Were you depressed?
I never went in and saw a professional to get diagnosed. Probably because I was afraid of what the diagnosis would be. So I don't know. I can tell you this. I was really looking forward to my vacations and getting out of Seattle and seeing the sun.
Living in Seattle is really hard. When those winter months hit, man, the days are super short. You get weeks at a time where you never see the sun. It's always rainy and cool. And that affects me. I'm a hardcore introvert, too, so that probably doesn't help. My family energizes me, but other people drain me.
What helped you turn the corner?
I had to change the way we were structured. When we first started the church, it was basically a small team of elders, and we all had to agree on every decision. Well, when you go multisite, and you've got dozens of elders, your structure has to change. Different guys need to make different decisions. We need to share the authority and the load. But in the absence of a good system, I was basically everyone's direct report. A couple of years ago, I got two new guys to join the executive eldership. They're godly, seasoned men. One runs a very large company, a Harvard business guy, and the other is a veteran pastor. They've been an absolute lifesaver. Before they came on, I had 18 direct reports, and that was just a couple years ago.
You're a strong personality. Was it hard for you to delegate and release some of the authority?
Not really. I come off as a wild-eyed, crazy prophet, but the truth is when I get up on the stage I'm trying to move tens of thousands of people. It takes a lot of energy to try and move that many people. But most of the time, I'm a father. I feel about the church like I do about my kids, and that's why, even though things have gotten hard, I stick it out. I genuinely love the people of the church and I feel very committed to them. In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul says that when he preached the gospel and people got saved, he became their spiritual father.
I feel like Mars Hill is a family. A lot of these people got saved here. They look to me as a spiritual father, and Dad's got to love, he's got to serve, and he's got to hang in there. But it can't be about Dad. It has to be about the kids and it has to be about the family. And if Dad doesn't have the help he needs, Dad's going to probably kill himself trying to take care of everything. If dad doesn't know how to organize it, because that's not Dad's strength, then Dad really needs some other Dads to come alongside and help him. And by God's grace, over the years, I think we've gotten better at doing that.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Like I say, being an introvert, I work from home most of the time so I can be around my five kids. I spend a lot of time at baseball games and track meets. I was at another baseball game last night, and I've got five or six more on Saturday alone. I'm a husband and father first. I've written most of my books, and done a lot of my research, while sitting in a chair at a little league game. And I love that. I love to take my kids. I love to support them. I love to sit on a bucket and play catcher and let my boys work on their curveball. All I've got is work and family. I have zero hobbies. I don't hunt. I don't fish. I don't have a motorcycle. I don't golf. It's just family and ministry. They take 100 percent of my time.