25 min read

Transcript: How to Build Strong Faith Amidst Loss and Leadership Challenges // Jerry White

Flourishing Culture Leadership Podcast

“How to Build Strong Faith Amidst Loss and Leadership Challenges“

November 27, 2023

Jerry White

Intro: How can you grow a faith foundation that will sustain you through all the seasons of your life? When you experience the inevitable losses and disappointments in life, how are you going to keep going? Well, today on the Flourishing Culture Leadership Podcast, we'll hear from a seasoned leader who has a deep understanding of how we can faithfully follow Jesus throughout our lives. Listen in and be encouraged about how you can keep going as a disciple of Jesus and overcome the dangers that you may encounter along the way.

Welcome: Welcome to the Flourishing Culture Leadership Podcast, your home for open, honest, and insightful conversations to help develop your leadership, your team, and build a flourishing workplace culture.

Al Lopus: Hello, I'm Al Lopus, the co-founder of the Best Christian Workplaces and author of the Christian Book Awards’ finalist for 2023, the Road to Flourishing: Eight Keys to Boost Employee Engagement and Well-Being. And I'm passionate about helping Christian leaders like you create engaged, flourishing workplaces.

I’m delighted to welcome Jerry White to the Flourishing Culture Leadership Podcast today. Jerry is the international president emeritus for The Navigators, as well as having a distinguished military career. He's the author of numerous books, including the recently updated Dangers Men Face: Overcoming the Greatest Threats to Living Life Well.

Well, throughout our conversation today, you'll hear Jerry talk about the dangers we face in various stages of our life; dealing with loss in our life, including the loss of role, motivation, influence, and confidence, for example; the issue of sexual temptation and how to deal with it; the importance of avoiding what Jerry calls freezing as we get older; and the importance of a fourth-quarter plan in our life and how to embrace it like a new adventure.

I know that you're going to love this interview with Jerry White. But before we dive in, this episode is brought to you by Best Christian Workplaces’ new Leadership 360 and group coaching. We help you transform your leadership effectiveness with our stakeholder-based coaching process. Learn more by going to workplaces.org/coaching, and check it out today.

And I want to give a special hello to our new listeners. Thanks for joining us.

And now let me tell you just a little bit more about Jerry White. Jerry served for many years in active duty with the Air Force, retiring as Major General. He has a Ph.D. in Astronautics and was on the faculty of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He also participated in the early space program, and he's had many other assignments. Jerry spent many years on staff with The Navigators ministry, including as the U.S. director and then international president. He now serves in an emeritus role. Jerry serves on the boards of the Christian Leadership Alliance and the Lausanne Movement, and he's a skilled handball player. Just ask him some time. Jerry’s written several books, including the textbook for astrodynamics and several Christian discipleship books. Today we're going to focus on the recent updated book Dangers Men Face: Overcoming the Greatest Threats to Living Life Well.

We have so much to learn from Jerry, and our discussion today will apply to both men and women as we live out our calling as leaders and followers of Christ. So, here’s my conversation with Dr. Jerry White.

Jerry, it’s great to have you back on the podcast.

Jerry White: Good to be here. I remember the last time. It was a great time. We’ll have a good time this time.

Al: I’m looking forward to it, Jerry, and this is an important topic for our audience. You've recently updated your book that you wrote several years ago now about the dangers we face that can derail us. It’s called Dangers Men Face, published by NavPress. And while your title focuses on men, I have a sense that many of these leadership issues are not only what men face but women as well. So I'm curious about your observations as you've reconsidered these ideas, as you've looked at this book again afresh after 25 years, what are the challenges for us as disciples of Jesus, and how are they different these days than when you first did this book? And then, how have your own experiences in the past few decades shaped your understanding of what we need to stay faithful and to grow throughout our lives as leaders?

Jerry: Well, let me first say these dangers, both men and women do face—

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: —and they're almost equal. When I wrote it, Mary and I decided—I decided, basically—I couldn't write it for both men and women, but we've taught it together, Mary and I have.

Al: Yeah.



Jerry: And women face almost exactly the same thing. It’s just the examples are a little bit—

Al: Mm.

