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Building Resilient Leaders with Michael Shafer | Podcast Episode 019

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About This Episode - 

Hosted by Jon Beazley. Leadership can be hard... and it can become very personal. When you get knocked down, stabbed in the back, or forced out, how do you bounce back? Listen to this honest and powerful discussion about resiliency in leadership by two men who have been tested and found faithful.

Michael Shafer is a pastor and Executive Director of G6 Allies - an organization dedicated to serving pastors and their families through personal care, team development, and empowered networking. You can find G6 Allies on InstagramFacebookYouTube, and LinkedIn. You can connect with Michael via email or on InstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn.

To find out more about IMPACT Players, visit www.impactplayers.org.

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Show Notes:

Transcript -

Jon Beazley: Hey, everybody, welcome to IMPACT Players podcast. I'm so excited about today's episode. IMPACT Players is all about inspiring men to be great fathers husbands leaders by equipping them to thrive in their relationships that matter most. And what we're trying to do here with our podcast is invite leaders in in different fields, whether it might be business leadership, it might be Christian thinkers, it might be athletes - to talk to them about what they're learning about leadership, how they're applying leadership to their own development. And I'm excited about having Michael Shafer on. He is the director of the G6 Allies Network. You'll learn a little bit more of what that is, but Michael, welcome to the show today, man.

Michael Shafer: Hey Jon, thanks so much for having me. Joy to be here.

Jon Beazley: Yes. Well, thank you for jumping on and a little bit more late notice as well. You were able to pivot and jump on, so I really appreciate that.

Michael Shafer: That's right.

Jon Beazley: And, you're just ready to go.

Michael Shafer: Of course.

Jon Beazley: It reminds me, obviously not in the same context, but in Timothy, it's like, be instant in season outta season where you were, you were just ready to go. Let's do this thing.

Michael Shafer: That's right. I love IMPACT Players, and so anything I can do to help, I'm all for it.

Jon Beazley: Well, you are certainly an IMPACT Player, and I love what you guys are trying to do at G6 Allies, particularly just trying to bring together resources and also build a community that really helps pastors particularly. And, I just think that's such a needed thing. And actually what you're doing for pastors could probably be replicated in so many other areas because it's just a basic human need. That we really need; one community, but oftentimes we're trying to find resources for particular things.

Michael Shafer: Right.

Jon Beazley: What you're doing is awesome. So tell me a little bit about what led you, I know you're a co-founder, but what led you to the formation of this network? What's kind of the passion that drives it?

Michael Shafer: Yeah. Well, so I co-founded G6 Allies with my wife. So it was an in-house thing where we were working in a church, and it was a very unhealthy situation. And, anybody that has served on staff at a church or has been a pastor knows that there's unique challenges. There's unique challenges in every vocation, right? And pastors aren't on some kind of pedestal in regards to they're the only ones who have tough jobs. It's not that at all. But in this particular environment where we were, it was just incredibly difficult. And the burdens that we were carrying were just overwhelming. And we've worked with so many pastors over the years who are in that same boat that they just, they have so much weight on their shoulders. They're carrying the burdens of their church members, of their other staff team that they're overseeing and just all of that that goes into it. And a lot of times it can just be too much. And what, one of the things I think that makes a lot of pastors unique and the reason that we wanted to start this ministry is pastors have a terrible tendency to just bottle all that up because they have to keep up the facade that, "Hey, I'm a pastor, so my whole life is together. Everything is great, everything is organized. I'm doing exactly what I should be doing. I'm healthy on all fronts." And we have to keep that image going. Because if you don't, well, it could jeopardize your career. And so that leads to some very, very unhealthy practices, which is why we see some of the statistics that we see about pastors, that so many of them are leaving the ministry due to burnout, moral failings, suicide rate increase, all of these terrible indicators that are saying something is wrong with church leadership. And so my wife and I, a little over five years ago now, wanted to be a part of the solution to that. And so we just, one the things that kept coming to our mind over and over again was Galatians 6:2, which says to carry one another's burdens, and in this way, you'll fulfill the law of Christ. And that was kind of the heartbeat behind this, we want to help carry the burdens for those who are carrying burdens. And that's our role in all of this. And so we named it G6 after Galatians 6:2. And the 'allies' part just comes in because we believe everybody needs an ally. Whether you're a pastor, whether you're a business owner, whether you're a school teacher, whatever your vocation is, everybody needs to have an ally, have somebody in their corner that they know is fighting for them and is helping them. And so we named it G6 Allies, and that's where that comes from. And so over the years, we've spent time doing a number of different things, and we've developed a few tools that we use to help ministry leaders across the board. And we're not exclusively working with pastors. Most of what we do is geared towards pastors but, we have a whole arm of our ministry that's geared toward pastor's wives. We work with ministry leaders, whether that's small group leaders, elder boards, deacon boards, business Christian business owners. We kinda run the gamut here of helping church leaders be resilient. And that's our ultimate goal and we do that in three unique ways. We have personal care, team development, and what we call empowered networking. And all three of these components, these three paths to resiliency, all of them are super vital to the health of the individual that we're working with or the team that we are working with. So we offer pastoral care for pastors and church leaders who a lot of times don't have that being invested into themselves. They're investing it into others, but not into themselves. And no one else is doing that for them. So we make that a resource available, to pastor other pastors as one of our taglines is "Pastors need pastors too." Right?

