L3 Leadership transcriptions: Mark Batterson On Dreams, Writing Books, Parenting, Leadership, And More!

Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with Mark Batterson.  It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For ways to connect with Mark, the notes, and for links to everything discussed, check out our show notes.

Mark Batterson: 00:00 You know, what I found is it doesn’t get easier, it gets harder, and that’s a good thing. See, here’s the thing, the blessings of God will complicate your life. Sin will complicate it in a way that it shouldn’t be complicated, but blessings will complicate your life in a way that it should be complicated.

Doug Smith: 00:19 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 191.

Doug Smith: 00:24 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, and now here’s your host, Doug Smith.

Doug Smith: 00:35 What’s up everyone, and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I am your host. In this episode, you’ll hear my interview with Mark Batterson if you’re unfamiliar with Mark. Mark serves as the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC. They are one church with eight locations. They also own and operate the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill, which is called Ebenezer’s. My wife Laura and I had the opportunity to go there and have a cup of coffee this past summer and it was an amazing experience, so we encourage you to check them out if you’re in the DC area. Mark also holds a doctorate of ministry degree from Regent University and he is also the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books including the Circle Maker, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Wild Goose Chase, and he’s recently released Whisper and Play the Man in the interview.

Doug Smith: 01:23 You’re going to get to hear us talk about dreams, writing, the importance of empowering others, parenting and so much more. You are going to love this episode, but before we dive into the interview, I just want to ask you a question. Have you ever wanted to be surrounded by a community of leaders that will encourage you to challenge you and hold you accountable? I know that I have, in fact, that’s exactly why we created L3 Leadership. When you become a member of L3 Leadership, you’ll have the ability to join one of our mastermind groups. You have access to our community of over 100 leaders and access to the tools and resources you need to take your life and leadership to the next level. If you want to learn more about becoming a member, go to L3leadership.org/membership. I also want to thank our sponsor, Henne Jewelers.

Doug Smith: 02:04 They are a jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife Laura and I got our engagement and wedding rings through Henne jewelers and we just think they’re an incredible company. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people. In fact, they give every engaged couple of books to help them prepare for marriage and now they’re actually starting to resource married couples as well, and we just love that. So if you’re in need of a good jeweler who loves people, check out how Hennejewelers.com. With that being said, let’s dive right into the interview. Enjoy my conversation with Mark Batterson. Mark, thank you so much for being willing to do this interview. It is a great honor for me to do this. I’ve been following you and your ministry for over a decade now, so thank you for your faithfulness to what God’s called you to do with your life. And for those who don’t know you, why don’t we just start off with you giving us a brief overview of who, who you are and what you do.

Mark Batterson: 02:50 Yeah. I’m a husband to my wife Laura. We have three kids. We live on Capitol Hill, which is a unique experience. And then I have the joy and privilege of pastoring National Community Church. One church with seven campuses here in the DC area. And then, I set my alarm early in the morning and write books. So, I guess that’s the long and short of it.

Doug Smith: 03:17 Yeah. So, so you’re known for your books, you’re known for, you know, everything you’re doing in DC, Ebenezer’s. I’m just curious, as people know you, what would you, what do you wish people knew about your journey that they may not know? Seeing everything you’re doing today?

Mark Batterson: 03:31 Well, you know, I think you, you overestimate what you can accomplish in a year or two. You, you underestimate what God can do in 10 or 20. I think I would want to go back, Doug and, put a spotlight on those first five years. They were not glamorous of pastoring, they weren’t anything really all that unique or special. But I’ll tell you this, even when I was preaching a 19 people I, I preached like it was the last sermon I was going to preach. I put everything into it and you know, it took 13 years for me to write my first book after feeling called to write. And so, you know, I think it’s a long road to get to the place where God is using you in a way that perhaps other people notice. But man, he is laying foundation. God is good at laying foundation and I’m grateful for those early years, that almost wilderness years where you’re just kind of, no one knows who you are, what you’re doing. But God sees and God knows and God is faithful to those, those years that we kind of labor in obscurity if you will.

Doug Smith: 04:50 Yeah. I want, I want to talk a little bit about your dream and those years of obscurity. I know at one point in your journey you actually planted a church prior to NCC and it and it didn’t work. And so can you just talk about that stage in your journey? You know, were you tempted to give up? What did you learn about your personal identity at that time? And really what did you learn about the dream that God placed in your heart?

