What do we know about our contributors here at SermonSearch? We know they are passionate about communicating God's Word to their congregations and to us, and that they have a gift for digging into the Word and sharing their hearts with us. But who are they outside of their heart-felt, God-centered sermons?
As we all know, they are people just like you and me. They read books, listen to music, have fun, cook, take days off, etc. In this article, and more to follow, I would like to highlight some of our contributors and get to know them a little better. Be ready to smile, laugh, and be challenged as we get to know this week's contributor, Jason Dees.
Jason Dees is the Senior Pastor at Valleydale Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He took some time this week to answer a few questions for us here at SermonSearch.
Jason, what is the best part of your job?
I think for a long time I would have said preaching, and I still love to preach, but now it is just watching people change, watching people grow in Christ. I love to see someone who comes to our church not knowing Jesus who in the course of a few years becomes a disciple making leader in the body, or watching someone who has been stuck in legalism for years become a dependent follower of the Lord.
Do you have any advice for preparing sermons?
If you want to preach great sermons, listen to great sermons, create plenty of margin for preparation and prayer, and invite others into the preparation process. One of the most helpful things for us is a weekly preaching meeting where we lovingly and kindly encourage and critique one another on our preaching from the previous week, and we offer ideas on the text for the sermon in the coming week.
Do you have any advice for how to keep your walk with Jesus vibrant and alive?
I think the greatest risk as a pastor is becoming a “professional Christian.” It is very easy for your identity to be in “being a Christian” or in “being a pastor” rather than in Christ. A few things here:
1. Make sure you are friends with and are regularly having conversations with people that do not know Jesus. It is good for you to have an identity outside of your church.
2. Take a Sabbath, for 24 hours don’t do anything for your ministry, this is so hard but so good for your soul and identity. The reason there are so many Old Testament Sabbath laws is that it is so difficult to gear down for a day, you will have to be very intentional about this.
3. Take your vacation time and do something really fun – my recommendation on vacation is to truly get away and trust that the church is in the hands of God. I like to go to places where I literally cannot be reached for several days. Trust your staff and lay leadership to manage the church while you are away. Again this is a great reminder to you that your identity is not in being a pastor.
Do you have any advice on how to balance your walk with God, your family, and your ministry?
This is a tough one for me to answer because my wife loves the church. She feels called to ministry just as much as I do and therefore so much of our ministry we are able to do together. My children also love our church so much so we really do enjoy ministry as a family, but as I mentioned above I take Tuesday as a Sabbath rest. So even if I have to work on a Saturday, which happens very often, my wife and kids know that Tuesday I am all theirs. We are intentional about having a great time together and we always do.
Can you share some advice for Pastors starting out in the ministry?
People are not reasonable they are emotional. Many of you have come from a very reasonable seminary environment and you will think, “if I just sit down with these people I can reason with them and they will listen.” That is not how people operate, if you want to be a great leader of people you are going to have to figure out how to connect with people on an emotional level. Ask yourself the question, what are they feeling and why? And then connect with them with an experience or ideal that they can identify with, and always, always, always be kind. There is so much more I wish I could say.
Let's have some fun with a few rapid fire questions.
Caf or Decaf
Last Movie You Watched
Well technically the last movie I watched was Disney’s Tangled with my 4 year old daughter but the last movie I watch for myself was The Theory of Everything, the Stephen Hawking story.
Books on Your Nightstand Right Now
Well the only book on my nightstand right now is The Songs of Jesus by Tim Keller, I usually read periodicals at night like Time, the New Yorker, Christianity Today, and my wife and I are going through the Keller book as a devotional. Right now I am reading Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels, and The Great Awakening by Thomas Kidd.
Favorite Book (Other Than the Bible)
Knowing God, J.I. Packer
Favorite Book(s) of the Bible
John, Ephesians, Exodus
2 Corinthians 5:21
Top 5 Authors
Tim Keller, C.S. Lewis, J.I. Packer, David McCullough, John Owen
What Does Your Morning Routine Look Like
Every morning is different
What Day Do You Take off to Unwind
How Do You Unwind
Well usually on my day off I spend time playing with my children
Best Movie You've Seen
I think the movie that really got me was Shawshank Redemption and the moment when the warden throws the rock through the poster is still to this day the most epic movie moment I have ever experienced, it is a total eucatastrophe.
Biggest Influence Growing Up
Worship Songs You Are Listening to Right Now
I know I will probably get fired from SermonSearch for saying this but I don’t really listen to a lot of worship music. I have been reading through some of the old hymns of Augustus Toplady here recently and they are amazing.
Charcoal or Gas
Gas, I mean when you want meat who has time for charcoal
There you have it. These are some great insights into life, ministry, preaching, and balance that we can take with us and apply to our own lives. We'd like to thank Jason for taking some time this week to answer these questions and encourage us in our walks with Jesus. And we all forgive Jason for choosing gas over charcoal. I'm just kidding! I look forward to sharing more insights from our contributors in the weeks to come.