Jon Beazley: Yeah.

Michael Shafer: Everybody needs a pastor and pastors aren't an exception to that. So personal care for them and coaching and all that kind of stuff. The team development piece is one of our favorite aspects of what we do because we do this for staff teams. If it's a larger church, it maybe has eight or 10 staff members. We help develop that team as a whole, but we also have a major focus on volunteer teams. So if you are overseeing a ministry and you've got 15 or 20 volunteers in that area working with you, we have a whole process for helping develop and invest in those volunteers. And then we also do the same thing on a completely secular level where we remove the Christian lingo from it, and we help businesses, whether it's a small business owner or a manager wanting to develop his or her team. We have a whole process for helping invest and develop good biblically based without the biblical lingo, leadership skills among teams. And then the last piece is empowered networking where we have an online platform with lots of different masterclasses and cohorts and things of that nature to really build the community side of what we are trying to accomplish, which is see resilient leaders grow and flourish. And so community is a key aspect of that. And so our platform allows us to do that in, in a very effective way.

Jon Beazley: Man, I love that. And I have so many questions. At first, I wasn't quite sure what G6 stood for, so thank you for that.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: Now I know it's Galatians 6:2, so that's helpful. And everything that you said reminded me. I'm not sure if you've read the book by Dan Sullivan, "Who Not How." Have you read that book?

Michael Shafer: Yep.

Jon Beazley: Tremendous book. But just the fact, like I think of a pastor in particular, and this could be true of a businessman as well, but you can tend to be the answer person.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: Problems come to you and you, or your direct team, comes up with a solution and you immediately think, "Problem - okay, how am I gonna solve that?" And I, Dan said in his book, and it's not like a, it's not a Christian book, it's just a business book in general.

Michael Shafer: Right.

Jon Beazley: But he basically said, "You should be asking: who's already solved or is solving this problem? Let me see if I can connect with them."

Michael Shafer: Yes.

Jon Beazley: Which kind of combines that principle of vulnerability and like, "Hey, I'm gonna put myself out there to say, 'hey, I need some help here.'"

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: As well as the, this idea of I can't be successful entirely alone. We need each other, which is, this is a quote from Dan Sullivan's book. He said, "Success is not achieved alone. It's the result of collaboration, cooperation with others who share your vision and values."

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: And I think about like, that's kind of what you guys are trying to do to bring not only resources, but also the ability to network and to be strengthened with those relationships as well. I'm curious, so on your website, one of the first things that says is building resilient leaders.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: So what does a resilient leader look like to you? What are some of the fundamental natures of a resilient leader in your mind?

