L3 Leadership Transcriptions: Larry Brey, Campus Pastor At Elevation Church University City

By September 11, 2017Transcripts

Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with Larry Brey, campus pastor at Elevation Church University City. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos.

Larry Brey: 00:00 How well do you know your pastor’s vision and how well do you know what they want to come to pass rather than you creating what you want. So what sometimes will happen in a church world is you’ll have a senior leader who needs to find a team around them and rather than seeking out a team that complements their gifts and want to make it happen, they find great people who are looking for a position rather than people who are looking for a place.

Doug Smith: 00:28 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 163 what’s up everyone? Welcome to another edition of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I’m the founder of L3 Leadership. We are a leadership development company devoted to helping you become the best leader that you can be. In this episode, you’re going to get to hear my interview with Larry Brey, the campus pastor at Elevation Church at University City and it was a phenomenal interview. He’s one of the founding members of the church and I’m telling you there are so many great insights in this interview. You’re going to love it, but before we jump into that, just a few things. If you’re new to this podcast, I just want to let you know that we’re committed to bringing you three or four episodes every single month to help you grow and develop as a leader. One episode will always be a talk from one of our leadership events that we host.

Doug Smith: 01:11 One will be an interview that I do with a high-level leader and then once a month you’ll get a personal leadership lesson by me. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, it would mean the world to me. If you would share this podcast on social media if you would subscribe to it and leave a rating and review on whatever app you listen to podcasts do. That really does make a difference in helping us grow our audience. Or thank you for all of you who have been doing that. Thank you so much. I want to let you guys know that we recently introduced l three leadership membership. That’s right. You can now become a member of L3 Leadership. You might be saying me, Doug will. Why should I become a member? I believe that every leader needs a group of leaders that go through life with that own courage, them, hold them accountable to their goals and help them reach their potential and all three we’ve developed a community of leaders that will help you do just that.

Doug Smith: 01:54 As a member you’re going to get access to our community of leaders. You’ll have the ability to join a mastermind group which I believe is absolutely critical to your success and you also get access to extra resources, content and a member-only forum on our member-only website membership selling $25 a month and you can learn more and sign up at L3leadership.org/membership. I also want to let you guys know about a brand new leadership conference for church leaders called the Future Forward Conference held in hosted by my friends at Amplify Church here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The conference is going to be October 24th through the 26th and it’s specifically for church leaders in their staff and it’s going to be led by my friend Amplify senior pastor Lee Kreicher who is a phenomenal leader. I’ve interviewed him and had him speak at our L3 Leadership breakfast and his leadership team is absolutely incredible.

Doug Smith: 02:41 I’m telling you, if you are a church leader listening to this, you need to get yourself and your entire staff at this leadership conference. You can learn more about the conference at Futurefordconference.com and I also want to thank our sponsor, Alex Tulandin real estate resources. Alex is a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty whose team is committed to providing clients with highly effective premier real estate experiences throughout the Greater Pittsburgh region. He’s a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and would love the opportunity to connect with you. You can find out more and learn how to connect with Alex at pittsboropropertyshowcase.com with all that being said, let’s jump right into our interview with Larry Brey. As I mentioned, Larry is currently the campus pastor at Elevation Church, University City, and he was one of the original founding families of Elevation Church. And so in this interview, we talk about so many great things.

Doug Smith: 03:27 We talk about how he’s personally had to grow alongside the church. As the church has grown extremely fast. We talk about creating and sustaining a culture of honor. We talked about how to be a great number two, we talk about how to develop leaders, how to create world-class experiences and so much more. You’re going to absolutely love this interview with Larry. Enjoy it. And I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements. Larry, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. And why don’t we just start off with you just giving us a brief overview of who you are and what you do?

Larry Brey: 03:53 Man, I appreciate it, Doug. Excited to connect with you for a few minutes this morning. So, my name is Larry Brey. Everybody calls me Lb, at least all of my friends do. And, been a part of a church in Charlotte, North Carolina called Elevation Church since it began. We launched our ministry 12 years ago now coming up on 12 years of ministry. And, my wife and I were one of the original eight families that sold their homes, quit their jobs and moved to Charlotte, to start this brand new venture called Elevation Church. I mean, we started with a blank page for the vision, but we certainly didn’t have a blank check happen. But we’ve trusted God and you know, 12 years later we’ve grown to, 17 different locations, about 27,000 people in a weekend in attendance.

Doug Smith: 04:39 That’s incredible. I want to talk about that, that weep. So if I understand it correctly, you were a professor and director of sports medicine prior to this. Yes. What made you jump, it sounds like you were kind of dissatisfied with what you were doing with your life. Can you talk to one what you learned by jumping into maybe those people who were, who were just comfortable with their lives right now and feel like

Doug Smith: 04:58 there’s something more?

Larry Brey: Yeah. I think anybody who wants to make an impact and understands that kind of the holy discontentment, it’s that place of being driven yet, how do I learn how to be content with what I have? And you know, for me, I grew up united, Doug, we talked about this a second. I grew up in Minnesota and I grew up a wrestler. So I started wrestling in second grade, wrestled in the high school and wrestled in the college, got a college scholarship and I blew out my elbow my freshman year of college and life took a very dark turn, went to a very deep corner. And it’s really in those places where I started to experience the grace of Christ. But in that season, what it revealed for me, my identity was tied to what I did. I was Larry the wrestler, wherever I would go, it’d be, hey, that’s, Lb, that’s the wrestler. Whether it was to a different school or do a different area that I love being known as that.

