Episode 222: Leading through Crisis Without Becoming One

Rusty sits down with the executive pastor at Real Life Church, Fred Gray, as they look back on how they’ve navigated various crises across 10+ years and share their tips on how you can do the same.

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Intro/Outro: Welcome to Leading Simple with Rusty George. Our goal is to make following Jesus and leading others a bit more simple. Here's your host, Rusty.

Rusty: Hey, welcome to Leading Simple. I am so honored to have you with us today. Whether you're a first time listener or you've been listening for a long time. Today we are sponsored as we have been for the past few weeks by a great organization called Serve HQ.

Wanna make sure that you check them out. servehq.church they have online learning platforms that allows you to track progress for each person. A large library of training videos and questions for church volunteers and leaders in every area of ministry. It is an incredible resource. So if you lead a church or a leader in a church, check out servehq.church well over the last 10 years.

Myself and our team around here at Real Life Church have been through some of the highest of highs and definitely the lowest of lows. We have dealt with all kinds of horrific things that have happened on our staff or in our community, or in our church that we've had to walk through. And it's not been easy.

And we've done some things right, We've done some things wrong, but through it all, we've had these experiences that we don't feel like we should keep to ourselves. We need to share with you. So you can learn how to lead through a crisis without becoming one. And I gotta be honest, there were a few times I thought I was becoming a crisis, and my guest today found himself in a place where he felt like his life had become a crisis, as a result of all of the drama and the stress and the pain that we walked through together.

My executive pastor over the past nine years is an incredible individual by the name of Fred Gray, who served on our board, was a volunteer in our church, and eventually came on our staff, and he certainly got more than he bargained for. Well, Fred and I sat down and we put together a training course, a series of TED talks, if you will, that is a Leading Through Crisis Without Becoming One workshop.

It's available now and you can find out more details about that in this episode, but I wanted you to hear the story behind this course, but also why it might be so helpful for you. Here's my conversation with my dear friend and executive pastor, Fred Gray.

Well, welcome to Leading Simple. I have a special guest today in the room with me.

Usually we're doing this over video, but this one's live together. Fred Gray, my executive pastor for the last 10 years. Is joining me and I'm so honored to have him with me because he has helped me so much over the last 10 years. Fred, for our listeners that don't know your history tell us a little bit about just how you got to working at a church. cause I know that wasn't your original idea.

Fred: No, it wasn't, but I'm still trying to digest that 10 years. That's, that's been a long time. So, but 10 years? Yes. How'd I get there? Let's see. Well I wasn't planning on it as you mentioned, cause I was a corporate guy and I was very happy being a corporate guy.

But I'm gonna start you where where it really lands for the gray. So Fred and Christie Gray fell in love with Real Life Church because we love the mission and vision. So helping people find and follow Jesus was our thing and. Both of the valleys we lived in, so the San Fernando Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley, for us, these were mission fields and the vast majority of our friends weren't Christians.

So first and foremost, we needed a church that we could just bring people to that didn't know who Jesus was. And it was clear that Real Life Church was that church. So, we fell in love with the church and. I'm proud to say that the church worked us through the levels of leadership. We started very simply as volunteers and in a few short years we sort of got worked through a process.

And that process was pretty simple. We started as life group leaders and then just started to get asked to volunteer doing a number of different things. Which for us was fun and it was awesome. Nothing was too heavy. And eventually we got asked to to do some different things that were both fun.

But I got asked to serve on the board of directors and I had up until that point, done nothing but people stuff, even though I had a business background. And that was super refreshing. And even on the board, I wasn't doing business stuff. Well then one day I heard that our executive pastor was leaving, and I guess it had probably I, I had missed the fact that there had been some pretty good conversations about the possibility of me leaving the corporate world, the, to come on staff and, and I'm sure I'd missed those, the seriousness of those conversations because in my head it was a total and complete impossibility. And I'm sure that's because of money. I'd always figured that the corporate world was paying me too well and the church world wasn't gonna be able to do that. And I was just way too in debt. I was way too into whatever the corporate world was giving me. And then I was heading out to a client out in another valley.

And I heard that our executive pastor had left and something struck me and I always say, God spoke to me, but God doesn't really ever speak to me audibly. I just got a huge sense that God was telling me I was supposed to take that job. And I started to argue. I started to argue with myself, and I started argue with God because up until that point, the thought of ever working at the church, like I'd said, didn't sound like a possibility.