Michael Shafer: Yeah. The way we approach it is, it really has eight different aspects to it. One of the things that we have realized particularly in our work with church leaders, has been that, as I alluded to earlier, it's very difficult for church leaders to be vulnerable. So that's one whole aspect of this. But most of the time when you're talking to church leaders or you talk to a group of pastors and you say, "Hey, the state of pastors in the western world is very unhealthy," that there's a lot of problems. And everybody in the room nods their head in agreement, "Yes," that there is a big problem. But what's interesting is that none of that group of pastors think it's them. Which doesn't add up, that every pastor thinks there's something wrong with pastors, but none of them think it's them. And so that tells me that we're not being honest with ourselves and, or with others about the problem. And that's kind of where I started with it. But the more I dove into it, I realized, I don't know that it's necessarily that they're lying to themselves or that they're lying to others. It's a matter of how we're framing the entire conversation. We're looking at things, we're answering that question on the whole, "Yeah, overall I'm doing pretty good." And most pastors, I think, would say, "Yeah, that's the case. I'm doing pretty good." There may be some of us that are like, "My entire life is falling apart and things aren't good." But for the most of us, it's a case of "overall I'm doing all right." So what that means is we need to break it down into smaller parts. And what we have done is identified eight unique areas that make up resiliency or make up wellbeing in a human being overall. And those eight areas are spiritual, intellectual ministry or vocationally, financials, physical, general leadership, emotional, and relational. All of these eight areas of health, each one of them, they're all interconnected. And so if we're deficient in any one of them, which all of us have at any given time, we've probably got two or three of those aspects that are not doing real well. And so, let's say for instance, because I know you are into physical fitness, let's say physically you're not healthy, that's going to negatively impact your ability to lead to the best of your ability, right? If you are constantly worried about money, you're not going to be present mentally enough or you're gonna make more mistakes because you're always worried about money, that's always in the back of your mind and you're not fully present with whatever task is or person is in front of you. So all of these different eight areas are going to negatively impact you. And what we tend to do is just ignore, we kind of bury our head in the sand, on the ones that aren't working well. And so I think part of what goes into resiliency and what makes us resilient is being healthy across the board in all eight of these areas. And so those who have a lot long life of resilient, healthy, faithful ministry, they are ones who have paid attention to each of these aspects of their life. And they're doing well in them. Those who burn out, those who have moral failings, those who leave ministry or just leave a leadership capacity for whatever reason, it almost always would come back to they weren't paying attention to one or two of these of these areas. Does that make sense?

Jon Beazley: Oh, yeah. That's really interesting. So it's kind of like, it's not like necessarily like this ego issue as much as, which that could play a factor, but it's an awareness of these areas and maybe like hyper-focused on a couple with the neglect of a few.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: And it's almost like they've already kind of really started the spiraling out before they even realize, "Ooh, you know what, I need to give my attention to these particular things as well."

Michael Shafer: Right.

Jon Beazley: That's really fascinating, so for pastors, is there anything that you're consistently seeing that that typically is kind of that, that creates that spiral effect?

Michael Shafer: Yeah. Well, there's three really that we, in our work with pastors. And we work with churches and individuals all over the country. And now we're even working with missionaries around the world too. So we, we've got a pretty large base of ministry leaders globally that we get to connect with. And there's really three areas that continually rise to the surface. Right now, these are the biggest challenges. One of those, is financial. If you're unaware, ministry usually doesn't pay very well, right? Like most pastors are on the lower end of the income, average income for households in America. And so it's a real struggle to make ends meet. And this is, and Jon, you know this just 'cause you know me, but financial is one of my areas of expertise. And I do coaching and teaching pastors and church leaders how to invest and manage their money well and all that kind of stuff. But, so this is a hobby horse for me. So I'll try and keep this, or soapbox, I guess. So I'll keep this short. Seminaries and training schools for ministry leaders have done a very poor job about equipping church leaders for handling finances well. And so pastors have never really been trained on what to do with money either for themselves personally or in the organizations that they lead, which is, can have disastrous consequences. So that is one that pastors are recognizing, "Hey, I'm struggling financially, personally," or "I don't know how to manage this situation in our church with the finances," that kind of stuff. A second area is relationships. Pastors are having a very difficult time making genuine friendships in their ministry. And part of it goes back to that vulnerability piece, that it's hard for pastors to have friends in their church because their people in their church that they spend most of their time with they are friends, but at the same time, they also are shepherding those people. And so there's an authority disconnect there, or at a minimum, the pastor always feels like he's working. And so it's hard to let down and actually be friends, and you don't have enough time to make friends outside the church or connect frequently enough with others outside the church. So relationships tends to be a real a difficult one, which comes back to bite you. When life does get really hard and you're going through something. Most of us have a friend that we can go to in those moments and say, "Hey, I just need somebody to talk to about this." And a lot of pastors don't have that. And so that one negatively impacts the pastor's ability to be resilient to a very large degree. And then the third one, is in general, leadership. There are surveys that groups like Barna and others do, on an annual basis. And the top thing on the biggest need for church leaders year after year after year is 'I don't know how to develop leaders.' I need help developing leaders. I'm challenged, I'm struggling finding new volunteers. I'm struggling with a transition plan 'cause I'm in my sixties and about ready to retire, and I don't know how to put another pastor in my place. And so we're constantly dealing with the development process for how we train and equip other leaders. Which I don't think that is necessarily unique to the church world either. I see that in business settings as well, that we have a real challenge figuring out how to do leadership pipelines well. In the business world, we'd call it a leadership pipeline. In the church world, we'd call it discipleship.