Doug Smith: 05:52 Well, what weight class? I wrestled as well. I’m just curious. Yeah, I wasn’t great. My claim to fame, I graduated with Jake Herbert who went to the Olympics in 2012 so yeah.

Larry Brey: 06:03 Outstanding. Leslie. Yeah, this is a few pounds ago. This would have been how 126-132 back in the day.

Doug Smith: 06:09 Nice man. Nice. Were you a state champion or anything? Anything you want to share with the audience?

Larry Brey: 06:15 Wrestled in the state tournament but didn’t win any state championships. 

Doug Smith: That’s great. That’s pretty impressive to get there. 

Larry Brey: Yeah. But it was great though. It was, but I learned in that season that my identity was wrapped up in what I did and my worst came through my work. I know that many of the folks who listen to your podcast are wrestling with that same tension. And so when I gave my life to Christ, you know, I jumped into a career that said, all right, I’m going to grow to be a college professor. And so I accomplished that goal. And I remember sitting there after five years of teaching in college, I came to the point of, I was the youngest faculty they’d ever hired. I was top five on faculty evaluations by students at the end of every year. But I remember sitting there in a place of saying, is this all I’ve become in a way that, I loved everybody knowing me as Larry, the college professor where I was like, hi, I’m Larry the college professor.

Larry Brey: 07:09 And I took pride in it, but it was an arrogance rather than, than a confidence. And so I had to go through this season, that I had to kind of deny myself. So before I ever really even jumped into the elevation side of things, I actually had to walk in. This is my journey. I don’t know about anybody else’s journey, but, Jesus said if anyone would come after me and listen to deny himself, pick up his cross daily and follow me, I’ve never denied myself and went after what I wanted, add my five-year goals, my 10 years goals. And I would pray before and after meals and ask God to bless what I was going to do, but I’ve never denied myself. And it was in that season that God spoke is that inaudible voice was louder than a voice that said, hey, if you never trust me with your identity, you’ll never see your destiny. And so for me, in order to find that, find that destiny, it meant to deny myself. So I walked into my provost office and said, Hey, I’m resigning today. And he said, well, who recruited you because there were  headhunter’s looking to hire me. I said, where are you going? I said, I’m going to unemployment. He said, that doesn’t make any sense. I’m like, you’re right, it doesn’t. But it was really in those seasons of kind of losing myself that actually saw the impact that God would want to have through my life.

Doug Smith: 08:18 Yeah. And then just out curiosity then, so you’re unemployed. How did, how did elevation come up?

Larry Brey: 08:25 Yeah, so hearing, so here’s how it kind of, how it went down. So as I went through that season of unemployment, right. At the same time, my oldest brother, when the five kids, a good Catholic upbringing from Minnesota, five kids, Lonnie, Luanne, Leslie, Larry, and Lester. So my oldest brother Lonny gets diagnosed with cancer in year three of meet me teaching at college. And I remember as I’m sharing my faith with him during year three of my five years of teaching, of being a college professor, I started sharing my faith with him over the phone. He’s looking at the end of life discussions and I’m talking about how Jesus is real and he wants to use you, but I’m not, I wasn’t smoking what I was selling. I had my eternity ticket punched, but I wasn’t living in the present reality of Christ’s strength and his power.

Larry Brey: 09:13 And so I started sharing that with my brother. I eventually got a chance to lead him in a prayer to give his life to Christ. And, it was one of the greatest joys of my life. And it was the night before they did surgery to remove a mole that had metastasized and spread this whole body lymph nodes. And it was in his lungs. And it was all over in. The doctors didn’t give him a chance at all, but they said, let’s remove the tumor. So they go in the next day to do the surgery and they start looking at the tissue and it doesn’t look like they expect. Long story short, they do x-rays, they can’t find cancer anywhere in his body. So literally the doctors explained it like, we must’ve given you the wrong x-rays, but I’m like, no, it just, and it floored me. I was like, God, maybe I am created for more than what I’ve become.

Larry Brey: 09:53 And so I sat on that for two years and then the day I turned in my resignation to my provost, I go back home, I got my box with all of my office packed in and I sit down, put it on the living room, you know, coffee table. And I say, now what God, and the phone rings and it’s my brother Lonny calling me, say, Hey, the cancer’s back. So the day I resigned is the day that he finds out he’s got the cancer’s back. So I actually hop on the plane and I fly back to Minnesota and I help him live out the last two weeks on this earth. And for me, it really showed me that, that God said there’s no way you would have put your career on hold for anybody else. That’s why I needed you to let your identity be wrapped in me, not your profession.

Larry Brey: 10:33 And so I come back from helping my brother pass away and, as I’m in Minnesota with my brother, I remember seeing, we’re not a tall family. Doug were pretty short. I’m like, you think in terms of like, we’d be like the lollipop guild is what you, and we’re a small bunch, but, I remember seeing my brother when I get off the plane and I give him a hug and his hair is falling out. You hug him, you can feel the tumors on his back. And I put him in a chair and I said, man, let me clean you up a little bit. So I grabbed a clipper and I started just cutting his hair. I said, let me clean you up a little bit, and as I’m cutting his hair, I just, an overwhelming presence of God came over me and I just literally started weeping.