Mark Batterson: 05:11 Yeah, you know, I hated it when it happened. You know, it was, it was embarrassing. It was frustrating. I’m a pretty competitive person, pretty driven person, you know, I’m a type three on the Enneagram, which means I’m a performer and so, you know, failed church plant is the last thing I wanted, but I’m so grateful looking back because one, I think the cure for the fear of failure is not success. I think it’s failure in small enough doses that you build up an immunity to it and you learn this very valuable lesson that less the Lord builds the house. They who labor, labor in vain. That. Let me just kind of cut to the chase. I bet everybody listening to this podcast if you’re like, you feel pretty average and none of us wants to be average, right?

Mark Batterson: 06:04 Like, that’s not what we are going after, but I have learned to really love the, in fact, I would even say that without the Holy Spirit’s help I’m below average, you know, God loves using the weak things to shame the strong loves using the foolish things to shame the wise. And so I, I just think that was an important chapter in my life to show me that I’m pretty ordinary. I’m pretty average, but listen, if you stay humble and stay hungry, there’s nothing that God can’t do in you or through you. And so I think again, God was laying foundation through that failed church plant.

Doug Smith: 06:49 Yeah. I don’t know if you’ve read Henry Cloud wrote a fantastic book called Necessary Endings. And looking back on that stage, would you say that that was a necessary ending in your journey? And if so, or either way, what would be your advice to someone who may be as experienced in end like you experienced?

Mark Batterson: 07:05 Well, if I had experienced success there would have never moved to DC and I got to be honest, I love living and ministering in the nation’s capital. We would not have the kind of influence that we have. Listen, I, I love Chicago. I Love Chicago style pizza. Jordan was playing for the Bulls. We had family in the Chicago area. We did not want to leave, but if we had succeeded there, we would’ve stayed there. And so I do think it was God allowing us to kind of fall on our faces, but then to pick us back up, dust this off and move us about 595 miles away and so looking back on it, I’m, I’m grateful for it. I think it was a necessary ending if you will.

Doug Smith: 07:55 Yeah. And through your writing and through your content, you write a lot about dreams and dreaming God-sized dreams. The two books that stick out the most for me in that category, or Chase the Lion, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, I would just leave this really open-ended. What advice do you have to people when it comes to just dreaming and, and being open to what God wants to deposit in their heart?

Mark Batterson: 08:16 Yeah, I think that, first of all, let’s not under spiritualize dreams. The byproduct of being filled with the holy spirit is dreaming dreams and seeing visions. And I honestly think that dreaming is a form of praying and praying is a form of dreaming. I don’t know any other way to say it. The more I pray, the bigger I dream and the bigger I dream, the more I have to pray. And so there, there’s something intricately related between those two things. Um, I would say this because I, you know, there are people who would say like, I’m just not a dreamer. That’s not my personality. I want to be careful there because I remember in Grad school a professor talked about how there are basically two categories of people, goal setters and problem solvers. And I thought that was interesting because, I’m a goal setter, but my wife is more of a problem solver.

Mark Batterson: 09:17 But really the problem she’s trying to solve, that’s her dream. So, you know, I think it all depends kind of on the mindset that you have, but at the end of the day, I am convinced of this, that, you know, by definition, a God-sized dream is beyond your ability and beyond your resources. And God loves us to pursue those things because then when we accomplished them, we can’t take credit for it because we didn’t do it. God did it through us. And so in that sense, I would just say to people that are dreaming, you know, don’t be afraid to dream beyond your ability beyond your resources. And the last thing I would say is, you do have to give it some time. You know, when I wrote the circle maker, there were kind of three catchphrases. Think long, pray hard, dream big.

Mark Batterson: 10:13 I see a lot of people, they dream big, but they don’t think long. Well, you’re going to get frustrated very quickly because the bigger the dream, probably the longer it’s going to take and so it really does come down to a Eugene Peterson long obedience in the same direction. I’m a big believer in that. And  yeah. So those are my thoughts on dreaming.

Doug Smith: That’s so good. And just at this stage in your life, what are you dreaming about right now? I’m just curious.