And certainly I didn't even really. It meant to be an executive pastor. I'd worked with him before we'd served on the board together, and I'd watched him, but I just didn't really even know what it meant other than God was telling me to take that job. So I did the next best thing, which any husband would do.

I called my wife figuring I'd get that door slammed real quick, and when I told her what was going on, I said that he had left the church or he was getting ready to resign and leave. She hesitated. And did that old pause and I wasn't sure what was gonna come next other than I assumed it was You're nuts.

There's no way. But she hesitated in pause and said, I think you're supposed to take that job. Yeah. And even as I tell that story to you, Rusty, and I've told it in front of you a hundred times, I not only get the chills, but I I, I get sentimental and emotional about it. cause that was huge for us. So I did.

Then the next thing, which is I picked up the phone and called you and you did pretty much what she did, which is you hesitated and paused, which I'm sure in my head that's like, well, you're nuts, but you hesitated and paused, and then I'll let you just kind of talk about what happened next.

Rusty: Well, it was clear to us you were the guy. It was a matter of how do we talk you into it. And I have found that the voice of the Holy Spirit sounds a lot like your wife. So, She does, does weigh in on your heart as mine does on mine, and gives us that direction. So you joined the staff and I'm sure you thought, boy, this is gonna be difficult because it's different than the corporate world, but it ended up being difficult for a variety of other reasons.

So we went through, you know, staff transition. We went through building buildings. In times when money was great, in times when money wasn't great and the typical stuff that any pastor does, but then on top of that came a wave of different crisis moments that you and I had to walk through together over the last decade that ranged everywhere from odd situations on staff to a staff member getting arrested to A couple of affairs, a couple of suicides community events like school shootings things that we had to navigate and this was all pre COVID.

And then we had what everybody else had. So first of all, I couldn't have done this without you. I mean, I know we did this together and we put together a team, but you know, you taught me so much and had so much. Stability through that time, even though internally I think you were a wreck. It, it made my life a lot easier.

But we learned a lot. Not just about external things, but internal things as well. And we'll get to that. But I, I wanted to take just a moment and see if you can, here we are looking back on the last decade of things that we've seen. About staff, about the church, about community, about the press even. Just give us a, a, a quick little synopsis on each of those because I, I want our listeners to hear a little bit about some of the things we had to wrestle with, and then I want to explain a little bit as to what we're gonna do to try to help our listeners navigate their own crisis.

Fred: Yeah. Let's, let's talk about staff first. I there's a lot you can say about staff and. I, I, I will always say that healthy staff, particularly the ones that are the up & to the right staff, the ones that are mature and the ones that are healthy they make all the difference. Unfortunately on in, in any given situation, when you're looking across, you know, a certain number of people, that's what you're gonna struggle with.

So that did make it difficult. We- we relied and have relied heavily on some of our foxhole buddies on staff, but that, that really is probably where I'd say we've experienced some difficulty and the healthy ones made all the difference in the world and the unhealthy ones made some of the struggle.

And then even as the circle expands and you start to head out to the people even the congregation the healthy ones, the ones that you and I could say were the listeners and the ones that were asking the right questions and willing to be mature. Those are the ones that made it easy for us and the ones.

We're gonna make it difficult for us. We're gonna make it difficult because they were the wolves. And I think there's a lot to be said. I'll always say the community Healthy communication. The world wants to be communicated with. One of our favorite movies is the American President, and I love to refer to that movie because the crux of that is a president that doesn't want to communicate about something personal and he waits through an entire movie.

And eventually does have to communicate. But the truth is, is that in the absence of healthy communication, people are going to figure out a way to grab onto anything. And we learned early on to communicate and communicate a particular way. And that's helped us with the community. And that's helped us in more ways than I can tell you.

And the press is the same way. The press can be your friend. The press can be your enemy. And I think learning how to make the press your friend and learning what that looks like is huge. But I can also say that about each one of those audiences backing up, I can tell you that learning how to communicate to your staff is huge.