Larry Brey: 11:15 And as I heard God speak to my spirit said, this is my church. I have called you to serve my church, love my church, feed my church. So after he passes away, I just come back to North Carolina living in a little place called Shelby, North Carolina. And I literally just started serving at the church. I just did the last thing I remember God telling me to do. I just started serving in the church, made myself a key, let myself in and do whatever needed to be done. After about six months, they said, why don’t we start paying you? Why don’t we start paying you to be a part of this thing? I said, I’m not doing it for an income. I’m doing it because it’s what God told me to do. So I came on staff there. About a year later, we hired this new worship leader, this guy who just graduated from North Greenville College, bald headed guy with a goatee and pastor Steven Furtick. And so he comes on staff at the church on that to be a worship leader in, as soon as I seen him, I know that this is the church I’m called to be a part of. And so that’s kinda the short story of how I got connected with this ministry. 

Doug Smith: 12:14 Wow. So that, I mean, thanks for sharing that and being vulnerable. That’s an incredible story. So fast forward 12 years now, I mean pretty much probably everyone listening to this knows what elevation is and what you’ve done. I’m curious if, and maybe it was, it was that, but what would you want people to know about your journey that they may not know to where you are now? They see the campus pastor and they see everything that you’re doing, but what should they know about that journey?

Larry Brey: 12:37 We were an unqualified ragtag bunch of bad news bears that didn’t have any business planting a church. And because if you’re starting any organization, because Elevation Church in 12 years has grown to be one of the leading ministries in the country and a leading voice around the world today. I think my pastor, pastor Steven Furtick, is one of the leading voices in the church world today. And if you knew that you’re going to launch it, a global ministry or a global organization, kind of your group of people, you’re going to pick the, select the thing, there’s going to be the best of the best. We weren’t that. None of us had really any formal training in being a part of a church, but what we had was tremendous passion and tremendous unity. And we were a teachable bunch that said, hey, whatever we need to do, we’re going to do.

Larry Brey: 13:25 And you know, this dog, everybody says, man, I’ll do whatever you need until you ask them to do something. And often those words ring shallow because there’s not a lot of depth in it, nor is there a lot of commitment in it. But I think, you know, I think if people can learn how to live their life in such a way that you marry something rather than date it, you’d actually see something significant happen in your life. And like one of the major things that happened in the church world is you don’t plant your roots long enough to grow any kind of depth. And when the, droughts of life come along, you can’t reach a water source because you haven’t been planted long enough and you’re continually moving your feet because you’re looking for a place where you think you’ll get an opportunity rather than a place where you’re really going to grow.

Doug Smith: 14:05 That’s so good. I’m curious that you specifically, I could be wrong on this. I feel like I watched something with pastor Steven where he said at one point in your journey he had to have a conversation with you, kind of like, hey man, you need to go to the next level. If that’s not accurate, I, I can take it out. But I’m curious, what are some of the prices that you’ve personally had to pay to continue to grow with the organization? Because I’m sure you’ve had to grow and some people, when those opportunities arise, they get paralyzed and don’t do anything and you’ve obviously continued to grow. Talk about that.

Larry Brey: 14:36 I think what happens is the vision you commit to is the vision you serve. And so if anytime somebody becomes an art part of an organization or a ministry that they have in mind how they want to use their gifts, and if it doesn’t come to pass like they think the walk away to something else because they’re not looking for a place, they’re looking for a position. And we were where we walk away, I think from, from our greatest impact is because we walk away from the growth that happens through learning how to deny or preferences. Because in order for me to stay in the place, it means even if I don’t get the position, I’ve got to work through the internal struggle of what’s going on inside of me that makes people walk away. So from me in this ministry, the greatest places where I’ve grown, those have all been mile markers of pain.

Larry Brey: 15:28 And it’s kind of like everybody wants the gold, but nobody wants the grind. And it’s, I want all of the blessing, but I don’t want to have to walk through the burden. And so for me, some of the things that have happened in my journey that you point out, one of them, I think I’ve had that conversation with pastor Steven more way more than once on a, you got to get to a different level. But one of the first significant ones was early on in our ministry, I had this passion where, where I would, do whatever it took to get stuff done, but I would run people over to accomplish it. And so what happened is my gift was so big, but it started to become a liability because of the wake that it would create in other people’s lives.

Larry Brey: 16:10 It was kinda like, kinda like some people listening to this podcast would identify with this as you can be, a really big gun. But the bigger the gun, the bigger the recoil. And what happens with people is as they are looking at you saying, I don’t know if I want to shoot that gun because it kicks too much. So they just start avoiding. You start leaving you alone in the ministry. And when that happens, people start bypassing your gift because of the burden that comes with it. And so I just started to see that in my own journey. I had this gift, this passion to get stuff done, but I didn’t have a genuine brokenness for people. And so one of the early leadership things that God took me through was a brokenness where he broke my heart in a way he allowed it to be broken in a way of that says you don’t hurt for the people. You want to create a great ministry, but you don’t necessarily want to help people. 

Doug Smith: Wow. 

Larry Brey: And so what God had to do with me in order, I think from my journey is often when I’ve seen growth in moving forward, it’s always been in response to something that’s caused me to take a step back.

Larry Brey: 17:14 And that’s hard for me because I’m so driven. I’m so full. I’m so leaning. I’m like, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. But God says, no, no, no. In order for you to move forward, you’ve actually got to take a step back.

Doug Smith: 17:24 And in some of those areas you’ve grown even in this circumstance. I’m just curious and even how you guys develop leaders as a whole, you obviously had to become self-aware around that issue before you can even change and grow.

