L3 Leadership Transcriptions: Women in Leadership, Managing Work and Family, and Pulling off a Successful Leadership Transition with Julie Mullins, Senior Pastor of Christ Fellowship

By July 31, 2017Transcripts

Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with Julie Mullins. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos.

Julie Mullins: 00:00 The number that keeps me up at night is the 1.4 million people in this region that we live in in south Florida that will never enter the doors of the church this weekend and they’re lost and they’re, heading for an eternity separated from God. And I’m actually in a place where we can do something about that. And so for us, 1.4 million people is really the goal.

Doug Smith: 00:23 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 157.

Doug Smith: 00:30 What’s up everyone? Welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I’m the founder of L3 Leadership.

Doug Smith: 00:36 We are a leadership development company devoted to helping you become the best leader that you can be. If you’re new to this podcast, we’re committed to bring you three or four episodes every single month to help you grow and develop as a leader. One will always be a talk from a leadership event that we host. One will be an interview that I do from a, 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 subscribe and leave a rating and review. And I’d also really appreciate if you would share it on social media. So if this podcast episode impacts you, please share it on Facebook and Linkedin and everywhere that you are in the social media world. I really appreciate it.

Doug Smith: 01:12 So thank you in advance for that. In this specific episode, you’re going to get to hear me interview Julie Mullins, who’s one of the senior pastors of Christ Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach, Florida. This is a church that had been following for many years, primarily got, I got introduced to the church because it’s a church that John Maxwell goes to and he’s on staff at as a teaching pastor. And so I’ve been following them for years and I’ve actually had the privilege of getting to go to one of their services at Christmas one year. And I heard John speak there. And so I just love what this church is doing and it was an honor to get to spend time with Julie and I’m telling you, she’s just incredible and you’re gonna absolutely love this interview. A little bit about Julie before we dive in. She and her husband Todd are both the senior pastors at Christ Fellowship Church in South Florida.

Doug Smith: 01:52 Christ Fellowship is a diverse multisite church that’s having a great impact both regionally and around the globe. Julie specifically serves on the directional leadership team and she’s extremely passionate about building a healthy church culture and empowering leaders. She also started an organization called Hope for Freedom. It’s an initiative to fight human trafficking in her home state and they actually opened the first safe house on the east coast of Florida, caring for trafficked minor girls. Which is just amazing. Again, I loved the interviewing Julie and specifically, you guys know me. I enjoy long-form interviews. It’s nothing for me to spend an hour with a leader. But I do want to respect your time. So I’m going to start breaking interviews into two parts, where I can make each episode, you know, 20 to 30 minutes so you can finish it in one commute and then go to the next episode.

Doug Smith: 02:36 So, therefore, in this episode is part one of my interview with Julie and you’re going to get to hear her share her advice for women in leadership, how to handle the tension between being a mom and building a ministry, how to make it in leadership over the long haul and how to pull off a successful leadership transition. In part two of the interview which you can listen to in episode 158 you’ll hear Julie talk about organizational leadership, how to develop and sustain culture, her favorite books, her advice to your younger self, how to have hard conversations and so much more. You can find links to connect with Julie in what we talked about in everything we talked about in the show notes at L3leadership.org/episode157 and you can find everything you need to there. I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did, but before we jump in, just a few announcements.

Doug Smith: 03:20 Hey guys, I just wanted to take a minute and talk to you about L3 Leadership membership. I want to encourage you to become a member of L3 Leadership. The reason why I think you need to become a member is because I believe every leader needs a group of leaders to go through life with that, encourage them, hold them accountable to their goals and help them reach their potential. And all through leadership we’ve developed that community of leaders and they will help you do just that. And so as a member of all three leadership, you actually get access to that community of leaders. You will, you’ll have the ability to join a mastermind group, which I believe is absolutely critical to your success. I think every leader needs to be in a mastermind group and you’ll get access to additional resources, extra content in a member-only forum on our website. And it’s a great way to support L3 Leadership as well. Again, it’s it costs money to run podcasting and all the things that we do. And so again, it’s another way to partner with us and say, I believe in what you’re doing. Thank you. Memberships only $25 a month and you can sign up and learn more at L3leadership.org/membership.

Doug Smith: 04:16 I want to thank our sponsor, Henne Jewelers. They are a jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife and I actually got our engagement on wedding rings through Henne Jewelers and they’re just an incredible company. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people. John gave Laura and I book to help us prepare for our marriage and he’s been investing in me as a leader, a father and a husband now for years. And I’m so grateful for that. So if you’re in need of a good jeweler, check out Hennejewelers.com and I want to thank our other sponsor, Alex, to land in 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 at pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com.

Doug Smith: 04:59 All right, with all that being said, let’s jump right into the interview with Julie and joy and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements. Hey Julie, 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 introduction of who you are and what you do.