Jerry: —different. So what's changed in 25 years? Well, the culture has changed. Our entire culture has shifted to a digital age, Internet technology, the absolute influence of pornography—

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: —for both men and women. All of the dangers are there. And I ran this by people who were much, much younger than I, in their 30s and so forth. And I said, “Are these dangers the same?” They said, “Yes, they are.” But the illustrations are different because we're in a different culture in terms of communications and in terms of what people are experiencing. So it is very different, and I've tried to update that throughout, as well as adding a good bit of material on that.

Al: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Well, Jerry, you’ve grouped some of these dangers into areas of loss, for example—

Jerry: Yes.

Al: —a scenario that I was interested in. So we experience losses throughout our life, and some of these losses can really shake us to the core. And I think of different things throughout my life and I know in yours. And our podcast listeners are people of influence, they’re leaders in their organizations, they’re leaders in for-profit businesses and even in their communities. So let's talk about loss of influence, and what's the danger to people as they experience a loss of influence?

Jerry: Well, Al, everybody experiences loss—

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: —and sometimes that loss is very deep; sometimes it's very minor. Every loss when it happens is never minor, and it can be loss of health, it can be loss of a job, or it could be getting fired. It can be not getting a promotion in your workplace. It can be an offense that you've been treated unjustly, or you treated someone else unjustly. And so all of us face these losses. And in the book, I describe several kinds of losses that seem to hit people, and for instance, a loss of motivation, the loss of position, the loss of influence, the loss of identity and significance, and the loss of confidence. Well, that can happen at any point in our lives. And so early on, when, for instance, when children lose a game, and they get dejected, they're playing high school football or high school gymnastics, they lose, and they're down, and they don't even want to talk to anybody, that's part of growing up—

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: —learning how to win and to lose. And those losses as we deal with them early in our life are broken up. Romance, for instance. Sometimes it throws people off forever, but we learn to live with them. And so we need to learn, what is God teaching us through this loss, how do I deal with it, and how is it going to strengthen me personally?

Al: Yeah. What is God teaching us? Well, just as you were going through that list of loss of motivation, loss of influence, loss of confidence, even a loss of romance, gosh, you kind of made me go back to an initial college breakup, but it's like, oh, man, yeah. But the core, what is God trying to teach us through this? And I even—I'll admit, Jerry, I was a leader in a large international firm, and we went to a matrix structure, and I went from having 100% authority and responsibility for this group to now sharing it. And I was actually the minority person that they would report to. And I called our regular monthly meeting. And none of the leaders that, you know, I was matrixed with that was also matrixed to the practice leader showed up for the meeting. And it’s like, “Oh my gosh, I've lost influence. I think I might—”

Jerry: I know.

Al: “—I might be losing more.” But I did ask what God was teaching me, and it was that influence wasn't just based on position, you know. Of course, you’ve learned that many times. But it's not based on position. So I learned something through that, for sure. But, yeah, loss of influence.

You know, Jerry, you've retired from different roles many times and experienced the loss of influence, at least temporarily.

Jerry: Yes.

Al: Yeah. And so that's asking, what's God teaching you in that time?

Jerry: Well, Al, yes, I have changed positions many times. I've lost influence. But I'll never forget one time when I was leading in The Navigators that I called a meeting, and I said, “Who's going to come?” And they said, “Well, we don't know.” I said, “You don't know?” Said, “Well, we never know whether they come or not.” It was just like you experienced.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: I said, “What is this?”

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: I had just come out of the military. When you called a meeting, people came.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: Now they might come without much enthusiasm, but they came.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: But as you work in a volunteer organization—and by the way, all industries today, I believe, are volunteer organizations.

Al: That’s right.

Jerry: That's how we have to treat employees—

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: —that you realize that it's not just the authority of your position but the influence of your person that they respect you. So it's something that we have to live with when we lose that influence. And it can happen by restructuring. It can happen by you losing your position or changing positions within an organization. Every organization I know reorganizes about every three years, and that means you’re going to have a different role.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: And so you have to both relearn how to engage people. Now, that's a whole other topic.

Al: Yeah, right. Well, I think that leads to my next thought anyway, and that is for many of us, our identity is wrapped up in our work, and as followers of Jesus, we may assert that our identity is in Christ, but practically speaking, we act like our identity is our work. So how can we make sure that we have a firm foundation on our true identity as people created in God's image? And maybe you can share an example of how this danger impacts people who are successful in their careers and in leadership roles.