Learning how to communicate to the people your congregation's huge, and learning how to help the community and to help the community understand you because the community is gonna have an awful lot to say about you. Even when they're not part of you. All of these things are huge and I think we've learned a tremendous amount over the last 10 years together about how to communicate to each one of these groups, how to do it in a healthy way, and how to help each one of these groups partner with you instead of to create more drama and more pain for you during a lot of really amazingly difficult things.

Rusty: Right. You know? The, the horrific events excluded most of the ministry drama that a church faces has about a two week life cycle. We, we've talked about this a lot, about how everybody's got a two week window for somebody else's crisis and they get back to their own. So if a, if a church can wade through that for two weeks, cause it, it feels.

Like this will never end, but it always does because life moves on and you've got another crisis to deal with. But the trick that I see some churches get into, and I I, I think you would say this as well, is they find ways to reignite people's attention to that crisis. You know, it's just dying down and then we think, Oh, I gotta say something, or I gotta bring it up.

And we've just, we've just lit the fire all.

Fred: The genius statement of the day is right there. Most of the time, the best way to extend that two week period is by doing something really unintelligent. And we've seen this over and over again. We've watched this from afar. We've watched people literally take that gas can and extend a crisis by two and three weeks.

We've seen it done nationally where you want to get on the phone and call somebody up and go, Hey, we don't. PR firm you're talking to, and this is within the context of the church. We don't know who's advising you, but give us a chance because we could probably help you significantly. Just because people don't understand that two week rule.

And again, it's not just about having something die down, but it's about doing something very healthy to help it die down.

Rusty: Mm-hmm. , I just texted a friend of mine yesterday who is, is going through. a little bit of a crisis on social media. People are, are they're freaking out about something from his past that isn't even actual truth, and there's a lot of chatter about it.

So I texted him and I said, Hey, I'm praying for you. This too shall pass. He texted back and he said, What is this that shall soon pass ? And I said, Well, apparently it already has passed. I'm referring to this situation and I, I referenced it and he said, Oh yes, I have some people that are managing that on social media.

I've chosen not to even engage. And I thought, Boy, what a healthy way to deal with it. Because there is, there is kind of two extremes. One is, You put your head in the sand and act like it doesn't even even exist. Or the other is you get so obsessed with it. You just talk about it constantly. And he's chosen to do both extremes.

He lets some people take care of it. He ignores it, which allows him to be the kind of pastor he wants to be.

Fred: Which is very, very, very smart.

Rusty: Yeah. And I, I think about the things that we've been through, and there were moments I thought, well, this, this will pass. I don't even need to address it and I've missed it.

And then times I kept thinking and talking about it, and you would come to me and say, You need to let this go. Yeah. It's not that big of a deal. I remember our mutual friend Tim Winters during one of our crises. I asked him, I said, Will this ever go away? And he said, Yes, and it will. It will go away quicker than you think.

Fred: Yep.

Rusty: So the issue is not whether or not you're going to avoid crises cause no one will avoid them. You're either in them or you're headed towards one. The issue is, is how do you deal with them so that your life doesn't become a crisis? And so that's one of the things that we wanted to share with the listeners is that Fred and I.

After years of prep work on this and even longer as far as practitioners have sat down and charted through different things we've learned along the way in this new leadership course called Leading Through Crisis Without Becoming One, and it's available on my website, pastor rusty george.com, and it is a 12 part video series.

Of just basic TED Talks. Basically walking you through different crises that you would go through. Everything from stuff on staff to in the community, to national tragedies all those kind of things. You could find out more on the website, but. You and I have a chance to go into deep dives on what we did right, what we did wrong, what we do different, and we've also included a lot of forms that people always email us and ask for separation agreements PDFs on how to handle the press and crises. Talk about some of the, the extras that we're able to provide that you've picked up along the way.

Fred: Well, I, I mean the, the key here is always gonna be about preparation. Mm-hmm. , and there are extras in this. And those extras really are the things that you think to yourself, Why would we ever need this? So, a form that we're handing out to the press, when the press is standing there saying when is somebody gonna come out to talk to us?

Who's gonna be talking to us? There's all sorts of things that you think to yourself, you're never gonna need. To make your life easier. And yet when you have them, you suddenly go, Oh, this is why I have something like this. Yeah. There are things like that that frankly I never thought I'd need. I nobody ever told me as an executive pastor, there would be different things that would come to mind, but they're there and these are the types of things that we wanted someone to have.