Julie Mullins: 05:12 Great. Really honored to be with you today and just to be able to invest in the lives of leaders. So this is just really my honor. So first of all, I am the wife of Todd Mullins and the mom of Jefferson Mullins. And I also have the privilege of being the Co-senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in right here in sunny South Florida.

Doug Smith: 05:34 That’s incredible. And so I’ve been following Christ Church for a long time. You guys are making a huge impact, not only in Florida, but I’d say at a national level as well. And I’m just curious from your perspective, what do you wish people knew about your journey to leading a the church that you’re leading, that they may not know?

Julie Mullins: 05:50 Well, a couple of things. Probably, you know, that a lot of people when they hear about Christ Fellowship and the impact we’re having in this and you know, the nine campuses and the thousands of people, they might think that it was a get rich quick scheme. You know, that’s the, how did you get so big so quick? And that just really was not our story. Right? So this year Todd and I are celebrating 30 years of ministry, 30 years of marriage. And so, and I just really, really feel like we’re just getting started. But when I look back on those 30 years, um, I just looked back at the, at the beginning stages and, and it was anything but, you know, anything but quick church growth. Right? So, I think a big part of our journey as a church and my journey personally, is that when I look back on the 30 years, I think there’s been, you know, a few defining moments along the way.

Julie Mullins: 06:42 You know, there was the day we were called into ministry, there was, you know, jumping into student ministries for the first time, that transition and to senior leadership. But over 30 years, I can probably count the defining moments on one hand. Right? But really it’s about the steps that we took in between those defining moments. Right? So, our journey really has been about some of the daily steps that our leadership was really forged in the steps that we took between the defining moments. And I look back, for myself personally that it was really a step that I took, as a 19-year-old college student. When I decided to take the step, I felt like God had a call on my life. But you know, back then, I didn’t know even what that meant. I felt like he had a call and a purpose.

Julie Mullins: 07:31 And I even felt called to ministry. But, you know, as a young woman, I didn’t even know what that meant. And so as a 19-year-old college student, I stepped in the doors of a very small church that was meeting in a school cafeteria. And we had about 30 people and we grew to 70 people in seven years. But I was the only college student in that church at the time. So I was, you know, the young adult’s ministry, right? So even though I didn’t have a vision, I found leaders of integrity and passion that did have a vision. So I aligned my life and I look back at everything I’ve been able to be a part of over the last 30 years, you know, to open a safe house, to rescue girls out of human trafficking, to open up children’s homes to make a difference

Julie Mullins: 08:12 in the foster care system to be a part of people’s God’s stories. And I think when I look back at every single story and every single God story I’ve been able to be a part of, I can trace it back to that one step that didn’t even seem very important at the time. It was that step to step into that church as a 19-year-old college student and that step really marked that decision marked every leg of my journey. So I really believe in the local church, you know, that those who are planted in the house of the Lord will flourish. And being planted in this church for these years under great leadership for many years. And then the relationships along the way have just marked every part of my journey. So I guess that’s it. That really, you know, there’s really no such thing as small decisions, right? So small decisions with big consequences or really big decisions in disguise.

Doug Smith: 09:03 That’s really good. I am curious, so you took that step and obviously 30 years later you’re still taking good steps in the same direction. A lot of people took that first step and aren’t, haven’t lasted 30 years. I’m just curious, can you talk to young leaders when it comes to the longevity in ministry, what’s enabled you and Todd to be a mission for 30 years and not fall apart personally, not have the church fall apart? I’m just curious what advice you have.

Julie Mullins: 09:27 Yeah, we could spend a lot of time on this, but you know, when you think about, you know, the race that God’s marked out for us, you know, that the book of Hebrews talks about and you think about that race. And so many times we think of a race and we think it’s a 100-yard dash or a well-marked out marathon. But really the race that’s been marked out for us is more like the tough mudder, Spartan race and barbed wire along the way. And, and there’s, you know, there’s a lot of, unexpected twists and turns, and when you look at our race, that way, you realize that the race is going to be run and one really one step at a time. And for us, I think that there’s a couple of things, but the two that really popped into my mind are that you need perseverance and you need people, right?

Julie Mullins: 10:12 You know, you need perseverance to go, wow, you know, this, I’m gonna, I have set my, my eye on the prize, keeping my eyes on Jesus, you know, who is the author of this race, the perfector of this race. And so there’s perseverance of just the dailiness and recognizing that, again in ministry that I’m, I remember a pastor saying that 85% of ministry is just showing up, right? I think it’s important just to keep showing up and there is a perseverance that’s forged. And I also think it’s people, the people that you, that you bring along with you on the journey, you know, having relationships that are going to encourage you, you know, encourage you on and, speak life and truth and, believe for you when you’re having a hard time believing for yourself. But also those relationships in ministry especially, you need those relationships that are going to hold you accountable for commitments that you make.