Jerry: That's a really good question. Our identity, especially for men but also for women more and more as they are in leadership roles, we get our identity from what we do and from what we do well.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: And through the years, we do mistake that identity. Now, when you were in it, if I were ask you, is my identity in Christ, and I'm a true believer—

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: —“Oh, yes, of course.”

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: But the reality is different. It's one thing to have our identity in Christ; it's another thing to not depend on our “positional identity.”

Couple of examples. General William K. Harrison was called the Christian General during World War II and during the Korean War. In the Korean War, he was the only man that General MacArthur could trust to negotiate at P’anmunjom, and he assigned General Harrison. General Harrison retired as the Caribbean commander, three star, but he never held a combat command. And when he retired—I remember having him in my home, sitting at his feet, listening to him—when he retired, he just went on. He wrote a book. He taught at Dallas Seminary. He just kept going and did not lose a step.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: Another person was one of my early mentors, J. Oswald Sanders, who led what was then China Inland Mission. And he just kept going. He lost his identity many times.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: Another man that I think of that I highly respect is Senator Bill Armstrong. Bill Armstrong served two terms in the Senate and term limited himself, then became the president of Colorado Christian University, CCU.

Al: Yeah, yeah.

Jerry: And he was self-assuming.

I just had recently a really fine person who just stepped—to join my Bible study—he just stepped down as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That's a number-two military person in the United States. His name is John Hyten. And John and his wife joined our study. And they're just as common as an old shoe in that you would never know that he was the number-two four-star general in the entire military, because there's a humility about him.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: And yes, he still carries a little of that identity when he's invited to speak, but he never pushes it.

So, it's okay for other people to push your identity, but you need to be careful not to push it yourself. You need to realize that identity is temporary, and it will go away.

Al: Don't push your own identity. Yeah. And these are great examples, Jerry, of people. And your point is, they just keep going.

Jerry: They keep going.

Al: Yeah. Yeah. And after one position and another, they keep going to see, you know, they're just following what God has in store for them. Yeah.

Jerry: That’s right.

Al: And you’re an example of that yourself, for sure.

Jerry: Well, I've had—now I have to say that not everybody has opportunities—

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: —like you and I do.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: I still get invited to speak. I'm on boards. But let's remember, that's not everybody.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: There are some people who have not been super active in “ministry” prior to leaving their role, and they're lost.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: Al, they’re lost.

Al: Yeah, right.

Jerry: They don't know what to do with themselves because they have not deepened in their lives earlier. And that's from a question you were going to ask later on.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: What do you do?

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: If you do not deepen your walk with God while you're in that influential position, while you're busy, while you're raising your kids, it won't be there when you step down. That's why, when the empty nest comes about, divorces happen.

Al: In your book, you talk about the antidote to loss is a kind of spiritual graduate school. You’ve just—

Jerry: Right.

Al: —just talking about it. This isn't just about knowing more. You link knowledge and understanding and experience. And expand on this idea. How should we respond to losses in our lives in a healthy way?

Jerry: Well, our loss, our major loss, our son was murdered, and that was a tremendous loss. And what it did, it humbled me tremendously. It made me feel absolutely helpless. Now, that's an extreme. But other people, most of us, when we experience some loss, feel helpless.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: And the first thing is to acknowledge that I am helpless. And it bears down on our real self. And so instead of running away from the emotional down, we ought to embrace it, and saying, “God, what are you trying to do in my life through this?” and then to learn from it.

Now, there is a psychological and emotional impact. Some people go into depression. I'm not going to talk about that. I'm going to talk about healthy people who respond and rebound. But the rebound is up to you. You can choose to move forward, or you can choose to be bitter and to resent what caused the loss, particularly if the loss had to do with some injustice.

And I remember reading Rich Stearn's book, and knowing him personally, the president of World Vision.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: He became CEO of two major corporations and got fired both times.

Al: Hmm.

Jerry: And it devastated him.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: But then, God brought him back around. At that point, he was a younger believer, and he was learning how to respond to those losses. And then, as he walked into the next opportunity, he gave it 100%.

Al: And he learned from it, didn't he. That's—

Jerry: Oh, very much so.

Al: Yeah. Yeah. That's the way we need to look at losses, as a learning opportunity and that God doesn't hurt us intentionally, but He certainly wants us to learn, doesn't He.

Jerry: Well, yes. In Psalms it says, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I have turned to your word.”