Mark Batterson: Well, I tell you what, two big things right now. One is shooting a movie and we have a script for a film that, it’s the last thing I’m gonna do. I’m gonna make this movie and I sound silly saying it because I have no, well, let me say it this way. Watching movies is not a resume for making movies was all of us, you know, would have a shot at producing films.

Mark Batterson: 11:13 But I put my faith in Christ after watching a movie called the hiding place when I was six years old. And God has had it in my heart for a long time to be a part of making a film. I finally found a, what it is that I want to make a film about and going to sound kind of clandestine, but, not quite ready to share it, but we have a script, we have a pitch deck, we have a teaser, we, we just need $7,000,000. So there you have it. I, that’s a big dream for me. And that’s a fun one because I know that it’s going to take God doing it because I can’t pull this off. So that’s a big one. And then we’re, we have, an acre of property on Capitol Hill, which is a miracle in and of itself.

Mark Batterson: 12:01 It was a 29 point $2 million dollar castle that we purchased, by the way, 18 years from the day that I did a four-point seven-mile prayer walk around Capitol Hill. I turned the corner at this property. We have no business owning it, but, somehow we managed to purchase it. And right now we’re meeting with architects and we’re believing that a God gave it to us to really make a difference for a long time. And so I’m a dream and big on that front and, designing, a campus in an urban campus as well as a marketplace, a place where we can incubate some businesses and us, if we start going down this track, it’s going to turn it into a whole different podcast. I’ll just kind of tease it right there. But if we can get this right, I think we can model something for the urban church because I will say this, I’m not sure that urban churches can live off of ties and offerings.

Mark Batterson: 13:04 I think we have to be more creative than that. And, you know, in our neck of the woods, 14 million an acre, that’s how much property costs. Well, you aren’t going to do that on ties and offerings. You’re going to have to get creative and think outside the box. And so, you know, we have a coffee house, we have a movie theater, we have a dream center, but this one, this is big time. Now we’re playing a real estate developer, mixed-use retail restaurant. And, uh, but I’m believing that God’s anointing is not just for a preacher in the pulpit, Doug, it’s for the lawyer in the courtroom for the doctor in the operating room. It’s for the business person in the, in the boardroom. It’s a for the politico, uh, on Capitol Hill. It’s for the filmmakers, for the musician. It’s for all of us. The anointing is for everyone for everything. And if we could stop thinking in very narrow categories, I think our big God could do something that would probably surprise all of us.

Doug Smith: 14:04 Yeah. So you talked about the power of prayer and you wrote a phenomenal book on this, The Circle Maker, which I encourage everyone to read. But when you get a dream in your heart, you talked about doing a prayer walk over and over again in 18 years of the day. How do you pray circles around the dreams that God puts in your heart?

Mark Batterson: 14:20 Well, I think you consistently pray about it. I believe my prayer journal is huge because it’s where I track ideas. It’s, it’s honestly how I, how I obey Second Corinthians 10:5, take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. I think journaling is a way that you do that. You capture ideas and I found that when you pray, you know what it does is it sanctifies the reticular activating system, kind of in the back of the brainstem, the part of the brain that determines you notice. And so when you begin to pray for things, yes, God is moving sovereignly on your behalf, but it’s also allowing you to notice the things that you need to notice. I promise you, you start praying for things and you will bump into people that will help you accomplish that thing and you’re going to think to yourself like, how did that happen?

Mark Batterson: 15:12 Well, if you weren’t praying, number one, probably the divine appointment wouldn’t happen. And number two, even if it did, you wouldn’t recognize it. So there’s just something about that prayer piece that begins to kind of set up those divine appointments. And then you can’t just pray like it depends on God. You have to work like it depends on you. So when I felt called to write Doug, I mean started reading and I read 3000 books before I wrote one. I mean, you can’t just sit by and, you know, expect God to write it for you. You’re going to have to do some homework. And so I think that’s a key piece of that puzzle.

Doug Smith: So let’s just dive right into that. I do want to talk to you about writing 30. Was it 13 or 15 years before your first book? Thirteen years. Thirteen years.

Doug Smith: 16:00 I love this story and I’ll just leave this really open-ended and you could certainly share that. What advice do you have for an aspiring author? It seems everyone including myself, wants to write a book. What are you constantly telling them?