Jon Beazley: Yeah.

Michael Shafer: But in either case, that is a very serious struggle for the resilient leader.

Jon Beazley: Yeah. Yeah, that's really helpful. Going back to the vulnerability thing, there's so much good that you said, so many directions we can take this conversation. But what from a, like maybe from the church end of things, so you have kind of the leader's mindset of: I really need to cultivate vulnerability instead of bottling this up for such a long period of time to now that when I uncork or whatever, however you wanna say it, the pressure is just unbelievably strong.

Michael Shafer: Right.

Jon Beazley: Hard to manage. So how does the leader itself think about vulnerability better? Because I almost think, it's almost a spiritual attribute that people think, "I need to present myself as confident. I'm filled with faith," to use church language here, "I'm filled with faith. I'm confident, I'm the leader," and they feel like if I'm vulnerable and I open up and say, "I'm actually struggling," this might put their job in jeopardy to some level. Like, "Oh, well, you may not be equipped to lead us if you're not filled with faith." So how do we help leaders think differently about vulnerability? And then also how do you think we equip churches to actually give pastors the liberty to really share where they're at when it comes to like their personal struggles, their journey of faith? Where they feel like, "Hey, the church is a context for me to be real."

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: And not just something that they preach and say, "Hey, you can be real. You can be you. God accepts you for who you are." Yet internally, they're dying in a lot of ways.

Michael Shafer: Yeah. Right.

Jon Beazley: So some of the question coming back to it is like, how would you help leaders think better about vulnerability and also the church creating a culture for leaders to be vulnerable as well?

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: What's your thoughts there?

Michael Shafer: Oh, a lot of them. So I'll just, I'll give you an example that I think will be able to lead us into answering both aspects of the question. I was working with a pastor a few months ago who, said that he's been working on trying to be more vulnerable and sees the need for that. And so he, in, as part of his sermon on a Sunday morning, shared some of his vulnerability with the church of a particular struggle that he was having. And after the service ended, he had one or two families approach him and say, " I can't be a part of this church based on what you just said," and left the church because the pastor showed a weakness in this particular area. They translated it as: okay, well clearly he's not a very strong pastor because of this struggle, so we need to go find someplace else. And that kind of for him, that was like a see this is why we don't do this. Because if I share even a little bit about my own struggles, people leave the church. And so I think, to answer to the church, what I would say to the church is, "Show as much grace to your pastor as your pastor shows to you. Most of the time, you have struggles, you have problems. You come to the pastor when your life is falling apart. And a good pastor doesn't sit there and judge you and tell you how stupid you were and everything that you did wrong, and why it's all failing and it's all your fault. They're compassionate, they hear you, they cry with you, they pray with you. They help lead you through that. They're showing a tremendous amount of grace to you extend the same grace to your pastor." But to the pastor I would say, "Yes, we ought to be vulnerable, but where you do it and the way in which you do it matters a great deal. It doesn't make sense, whether you're the pastor or not, if you had called one of your church members to come stand up on the platform in front of the entire congregation and express their challenges and their weaknesses, you would think that's a terrible idea. So why would you think it's a good idea for you to do it when you're supposed to be teaching them the Word?" So I don't think that the platform, the podium or or the pulpit is the ideal place to express your own challenges. Sure, you can talk about your weaknesses in a general sense and, "Hey, I'm human. I struggle with these things too," and help make it relatable for the congregation as a whole. But when it comes to authentic vulnerability, I think we need to be a little more selective in how we go about that process. And so our standard for the relational component of health, we kind of have a phrase that goes with each of those eight areas. And for the relational aspect, we identified the win here. A good metric of health in relational context is having meaningful connections with others where mutual trust, support, and care flourishes. So what I want to encourage church leaders to do is, yes, be vulnerable, but find people that meet those criteria. People where that you trust, where there is mutual trust and respect, where you know you're gonna find support and people who are gonna encourage you and actually care for you. Where those things flourish, that's the environment to share, "Hey, I'm really struggling with this. I keep having this same thought process," or "I keep stepping into this sinful pattern and I need you to help me with that. I need you to encourage me, to hold me accountable, to help me grow." That's the environment that you do that in. I like to think...