Julie Mullins: 11:05 And so we’ve had those kinds of relationships. We’ve been blessed to have those relationships with. Those relationships don’t just happen. You know, there’s intentionality behind that. And so we’ve had, we had Todd’s parents who were setting the pace for us. You know, that we’re faithful in ministry. You need to have those mentors in your life that, people that are ahead of you, that you’re asking the hard questions to. And then those side by side, those people that are running alongside you, that, have the same passion as, as you do to be able to finish well.

Doug Smith: 11:37 Yeah. Along those lines. I was going to ask you about this, uh, later, I think Sarah posed this question. Sarah Keller and she said in leadership and ministry it’s so important to have people that you can be real with what you were just talking about. But with you guys influenced being so broad, how do you know who you can trust and who do you do life with? So don’t get lonely? Is it w was that ever a hard process for you or you are always surrounded by great people?

Julie Mullins: 11:58 No, I think that it has been a process because, you know, we, we are, because we’ve had this longevity minister and we have people now that have been our friends for, you know, 20 to 25 years, you know, and people are like, oh, that’s amazing. We don’t have that. Well, I want to tell you this has been hard work, you know, the honeymoon phase was over early on and we had had to, you know, work at these kinds of relationships. And so, so there’s the again, being committed to those relationships for the long haul, being, you know, we know the good, the bad, the ugly about each other, and choosing to love, you know, to love each other well through the years to, to keep true to those commitments, you know, make the commitment and then keep the commitment in those relationships.

Julie Mullins: 12:44 So we have been blessed to have that. And then, you know, you asked them, who do you trust? You know, and I think that we trust a lot of people with our lives. You know, we’re very open with our lives. We’re always open to new relationships and having those relationships like we have through ARC you know, and association-related churches and Hillsong family, having those, we’re always open to those relationships. But we do have a few people, you know, in our lives that we’ve invited into, you know, to, to be able to speak into our lives. And those are, you know, those are relationships that you’ve had for a few years and then I’m inviting them into your lives. To be able to open yourself up to them. So, um, one of those people is Lance Witt and he has a ministry called Replenish and, it’s about keeping pastors holy, healthy and humble. And he, you know, he’s our accountability and is allowed to ask us those hard questions. So yeah.

Doug Smith: 13:41 Just out of curiosity for, for pastors listening, so where can they go to connect with that? That sounds like, is that a resource to all pastors? I mean, I think that’s something worth mentioning.

Julie Mullins: 13:49 Yes. I think, let’s see. It’s Replenish is the book and I’m, and I believe it’s replenish.com. Awesome.

Doug Smith: 13:57 Okay. I’ll include a link to that in the notes. I want to talk to you a little bit about women in leadership. This is a question again from Saturday. I thought it was great you said. So. I’ll go back to one thing though. 

Doug Smith: Oh, sure. Yeah. One

Julie Mullins: 14:08 I just, I wanted to go back a minute, you know, to, the perseverance piece of minute three and, and the longevity. One of the things that you know, that we’ve learned along the way is about our perspective of ministry. I think sometimes we view ministry as, you know, a climb up Mount Everest, right? And the perspective if, if you’re going to go the distance and ministry, you can’t have the perspective of when you reach the top of the mountain that you’re going to have, you know, 10 campuses and 35,000 people or 5,000 kids and my student ministries, you know, but the perspective of the ministry is really like a long journey. It’s like a road trip and it’s not about getting to the top and arriving, but it’s about being faithful right on every step of the journey because God cares as much about how you manage the minivan and how you manage what happens, you know, with your family on the journey, how you navigate those detours. And I think sometimes we’re trying to arrive, you know, and the goal isn’t arriving, but the goal is faithfulness because at the end of this, what we all want to hear is well done, good and faithful servant. And there are pieces of the journey along the way, that we may not think are, are the measures of our ministry success, but you know, but really managing that minivan, navigating the detours, paying attention to the hitchhikers, those are just as important as the place that we’re headed to.

Doug Smith: 15:32 Yeah. I’m just curious from a personal perspective. So a lot of people there, they’re top of the mountain that they’re aiming for is pretty much when you guys get to live in a day in and day out. So, right. If I ever to have a ministry like Tom, Julie Mullins, all man, then I’ll have it made. But you guys are there. I’m curious. Do you, do you even feel like you’re on top of the mountain? Can you just speak to that? Because I think so many times, again, when I was a teenager, I’m like, Oh, if I could be John Maxwell, you know, my life would be complete. But I’m sure John experienced life just like everyone else. Right. And so can you just speak to the person saying, I wish I was a Mullins.