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: And one particularly interesting passage is in Philippians chapter 3. And this is a great passage that Paul wrote. And I think Paul had lost everything. You know, he was a Pharisee of Pharisees—

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: —and his life was absolutely destroyed at the time it was being rebuilt. And he says that “if anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church.” As for legalistic righteousness, Paul was. But whatever was gained, lost—“But whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What's more, I considered everything lost compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord.”

I mean, he experienced loss. And by the way, he continued to experience loss throughout his Christian life: his health—

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: —people rejecting him, people thinking he wasn't very good, his split up with Barnabas, his confrontation with Peter. Every time Paul turned around, he was hitting a brick wall—

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: —and that's what he writes in the Epistles.

Al: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And yet he changed history. Yeah.

Jerry: He changed history. Right.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry, you've got a whole section of your book on the dangers—

Jerry: Yeah.

Al: —including conflict, anger, and pride. But let's focus on this area of sexual sin. This is certainly an area that we've seen the downfall of many Christian leaders. And I've seen this personally, how a leader will fall and how much it hurts everybody around them, even has destroyed organizations. So let's talk about how sexual sin starts in the mind and not with a physical struggle. Why are some leaders more vulnerable to it, would you say?

Jerry: Right. There is no man or woman who does not have sexual temptation.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: That is a common thing. It is something that's there all the time. It's in the workplace. It's in the home. It's in the social sector. It's at church. And we just have to guard our hearts. The Scriptures say, “Guard your heart, for out of it are the issues of life.” And the first thing is to recognize that it's there. But then it also says—I love the passage that I kind of base the book on. In a sense, it's Proverbs 23. “A wise man sees evil and runs away; a fool goes on and is destroyed.” So most of us understand what leads to sexual temptation. It starts within the mind. It always starts in the mind. And then, if we don't treat the issue of the mind, of holiness of thought, and guard it, it will continue to develop.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: Then, the other thing that I think is most of us, as we get older and with more responsibility and more respect, we tend to isolate. We isolate from our wife. We isolate from other believers. I mean, what 22-year-old is going to confront a 50-year-old on something that they see going wrong in their life? The older we get and the more responsibility we carry, the less people will confront us. And so we need to, I believe, set up guardrails and accountability structures.

Al, you know some of our accountability group, that I have three other couples around us, and we've been working together for 45 years. Our stated goal is to help each of us walk with Jesus for a lifetime. And one of the men said, “If I were unfaithful to my wife, I'm not sure if I'd be more afraid of God or you people”—

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: —because they would come down hard.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: But we need the accountability, and we need to be in a situation where we're known, people see our lives and see our marriage, see our family, enough so that they can see when things start going off track. And of course, the Scriptures, too.

And I think there are many books written on this, on sexual temptation, and you ought to read them.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: You ought to read them. I mean, there’s some good helps out there.

Tomorrow I’m going to be in an Air Force meeting in Washington, D.C., or I actually will travel to D.C. And I remember being at this same meeting about seven years ago, and I walked up to a brigadier general, and I said, “Well, how are you doing?” And he looked at me—we were over at the kind of a coffee stool on a break—and he said, “Personal or professional?” I said, “Personal.” He said, “Well, my marriage is falling apart because I was hooked on pornography, and I lost my marriage.” And he went on to describe. I mean, it was a shock. And I had known him for some years, but he didn't have a structure around him.

Al: Yep.

I trust you’re enjoying our podcast today. We’ll be right back after an important word for leaders.

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Al: Welcome back with Jerry White.

Yeah. That’s good advice, Jerry, to have accountability. We've talked about your accountability group, 45 years that you've been in accountability, you and your wife, with three other couples.

Jerry: Yeah.

Al: Yeah. I know that's sustained you as your son was murdered and how they came to support you, and as you've done the same in illness and other situations with others. I like what Les Parrott, the marriage counselor and coach, says, “If the grass looks greener someplace else, then start watering your own lawn.”

Jerry: I like that. That's exactly right.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: Well, let's just talk about that for a minute.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: Not every marriage is perfect. In fact, no marriage is perfect. Not every marriage is sexually perfect. And so when we say the vow, “till death do us part,”—and by the way, we just passed 65 years in marriage—

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: —and we have to realize there will be seasons. And in our most vulnerable times, even if the marriage is not as fulfilling in one way or another as it should be, the question is, are we committed? A wife or a husband can have mental problems, can have health problems. Are we going to stick with them? Are we going to walk with them? Or are we going to abandon them? No, we're going to stick with it.