Doug Smith: 17:34 How do you

Doug Smith: 17:36 become self-aware around issues? Is it others around you and giving them that platform? Just speak into your life. Is it just following God? What’s been the greatest source of, of self-awareness around issues for you?

Larry Brey: 17:46 Gosh, I love that question because I think the concept of self-awareness is not a concept that we talk a lot about in our world and for a healthy leader, you’ve gotta be aware, you know, you talked to what you said, self-awareness. I think some of the early things that helped me become aware of is pastor Steven and other people helping me become aware but now was able to take and leverage that experience so I could become self-aware because whatever is motivating me is driving my decisions. So if the motivation is to be impressive, I really don’t understand. I really don’t care or create space to think about people, how people receive it. Cause if, if I’m just all about, I want to be impressive, I want to have the answer, I really don’t operate a level right. I want them to gain understanding. So self-awareness is this holy spirit infused focus where you’re listening to the voice of what are you really trying to accomplish in this moment? Are you trying to make people better? Are you just trying to show that you’re smart? Are you trying to give everybody the answer? You tried to lead people to the solution.

Doug Smith: 18:51 That’s good. I’m curious, what does it take, and I don’t know who’s, I don’t even know if there’s a number to at elevation, but I’m just curious, what does it take and what advice do you have for those who aren’t the senior leader when it comes to serving the senior leader? How can they best serve them? What have you learned about serving?

Larry Brey: 19:08 Yeah, excellent question. Because I don’t know the weight of what it’s like to be the senior leader or the number one person in an organization. And that’s a tremendous weight that God has not called me to carry. I’m called to be a great number two and to be in that seat to how do you own something that necessarily isn’t yours. And I think what happens in church world today, it’s not the enemy on the outside that’s destroying churches. It’s the division. It’s the division within division isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Division means two visions. You just can’t serve two visions. And in, in an organization, anybody sitting in the number two seat and what I would say is there’s not one chair in the number two seats is everybody in the organization. So if there’s a church staff member listening that it wouldn’t be like a number two-seat of like an executive pastor role.

Larry Brey: 20:06 They don’t see themselves equivalent to that position. They don’t understand the calling that’s on their lives because to shepherds, the lead needs to carry the weight and the burden for the people. And that just doesn’t fall in a few chairs. It falls on everybody in the organization. But I think for, if I were speaking to the person in the second seat, I would speak to them about how well do you know your pastor’s vision and how well do you know what they want to come to pass rather than you creating what you want. So what sometimes will happen in a church world is you’ll have a senior leader who, needs to find a team around them. And rather than seeking out a team that complements their gifts and want to make it happen, they find great people who are looking for a position rather than people who are looking for a place.

Larry Brey: 20:55 Cause people looking for a position will come in and create what they think rather than what the senior leader wants or what’s in line with the vision that’s already established. And that’s, and so you create division, not maliciously, but if I’m just seeking a person to fill a position and I hire somebody, they’re going to come in and recreate what they are because you, Doug, you know this, it’s like what you are is what you reproduce, simple form of leadership. So if you want to see what kind of leader I am, you can see my kids because there are many versions of me. And the things that frustrated me most about myself is when I see myself in my kids, I’m like, stop, quit being a mirror to me. But what you are is what you reproduce. And so, you know, for any organization I would say, what kind of leader are you? And you’d get a list of like, I’m passionate, I’m empowering and all these other things. They’re great. A theory list sense. But when God created the animals, they reproduced of their own kind in a ministry. If you’re in the second seat and I asked you what kind of leader are you, I would want you to understand that’s in light of what kind of leader your, your senior pastor is. It’s not talking about being carbon copies, but it is saying having the same spirit.

Doug Smith: 22:08 Yeah. That’s so good. I want to talk to us about leadership and the influence you’ve been giving. How do you, how do you keep safe relationships in your life? I mean, as your influence increases, I’m sure there are people that they want to position and they want to get to know you for what they can get versus how do you keep safe relationships in your life?

Larry Brey: 22:26 Gosh, how do I keep safe relationships? I think one of the principles I try to operate with is everybody gets me, but not everybody gets all of me. And there is a, vulnerability has become a buzzword in our church circles. And I absolutely agree with the principle of vulnerability. It’s speaking from a place where I relate through my weakness rather than trying to impress through my strengths. There is an absolute place for being vulnerable and a pulpit for being vulnerable in places, but not everybody needs to know all of your struggles. So I’ve got to have an intimate group of people that I trust with the innermost parts of me. With Jesus, he had hundreds of people that were always following him, yet he had his 12 that he really confided in. But even within his 12 he had his favorite three, Peter, James and John.

Larry Brey: 23:15 So there were moments he would go to that he says the 12 you come along, there are moments he would go to it. All the hundreds the masters can come. But then he had times where it’s like just Peter, James and John, you three come with me. So I’ve got to understand that in my, I’ve got things that are going on in my life that I need to share with the three I’ve got have things that I share with the 12th and then I’ve got other things I share with the crowd and everybody gets me. But not everybody gets the fullness of me.

Doug Smith: 23:41 That’s good. And I’m curious how you personally, how do you deal and process pain as a leader in specifically deal with the, the parts of leadership today that just stand great. It’s great to stand up on stage and be a campus pastor and speak and have all these people who enjoy your message, but the behind the scenes isn’t always as pretty or fun talk about that.