Mark Batterson: Well, here’s the good news. I think it’s getting easier and easier with publishing platforms. And I would say that probably everybody has a book in them. Um, I’m not saying a New York Times bestseller per se, but you know, I think all of us have a message and I like telling people, I think it was C.S. Lewis and, and when in doubt, just, you know, say it was C.S. Lewis, I think he said every life is comprised of a few themes. And so what I try to tell would be writers. I mean, what does that theme, what, what gets you up early in the morning?

Mark Batterson: 16:50 What keeps you up late at night? Because if you can find that theme, it’s going to help you write it, and have the energy to do it. The other thing I would say is the key to writing a book is really not writing skill per se. When I took a graduate assessment at 22, I scored very low in terms of aptitude for writing. It’s not a natural gifting a and it’s why I read 3000 books and I didn’t just read them. I studied how those writers were writing in a way that connected with me as a reader. But the other thing I would say is listen the key is just setting your alarm early in the morning. Honestly, that’s really what it comes down to. And, and I would say this, if you don’t give yourself a deadline, you will be working on that first book, until the Lord returns or until you cross that space-time continuum and enter a dimension

Mark Batterson: 17:48 the Bible calls heaven you know, you’ve got to, you’ve got to discipline yourself to set those deadlines. And uh, but that said, I would just say I’m glad I didn’t write a book at 22 because of what had to write a book at 23 to retract what I said. Listen, I’m grateful that, you know, God gave me those 13 years of really a frustration because he knew I needed to get to a place to be able to write in a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and actually have personal experiences that I could include in the book. And I would not have had those at 22.

Doug Smtih: Yeah. So after 13 years, you publish your first book. I want you to talk to one, aspiring authors, but to published authors you know, was your life complete when you published in a Pit with a Lion?

Doug Smith: 18:40 That was it. Everything you thought it would be. And I have heard you talk about how some books that you thought would do really well if done well, others that you wanted to do, I’ll have it sorted as well. What’s the journey like on the other side of publishing?

Mark Batterson: Oh Man. Well here’s a fun, fun fact you know, by the time you write the book, and by the way, when I got my first contract to write in it, put In a Pit, it was a four book contract and I signed that contract and then they said, but we want you to rewrite the entire manuscript. Oh my gosh. It was a little discouraging, but I had written a very reactive book and we found that word chase and one of the translations that indicates a more proactive approach from Benaiah that he Chased the Lion into the pit and it totally changed the book.

Mark Batterson: 19:33 And I’m so grateful that I went back and wrote it in a second time. But, here’s the fun fact after you write it, after you go through three edits, like lion edits, conceptual edits, and then you record the audiobook. You are so sick and tired, what you’ve written that honestly, Doug, like I rarely go back and read anything I’ve written. Um, you just kind of, you’re almost over the content because it’s been edited so many times. So that’s the danger. But, uh, I, you know, for, for aspiring authors, um, I would just maybe speak a word of encouragement that listens to it probably will take longer than you think and it probably will be a little bit harder than you think. But you can do this. Here’s what I would do. Establish a writing season. That’s what I call it. For me, it kicks off with my birthday, November fifth, and it goes til super bowl Sunday.

Mark Batterson: 20:33 And so I give myself a parentheses in time and then I preach a little bit less at church those months. I get into my writing cave, get up early in the morning. I take off my shoes because it’s holy ground and I start typing and I’m a perfectionist, so it’s hard for me to tie off the umbilical cord, but that’s what I tried to do. And  I come out of that writing season with a rough draft manuscript and then, you know, with the help of some editors, we make it better and better and better until finally you have a book. But here’s the thing, it’ll never be perfect. There are changes that I would make in every book probably on every page of every book. But you got to give yourself that deadline and set yourself up for a win. If you said even, hey, I work a day job, how am I going to do this?

Mark Batterson: 21:26 Well, write one hour per day and maybe give yourself nine or 12 months instead of three or four, but you’ve got to reverse engineer it and you probably have to have someone holding you accountable. So that, that’s my thought for aspiring writers.

Doug Smith: Do you just out of curiosity, do you stop reading during that season? I think I saw a post you did once, like I’m back to read season.