Jon Beazley: I really like that nuance because you can almost go the other extreme: oh, I need to be vulnerable. I'm not opening myself up. And then you just kind of over course correct.

Michael Shafer: Yes.

Jon Beazley: And you put yourself, because people don't always know your context or frame of reference of why you're stating those things, right? Which may have happened in this example that you gave with the pastor where people are leaving now, if they understood more of the context.

Michael Shafer: Right.

Jon Beazley: And there was, again, trust built up in that situation. They may have not had that reaction.

Michael Shafer: Right. Exactly.

Jon Beazley: Probably sounds like somebody that's relatively, maybe even new to the church, they're trying it out per se.

Michael Shafer: Right.

Jon Beazley: And they're just like, "Oh..."

Michael Shafer: "...oh, nope, this isn't it."

Jon Beazley: Yeah.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: It's like a red flag. And in some ways you may not totally be critical of their decision necessarily, but I think you're hitting on something really well: being vulnerable doesn't mean that you're open to everyone. And a part of wisdom is learning, like, "Hey, do we share the same values? Is there trust being developed?" So I'm looking for those key relationships...

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: ... to be vulnerable to, and in other context, it's just not, it's not going to work. It's not appropriate.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: Because I was just thinking about this, how can you change the congregation of the church entirely on how they think about this?

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: You just really, that's not a possibility, but you could change on like, "Hey, I am gonna be vulnerable, but it depends on the context and who I'm around. I'm gonna make sure that those contexts are right and healthy." I really like where you're going with that.

Michael Shafer: Yeah. And I think there's really, for the pastor specifically, I think there are three key relationships that every pastor needs to have in his life. One is, I do think it is important, even though I get the challenges behind it, it is important to find friendship with someone in your church. It may not, you may have the same challenges that I alluded to earlier, that you're still on the clock when you're with them because you are their pastor. And you have to be the one to call them out on occasion. But any good friend will call out another friend when they're doing something stupid, right? Like that's part of friendship. Jon, hey man, I see what you're doing. Don't do this. This is the wrong direction to you. I'm not your pastor, but I still would tell you that because we're friends, right?

Jon Beazley: Yeah.

Michael Shafer: And so I don't think that's a great excuse. I do think we can find good friendships in our own churches. So that's one key is relationship, is to have a good friend within your own church. Someone that, where there is that mutual trust where there is support and where you know that you're going to care for each other. I think you need to have a similar type of relationship with someone who is not in your church, a neighbor, somebody in your neighborhood, an old friend, somebody that you used to work with when you were in another line of work, whatever. But you need somebody else in your life that can be a friend that's not connected to your church. And then that third key relationship is another pastor who is pastoring another church where you have someone that you can go to and say, "Hey, here's a struggle I'm having." And you're talking to another pastor who understands the intricacies of that struggle, but is not directly connected to your church. And so I think having those three relationships in place is gonna be critical to your health on that relational front.

Jon Beazley: Yeah. No, that's so good. That's so good. When it comes to like, I'm gonna pivot just a little bit.

Michael Shafer: Sure.

Jon Beazley: But, when it comes to like leadership in general, you hear this in the church, but I think you hear this in the business world in general, just looking for good leadership. Now at IMPACT Players, we are focusing on developing men in leadership. We're definitely for women in leadership and women being developed as well. And so for those who are listening in, I don't want you to get this wrong idea that we're only about male leadership, but in this context, there seems to be this epidemic of a lack of men stepping up to these particular roles, business world, church world. Do you think that that's a true assessment? Do you think there actually is? 'Cause it almost seems like that's always been the talk, "Oh hey, we're lacking leadership. We're lacking leadership." Is that the case that we're actually lacking in like male leadership? And if it is, what do you think is affecting that? Maybe some cultural norms? Maybe you can share your thoughts on that.