Julie Mullins: 16:05 Oh, wow. You know, I can’t even believe that would happen because you, we’re just trying to figure out, you know, how to stay out of God’s way. Right? And what God is doing is so special and, and we just get to be a part of it. And I think I’m recognizing, you know, that, you know, what we’re a part of is just so much bigger than the part that we play. And recognizing that we only Seward this for a season and, and, this isn’t our ministry. It’s God’s ministry and we’re, we’re stewarding it for this season. And so we hold everything with really open hands. But also that there is ministry that happens, you know, every day, day in and day out in your home, you know, in your relationships, in the people that God brings into your lives that you have no idea, you know, the, the seeds that you’re planted now planting now that will flourish in the next season.

Julie Mullins: 16:55 AndI don’t think that we ever arrive. For us, when we read like our, church name may be an, you know, an Outreach Magazine, you know, for one of the fastest growing churches in America or, um, one of the biggest churches, you know, wherever we are, unless I honestly have no idea where we are on that list or what number that is, even though I respect those, you know, I just think it’s great the work that they’re doing. But the number that keeps me up at night is the 1.4 million people in this region that we live in, in South Florida that will never enter the doors of the church this weekend and they’re lost and they’re heading for an eternity separated from God. And I’m actually in a place where we can do something about that.

Julie Mullins: 17:40 And so for us, 1.4 million people is, is really the goal. And so that means that it’s not going to be just us what we can do at Christ Fellowship, but it’s really about the big C church and how we can partner with all the churches in this region, because we know we’re not just called a pastor this church, we’re called the pastor this region. And so we will not arrive. We will not arrive until we see divorce rates going down in this region. We see businesses flourishing because they’re, you know, they’re, they’re doing their business according to godly principles. We see, we see bullying going down. We see students, you know, um, that are stepping into their God call at a young age and ready to take on the next generation of the church strong. We see literacy rates, you know, going down. And that all of our kids and our region, cause when I drive down, when I drive through our neighborhoods, you know, and there are people that I’ve never met before, they’re still, you know, they’re who I’m called to just as much as the people that come through the doors every week.

Julie Mullins: 18:39 So I don’t know. I hope we arrive. I hope that is 1.4 million people. I have vision for it, but until we get there, we have not arrived.

Doug Smith: 18:48 That’s so good, Julie. Thank you for sharing that. Anything else before I jump into women in leadership.

Julie Mullins: 18:54 That’s great. Yeah.

Doug Smith: 18:54 Great. So this is a question from Sarah that I love. She said as a woman, what are the seasons of ministry look like for you? You now have a ground grown son, but obviously, at one time he was younger, one of their seasons look like. Can you talk to all the moms and the women that are in leadership?

Julie Mullins: 19:09 Yeah, so our, you know, our, our season, our beginning season opening season for us, when Todd and I first got married, I was teaching school. And so for the first, you know, eight years, I taught school in the public school system. And again, as I said before, we were about a church of 70 to a hundred at the time. So it was necessary that I worked, for us to live at the time. Todd called me his sugar Mama. Yeah so I worked outside, but I was all in for the church. I loved teaching because I got to serve in student ministries and serve on the weekends. And, I know so many, you know, so many girls out there in ministry that they’re, you know, they’re, serving alongside their husbands and they may have jobs outside the church, but there’s such a high value to that.

Julie Mullins: 19:54 And in that season, I really just really a burnt in me of value for all of our volunteers and all of our dream seniors that come every single week, weekend and week out, and they work, you know, through the week. But as a woman in leadership, you know, that that was my opening season and even though I didn’t, get a paycheck, I really believe that ministry isn’t about a paycheck or a vocation. It was more of our lifestyle. So then through, after about eight years after a long journey of infertility and really wanting children for several years, God blessed us with Jefferson, our miracle son. And I thought I’d have five kids, but, God blessed me with one who’s been the work of five. I do in the early years, I was still plugged into ministry. And did, you know, open, started a mom’s ministry at the church and, loved it and really felt like, you know, I was just getting my stride in those years.

Julie Mullins: 20:48 But also as, as Jeffers got a little older, we kind of bumped up against some, some challenges that we weren’t expecting. You know, and I really talk about this, about navigating some of these detours and I think some of the biggest teachers in ministry a lot of times have to do with our family, you know, things that come up that we don’t expect. And, Jefferson had several developmental delays and really required a lot of therapy in those early years. And, that really meant for me just as I was getting my stride, um, and really feeling like I was able to, to lead and, and excited actually about not working in the workplace, but being able to volunteer more at church. During that season. You know, I had, I had to step back and start to really prioritize Jefferson and, what he needed in that season for really the next six years.

Julie Mullins: 21:34 You know, the hours of therapy, he really needed homeschooling at the time. And I’m in that investment in that season, even though I was all in, in my heart, you know, for ministry, my calendar would not have reflected that at the time. But that was the season that God had me in. I think that’s a, in that season there was, you know, I realized that, that there’s tensions. I think that all of us as women, you know, really wrestle with administry. We have this tension of, of our call, you know, the God call that God’s placed on our lives and, we, and many of us experienced that, you know, at a young age. And then that tension of leading and loving our family. Well, and I think sometimes we look at those as two opposing forces, right? We looked at those as to, you know, taking us in two opposite directions.