Larry Brey: 24:00 It’s, I think anybody who wants to be used mightily will be wounded, wounded greatly. There is a pain that comes with running after your calling. And the persistence to push through the pain is what really creates the growth in our lives. And I think there’s been, I mean, you know this, there’s all kinds of pain that people deal with on all these different levels. But I think for me, one of the levels of pain is, is people that you think you’re gonna run with for the whole journey, stop running with you. And I think some of the most painful parts of ministry is when you get to know somebody and you work shoulder to shoulder and you’re invested in, you feel like you’re moving towards the same thing and then at some point they choose to do something else. And I know that God calls people into other season and I know that God releases people into different parts of ministry, but there’s a pain that’s associated with that because man, that’s hard because   people you think that I’m going to run with.

Larry Brey: 24:59 I think those are some of the hardest parts of ministry. It’s not the criticism from the outside cause there’s always critics questioning how we do or why we do certain things and I can’t give weight to those things because they don’t even know who I am. But from me, if I know that, that when I walk home I see joy in my wife’s eyes and she knows that the message I’m talking about, I’m living in my home. If I can see the look of contentment, those are things that helped me push through the pain when I see that my kids are getting it. But then there’s also a place where I’ve got to play a game in my head that no matter what happens, I’ve got to, I’ve got to put a thought bubble above it that allows me to put grace into it rather than questioning or doubt or disbelief or pain in it. And so if somebody leaves or somebody does something, I’ve got to keep replaying that thing until I get to the right message where I see grace. And sometimes it might be like, Hey, their cat might’ve died this morning. So that’s why they’re having a bad day. And so, but I’ve got to do some things that allow me to see it through a lens of grace.

Doug Smith: 26:04 That’s good. I want to talk a little bit about church. I’m just curious, I’ll just leave this open ended, but if you had to talk to church leaders today, what would your message be to them?

Larry Brey: 26:13 Church leaders across the world? I would talk about the principle of honor and I think one of the bedrock principles that that Elevation that we’ve created our ministry on is this principle of honor. And I think it’s undergirded with this idea of the perception principle. It’s this idea that what you see is what you get. And so for the husband that sees his wife as a nag, that’s what she’ll always be to him. For the dad that sees his kids as just snot nose little punks who don’t listen their father, guess what? They’ll probably grow up to be to him. But if the dad sees his kids, his amazing young men and women of the Lord that made a bad mistake, man, they’ve got room to work with. If the husband sees his wife is an anointed woman of the Lord who is having a bad day, you’ve got room to work with.

Larry Brey: 26:59 But the principle of honor is built upon perception. What you see is what you get. And so that starts with what do you see when you look at God? What do you think God sees you as? And because often the reason that I can’t honor other people is I’m not honoring the word of God in my own life. The reason I can’t sometimes love other people is that I didn’t even love myself. And this isn’t like a principle of like self-help. Look in the mirror and gosh darn it, people like you. It’s knowing that deep down we’re created in the image of God and he doesn’t make junk. But honor, his honor is different than respect. Respect is something people earn based upon their performance. Now the NFL season is kicking off this weekend we saw the New England Patriots could beat less net, which made me really happy.

Larry Brey: 27:49 I know you’re happy about that.

Doug Smith: Oh yeah. 

Larry Brey: And everybody in Pittsburgh’s about to go crazy. But my vikings roll into town week too. We’re ready. Rooting against you. But respect is this. The quarterback is throwing touchdowns. Rothesburger. Everybody loves him. Rothesburger starts throwing interceptions. Bench him. That’s respect. Respect to something you earned based upon performance. Honor is something I give based upon position. It has nothing to do with performance. So the story of the prodigal son is a story of honor. It illustrates how those of us who have claimed Christ need to live our lives cause respect is, I’m going to treat you the way you treat me. Respect is you. You make a mistake, I’m going to treat you like a mistake, but honor his position. The prodigal son leaves in that culture. The son was dead to the father and as the son comes back home, he knows that he’s should have been treated like that.

Larry Brey: 28:44 He knows that his name would have never been spoken in the home again. That’s why he’s rehearsing the speech on the way home that says it. Father, I’ve sinned against you. Treat me like one of your hired sits a servants. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. And so he gets to the town and the scripture says that the prodigal father ran to his son. Now I think one of the reasons he ran to him is because the son knew and the dad knew that the elders of the town would not have allowed the son who disrespected his dad to come back into the presence of his father. So the dad had to sprint past the town elders before they beat his son because that’s my son. His performance was awful, but his position, he’s my son, so it’s an honor means to speak to position rather than performance.

Larry Brey: 29:30 So I honor people because of the position they hold in my life. I honor my wife, not because the house is cleaner dinners made, she’s my wife. I honor my kids, not because of the way they treat me, but because of the position they hold in my life. I honor my pastor, not because, not because he had a good sermon or a bad sermon, but because the position God has put him in my life. I honor the civil authorities and the police officers that God is established because of the position they hold in my life, not their performance. I think if we could get our minds around this concept of honor, we would restore to the earth what Jesus intended the church to be. Cause respect is the commodity of the world. Honor is the currency of the kingdom. Honor means I am going to give to you what you did not even give to me. I think that would, that would change a lot of how we see other people.

Doug Smith: 30:20 That’s so good. I was going to bring this up later, but obviously honor’s a huge part of your culture at Elevation. You have other values as well. How do you guys instill in create and sustain, whether it’s a culture of honor or any of your other values, you have lots of staff coming on board all the time. How do you, how do you consistently do that as a leader?