Michael Shafer: Yeah. I mean, my first thought is that this is a problem that I'm in my mid forties now, and it's a problem I have heard talked about in the church since I was a kid, that the church needs men to step up. So for the last 30, 40 years I've heard this and I'm certain it was the case well before that too. And so it's a constant banging of this drum that we need men to step up. Which tells me there may be some cultural components to it, but beyond that, I think it's just a recognition of the need for men to be leaders, that we have this underlying assumption that men ought to lead. Now as you said, that doesn't mean women don't lead. It just is, there's just something innate in us that says men ought to be leaders. And so we need to step up. And so when we don't see men leading, when we don't see what we know to be true actually happening, it causes us to ring that warning bell of, "Hey, what I know should be happening isn't happening." And so I think that's why we have seen it over time. I don't think it's a new problem. And I don't necessarily, maybe I'm a little pessimist here, but I don't think it's a problem that's going away anytime soon. I think it's something we're gonna continually work onnand try and strive toward. It's more of an aspiration for us to see...

Jon Beazley: Right.

Michael Shafer: ...churches, businesses, organizations full of men who are thriving. I can't think of a pastor that I work with who wouldn't kill for the ability to say, "I have more men leading in my church than I know what to do with," like, "I have to turn men away from leadership roles because I just have too many of them." I don't know of a church that's saying that and so it is something we need to address and we need to pay attention to. And I think a lot of it kind of goes back to maybe the way in which churches are run in which they're organized. And kind of the culture that we've built in most churches now, or a lot of churches at least I should say, that there's something about it that isn't appealing to men. They don't see the need or the desire for it. It's not fulfilling some need that they have and so they're gonna find that someplace else. So I think, and this is obviously a bigger topic than we could solve today, but I think a lot of it goes back to those who are currently leading in the church need to evaluate the way in which we're operating and ask ourselves the tough questions of, "Is what I'm doing appealing to men?" number one. Number two, "Am I creating the right opportunities for men to step in and serve in a way that they see as important and it's vital to them?" And I would say for our own church, I pastor a church in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, you're hard pressed to get men to volunteer to go serve in kids' ministry, right? And if they do, you have some that will, but in general, it's kind of a, "Ugh, I have to do that. It's my turn to serve in there. I don't want to do that." And some of them will still serve just because they love the church, they're committed to it. They're gonna do things that they don't want to do, and they have a great servant's heart. And that's fantastic. But I also see where men love to serve is in that one-on-one with a younger believer, like, "Yeah, I would love to take this young guy to lunch once a month and talk with him," or twice a month and just sit down and talk about the struggles that he's having in life and, and walk through some basic discipleship structures with them and help them grow. I would love to do that. I would love to sit down with this younger couple who is having some marital spats and not sure how to navigate through this particular decision and offer some input on that. Men will volunteer for that all day long because that feels meaningful to them. And so that's what we want to help encourage is creating those kind of spaces, creating those kind of opportunities for men to step in and lead. Men want to feel like what they're doing matters and they need to see some kind of evidence of that. And so I think that's probably where I would start with in talking with...

Jon Beazley: Yeah.

Michael Shafer: ...how do we get more men involved?

Jon Beazley: Okay. So you hit on a point where you're talking about men not seeing an alignment. I'm not seeing how that would be helpful to me or beneficial to my development. And it might be because we're so gearing leadership towards running our Sunday service well.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: Like children's ministry. We need some people organizing the parking lot. Security, we need some people organizing. And those are needful things, don't get me wrong.

Michael Shafer: Absolutely. Yeah.

Jon Beazley: But what could be, so if a pastor's listening to this, it's like, "Okay, so I'm picking out what you're putting down." Yeah so, but what is like maybe one meaningful way that we can begin to cultivate something that's more meaningful that men would want to say, "Yeah, I wanted to be developed in this particular way." Do you get what I'm asking? I could provide more clarity if that's...

Michael Shafer: I think so. You're looking for an example of something that men would just latch onto and go, "Yes, I wanna be a part of that," right? Is that what you're getting at or...