Julie Mullins: 22:19 But I think for me in that season, it was just really learning how to, look at them as not to, you know, two opposing forces, but actually tension, right? Two tensions. And the definition of tension are two balancing forces that cause extension. And once extension is gross, you know, you’ve got these two balancing forces, you know, you’ve got this called a ministry, but then you’ve got this deep desire to love and lead your family well that this is really just, these are balancing tensions in our lives that help us to grow. And for me, I’m taking that perspective and to help shape that season in my life because I realized that, you know, if I can look at this as a season, right, and that, and manage this tension that I’m not, because at the time the church was experiencing a huge season of momentum, right?

Julie Mullins: 23:09 And so in a season of momentum where Todd was able to grow and thrive, you know, I felt like I was being benched, I felt on the bench and being sidelined. But really, you know, in the rear view mirror, detours make a lot more sense. Right? So in the rear view mirror, I can see that I’m the, I was actually in spring training and I think as moms and as women in ministry and wives that really, learning how to, how to view those tensions as positive and um, and then be able to prioritize different seasons. There’s, and that was that season. That was a six-year season. It was a long season, but I did know it was only a season and I knew that in that time I needed to prepare and allow just, you know, just like seasons of growth.

Julie Mullins: 23:55 There’s the seed planting, there’s the watering. And I really felt like that was a watering season and it really helped set a foundation for our family, to be able to thrive for the long haul. And it also set a foundation of, of really understanding who I was in Christ aside from, what I could do in ministry. And it prepared me for that next season. So then we got to that season. And then, and so there were probably, you know, several years in so, and my 30 years of ministry, I’ve actually only been on paid staff for about 12 years. So now we’ve entered this season. Jefferson has gotten a little bit older and during Todd was the executive pastor at the time and, we were, we were under great leadership of Pastor Tom. And during that season, Todd came and asked me if I would step in to lead our children’s ministry.

Julie Mullins: 24:47 Now at the time I was in worship ministry and I was able to serve in that way. I loved worship ministry. These were my people. I had done this since high school actually. And but the need of the church at that time was in children’s ministry. They needed a leader as we were going multi-site. They needed a leader over all of children’s ministry and specifically, one of our main campuses. And, Todd said, hey, can you come in and do this for about three months? Women, do not believe your husbands when they say these three months turned into 18 months. Right. And, so I started there and honestly, I look at that season at the time again, you know, I wanted to be in worship cause they’re my people. But one of the things we learned in that season was what I’m a part of is bigger than the part I play, the need,

Julie Mullins: 25:34 and that need was in children’s ministry. And so, to, it wasn’t what I was passionate about in this season, but it was where the need was. But God made me really passionate about it. And I was there for 18 months and I called that ministry boot camp. I think everyone should go, you know, serving children’s ministry for a season because, it just, it taught me so many things about leadership and actually, grew my leadership ability in ways that I don’t think they could have been forged any other way. And it prepared me for my next step, which was to be the executive director over family ministries and eventually to be on our executive team and our directional leadership team. But it was in that season of leading teams, um, and being able to, you know, lead across campuses that prepared me for the next season and helped me really as Todd was the executive pastor, it helped me to build relationships across all of our staff and all of our teams so that when I stepped in on the executive team and directional leadership team, it was actually a natural next step and not a huge transition.

Doug Smith: 26:41 That’s quite a journey. I’m curious, so

Doug Smith: 26:44 what challenges do you see women still facing in ministry and in leadership today and how do you, how have you overcome them and then how do you help other women overcome them as well?

Julie Mullins: 26:52 Yeah, so I think, again, I think that tension of, you know, of, of the call and then your path and then leading and loving your family. And I think some women have, you know, the tension of, they know, they have this together call with their, with their husbands, but maybe they don’t feel like they have the giftings and the callings that this role, expects of them. And sometimes they may feel inadequate for, you know, for the position that they’re in. And I think for us, one of the ways that we kind of managed that at our, with the girls on our team, is that, you know, especially the, our staff wives that, you know, I really encourage them, I want you to be able to do the things that God’s gifted you and positions you to do.

Julie Mullins: 27:35 And there is no expectation. There is, you know, for our pastors, some of our pastor’s wives, you know, we don’t have the expectation that you have to do things that are outside of your gifting and your calling. And we want to constantly grow you and stretch you and give you opportunity. But we also want you to be the best you that you can be in. And I think that a lot of, you know, girls that come in with that together call with their, with their husbands that, they think that that is so important that we don’t expect things of them that are outside their gifting and calling. But we give them opportunity to grow in their calling. And then we’ve got, you know, women in leadership that come on the staff that, you know, maybe, they come on different positions that are totally independent of what their husbands do in ministry or even outside of ministry.

