love to have an opportunity to connect with you. You can learn more about Alex@Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com. As always, I like to end with a quote and I’ll quote Thomas Edison. He said this, he said, many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Do not give up. Keep going. Thanks for listening and being a part of L3 Leadership. Laura and I appreciate you so much and we will talk to you next episode.