Jon Beazley: Yeah, almost like kind of, I was thinking about this, let me digress just a bit. I was thinking about how often we frame leadership in relation to: hey, either you're a teacher or you're organizing something to help our Sunday service run really well or maybe like a Wednesday service or something like that. But I'm wondering if a lot of these men, they need coaching and leadership, but it's more applied to well at home being a father, husband. Also how does the gospel like cause me to lead myself and others better in the work workspace? And sometimes, there's just not a whole lot of thinking through how to say, how do we bring the gospel to bear in the work world? How do I lead here in these spaces as opposed to like hey, we need leadership to do what we're trying to do on Sundays. Does that make sense? And by the way, let me just come back to saying I'm not criticizing that kind of leadership 'cause we need it. But if it's exclusively that, I feel like it does kind of lack its higher purpose, if that makes sense.

Michael Shafer: It does.

Jon Beazley: I'm looking for something that lifts me up and actually says, "Hey, you do this. Not only are you fulfilling a higher purpose than yourself, you yourself are gonna develop as a person, as a man becoming who you need to be." I wonder what would draw men in more. So that's kind of the context, if that helps a little bit in framing.

Michael Shafer: Yeah. It does. And I'm with you completely. I think, I mean, Jesus died for more than you standing in a parking lot and waving at people as they show up to the service, right?

Jon Beazley: Right.

Michael Shafer: I'm not downplaying that role 'cause it is important. And I know a lot of churches do that and I think that's great and people wanna serve and they'll stand out there in the rain and welcome people. That's fantastic. But there's more to discipleship than that. There's more to your spiritual maturity than that. And I think that's the part that a lot of men are looking for that they're not seeing in a Sunday service. And so I think we've kind of hinted at the answer already in that what men are looking for can't be found in the Sunday service, it's gonna happen outside of that. They're looking for someone to invest in them and to say, "Hey, I need help in growing in this area," "I want to accomplish this," "I want to get that promotion at work and I'm missing a couple of soft skills that I need to get to that level," "I wanna learn from someone who can teach me how to do that well and I wanna mimic someone that is doing that well," or "I have no idea how to handle this parenting thing. Like my kids are a complete disaster and I don't want to see them grow up and leave the faith," or end up in jail or whatever, "I wanna see them flourish, but I don't know how to do that and I need someone to weigh in on that." And so that's where I think we as pastors, in equipping the saints for the work of ministry, are creating those avenues where we have a very intentional: yes, what we do on Sunday service matters and we want to continue doing that well, but we also need to make sure that we're creating other opportunities for men to connect with other men, to help them grow, to help them be good fathers, to be good spouses, to be good business leaders to be good professionals or whatever their vocation is. We need to create more of those opportunities. So setting up mentoring meetings or luncheons or creating a system for connecting a guy with three or four other people who are wanting to grow in a certain area and creating like little cell groups to develop and flourish in that area. Those are all great, great opportunities for us to help see men become better leaders.

Jon Beazley: Yeah. I like this idea of like really expecting that every man in the church, and I don't mean it like in a really pushy way, but everyone is going to go through a self-development of sorts. And for some that may not ever look like standing up and speaking, that's maybe not their gift or desire and everything like that.

Michael Shafer: Right.

Jon Beazley: Or leading the media team or music team or something like that. But yet out of this self-development and becoming just leading yourself well, leading your family well, learning to lead others well, that's kind of like, that's a fundamental to all of men's discipleship.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: But then emerging from those contexts could be some of these other aspects of leading the church. It could be becoming an elder, it could all these types of things.

Michael Shafer: Right, right.

Jon Beazley: But I think that is really good and a lot of good information to kind of soak in. Last question I wanna ask you is if there's an aspiring, a young man's listening to this is like, man, I just feel compelled to develop my own skills and leadership. So they're, let's say they're kind of going after some skill acquisition here, they wanna develop as a leader. What would be like some things that you would say to that person? Not necessarily in a church context, it could be, but just in a general, like I want to become a better leader. Where do I start?

Michael Shafer: I mean, there are several places you could start. And obviously I could give you more books than you could read in a year, probably, on that topic. But I think it starts with a personal commitment to lifelong learning. That's the first step you gotta do. I see so many guys just in my years as being a pastor, where they'll go through a season maybe for a couple of months, they're real gung-ho and they're learning, and they want to grow, and they want to be a better leader. And then life hits 'em in the face and it falls apart, and they kind of give up on it or redirect or lose interest or whatever. And so it's just like that New Year's resolution, we're, as we're recording this, it's March, I bet 95% of people who made a New Year's resolution haven't even thought about it in a month, right?