And you said separation agreement. Those are the types of things that I knew I'd need, but over and over again. Executive pastors, people reach out and they go, How do I separate from somebody? And they use the word fire. These are the types of things that we want people to understand. There's probably gonna be a better way, but nobody really thinks about it until the day that it comes up and they're like, Ohoh, how do I do this?

Well, and these are the types of things that we wanted to get into people's hands.

Intro/Outro: You remember that board retreat we had? And we're sitting in the outside, somebody's cabin up in the woods. And we said, Hey, we're gonna have a crisis one day. And to this point, we hadn't had one. We're gonna have a crisis on staff, maybe perhaps a moral failure.

And you know, we just never thought that that could ever happen to us. And we, we, we took good advice from the great Larry Osborne who said, Think about it and talk about it before it happens, because the moment it happens, half your staff is gonna want to bring justice and the other half's gonna wanna bring mercy.

So come up with a plan ahead of time. And we started doing that right then, and I was so glad we did in preparation for all those kind of things.

Fred: And I remember getting the same advice from a therapist that we've worked with over the years who looked at me and said, Your staff size dictates that you will go through things that you never want to go through.

And I sat back and looked at 'em and said, No, we are so hot on this idea of culture. And we started working on culture literally. Within the first nine to 10 months that I was on staff and I kept looking at you going, There's no way we're offering counseling. We're doing all these great things.

There's no reason why we should have a failed marriage on staff. And then to have gone through what we've gone through and to know that I was wrong in that, but then also to have prepared ourselves anyhow, and to know that there were processes that we could go through and to have answers in advance of the question.

That was huge. , and it's always been great to have either a form or a resource or to even have a process and a pathway as I'm sitting there in the middle of something that a lot of people would say, How did you even know to do that? Mm-hmm. , we'd prepared in advance, right? And did I want to be prepared in advance?

No. Did I want to know that I'm sitting there with someone that I deeply cared about who has passed away because they've taken their own life? Did I wanna sit there and think to myself, I know what to do next, and I know how I'm gonna handle the rest of my day. No, I didn't wanna be in that position. But to have been able to do that mm-hmm. and to have board members respond very quickly, or to be able to get on the phone and to have the press respond and to do what we needed them to do? Praise God. It made all the difference in the world. Painful though, brother.

Rusty: It was very painful.

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Rusty: I, I'd love for you to talk a little bit a about that because. You know, here we, we lead through these really difficult things and it, it, it's something you kind of internalize. It's, you know, everybody says that the male mind compartmentalizes everything can only do one thing at a time. And I think certainly for leaders, you tend to just, all right, what's the most pressing thing I have to do? And I'll grieve later. I'll deal with the pain later. , you went through a variety of different circumstances from dealing with stuff on staff stuff in the community. Like you said, we, we lost a couple of people we were close to due to suicide. We all kind of internalize that and then you hit a wall at some point.

I, I want you to talk briefly through what was going on in your mind and how did you know? I think I've hit the wall and I desperately need help because from my perspective, I'm sitting in my house and I get a phone call from a mutual friend who's with you up in Montana, and he says, I don't think Fred's coming home. He doesn't want to go back to life as he once knew it. He's crispy. He's burnt. Talk about that moment.

Fred: Yeah. Well, sorry about that. That was thanks. That was kind of a rough time. You know, it's interesting to go back into all the notes I have on my phone, which I do periodically, and I look at them and I think of all the great books that you've had me read I've had me read and others, and there's so many, so many amazing.

And I look at those notes, and I think to myself about spiritual disciplines, I think to myself about things like making sure that I'm talking to my pallbearers, that's one of my favorites. Those six or eight guys that I wanna be completely transparent to. I, I wanna make sure that I'm confessing the deep secrets of my life, the things that I'm in pain over.

I have those notes in my phone and I attend church. I do those things, but. It was the transparency that I was lacking and I really thought as an executive pastor that I needed to get everybody through the crisis, I needed to lead well. We're at a mission field here. This is post-Christian here in beautiful Santa Clarita.

And so everything's a mess. But you know, we're baptizing people and we're having phenomenal successes of life transformation in the middle of all this. So in my head, that must mean everything's going great. So we just need to keep our head down. That means Fred needs to keep his head down and just keep plugging along.