Julie Mullins: 28:22 And, and I think that there are challenges that women face in it. That I think that the tension of, of being a strong leader and also being a woman in the church world. I think historically, you know, what’s been celebrated in the church world has not been strong leadership for women. And I think that having the, creating an environment where girls can have those opportunities to be able to step into leadership. And to be honest, I think that I can attribute a lot of the journey of women in ministry at Christ Fellowship. I believe that, you know, we have girls in all ministry positions. We have girls on our executive team, we have girls on, you know, as student pastors, um, as leaders in every area of ministry. And I would really, credit that, first of all to a strong senior leader, my husband, who has really made away and champion the girls of this house, you know, as he thought, you know, as he is encouraged me to step into more leadership because of the giftings that I have to be able to lead.

Julie Mullins: 29:30 He’s made a way, a space for me to do that. And then together we have tried to create spaces and places for other girls leads. So I think, my challenge will be to the out there, you know, that sometimes the best man for the job is a girl. And to find those ways to be able to, to create spaces and places for girls to lead. Did that answer your question?

Doug Smith: 29:52 Oh, it was fantastic. I mean, my wife is gonna love this. I can’t wait for it. And I know hundreds of others.

Julie Mullins: 30:01 There’s, there’s probably a lot more, you know, to share here because there, you know, unpacking, just the, all the different dynamics of women in ministry is so, you know, it’s such a multilayered conversation, because you have pastors wives that have stepped in together with their husbands and the expectations they feel that are on there. And then you have girls that are coming in, that have amazing giftings. And to me it is just a shame, you know, that the church is so far behind, you know, in helping girls to find their place and step into leadership. And I know for me, early on in our ministry, I really did think that my leadership giftings, you know my serving giftings, we’re going to be able to be used at, you know, at the church. And I knew that.

Julie Mullins: 30:44 But as far as leading, I really did think that I was going to have to use those gifts outside the church in my career early on. And so, I think it’s so important as the church is stepping up and really opening up more places and spaces for the girls to step in that, that we continue to have this conversation and move it forward because it’s a shame that some of our greatest leaders are leading outside the doors of the church when God has so much for us to do. And we want to support those leaders too, but, but also be able to create spaces where girls can lead at every level of the organization.

Doug Smith: 31:19 Yeah. So you talked about a together call, and you may have answered some of this, but, so you entitled been working together for 30 years in ministry. What have you learned about working together and being a married couple, but also being the executive leaders of a growing church?

Julie Mullins: 31:34 Right. You know, it’s also, I mean, you know, this goes back to some of the seasons. This looked different in different seasons of ministry. And this is a, um, as, as a together call, we felt called together in ministry. So when we stepped into leadership senior leadership here, we did step in as coach senior pastors and I think we’re just figuring out, you know, what that all looks like. But for us, because I lead on a directional leadership team and executive team and some of that’s leading together, but I also lead areas totally separate, you know, from the minute, from the day to day ministry that Todd does. And so, what that means for us is first of all that we have to really be intentional about having our ministry conversations, at church, schedule a meeting every single week together, for sermon prep and planning.

Julie Mullins: 32:30 But we also for organizational needs and, and anything and anything that we need to talk about is going to help push the organization forward. So I’m not those conversations when Todd wakes up in the morning and you know, waiting for him to wake up so I can talk to him about a certain issue or a problem that I’m facing on the executive team that I need an answer on. I actually keep a list of a running list all week long so that we can address those things, in a meeting. And I learned that, honestly, I wish I could say that’s how we started. I really learned that the hard way, you know,that we were having ministry conversations as we’re getting ready in the morning and as we’re getting ready to go to bed at night, that the best way to be a married couple, you know, so we just learned to be intentional about those kinds of conversations in this season and then to set aside intentional time, right?

Julie Mullins: 33:16 Intentional time to invest in our marriage and for us, you know, weekly we make sure that we have some time together. Not only, you know, to talk about church things, but to be a married couple and two, you know, and we know at least one time a year, we’ve done this for a very long time, even with when Jefferson was young. To try to find those times that we could intentionally get away just the two of us to invest in our marriage. And to make a plan for our marriage. Because the truth is, is we are going to be married a lot longer than we’re going to be senior pastors at Christ Fellowship Church. We’re going to be married. This marriage has to be built to go the distance, and to go the distance past our ministry life because we don’t know what the future holds, but we know that the future holds us together. So we’re going to be, you know, to invest in that intentionally is so important.

Doug Smith: 34:06 That’s good. I want to stick on the family thing before we get into organizational leadership. So you guys are the second generation leaders of the church. So this was handed off from Todd’s dad. And I’ve seen organizations do that well and I’ve seen that ended up horrible as well. I’m just curious, can you talk about that journey and what the head off look like? I mean, were you guys waiting for 30? I don’t know how long it was, but were you guys like, come on Dad, just give us the reins there.

