Why Most Leaders Never Find Fulfillment

The term “leadership” is used extensively in the Church, and Sam Chand is one of the reasons for that. He has authored numerous books and has mentored some of the top leaders in the Church, while writing numerous leadership books including. Who’s Holding Your Ladder.

On this episode of the Church InTension podcast, The King’s University President, Dr. Jon Chasteen, talks with Sam about his latest book, How Leaders Create Chaos, and what leaders can do to get their “roar” back.

Dr. Jon Chasteen: For those of you listeners that don’t know who Dr. Chand is, let me just tell you, I think Dr. Chand is one of the most brilliant leadership teachers, guru’s, writers, speakers. If you’ve never heard of Dr. Chand, he’s the best kept secret in town, and he should no longer be a secret in your life. So one of the first books I read of yours, Dr. Chand, is, Who’s Holding Your Ladder? And is probably, I’m not exaggerating, probably one of the best leadership books I’ve ever read. So if you haven’t gotten that book, you need to get it. But I do want us to unpack that book for a second. So give us your quick 30,000 foot flyover of that book.

Dr. Sam Chand: Who’s Holding Your Ladder? simply means if you are climbing your ladder by yourself, you’re not going to go very high. You are not the ladder climber, you, the primary leader, your ascent up the ladder, your success, your fulfillment, your sustainability, your scalability are contingent on the people holding your ladder. First, get ladder holders. Number two, get the right ladder holders because your ladder holders will determine how high you go.

Jon: It’s such a good book that help formulate me as a young leader. And really, one of the things I am going to selfishly today just have my own counseling session with Dr. Chand. This is my chance to get a free leadership session with Dr. Chand. And I just tricked him by coming on my podcast. But what I love about Dr. Chand is he followed a similar path. He did ministry, he became a college president of Beulah Heights Bible College, which is an incredible story. Dr. Chand came on staff as a janitor. Am I getting that right? You were a janitor and a cook.

Sam: Yep. Yep.

Jon: And then ended up going from being the janitor to being the president of that school. So I love your story. I love what God’s done through you. And so, one of the things I do want to unpack, and I have tons of notes and tons of things about a lot of your books, a few of your books shaped me. One is Who’s Holding Your Ladder? Two, which I just read because you mailed it to me, Who Moved Your Ladder? And then three, I think one of my favorite leadership books of all time is Leadership Pain. So I want to get into that one too. And then last but not least, we’re going to talk about your new book coming out that I can’t wait to read that I have not read yet. But the first thing I want to talk about, Dr. Chand, is first off, a lot of our listeners are in ministry.

Not all of them, but a lot of them are in ministry. And your book, Who Moved Your Ladder? is this real conversation about transition and how do you know when transition may be coming into your life. And so I was going to have you unpack for us what that looked like for you when you were a college president, and then whenever you decided to hang that pair of shoes up and pick up your next pair of running shoes, so to speak. What did that look like? What did that feel like? What kind of urges or promptings? Unpack that for us, what that was like? Because there may be some of our listeners that feel they’re in a season of in between, they don’t feel completely fulfilled. They feel like they’re expecting like something’s coming, but they don’t know what it is. Walk us through how that was for you.

Sam: So first of all, I need for all of our listeners to know that this is the topic on the American church scene. The topic. I get probably two calls, maybe more a week-

Jon: Wow.

Sam: … from large church pastors wanting them to work out their transitional issues. So even before we are talking right now, I’ve already had one conversation with a large church pastor today. And these kind of things happen, and I just call that tsunami. I wrote a little book called Tsunami. Tsunami simply means this is the next big thing.

So I wanted to answer that by saying, if you are feeling that right now, you’re one of the many, many, many who are feeling it right now. So don’t feel alone in that. It is the season. And many of us are just timing out, tapping out. So that would be someone like me, for example, and many others. I’m 70 years of age now, so others might be timing out. But then I believe that God is also calling people to different delivery mechanisms of what is already in their life. So you will sense, so let me start answering your question now. You will sense it before you will see it. You will sense it. There’ll be, I use a Hebrew term, Dr. Chasteen, to describe what happens in you. It’s a funky feeling.

Jon: I was getting ready to write down this Hebrew word, and I’m still going to write it down, but I’m not sure it’s the Hebrew I thought it was.

Sam: It’s same in the Greek too. It’s a funky feeling, it’s in that little thing in your belly that just won’t go away. And the thing is, you can’t talk to too many people about it. So when I started feeling that funky feeling in my life, I was 50 years of, well I was 48, actually, 48 years of age. And for three years I wrestled with that.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: The only people who talked about it was my wife and me. And you end up talking about it incessantly. And then what starts happening is that you’re to. You know where you’re leaving from, you’re transitioning from, but your to, where you want to go to, what God is calling you to gets larger, and larger and becomes a magnet that starts drawing you. And you start feeling lesser fulfillment where you’re at, and more fulfillment where you want to go. I have these conversations on a regular basis, and I can tell you, in most cases, the issue is not that I want to leave from here. The bigger issue is I want to go there.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: And there becomes the magnet. And I think we do the Kingdom of God a disservice to when we don’t lean into what God is calling us to go there. Because that’s how God does. In the Bible, in the Bible, which is a good book. I highly recommend that.

Jon: It’s a pretty good one.