But let's just realize that the dangers are there.

Al: Yep. Congratulations on 65 years. Yeah.

Jerry: Thank you.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: I think if there is a medal of honor, Mary ought to get it.

Al: Yeah, yeah.

Well, Jerry, here’s another topic, and I love the way you describe this. In certain seasons of life, we're in danger of freezing. You know—

Jerry: Yeah.

Al: —where we stop learning, where, you know, and I've seen this with older people, they, you know, they say, “I'm not going to use a cell phone. I'm not going to use a smartphone.” But, you know, that's just a minor example. But we might think we know what we need to know to keep on leading, to keep on influencing, or we might just get tired of adapting to change. And change is coming faster and faster all the time. So I know for myself, working on this podcast and with the team at Best Christian Workplaces, one thing that keeps me learning and adapting and improving. But what's your encouragement to leaders to keep from freezing, to keep from stopping the growth that keeps them engaged and relevant? Are there some practical steps that you'd give us to stay vital in all seasons of our life?

Jerry: One of the biggest things I would do is say ask questions. When you're around a younger generation, ask them questions. Ask them about their work. You hear about new developments on, whether it be cryptocurrency or new Internet or artificial intelligence, “Hey, tell me about that. Teach me something. I don't know much about that.”

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: One thing is to be curious and to value others’ input. The second thing is to read. You’ve got to keep reading and got to keep coming in. Something other than the network news, something, whether it be podcasts or whatever, to keep learning, and be sure to keep tuned in with our cultural development.

It's interesting. You've got to keep tuned in without becoming angry, which is hard—

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: —and without becoming super opinionated and turning young people off. For instance, in the LGBT area today. For our people in our twenties, it’s just kind of something they live with.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: And we just have to be careful what we say. Al, we don't have to abandon our own beliefs, by any means.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: But we need to be aware of what's going on in the culture around us. And I find it's good to associate with people who are growing, who continue to grow.

I just read the biography of Eugene Peterson. It's absolutely fascinating, and he's so vulnerable. And now I'm in the middle of the biography of Tim Keller, who just passed away.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: And watching their growth, and they're continuing to develop. But it will not happen unless we decide to do it.

Now, that doesn't mean, Al, that you have to be an intellectual. I'm not talking about someone with a super-high IQ that just gobbles up books. Men generally don't read, so listen to audiobooks, but try to keep learning. And that has to do—when I talk about freezing, you just said it, “I'm not going to learn a new computer. I'm not going to get a new computer. I'm not going to think about this. I'm not going to do that,” well, maybe you don't have to, but you can't stop learning.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: And by the way, the younger generation, as soon as you get about 10 words out of the mouth, you're going to be pegged as to whether you're a learner or not.

Al: Mm-hmm. Yeah. That’s great advice for all of us, Jerry. Ask questions. A lot of us in leadership roles, we've made our living by actually telling others—

Jerry: Yeah, right.

Al: —not asking others. But we need—

Jerry: That’s right.

Al —we need to be asking others. We need to be reading, learning. I've made a commitment not to talk about how the next generation is doing things wrong. And your point is a good one. The younger generation’s going to figure out very quickly if you've got credibility or not, based on whether you're learning or not in the process.

So, Jerry, you know, your revised book now has a section on the fourth quarter. And you talk about life after 60, not in terms of retirement or a late-life crisis but in terms of distinct challenges. You certainly are a great example. As I've watched you over the years, you've stayed engaged. You're staying involved in God's call on your life in this season. What are some of the critical issues for us to remember if we want to keep flourishing in this season, in the fourth quarter? And for listeners who aren't yet in this fourth quarter, how can they prepare for this season?

Jerry: Right. Well, every good coach has a fourth-quarter plan, whether they're behind by 50 points or they're behind by two points. And that fourth-quarter plan sometimes doesn't work. And then there will be the critique afterwards. What should I have done? And I could give many illustrations of that. And the challenge is, first of all, understand the possibility of a misplaced identity that you had lived with before. And it's not a fatal, it's not a sin, doesn’t have to be guilty if you misplaced it. Secondly, you understand what is truly significant in life. And we know that that’s family, marriage, my spiritual life, and my continued growth. And the third thing I have is to tap into the excitement of a new adventure. This is a new adventure, and we need to really think about that.