Larry Brey: 30:37 I think it’s continually retraining the perspective of, of how you see God and how sees you, and how God sees you and because I think an unhealthy expression of honor is where we don’t understand that honors 360 degrees. Cause what sometimes people who don’t understand honor can do is kiss up and kick down. Honor doesn’t give us permission to demand something from people that we work with or the people we lead. Honor means I honor those above me, those alongside of me and those entrusted to my care. And the the and the shortest arm I have in 362 degrees really determines how well I understand owner and so what I would want to teach with staff and new people coming in is when I understand that Jesus died from me, not because of my performance, but it created a position for me. I’m honored because of the position. Wow. Why would I not be able to give that to somebody else if I understand that God gave that to me? So if we can get that right, that perspective, honor flows freely if we don’t have that now, which just becomes a tool that people use to try to get ahead. Brown nosing, trying to manipulate situations.

Doug Smith: 31:46 That’s great. I’m curious, how do you guys as a staff grow and develop leaders? What’s been most effective for you over the course of 12 years?

Larry Brey: 31:53 I think throwing people in the deep end and saying, I think experience is, is the greatest teacher and we’re kind of in this millennial generation right now that it’s funny and I think, I think anybody that’s working with millennials is bouncing up against, this is a generation that kind of wants what their parents have without working 40 years to get it. And how do you create a work ethic and a value in coaching that says, experientially, I’m going to give you opportunities, but then I’m going to coach you. Here’s what you did well, but here’s what you need to get better at. And so for us, when we talk about developing leaders, we’ve got a lot of systems and processes, but I think what it really boils down to is getting people experience and then giving them great coaching. And I think we’re coaching sometimes fails as we’re too general with the two general with the celebration and two specific with the critique and we’re a failure in coaching can happen is if they only hear specifics in the critique, but it’s only general in the celebration. We’re not training them to receive and give properly cause, so it’s Kinda like, judge, you did a really good job, man, I was proud of your podcast, but here are three things you need to get better at. Did I tell you anything you did well? So am I giving you anything that you would want to reproduce? So great coachings says Doug, here are three things about your podcast. You did well, but man, here are three things that you could do. Like that’s a healthy balance of coaching.

Doug Smith: 33:22 Yeah, that’s good. You mentioned you have 17 locations. You respond well, I don’t know how many of you are responsible for, I know your campus pastor of one. Um, so that’s 17 locations where pastor seems not there. Maybe the lead team isn’t there. How do you maintain excellence in 17 locations where your leaders may not even, there are leaders there, but you don’t understand what I’m saying?

Larry Brey: 33:42 Oh Gosh. Yeah. Again, it’s, we’re building the plane as we’re, as we’re getting it off the ground. And I think this is one of the challenges of leadership, there’s again, there’s blessed church problems. I think anything I would talk about in terms of a problem would be a blessed church problem in the way of like, hey, we don’t have enough leaders to lead our 17 locations. In fact, this weekend we’re launching two brand new local locations at Elevation church. And so, but when we first started, we went from one to two. We said, what we’ve got to take is people that understand the culture and people we trust and put them in leadership roles. So we took people that were already at the table, lead staff people and said, let’s put them into areas of ministry stuff. There’s a church that’s thinking about a multisite.

Larry Brey: 34:29 What I would probably talk you out of is don’t do it. Multisite is not for everybody. It is kind of a fad in church world right now that it’s kind of like when you ask people, it’s like, hey, how many locations do you have? It’s kind of like the, the in vogue thing to ask people where not every ministry is called to do that. Not every ministry is called to expand in that way. I would want to challenge and encourage churches to start looking at are you really growing what you currently have? Are you maximizing all of your current opportunities? You need to move location rather than set a, create a second location. But for leadership wise, when we started, we said, hey, let’s take people we trust. And it was lead staff guys. It’s kind of like playing musical chairs, but rather than taking a chair away, you put a new chair down so the music stops. You’re like, oh, we’ve got four locations now who’s going to sit in that chair? And so every step along the way, we’ve had to reevaluate kind of how we train up the campus pastors and campus leaders. And that’s kind of one of the current challenges we’re facing right now is that organization.

Doug Smith: 35:29 Yeah. I’m also curious from a customer service standpoint, what have you learned about creating, a 10-star experience? 

Larry Brey: Oh Man.

Larry Brey: 35:38 I think I would say this, the value of the guest always determines your level of preparation. And you can tell if you value the guest by how well you’ve prepared for their arrival. So, if I’m coming to your house, Doug, I would expect that the grass would it be, would be cut that you would be outside waiting. You would’ve blown off the front yard. You’d have cookies, baking in the oven, the good toilet paper out goes your like you would think about that and if you’re cooking a some meal, you would actually reach out to us to see if any of the kids have any gluten allergies or any of that stuff. And so have, has a church or a ministry, an organization thought through would the experience they want to create for their guests. I think in church world, Doug, most people create systems that are convenient for the staff and volunteers rather than what’s the best experience for the guests.