Julie Mullins: 34:30 Yeah. You know, we, we were, it was a great journey. Cause again, we stepped in, we didn’t know, we didn’t set out to be a megachurch. Right? We have people like, oh, we’ll go out to dinner. I said, we’ve never been to a church this big, or we’re like, neither have we. It’s getting bigger and bigger, you know, they’ll say we love your church. So do we, you know, so we’re still kind of in awe of all of this. So we didn’t set out to be, you know, a megachurch. So we first started, we were just faithful to serve Todd’s mom and dad. We loved them, we loved serving them. And so if that meant being the student pastor Todd was the first student pastor, worship leader, custodian, car washer, secretary, all of that, cause it was pretty much the two of them for the first several years.

Julie Mullins: 35:10 And we’ve always had growth that exceeded our strategic plan. Right? So it was kinda like, oh my goodness, we’re here and now we have to do something about it. But so we loved being the number two, you know, and at the, in the more recent years, you know, when Todd stepped in after students and worship, he stepped in and the executive pastor. You know, that was Todd sweet spot. We loved serving there. We loved following leaders, such vision and integrity and we didn’t at the beginning, you know, we didn’t think about the fact is this, is this going to be us? You know, are we going to be the next senior leaders? Probably for the first few years. But as you know, as time went on, we started having conversations and Todd’s dad would come to us every couple of years and go, hey, you know, if you want to get out of this, you know, I need to know in the next couple of years.

Julie Mullins: 35:58 And then there was this time when he just stopped asking us, you know, is this what you want to do for the rest of your life? He stopped asking us that question and we started having these intentional conversations, you know, because again, for us, we wanted to make sure that we were the best people for the job. And so we did spend a good couple of months going, are we really, you know, the people that God’s called to take this church to the next level and into the next season? And if not, who is, and we, and we actually looked around, could it be this person? Could it be that person? Do we need to bring someone in? And we wanted to know and God to confirm it in our hearts that this is what we were called to do. And he did. And so I think it’s important to note that there is a big difference between a transition and a platform announcement because the transition did not happen the day that we announced from the platform that we were going to, that we were now going to be the senior leaders.

Julie Mullins: 36:52 There was an intentional prior to that, you know, platform announcement five years before there was an intentional conversation, you know, of, hey, we’re going to step into what we call the transition zone. You know, just like in a relay race, you have an exchange zone where you’re passing the baton and it’s not just a drop. You know, we don’t drop the baton, we pass the baton and one runner is at full speed and the other runner is catching up to speed. Right? And so for us, we entered into an exchange zone. And in those five years, I remember that very first conversation, the intentional sit down at the table and not passing conversation. And just walking away from that so humbled, you know, that this was gonna happen. And we made a determination, our heart that night and vocalized it to each other that a mantle isn’t something that you take,

Julie Mullins: 37:41 it’s something that’s given to you. And so we purposed in our hearts in that season that this was not going to be something we were going to pine for or reach for, but we were going to prepare for. And so this was, this was our posture going in. And at the same time, Todd’s dad, who is the most confident leader I think that I’ve ever met. He knows who he is in Christ. He knows, you know, he knew this was the right time and the right cost. He was confident and so greatly for leaders to lead. And so his posture was, I’m going to make room for cod and Julie to lead. And so in those five years, right after that conversation, we began the internal transition with our staff and team. And that meant that we began hiring the people that came on the team and began building the relationships with the team that was already, that was already existing and then building the team for the future.

Julie Mullins: 38:34 And that was, you know, that was an important piece for dad to begin letting go of, to allow us to do that because we were building for the future. And we began leading the staff and staff meetings and, and so then we began to, you know, speak into the key leaders. And so when the transition finally, then we went to an 18-month co-pastoring role, so 18-months of co-pastoring and, during that season, you know, basically, even though from the platform it was co-pastor behind the scenes, we had already stepped into senior leadership. So that by the time the platform announcement happened, it wasn’t really an announcement, it was a celebration. And the only people that were surprised is if you were visiting Christ fellowship that day. Right? Because they had seen, you know, Todd take on more of the speaking and more of the leading and, and I stepped into, you know, different leadership areas.

Julie Mullins: 39:24 So when it came time, it wasn’t a surprise. I think that’s so important, you know, in transition. Cause the truth is, is that this was our story, but all of ministry is about transition. You know, I look back at our, our big transition story is this one, but we’ve had transition stories all along the way. We transitioned student ministries to another student leader. And it’s so important to, if you can, to go into an exchange zone to, to walk in, you know, to do it again and to honor the leadership before you, to not tear down fences until, you know, why they were built in the first place. You know, the things that we learned along the way. And then we did realize that once the announcement was made that we actually went into another season of transition because now we were the senior leaders.