And so a man that I was helping, young believer, but a heart, and I quote him extensively in the book. He’s a Harvard Ph.D. and led the Department of Innovation at the Air Force Academy for 11 years. But he was a speech writer for the chief of naval operations as a young officer. And he saw two kinds of speeches that he had to write. One was for promotion, the other was for retirements. And he had what's called your resumé virtues. You write up a job. Here I want to sell myself. I want to sell myself. I want to sell myself. I've done this. I've done that. And then, there was the eulogy virtues.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: In other words, what will be said at your funeral? And it won't be all of those things. It's going to be on your character and the way you lived your life.

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: I think one of the biggest things in the fourth quarter is coming to grips with our own mortality. There needs to be a perspective, and we've got to stop looking in the rearview mirror and look to the future. I can give an illustration, but I’ll wait a little bit on that.

Al: Yeah, right.

Jerry: The second thing is, I believe, commitment and determination to finish well. Are you going to finish well? And then you're going to have to invest your time and energy. It takes work. If you will think of the fourth quarter like auditioning for a new job, and what do I need to be prepared?

Al: Yeah. So, yeah, understanding. If you've misplaced your identity, really understanding the significant issues in life, family growth, tap into the excitement. I love the attitude issue. Have the attitude that this fourth quarter’s going to be exciting. Tap into that. And understand the resumé versus the eulogy virtues, and work on those eulogy virtues, for sure. So yeah.

Jerry: Yeah.

Al: And the commitment. Just knowing and making commitments yourself and others that you're going to finish strong.

Well, Jerry, throughout our discussion today, you've talked about our spiritual life and the foundation that's required and that we need to avoid dangers and actually run away from them along the way. But at the end of your book, you focus on spiritual renewal, and you say that—

Jerry: Right.

Al: —renewal is a constant process, but that we also need some concentrated times of special connection with God. So what are some ways that you found to renew your spiritual vitality when you find it waning a bit? And what would you advise our listeners to focus on for their spiritual health?

Jerry: Well, I think there are several things. First of all, you can't live out what you have not learned. And many of us find that we get to a certain point in life and we've actually neglected our spiritual growth. We haven't gotten as deep in the Word as we need to. We have not really developed our walk with God. Many people are believers and they know the doctrines, but they have not wrestled in the Scriptures themselves. I would say the first thing in that last period of life, but you've got to start earlier, is to do Bible study, not just have a little fellowship group at church, but somehow do Bible study, where you are going through Galatians or Ephesians or Colossians or Romans. And I usually find I don't do that as well on my own. I almost need to be in a group.

I'd say the second thing—well, in the book, I say there’s spiritual renewal in the inner person and the outer person. So the inner person has to do with my character and the way I think. The outer person has to do with my disciplines. And the disciplines are pretty simple: be in the Word, spend some time praying, memorize Scripture, really understand what you believe, and discipline to do it. But inside you say, “Am I changing?” There are times, al, when I say, “Jerry, when are you going to grow up?” I find my mind going to stupid stuff—

Al: Yeah.

Jerry: —or being offended or not being recognized. By the way, one thing I write down for the fourth quarter, I wrote in some notes here, is being okay not to be a superstar and to just be a humble servant. Yeah, you and I both know C.E. Crouse.

Al: Yeah, right.

Jerry: I'm impressed with him at every Christian Leadership Alliance. Where is he? Behind the registration table, helping people to get registered. And he ran a whole company.

Al: Yeah. Founded one of the most significant financial firms in the country, serving—

Jerry: Right.

Al: —Christian organizations. Yeah, a great guy.

Jerry: And then, I think the other thing is to be excited to be in a support role and to be willing to support others. And here is a big one: be present.

Al: Mm-hmm.

Jerry: You have no influence if you're not there.

So for instance, I'm going to the meetings in D.C. tomorrow. I have absolutely zero function because I'm an emeritus to the board, and there are going to be 15,000 people in one part of this conference. Nobody would give one thought to the fact that Jerry White was not there. But I'm going to spend the money and go stay in the Gaylord Hotel and go to the meetings primarily so I can be present to see the relationships that I will have with either old friends or new ones and just see what God does.