Larry Brey: 36:35 So if you want to have a five star, type of guest experience, start with this question. What experience does God want the people to have in your church? Start with that. So now you start getting words up on the whiteboard of welcomed, loved, encouraged, hopeful, expected. So now you start framing up some of the concepts you would like people to experience. But on the other side of the whiteboard, you would make a list of what does the current reality for people look like? What are they currently experiencing? They’re experiencing doubt, shame, bitterness, anger, frustration, apathy, okay? Now between those two sides of the board, in the middle is your church and your ministry and God has called you to be the bridge gap between those two. But if the people that are in the giving end of it, if they’re in the service end of it, don’t understand that their job is to take people from one side of the board of the other,

Larry Brey: 37:31 they don’t understand. Guest experience is all about creating an experience for the guests. So as people are driving away from your church, what would you want them to think and to feel. Awesome if that’s not driving how you create your systems. You’re not really understanding what God wants to do with his people. And I think, I think one of the reasons why God doesn’t sometimes bring people to churches is because he says, I’m not going to misappropriate my children. I’m not going to send them to a ministry where the not going to be cared for. But I truly believe that when we get systems and process and we create a place that will steward the guests well, God’s going to bring people. So God is the god of the increase. My job is to create a place that will show them the love of Christ.

Doug Smith: 38:15 That was unbelievable. Thank you for that. Open-ended question on character development. I know we talked a little bit about self-awareness. Can you just talk about character development, why it’s so important and maybe anything you’ve learned about developing your character

Doug Smith: 38:28 as a leader? 

Larry Brey: Absolutely. It’s, you know, there are thousands of planes that get off the ground and land every day, all across their country. They take off and they land. There are great leaders and great ministries all across the country every day getting off the ground and landing the plane. But if a plane crashes, it becomes worldwide news. When people in ministry who are called to shepherd the flock, crash a plane, it’s not happening all that often, but it creates a ripple effect through the church community that, that, that says that who would are they talking about? They claimed Jesus, yet they’re crushing the plane. Now we’re fallen, we’re sinful people. But how many of those crashes were result of character way more than it was about cashflow or anything else? And integrity. The gifts get a person into the room and at the table, character, and integrity keep them at the table.

Larry Brey: 39:28 And in the church world what we can sometimes do is advance the gift ahead of the character and we create a place where the kid’s not ready to walk in what they’ve been asked to do. It’s, you know, you’re a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, I see. It’s kind of like you draft the 19-year-old and you accelerate him too fast to the big leagues and he bats a buck 25 his first year and he never recovered from it is not because he didn’t have the gifts, he just didn’t have the integrity and the character to walk into consistency of it. So there’s gotta be a progression for how we develop people to walk in the fullness of their gifting. So for those of us that are in leadership roles, if we get desperate, it’s kind of like the guy who’s looking for a date. He’s just looking for Mrs. Right Now, not Mrs. Right? And if you’re just looking for someone’s gift, you put them in a place that now you, it’s a plug and play versus really a raise up and release that has called us to raise up people to release them into their gifting, not just identify a gifting and plug them into a position.

Doug Smith: 40:34 That’s fantastic. I want to jump into what I call the lightning round, just a bunch of fun little questions. What books do you find yourself giving away most often or podcasts for that matter

Larry Brey: 40:45 now? 

Larry Brey: Obviously know the Doug Smith Leadership Podcast would be number one on the list obviously, but I think a book that I continually go to is Integrity by Henry Cloud and it is probably one of my top five reads and I’ve read it personally probably nine or 10 times and I’ve given away dozens and dozens of copies of that. I think that’s one of my favorites, a helped to help her is another great book out there. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni I think is another one that I kind of find myself going to quite a bit. I think those are my top three right now. 

Doug Smith: Llove it.

Doug Smith: 41:18 If you were to put a phrase on a billboard for the whole world to see, what would it say?

Larry Brey: 41:22 Oh Man, a phrase on a billboard. I would say, you potential, you’re not searching for potentially digging up potential is I think there’s this idea of potential that it’s kind of a seek and find mission. Like I’ve got to go find it versus saying God’s already given it and you need to dig it up. You discover your potential through digging it up, not through searching to try to find it. 

Doug Smith: Love it.

Doug Smith: 41:54 Do you have any, what daily routines or disciplines do you do every day that, that help you be effective?

Larry Brey: 42:00 Laugh with my kids. I’ve got four kids and I think for me, one of the challenges is anybody who’s in a leadership role understands the weight of coming home. And what I’ve got to do at the end of the day, the discipline I do every day is I get to get in the right lane. And it’s kinda like if you’re driving and traffic, he got five of lanes. It’s always this game of like what’s the fastest lane to be in? But I’ve got to understand that as I’m driving home, there’s a lane I need to be in as a father and as a husband, that if I’m not in those right lanes, I’ll have crappy traffic accidents because I’m not getting in the right lane. So the discipline I use every day when I’m driving home is I try not to, return phone calls, that kind of stuff. I really try to say what’s happened in my kid’s day, what’s happened in my wife’s day? How might they be feeling right now when I walk in the door? What might they be facing when they walk in the door so that I can get mentally and spiritually in the right lane to step into that new place. And I think for men especially, when I carry the chaos of the day across the threshold of my home, I’m not leading my homework. 

Doug Smith: That’s so good. 

Doug Smith: 43:13 Open-ended question. If you to give the young leaders any advice, what would it be?

Larry Brey: 43:17 A fail, fail. And I think I’ve learned, looking back on my life, I probably learned more through my failures than I had my successes. And every failure created something, a blessing and growth that I would’ve never probably pick that way. But it’s something I wouldn’t give away now. And so young leaders, it’s giving yourself permission to fail and not always looking like you’ve got to win and not always looking to, don’t define set success by the outcome. Define success by obedience. God is glorified in obedience, not the outcome. And you can be a complete failure and be extremely successful. 