Julie Mullins: 40:10 And I think if I were to tell anybody, you know, we went, I think Todd was a 10 as an executive pastor. And I mean, you know, on a scale of one to 10, he was a 10. And I think for us, we expected to step into senior leadership and be a 10 because he was a 10 executive pastor. Right? And so what we learned was that when we stepped in that day, we actually went back to zero, right? Never done this before. And so and we, I mean, we, maybe we weren’t a zero, but cause we’d had, but we certainly weren’t a 10. And so we, we entered a knowing, when you think you’re a zero, you know, you don’t come in thinking that you’re going to just change everything and everything’s going to be great. You come in asking a lot of questions and building a lot of relationships.

Julie Mullins: 40:58 And so for us, we inserted into a new season of transition. And so, and that’s, that was a long time. Transitions take time. They take intentionality. There was, you know, just some hard conversations along the way, but, but it was, I think all of us are going to be transitioning. And I think it’s important that w that knowing if you’re the person passing the baton, that you have the posture like Todd’s dad did, you know that I’m going to make room for this leader to lead. I’m going to create spaces and places. And just so you know, Todd’s dad has been our biggest cheerleader on the front row. He champions everything. Even the things that I know would not have been his idea like that would not have been, you know, how he would do things, you know, I mean our worship has gotten kind of wild and crazy around here and my son is like leading the charge and he’s like, Todd’s dad calls him his Zulu warrior. Cause the way he wants up, up and down, you know. But, I know there’s like things that wouldn’t have been their preference, but they’re our biggest champions. And so making room for others to think, and I think if you’re the one who’s in the transition, you know, being able to, not pine but to position and prepare yourself to be ready to take the baton.

Doug Smith: 42:08 That was excellent. Before we jump in, I just, one more fun question and you could probably talk for the rest of the day on this, but I’m just curious. I mean obviously you guys stepped into huge shoes to fill. If you add, I hate to narrow down to one lesson or one sentence, but if you had to summarize what your father-in-law’s influences had on you and Todd are the greatest thing you’ve learned from them, what would you say?

Julie Mullins: 42:29 Wow. Okay. So, I would say it’s my father in law and my mother-in-law, pastor Tom and Donna Mullins. I think from my mother-in-law, she has led beautifully with integrity without ever having to tie a title or a position. And so to watch her lead and love her husband for as many years as she has and she’s his biggest champion, I think that has been such a lesson for me. And I want to do that, you know, I am, I want to be Todd’s biggest champion and to be there to hold up his arms, you know, as he leaves. And then from my father in law, I think that when I hit that note of he is a confident leader. He knows who he is in Christ. He understands his gifting and his calling. And He, again, he knew that that was, that it was a call and not a position.

Julie Mullins: 43:24 And so, leadership is influence and his influence has actually increased since he stepped out of the senior leadership role and is able to, you know, take on charges like equip and really be able to spiritually father so many pastors, across the nation that he realized that, that his leadership and his identity was not tied up in the position of senior pastor at Christ Fellowship. That it was in Christ and so he was game for whatever God was calling into next. 

Doug Smith: Wow. 

Julie Mullins: So I, I want to be that and I want to do that.

Doug Smith: 43:57 Yeah. Wow, that’s amazing.

Doug Smith: 44:04 Hey guys, thank you so much for listening to my interview with Julie Mullins. You can find ways to connect with her and links to everything we discussed and 

Doug Smith: 44:11 more at L3eadership.org forward slash episode 157. Again, if you enjoyed this part of the interview, this was part one of a two-part interview. You can listen to part two and episode number one 58 and you’ll hear Julie talk about organizational leadership or favorite books, how to have hard conversations in so much more. Again, I just want to, could you have, if this podcast added value to your life, please subscribe, leave a rating and review

Doug Smith: 44:32 and share on social media. It really does make a difference. Thank you so much for being a listener. I want to thank our other sponsor Babb Inc. They’re an insurance broker and third party administrator consulting firm that does business all over the country. They’re incredible and they have a huge passion for developing next-generation leaders. They’re led by my friend Russell Livingston, so if your organization has any insurance needs, check them out on the web at Babbins.com that’s Babbins.com and lastly, if you want to stay in touch with us and everything we’re doing here at l three leadership, you can sign up for our email list at our website L3leadership.org and you’ll start to receive email updates on a consistent basis. It’s always, I like to end with a quote and I’ll quote Julie today cause I love so many things that she said. She said this though that I loved. She said, “Great leaders make room for leaders to lead.” “Great leaders make room for leaders to lead.” Are you making room for other leaders to actually lead or is it all about you? Thanks for listening and being a part of L3 Leadership. Laura, and I appreciate you so much and we’ll talk to you next up.