And it’s a terrible expense. I mean, I’m going to buy an airplane ticket to Washington, D.C. I don't get any special rate because I'm not on the board anymore. And nobody cares, again, who I am or what I did. But you'd be surprised at the conversations that happen around the dinner table.

So if you aren’t present, same with your family, be present with your family.

Al: Well, that’s great advice. Yeah. Focus on the inner person and the outer person and—

Jerry: Yeah.

Al: Yeah. How we should be seeing our lives being transformed no matter what age—

Jerry: Right.

Al: —we are, right? I mean, as we look at the fruit of the Spirit, for example, as a benchmark—

Jerry: Yeah.

Al: —how do others see us? Love, peace, joy, patience, kindness. Are those things that other people are experiencing? Yeah. Every once in a while, we have to ask ourselves—you're not the only one, Jerry, that asks—“When am I really going to grow up?” Of course, my wife is the one that asks me that question most of the time—

Jerry: That’s it.

Al: —which gets back to accountability, an earlier point that you made, right? Yeah.

So, but, yeah, Jerry, this has been a great conversation. We've learned so much. And again, thanks for your wisdom. I just think about these topics and how the many ways the topics are the same, how they come about, and their illustrations are different, for sure. And we all experience losses in life. How do we deal with those losses? And you really helped us learn what God is trying to teach us through these situations. And that when we experience changes, you gave great examples of generals and Christian leaders. As they finished one part of their life, they just keep going. I was convicted myself last year. I walked the Camino after I transferred the CEO role of Best Christian Workplaces, and I was convicted, God convicted me, “Al, I still am guiding every one of your steps and into the next phase.”

Jerry: Yeah.

Al: And so, yeah, there’s just, again, so much. You talked a lot about guarding ourselves from impurity and how we need to just set up guardrails, to have covenant groups, like you've described, that know you well and hold you accountable. And again, congratulations on 65 years of marriage. And so also the fourth quarter—

Jerry: Yeah, that’s right.

Al: —how we need to all plan, have a plan for our fourth quarter. Every good coach—I like that analogy—every good coach has more than one fourth-quarter plan, depending on what happens in the first three quarters. But understanding misplaced identity, understand what the significant issues are. I mean, so much good advice. And to make sure that we're renewed spiritually in each season of our life. And that just takes development of our own character and the inner person as well as the outer disciplines that really help us. You mentioned the Word, praying, memorizing Scripture. Of course, as a good Navigator, you'd have to include Scripture.

Jerry: Yeah, that’s right. I need to do it more myself.

Al, let me give just a concluding little bit of word of advice.

Al: Please, yeah.

Jerry: Number one, it's never too late, number two is never quit, and number three is work on your eulogy virtues, not your resumé virtues.

Al: There we go. Yeah.

Jerry: So that’s my summary.

Al: Yeah. Well, thanks, Jerry, for your contributions today. It's been a great conversation. I look forward to the next time that we're together. Most of all, though, I appreciate your commitment to following Jesus throughout your life and exhorting others to keep growing and serving faithfully on the lifelong journey of discipleship that we're all on. So thanks for taking your time out and speaking into the lives of so many listeners.

Jerry: Thanks, Al. I'm off to an appointment, so—

Al: Okay.

Jerry: —thanks so much. Blessings.

Al: God bless you.

Jerry: All right. God bless you. Bye-bye.

Al: Well, thanks so much for listening to my conversation with Jerry, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

And you can find ways to connect with him and links to everything we talked about in the show notes and transcript at workplaces.org/podcast.

And if you have any suggestions for me about our podcast or have any questions about flourishing workplace cultures, please email me, al@workplaces.org.

And leaders, if you want to improve your leadership, expand your organization's impact for good, and see greater faithfulness in our broader culture, help us achieve our goal to see more flourishing Christian-led workplaces. To help, please share this podcast with another leader or launch a project in your own organization to discover and improve the health of your workplace culture. If you're interested in learning more, go to workplaces.org and request a sample report.

Outro: The Flourishing Culture Leadership Podcast is sponsored by Best Christian Workplaces. If you need support building a flourishing workplace culture, please visit workplaces.org for more information.

We'll see you again next week for more valuable content to help you develop strong leaders and build a flourishing workplace culture.

Al: And next week, you're going to really enjoy my conversation with Dr. Sam Adeyemi. He's written the book Dear Leader: Your Flagship Guide to Successful Leadership. I know that you're going to really enjoy the podcast.