And I, I just really, with all those great notes I was taking, I just wasn't paying attention to kind of the emotional impact that all that was having on me. And I was talking to a therapist. and I, I just probably wasn't doing a really good job of saying no, but it's not working for me. It really does hurt that bad.

I remember a few times not being able to express healthy emotion about some of the things I needed to be able to express healthy emotion to my wife and having her call me on it, she'd look at me and go, Something great just happened and you should be phenomenally excited. We'd finished a student building. And we'd gotten it signed off and it had been hard man. We, we'd gone through just a ton with the city and with neighbors and everything else, and it was done like the inspector had signed off and given us the occupancy report. And I just looked at her and she said, How do you feel? And I said, I cried on the way home.

She said, "That emotion doesn't really match what you should be feeling right now. Those tears aren't of joy, those tears are of sadness and exhaustion". Mm. She, she said "That's, that's a, that's a, that's an inventory statement". My words not hers. Mm-hmm. . She just looked at me and said, I think you're an idiot. I think you're missing something. Yeah. I didn't do a good job of, that's self-reflection, and so when I hit the wall, it was because I saw the signs. There was a lot of mismatch emotion because I was just bearing everything and sticking it down. Now that I know what that looks like, I can't tell you Rusty, how many pastors I talk to on a regular basis that are finding themselves in the same position.

Mm-hmm. , which is, I'm watching people get baptized and it's just a little dry. I'm watching or hearing a story of life transformation and it's not hit me the way it should. And I'm telling you, Rusty, that that stuff, that stuff, angels are celebrating.

Rusty: And we're not.

Fred: The- all the kingdom is going-

Rusty: Yeah.

Fred: Going, you know, apey for that stuff. Mm-hmm. . And we're not, And that's where you and I need to look at ourselves in the mirror and we gotta say something needs to change in our hearts. We, we gotta, we gotta take inventory. Right? That, and I didn't. And I got to the point where I hit the wall.

Rusty: Yeah, I, I remember that baptism analogy that you said.

I, I stopped crying at baptisms and we, we do baptisms you know, three or four times a year and we'll baptize hundreds of people a time. And it is a, an emotional moment for everybody except for those of us who are burn out. And I, I went through that season. You went through that season. I'm sure there are people listening that are going through that season.

You meet people all the time in Montana or Wyoming on various trips. I meet pastors all the time on various trips and they tell me the same thing. And now post Covid, everybody's burnt, everybody's exhausted. It's that sleeper syndrome thing where, you know, post 9/11, all the counselors were loving life cause they were helping people and then they ran past the point of their coverage, so to speak.

They were exhausted. And like 90% of those in New York that were counselors were no longer in the business two years later cause they just, they didn't have the bandwidth. You decided to go and go to drastic measures of counseling to, to get help with that as so many people on our staff did. And that's one of the things we wanna talk about in this course is what do you do when you realize. You know, you've got a problem, or, and even, even backing up, how do you realize that there's a problem? And then what do you do next?

You know, I love the analogy you use in the course about the redlining idea. You know, your, your, your crisis meter or your stress meter, most people's drop down to like a one or a two when they go home. Or when they get up in the next morning. You're, you were living at like a five or a six to begin with before you even came to work, you know, what was the revelation there?

Fred: Well, I mean, the huge revelation was, you know, that my own brokenness and everything that I was bringing to the table was starting to catch up to me. And then, I mean, any one of us. You know, when we wake up in the morning, we are at a two or a three just because of who we are. Yeah, I mean, that's the truth. I'm an Enneagram one with a one wing. I mean, I'm- I wake up every day with my own stuff and I walk down to the bottom of the stairs and I'm struggling.

Rusty: Yeah.

Fred: So that's just the way it is. Now, if you throw on a lot of tragedy, if you throw in a lot of heartbreak, and that's kind of what we'd experienced, I probably am walking to the bottom of the stairs at a four or five. And then you try to put on a day and be successful during the day when stuff's happening, when you are raising kids, when you're trying to be the best husband possible. And I'm redlining before I get to 10 o'clock. And then when really bad stuff happened and I was carrying a lot of that pain every day, I was probably walking downstairs at a six or a seven trying to operate during the day. And that's when, that's when it become, became untenable. That's when it. Wait a minute, I can't do this anymore.