Mark Batterson: Yes. So, you know, I used to read 200, 250 bucks at a clip a year. And, but, but again I was pastoring 20 or 25 people so you know, I had the margin to do that, you know, these days I’m telling you it’s a, well I had a three month sabbatical a few years ago where I read 77 books and loved every minute of it, but I’m doing good if I can, if I can pull off 40 or 50 bucks now a year.

Mark Batterson: 22:15 I mean that’s, that’s pretty good. Again, and part of that is even sermon prep so you know, I don’t want it to come across as A. I’m reading more than I really am right now because I’m not in a writing season. I only used books for research and reference and so I’ll pull usually four, five dozen books that I know I might reference the fact, my last book Whisper, I don’t know how many footnotes, but it’s by far the most footnotes of any book I’ve written and it’s pretty well researched. I’m not reading those books, I’ve already read them, but I’m now on going back and I’m kind of calling all of that information and putting it in footnoting it. And so I don’t really read fresh books during that, writing season.

Doug Smith Since this was your most recent book, can you just talk about whisper a book on how to hear from God a little bit?

23:09 Why do you write it and why is it so important for leaders to hear from God?

Mark Batterson: Yeah. Well, this goes for writing and preaching. I dug. I think the key is a great organizing metaphor and you might think I’m overstating it, but that’s what all the parables are. They’re brilliant metaphors and I think whether it’s a book or sermon, you’ve got to capture people’s imagination up front. And so, um, I’ll just tell you the opening stories about Dr. Alfred Tomatis an otolaryngologist ear, nose and throat specialist, and an opera singer came in to see him and had lost his ability to hit certain notes that were within his octave range. And it was kind of this mystery like most specialist thought added a avoid vocal problem. But Dr. Tomatoes had a hunch he used a sanomintor and he figured out that an opera singer produces decibels that are louder than a military jet taking off from an aircraft carrier.

Mark Batterson: 24:11 And so what they realize is that this opera singer had been deafened by the sound of his own voice. And long story short, the Tomatis effect is this, you cannot sing what you cannot hear. If your ear is deafened to something, you lose your voice. And so, when I first saw that, Doug, I thought now there’s an organizing metaphor and I knew that it would be kind of the opening illustration for Whisper. And really the book is all about having a prophetic ear, an ear that can hear the voice of God. I talk about seven languages and, you know, we live in a culture. Everybody wants their voice to be heard but has so little to say because we don’t listen and, I think it starts if you want to find your voice, listen to the voice of God, and then you’ll actually have something to say that’s worth listening to. And so that’s kind of the backdrop and the heartbeat behind Whisper.

Doug Smith: 25:13 Yeah. Well, thank you for reading. And of course, we’ll include a link in the show notes for that. I want to talk to you about a little bit about leadership and empowerment specifically. You’re doing so much and I know you don’t do it all yourself, so you’ve had to be excellent at empowering others. In fact, I believe we stated that you only speak 26 weekends a year at NCC and you’re only taking a few engagements outside of that per year. I’m just curious what have you learned about empowering others that’s enabled you to do everything that you’re doing today?

Mark Batterson: 25:44 Yeah. Well, you know, if I, if we backpedal all the way back to, uh, the first few years of the church, I mean I want to go on the record and say I was preaching 51 or 52 times for many years, know there was no one in the bullpen. And here’s what happened, about 10 years in a couple of things. One, I started writing and I realized like, there is no way I can write books and preach 50 times a year. Well I could, but my sermons in books probably wouldn’t be that good. So part of it was just, I knew I needed to make an adjustment, but let me just say this, you know, I’m an ENFP, on the Myers Briggs. So when I preach, my message has come through that personality type. I’m also a white male. My messages come through my gender and through my ethnicity.

Mark Batterson: 26:43 One of the things I love about our teaching team and this is intentional that we wanted to, maybe let people hear a few different voices. And so we have, our executive pastor who’s on our teaching team, our pastor of discipleship, and she is a woman, which I guess would be redundant that I just said that, but, it’s interesting when she preaches, you know, that message goes through a little different filter. And then, one of our campus pastors, is black and by the way, former Washington Redskin and so an athlete and when he speaks, listen, if there’s something important because it’s one thing for us as a church to say that, oh, we’re all about reconciliation. It’s a different thing when it’s modeled in the pulpit that sometimes it’s a white guy preaching sometimes as the black guy preaching.

