I have the honor of working with some of the smartest people in the world. One of those people recently did something really stupid. Well, I mean, he wrote a book about being stupid. Well, not him being stupid exactly, but some stupid things that we as churches do that keep us from growing. So I sat down with my very smart friend Geoff Surratt and talked stupid.
Shawn: Geoff, I get the opportunity to rub shoulders with you on an almost daily basis and know that you live this book out (not the stupid part). What is the one principle from the book that you would say you have seen play out the most results for you in your ministry position at Seacoast?
Shawn, it has been a privilege to work side-by-side with you over the past several years. I love your heart for constant growth in ministry creativity and effectiveness.
In the second chapter of the book, I talk about finding the right role for the pastor’s family. When I came to Seacoast 13 years ago, I was really struggling with this mistake. After a couple of years out of vocational ministry, I was very excited to get the opportunity to work with the Seacoast team in what was quickly becoming an explosive growth environment. The mistake I made was playing the “God-card” with my wife and coercing her into a move she wasn’t ready to make. In the book I outline the process we have gone through over the past decade to understand the unique challenges of ministry on marriage and how we have step-by-step built a firm foundation for an amazing relationship. As of this coming August, I will have been married to my best friend for 27 years, and I can’t wait to see what the next 27 will bring.
Over the past few months, we have seen the decimation ministry can have on marriage as several high profile pastors’ homes have disintegrated. For young pastors just beginning ministry and veteran pastors with years under their belts, there is nowhere they are more vulnerable to the enemy than at home. There is no chance that when we get to heaven God will say, “Too bad about your family, but great job building a huge church. Fist bump!”
The best advice I can give to any pastor or church leader is to find out how your spouse is feeling about ministry. Sometime soon, you need to get a babysitter for the kids and take your spouse to her favorite quiet restaurant (one where they never ask, “Do you want fries with that?”). After dinner ask her this question, “What impact is the church and ministry having on our family? How do you feel about what I am doing?” Give her time to talk without interrupting or explaining or correcting. And then act on what you hear. Are there changes you need to make? Do you need to find ways to prioritize your family more effectively?
This is something you do very well, Shawn. You and Connie strike a great balance between ministry and family and you do a fantastic job of excelling as a pastor, husband and dad. Thank you for leading in this area.