Jon Beazley: Yes.

Michael Shafer: Like we just, that's just kind of how we go, how we do as people. But I think if you're an aspiring leader who wants to develop and want to grow in that, it has to begin with a commitment. You are making a covenant with yourself and with your family and those who are, are most important to you, that I am going to grow and I'm gonna do the steps. I'm gonna put in the time, do what I need to do to make sure that that actually happens. And so you're gonna, in that commitment, involves a plan. Like how you're going to do this, just saying, "I wanna be a better leader." That's great, but that doesn't mean anything, right? You need some action steps behind it. You need a goal to aim at. You need a timeframe on how you're measuring this and when you're gonna check in, what those milestones look like. You need some accountability in place. Like, who's gonna hold my feet to the fire on this? And who's gonna push me over the edge when I stop? We have to put all of these pieces in place. That's what that commitment looks like. So start with that. I mean, yeah, you can go read some leadership books and that's part of it, but that's not the place to start. The place to start is making that commitment. And that's part of what we do at, at G6 Allies too, with pastors or church leaders, business people. We're happy to, to kind of help coach and guide you in that direction.

Jon Beazley: Have you read, it's, I forget how to say his name actually. Man Mancini or something like that. He talks about the vision frame. Are you familiar with him? Will...

Michael Shafer: Mancini, yeah. Will Mancini.

Jon Beazley: That's it. Okay. I knew I was close. I was like, what's his name?

Michael Shafer: Unique Church.

Jon Beazley: Okay. Yeah. I really enjoyed his vision frame, but one thing I particularly like about, it's like getting good clarity of what you, you the future, what you're shooting for.

Michael Shafer: The picture on the horizon. Yes.

Jon Beazley: Yeah. But then it's like, you have, you're gonna have your values, you're gonna have your, I forget the language that he uses, but just like a strategy to go after. And I think, James Clear in his book, 'Atomic Habits' said, "Goals are important," but he says, "think less about just goals. Think about a strategy involved in that as well." So it's, I think that is kind of goes alongside what you're saying, that you need a plan of implementation and a commitment to that plan. And you're right, people tend to kind of go, where they'll go, they'll start something and then they'll quit it, and they'll jump to something else that looks better.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: And then just every couple of months or years, they're just reinventing themselves, right? But they never commit to anything, and they get to the end of their life and they're like, well, I did a lot of things, but never really stuck to anything...

Michael Shafer: Right.

Jon Beazley: ...for a long time and transition's gonna happen to everybody. But...

Michael Shafer: Absolutely.

Jon Beazley: ...having that resiliency, to tie back to that theme is super important. That's very helpful. To tie things up, I'm gonna, I'd like to get all, we're gonna, in our show notes, we're gonna connect all of your information so people can find you.

Michael Shafer: Yeah, for sure.

Jon Beazley: And everything like that. What is, if somebody wanted to get ahold of you, what's the best way to contact you? Maybe it's a pastor that wants to join the network.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: Or a business person that'd be interested in some of the things you said. What's the best way to reach you?

Michael Shafer: Yeah. Best way is just to go to our website, g6allies.com. And, you find us there, and you can also find us G6 Allies on all the socials, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. We're on all those. For me personally, my social media, handles are Mr. Dr. Schafer, M-R-D-R-S-H-A-F-E-R so you can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok. I'm on all of those.

Jon Beazley: Fantastic. For those you're listening in those social media handles, had a hard time saying that, it's gonna be in the show notes and so you can follow him and enjoy some of the resources there as well.

Michael Shafer: Oh, email! I forgot to mention email, [email protected], so you can reach me there as well.

Jon Beazley: Simple enough. There we go.

Michael Shafer: Yeah.

Jon Beazley: So Michael, thank you so much for joining today. This was a really great conversation about just being a resilient leader. So I appreciate you coming on the channel.

Michael Shafer: Absolutely. I enjoyed it.

Jon Beazley: And for those listening in, stay tuned. Next week, we're gonna continue to just unpack what it means to be a healthy leader. Till next time, we'll see you.

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