Mark Batterson: 27:43 And this is so important. And what I love about it, Doug, honestly, is I feel like it’s made the church revolve around me less. And that’s important. And I’ll tell you why, because I never used a personal pronoun when it comes to National Community Church. I never say my church because it’s not, it’s, Jesus is the shepherd of his church. He said I will build my church. He didn’t say, I will build your church, I do love it when our people use the possessive pronoun like I want them to say it’s my church, but I’m careful not to do that because it’s really not. And uh, one of the things our teaching team has done is it’s allowed us to have, I think have a more well-balanced kind of teaching, diet and teaching voice. And so long story short, yeah, I’m down to about a 26 weekends, by the way.

Mark Batterson: 28:37 One other person on our teaching team is my spiritual father. He’s 77, his name is Dick Pho and he’s kind of the grandfather of National Community Church. Grandfather, not godfather clarifying. Yes. Just, just making sure we’re tracking and you know, I think he brings a voice of wisdom and life experience. I hope people are picking up what I’m trying to throw down right here that like, in fact, can I just go on and on a tangent right now?

Doug Smith: Go for it.

Mark Batterson: I think celebrity culture has invaded the church to an unhealthy degree and you know, there’s a lot of reasons for that. I think, you know, social media, like number of followers or likes becomes almost this popularity contest and then we start paying attention to the wrong things and I want to be careful here because listen, I, whenever anybody is impacted by a book I’ve written, I praise God because it’s an answer to prayer because I have a prayer team praying that the Lord would put the right book in the right hands at the right time.

Mark Batterson: 29:47 So when someone comes up to me and says, Hey, I’ve been impacted by a book. I love it, I love it, Doug and I give God the praise for that. But when someone uses the word fan, can we not use that word? I get it. Listen and there’s a dispensation of grace for anybody that you come up to me and say, you know, loved my writing and, use that word. I’m going to give you a hug and whatnot, but I just don’t think that that language belongs in the church. I think there’s one hero of the story. His name is Jesus. All of us are sinners saved by grace and I mean, that’s a total tangent, but I just, I sense something, I’m in a lot of green rooms and it just the people I love and respect are the people who are just so down to earth and we gotta be careful right here, in our culture that we don’t let this kind of change the demeanor of who we are as a church.

Doug Smith: 30:54 So I love this thought and you develop a lot of young leaders. How can you, to follow up on everything you just said, one when it comes to diversity in the church for leadership are control freaks and they think they have to be in the pulpit 52 weeks a year. How can they take small steps towards creating more diverse church with different personalities and perspectives? And then two, just to follow up, how can, what do you do to stay grounded as a leader and, and what do you, how do you see others being staying grounded? So they make it to the finish line because at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important.

Mark Batterson: 31:27 Yeah, well answered the second question first. I think there’s great danger when people experience a, a measure of success and I, and I’m careful using that work is, to me success is just doing the best you can with what you have, where you are, and I think the most successful people in the kingdom are pastors and most of us have never even heard of that are pastoring, you know, a few dozen people in a rural context that don’t get any kind of notoriety but they’re faithful and they’re marrying and bearing and kind of doing everything in between. So, let’s make sure we try to define that the right way, but, but you know, let, let’s say you’re pastoring a church and it starts to grow and, and you know, there’s, there’s kind of, there’s something that’s conferred with that that people sort of look at you and that’s who gets invited to speak at conferences.

Mark Batterson: 32:18 And I get that, but it always scares me a little bit, Doug, when that growth happens too fast. I want to be careful here because honestly, part of me, my reaction is, well, wow, the Lord must really trust that person. Do you know what I’m saying? The, but I also like all of us, we better make sure that foundation is well laid. So I’ll give you an example. This last year, I think our budget was 10 million, is a church. I think we gave a couple million dollars to missions, but I remember well when our income was $2,000 a month and it costs $1,600 to rent the DC public school where we met. So that left $400 for our salary and other, all other expenses. I wouldn’t trade those, those early months of financial hardship because I think they prepare you for what’s next. And so I think that’s kind of my take on that second question.

Mark Batterson: 33:19 And now I forgot the first question.