That's when I would wake up and say, Man, the second I can get out of this valley, I want to because there are streets that I drive down that mean death or mean four kids without a father or mean something to me that I can't reconcile and fix because I'm owning that. I can't even give that to God anymore.

And that's, that's not who we are. That's not who we're meant to be. Right? And he's up there saying, Fred, that's not, that's not your job, you're not- you're not an Ex P that's supposed to carry that, Right?

Rusty: Yeah. I think the mentality most of us have is just, well, Jesus went to the cross, so we just, you know, grain and bear it. Move ahead. Yeah. And we're not really meant to do life that way. So, I'm excited that the course is finally coming out because we've been talking about it for a couple of years now and I really want people to, to get this because I think it's gonna help a lot of pastors and I, So I want to give a couple of suggestions.

One, Go to pastor rusty george.com and check out the course. And, and go ahead and download it. But then I also recognize that there's some of you that are thinking, Well, I don't run a church I don't work at a church. Would you buy it for your pastor and would you just kind of pay it forward to them?

Maybe some of you, you work at a church where you've planted a lot of churches and you know that they're walk, walking through a lot more difficulty than you are at this current time. Would you pay it forward and get them one as well? Maybe for some of. Up and coming church planners for them to have a a course like this might be very, very helpful also.

So just go to pastor rusty george.com. Fred, there's some great stuff on the course besides just you and I talking about our personal pain. We talk in there about, you know, the three circles of staff that, that people have to keep in mind every staff meeting that they do because it. It causes the meeting after the meeting or the meeting before the meeting.

Yep. We talk in there about these you know, HR documents and PDFs and crisis course management and that kind of stuff. But there's also stuff in there where we, we use this analogy that was so helpful for me that you shared of you're out in a pond and a rock falls into the water. Walk us through that a little bit cause this is really helpful.

Fred: You know, it's a, it's a great analogy and it was a therapist that brought us this one because we were trying to deal with a particularly rough situation. And the therapist looked at us and he said, We're trying to handle our staff at the time, approximately 70 people. And we were trying to figure out everything that we needed to do for the sum total of staff. And he stops me and he says, Hey, listen, Fred, let me, let me just say this, this is a big deal and I know you're in a lot of pain because you were very close to the situation, but I, I want you to look at it this way. You're in a pretty good size pond here, and all of these people are scattered as they would be as your staff across the sum total of this pond.

Think the pond is your entire staff and the pond represents the the church. When the rock lands, it's landing to the right in the pond. And when it lands, it's landing near some people that are pretty close to the situation. They are close to the situation cause it affects their department, it affects their particular situation.

But there's some people on the other side of the pond, they're not so affected by this. They're just not- they're just not impacted because that person's not in their department. Mm-hmm. . And you can't handle them the same way. You're gonna have to handle them differently. The amount of information that they're gonna need is gonna be different.

The amount of time spent talking about this is gonna be different. They may not need a counselor to get them through this. They may need something else, which is a nice. And some love, and then they need to move on and they may probably just need to go back to work. These are the kinds of things that we learned. This is just a tidbit of information that we figured out over the litany of the number of crises that we've experienced, and this is why this course is gonna be so good for you because that little bit right there would keep you from maybe holding an entire staff in a staff meeting if you have a larger staff, when you probably only need to be talking to a department or a subset.

Rusty: That's really good. Yeah. You know, we do get into some fun things as well as far as like how we dealt with PETA when we had an animal on campus as part of an event. We talk about things like what happens when somebody tries to sue your church over something that was really clearly their fault. Even talk about what happens when there's a, a national crisis, obviously like COVID or what we went through back in 2020, but even things that are local, like when a leader dies and it, it affects everybody, like in our case, Kobe Bryant because we're out in LA. How do you honor those that don't always need a lot of honor and don't always deserve it?

Yep. So, walking through some of those things, we talk about that, we talk about staff, we talk about emotional health, and we give a lot of great resources for people. So, Fred, I want to, I want to end with this. Tell yourself 10 years ago when you started this job, you know, what do you wish you knew then that, you know now? What would you say to Fred 10 years ago?