Doug Smith: 44:04 My hand has a cramp, man. You’re crushing me. Taking so many notes. Um, if you could go back with 20-year-old Lb, what would you tell him?

Larry Brey: 44:12 Oh Man, Lb. Shut up. I, you are so loud and so obnoxious. I’ve got, as I got, I’ve mentioned I’ve got four children. My third child reminds me a lot of myself and her name is Carson. She’s six. She is going a million miles an hour. And the image that God has given me as a dad is not to slow her down, but just to change her direction. And when I was 20 years old, this is before Christ, I was the guy that was throwing keg parties. I was the leader of the pack. And the gift at that point was being used in the wrong way. I wish if I could go back and speak to myself, I would say don’t slow down. Let’s just find a different direction. If you’re looking for fulfillment and validation from other people, you’re looking for fulfillment by applause from other people, but there’s a greater fulfillment that you can find that can only come from Christ. And so because I went through those examples, it actually caused me to slow down rather than just find a new direction. And so I’m going back if I’m talking to 20-year-old Lb let’s just, let’s keep moving the same pace. God’s gifted you. You just got to see the direction that he wants you to use it in.

Doug Smith: 45:30 Yeah. On the other end, let’s fast forward to the end of your life. Looking back, you had to hear your kids speak about you and your funeral. What would you want said about your legacy?

Larry Brey: 45:39 Oh man, I’ve been thinking a lot about this question lately. I’ve been kinda been, studying the life of David. That’s what we’re doing in our church right now at Elevation Church. We’re doing a sermon series pastor Steven and it’s, they’re called bars and battles, looking at the life of David, and there’s a story that David has towards the end of his life where he fights for giants. Now, at the beginning of his life, the most famous story is David and Goliath. He fights this one giant, but at the end of his life, about four years before he dies, there are four other giants that show up on the scene. And most of the logins believe that these are David’s or on. These are Goliath brothers. And at the end of his life, David tries to go fight one of them with his sword, but it says he gets too exhausted and he’s too tired.

Larry Brey: 46:24 He’s willing to fight. He just doesn’t have the capacity to fight like that anymore. But because of the way that he had lived his life, there were three other men that were inspired by his life that came and killed those four other giants. So David at the beginning of his life kills one giant with his own hands. But at the end of his life, he kills four giants to the hands of other people. I hope that my kids would say that I helped them learn how to kill giants. Not that, not that I just killed my giants, but that they were inspired to kill the giants that are going to come into their lives. I hope my kids would say that about me.

Doug Smith: 47:00 That is amazing. And then I’m just curious, so if someone’s listening to this, they’d never heard it before and they just fell in love with you over the last 40 minutes. How can, how can we connect with you, serve you, and specifically be praying for you,

Doug Smith: 47:13 as you read at elevation? 

Larry Brey: Yeah. I just Elevation Church is, one of the most incredible things that I ever, I’ve ever seen in the way of, I never thought that I could be part of a ministry like this. I never thought I was smart enough. I never thought I had it together. I thought I had screwed up and done things so poorly in my life I kind of disqualified my future. And if there’s anybody sitting in a place that you have kind of taken a back seat to your destiny and you think your best days are behind you, I would want you to be inspired by the story of Elevations and believe for greater in your life. I would want you to see through my life that God can take an average ordinary person with a lot of mistakes and a lot of flaws and as long as they remain teachable, as long as they keep growing in the areas of responsibility and accountability, that you can create a place that God can use you to change lives. And so if you want to connect with us, you can, you can jump online, watch us at elevationchurch.org or you can follow me on Facebook. But man, I just, I’m excited to talk to you today, Doug. Thanks for letting me be a part of this.

Doug Smith: 48:19 Yeah. Anything else you want to leave us with?

Larry Brey: 48:22 Yeah, I love what you’re doing. I love how you’re speaking to leadership because I think too many worlds in the thing I love about your podcast is you are not settled into one vein of leadership. I think sometimes we don’t cross pollinate enough to understand different streams of leadership so that we live in our own lane and we don’t understand enough genres of music that we become great musicians and our goal is not to just become good at one little thing, but it’s to become great at leadership across the whole thing. So I love the way that you’re tapping into the church world, to the business world, to the athletic world, and you’re bringing all those together because leadership principles are universal and they’re transferable. I love the way you’re doing that, Doug. 

Doug Smith: Oh, thank you so much. And again, thank you for your time. 

Larry Brey: My pleasure, my man.

Doug Smith: 49:07 Hey everyone. Thank you so much for listening to my interview with Larry. I really hope it added value to your life. You can find ways to connect with him in links to everything that we discussed at L3lleadership.org/pisode163 I also want to thank our sponsor, Henne Jewelers. They’re a jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife Laura and I got our engagement and wedding rings at Henne Jewelers and we just love them. They’re a family-owned business and not only do they have great jewelry but what they really are passionate about is investing in people. John gave Laura and I a book to help us prepare for marriage and they do that for every engaged couple and he’s also been investing in me as a leader, a father and a husband. Now for years. If you’re in need of a good jeweler, check out Hennejewelers.com as always, a few enjoyed the podcast.

Doug Smith: 49:48 It would mean the world to me. If you would subscribe to it and leave a rating and review on whatever app you listen to podcast to do. It really does make a difference. And thanks again for being a listener. And if you want to stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at l three leadership, you can just sign up for our email list at L3leadership.org is always, I like to end with a quote, and Bob Goff recently said this, he said, “Quit waiting for an invitation. Go live your life.” 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.