Doug Smith: Just how can, how can leaders start to be intentional with empowering others, bringing more diversity into their church or even workplace for that matter?

Mark Batterson: Yeah. Well, let’s be honest with each other. First, why don’t we delegate? Well, there’s a couple of reasons for that. One is it takes more work to figure out how to help others do what they do because then you have to mentor and you have to train. But I think the second big reason if we’re just being honest, is insecurity. So I’ll go first when we first started out and we would occasionally have a speaker come in and speak. I wanted them to do good but not too good. You know, there was just this insecurity and, and I think what a teaching team has done is it’s allowed me to, hey, we have an incredibly gifted teaching team and they bring unique gifts and unique personality and they can say some things in some ways that I can’t and vice versa.

Mark Batterson: 34:21 So I think there’s something about that that we just have to overcome our insecurity. You know, you’ve got to surround yourself with people that are more gifted than you are in different areas. AndI think that’s what’s going to help. Well, first of all it’s going to be your greatest gift. But it’s the Saul-David thing, right? I mean, David was saving Saul, he was helping Saul save face, like he’s the guy that was keeping the kingdom and tack keeping the Philistines the bay. And then what happened? Well, little insecurity got into the mix and Saul became says he kept a jealous eye on David. Listen, leaders, if you have a jealous eye, it’s going to come back to bite you in the back. And so somehow some way you’ve got to hand this thing off and then ultimately the true test, I think a spiritual maturity is not mourning with those who mourn. It’s rejoicing with those who rejoice. In other words, it’s finding as much joy in someone else’s success as your own. And I think that’s part of what comes down to. And I’m just a big believer in this kind of team approach to church and to teaching. And I hope people hear my heart on that.

Doug Smith: 35:41 Yeah. I want to transition, this may seem random. I want to talk briefly about parenting. So you’ve been at, I believe you’ve been through the all the stages of parenting and so I’m just curious. I have a two-year-old daughter, and then I’m about to have baby number two in a few weeks here. So I’m just curious, what advice do you have for parents who are just at the start of their journey?

Mark Batterson: 36:01 Well, a couple of thoughts and, I don’t want this to come across the wrong way, but part of me feels like there are two things that I’ve kind of poured my heart and soul into that might be worth listeners’ time. One is praying circles around your children. You know, that little book, I think it’s a great resource for parents and it’s this reminder, Doug, that you’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent and I really think prayer turns parents into prophets who shape the destiny of their children. And so if listeners want some of my best practices as a parent, you know, I share a lot of those and that little book praying circles around your children. And then, just wrote last year, Play the Man, which is a fun book that talks about the discipleship covenant that I did with my two sons when they turn 13, we did it a year of discipleship, a covenant or rite of passage.

Mark Batterson: 37:01 Hiked the Grand Canyon Rim to rim, did a spiritual challenge, mental challenge, physical challenge. And you know, I unpack all of that in that book, Play the Man. And so part of me almost wants to kind of point there because, you know, I think parents come on, we need all the help we can get. And the funny thing is Doug, and you know, just about the time you figure out how to parent a baby, they become a toddler and about the time you figure out how to parent a toddler they go to preschool and then, you know, and then they go to kindergarten and then next thing you know, they’re asking you a precalculus questions like my 16-year-old that I don’t know how to answer. And so I think you got to keep growing and adapting as a parent. And I think it’s our greatest, greatest calling in life, you know, I, I like saying at the end of the day I want to be famous in my home.

Mark Batterson: 37:59 And by the way that cycles all the way back to your original question about a number of times I speak outside of NCC and it was 12, I used to speak about 30 times a year and it just, it was stretching me so thin that I had to put a boundary in place and went back to 12 nights. And this year I’ll only do five speaking trips. And part of that is because you just got to figure out how to kind of play the balancing act. And there are seasons where, you know, during our church planting years, it got a little bit more time, energy because it had to. And then I had to put a boundary in place and I’ll give the church one night a week because my kids need help with homework. So it’s about just being intentional and proactive I think with some of those decisions.

Mark Batterson: 38:49 And one last thought, I’d tell you what, my coffee date on Mondays with my wife is pretty sacred. That’s our Sabbath and you’ve got to learn how to kind of guard those relationships with a kind of rhythms and routines. And of course, I read a little bit about that too in a Play the Man.