Fred: That's a, that's a good question. , I would probably tell Fred not to over own each one of these situations and just to take a deep breath and it will all, it'll all happen. The two week thing is probably about its great as it gets. Mm-hmm. . And then I would definitely say within that first couple of years that great team that you've got is, is gonna be by your side all the way through that.

So as hard as you're gonna work, that team's gonna be right there with you. But that 10 years of learning is absolutely invaluable. Rusty, I, I can't even say enough about how much we've learned over that 10 years.

We were talking before we hit record about just a, a case in point of team and how much that mattered to you. You went away in a pre-planned getaway to head up to, I believe Montana for about a week, and that was when our crisis of the school shooting happened. You land on your, you know, your layover only to discover that there's been a shooting at one of our high schools, and you find out that one of our students had- had lost her life. And you have a dilemma. Are you gonna come back? What, how are you gonna step in and try to, like you said, over own this or manage this? Talk about what you experienced at that moment. Yeah,

it horrible time. I mean, and knowing what our teams going through, knowing personally what you were going through was absolutely brutal.

The person I had on the phone was Debbie, our Executive Director of Administration and Debbie said to me at that point "Our program, the plan that we run is, has been executed in a flawless manner. All the notifications that we need to get out have gone out, just the way we've set them up and everybody is where they're supposed to be right now. And I want you to rest assure that you know, what's been created is on point. So, I want you to keep going where you're going. Do what you need to do because we've got this. Because the right things have been created and just be okay".

And I got back in time for the memorial service for the young lady that had lost her life. And I was standing next to a member of the press from NBC and she was actually in a bullpen that had been created looking at a particular tool that we have as part of this for. For y'all as part of this package. And she looked at me and she said, I can't even believe how well put together this, this event is, and how clear all this information is who put this together.

And I said, Well, the, the church put it together. And she said, This is amazing. Like, I, I'm not, I do not experience this level of organization most ever when I come to events or we have to cover other things. And she goes, We'd come back for comment. Or call you guys up in general because we'd know you'd know what to do or, or how to do something right in the future.

And I said, thank you. We got a great team, and that's what we want for you. We want you to be able to have a team that's prepared and ready to go. When you need it, because unfortunately, we're afraid for you that you're gonna need it because we just know crisis happens, and I love being part of a team that's ready to go. I hate that they have to be ready to go, but I love that they are ready to go when they need to be for this particular thing.

Rusty: Well, Fred, I can't thank you enough for not only the time, but the 10 years. Hopefully the next 10 will be even more exciting and fun. Yeah. But God is good and His grace is uh, new every morning.

And so, grateful for where he has led us and where we are today. So, thank you for this and for everybody listening, make sure you get check out. Leading through crisis without becoming one pastorrustygeorge.com. Love to get that resource in your hand. And Fred and I have gone to a lot of churches and talked to staff and elder boards who don't always understand how this is a very real thing and need that your, your team needs help.

Your team needs counseling sometimes, and we'd be happy to do that for you as well. So you can check that out at the website. Once again, thanks for listening. Fred. Thanks for being here. Appreciate you being on the show.

Fred: Okay. I love you, buddy.

Rusty: Well, I'm so grateful for Fred's friendship and leadership in my life and leadership in our church, and we are certainly not the same people we were nine years ago, and we certainly have learned a lot along the way, and we'd love to share that with you. So make sure you check out this crisis course that we're making available for you today. You can just go to my website, pastorrustygeorge.com for more information.

Next week I'll be back with a conversation with a guy that took over a church that had one particular style of doing ministry. And he decided to change it. I mean, what could go wrong? I think you're gonna love my conversation with Canyon Ridge Pastor, Drew Moore, that's coming up next week. Well, you've probably got somebody that could benefit from the conversation you just heard. Share this with a friend, Let em' know about the resource. And as always, keep it simple.

Intro/Outro: Take a moment and subscribe to the podcast so you'll get it delivered every week. And subscribe to the Rusty George YouTube channel for more devotionals messages and fun videos. Thank you for listening to Leading Simple.

Creators and Guests

Rusty George
Rusty George
Follower of Jesus, husband of lorrie, father of lindsey and sidney, pastor of Crossroads Christian Church
Episode 222: Leading through Crisis Without Becoming One
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