Doug Smith: Yeah. So as we wrap up, I usually like to dive into the lightning round with a bunch of fun questions, but I’ll just go to one because I’ve always wanted to just hear you talk more about this. You love adventures. I want to hear you talk about the importance of a bucket list in your life. So just so people know, I’ve stolen your whole bucket list last year I read A Trip Around the Sun on the way to vacation and then I think it’s in a Circle Maker.

Doug Smith: 39:32 were the actual list is. But one. Yeah. Just talk about the importance of bucket lists and what have you learned about having one and then maybe what are one or two things that you want to check off this year?

Mark Batterson: Yeah, great question. Well, if faith is being sure of what we hope for, then it seems to me like dolls are pretty important. In fact, I don’t think you’ll accomplish any of the goals you don’t set. And so I went through this exercise that, you know, probably 15 years ago and my, list grew and, and what happens over time is you add to it and there are a few things that might come off that list over time, but what it does is it’s another reticular activating system thing. Once you set the goal, you start noticing things. And Doug, it’s been crazy over the years.

Mark Batterson: 40:22 Like I remember the day I put on that list, a travel goal to visit the castle church and Rittenberg Germany. I kid you not, the next day I get a phone call out of nowhere inviting me to speak at an event where? In Wittenberg, when on Reformation Day and, you know, crazy stuff like that happens. And then there’ll be some things that will even surprise you this, this past year. Um, uh, well, about 660 days ago, God healed my asthma. I had it for 40 years, severe and God, heal, met, tell a little bit of that story and whispered and to celebrate that I decided to run a marathon. Well, most of my life goals had more to do with like Triathlon, like it wasn’t thinking in marathon categories, but then over time you being again to kind of adapt to life. And by the way, I’m adding a few life goals that maybe are more related to my kids. For example, my daughter really wants to visit Switzerland someday. Well, I’ll find a goal in Switzerland, that’s worthwhile. And, you know, I would just say this, make sure you’re praying about it upfront and let’s not sell set selfish goals that are actually going to undermine spiritual growth. You know, let’s set goals that actually glorify God and but that bucket list that, that lead goal piece, a big believer in it. And of course, I think I shared 10 steps to setting life goals in the Circle Maker.

Doug Smith: 42:03 Yeah. Is there anything with the time that we have left you want to leave leaders with today?

Mark Batterson: 42:07 Well, you know, maybe one closing thought that you know, what I found is it doesn’t get easier. It gets harder, and that’s a good thing. See, here’s the thing, the blessings of God will complicate your life. SIn will complicate it in a way that it shouldn’t be complicated, but blessings will complicate your life in a way that it should be complicated. So I’ll give you an example. When, when Laura and I got married, it complicated my life, praise God any other way. Thank God for 25 years of complications. We have three complications named Parker, Summer and Josiah. When our church went multisite, it got more complicated to be honest you know, 50 slash 55 staff now, in some ways that’s more complicated. But praise God for all of those complications. You know, at the end of the day, I believe God wants to interest more and more to us and that means it’s probably going to get more complicated, but he’s going to give us the grace that we need, the wisdom that we need, the strength that we need to do what he’s called us to do.

Doug Smith: 43:14 Oh, well, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for investing in me and everyone that will listen to this today.

Mark Batterson: 43:19 Hey, absolute joy. Doug. Thanks so much. God bless

Doug Smith: 43:23 Hey everyone, thank you so much for listening to our interview with Mark Batterson. You can find ways to connect with him and links to everything that we discussed in the show notes@l3leadership.org/episode191. I want to thank our sponsor, Alex Tulandin, Alex’s or full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty, and if you’re looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy. He is a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and would love the opportunity to connect with you. You can learn more about Alex@Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com. As always, if you enjoyed the podcast, it would mean the world to me. If you would leave a rating and review and subscribe to this and share it on social media, it helps us to grow our audience, so thank you in advance for that and you can stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at l. three leadership by signing up for email lists@l3leadership.org. As always, I like to end with a quote and I will quote Mark Batterson today because I just love that interview and he has so many great quotes. He said this, he said, pray, then pray some more, but you can’t just pray like it depends on God. You also have to work like it depends on you. I love that. 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.