Sam: Yeah. Yeah. It’s been around for a long time. And the Bible, as I look at every Bible character, Dr. Chasteen, what I see is, in our case, we want to move from the uncertain to the certain. We want to move from the unknown to the known. But in God’s economy, every character I study, God moves them from the known to the unknown.

Jon: That’s so true. So true.

Sam: From certain, to the uncertain. So God is trying to take us in that direction, and we are trying to swim in a totally different direction. So everything within us wants to know for sure. And I want everyone in transition, planning on transition to know, and this will really encourage you, what I’m about to say. If you’re looking for the hundred percent certitude? Ah, that’s hard to find, but you just have to go with what God is sensing and leading you. And many of our listeners right now, Dr. Chasteen, are in that funky space in their life, and I would just strongly suggest that they explore that a little bit further. What is it? Is it God? Is it just my personal ambition, or is He preparing me for this?

Jon: Yeah. And what’s driving you? Is it, one of the things you told me, and I wrote this down, I had to go back into my notes when you told me this in one of our conversations we’ve had, you said there’s three things. And you may, I want you to say it, not me. So as soon as you know what I’m talking about, just take over. There were, you walked me through this. There’s three things that leaders will experience. I’ll say them, and you can unpack them. You said success, significance, and then fulfillment.

Sam: That’s right.

Jon: Do you remember saying that to me? Because it was so good.

Sam: Yeah, I do. I do.

Jon: Okay, so unpack that. What’s the difference between those three things?

Sam: Yeah. So those are the three things. Everyone talks about success to significance, and I’m all for that. I agree with that. There’s nothing wrong with thinking like that, but success is something you can count. You can count buildings, you can count enrollment, you can count money, you can count volunteers, you can count sites, you can count… Success is something you can count. And that’s what, when we look at the “successful people” in our world, it is about how many billions they are worth, or how many what, houses they have, or whatever they have. So success, you can count.

Significance is what others say about you. So hopefully I’m significant in someone’s life. I know you’re significant in people’s lives. It is what people say. They say, “You know, had it not been for Dr. John Chasteen, I wouldn’t be doing this. Had it not been for Pastor Chasteen, I would not be…” So what other people say about you. Fulfillment is that sweet, strong, deep down in your spirit feeling that, I was built for this.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: And it could be at a level… Have you ever gone and had breakfast with a friend and you never, you didn’t talk business, you didn’t talk shop, you didn’t talk ministry, you guys just had a wonderful time, hilarious time. Trashing each other, just having a good time. And when you were out in the parking lot saying bye to each other, say, “You know, we ought to do this again.” And you left from there feeling like, “Man, that was sweet.”

Jon: I’m full.

Sam: “Man, that was fulfilling.” And I think we, most people stop at significance-

Jon: Wow.

Sam: … rather than leaning into what brings them fulfillment.

Jon: That’s so good.

Sam: And especially when I’m getting older and I am thinking about, so why was I placed on this planet? There was a time in my life that large platforms brought me fulfillment.

Jon: So fulfillment can change. It can be something that changes in you over time.

Sam: That’s right. So from large platforms, which I’ve done all over the world, from large platforms, to now, I can tell you what brings me the greatest fulfillment. Put me in the room with five to 10 lead pastors and leave me in there for day and I’ll be drained and fulfilled at the end of the day.

Jon: Wow, that’s so good. You can be drained and full?

Sam: I moved from the… Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jon: That’s good.

Sam: So I’ve moved from the large platform to the engine room.

Jon: That’s really good.

Sam: And I think you have to find what fulfillment is. So transitions are about fulfillment.

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Jon: Well, I got to tell you whenever, you don’t know this, but whenever we were talking, we were talking about some things in my life and what I was walking through, and you’ve always been a voice in my life. And for that, I’m grateful. What you didn’t know is that as you began to unpack that success, significance, fulfillment, I had muted my phone because I was crying. You brought me to this place where I was like, “I get it. I understand now that so many times as leaders, we chase success; numbers, or we chase significance because we’re consumed with what people think about us.”

But really, I think the word that I wrote in my notes after you said fulfillment, you said that it’s something that’s indescribable. You can’t even put words to it. You just know that that’s your sweet spot, you know

that I’m doing what I’m called to do, and the success and the significance kind of fade away because it’s filling something up in you. Do you think that’s tapping into, to put a spiritual component on it, is that us finally coming into alignment with our spiritual gifts? Is it us coming to alignment with what God’s gifted us to do? Is it us finally coming, syncing up with our God-given call?

Sam: I think it is all of the above, but it is also aligning yourself to your age and stage in life. And sometimes I think we are in tune with other people, but not in tune with ourself. And so if you have a meeting with somebody and you just feel like it was the most fulfilling thing in your life, you got to delve into that and say, what was so fulfilling about that?

So that breakfast I alluded to earlier, that simply means that you’re able to actually talk to a person, not somebody who could do something for you, not somebody that you could do something for, but it was just a deep level of connection in which you actually honored each other, respected each other, and it is that conversation.

And usually, it’s going to be in areas that God has been preparing you for anyhow. I mean, think about my life. I’m going to out myself to your people. Right now, I serve some the largest churches on every continent, but the church I pastor was never over 65, 75 people.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: I’m around humongous buildings.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: I’ve never been to a building in my life.

Jon: Wow. Wow.

Sam: So how is it that Sam Chand-

Jon: Wow.

Sam: … gets to be in these crazy spaces when I’ve never been to school for it.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: I have no certification in it. I’m not trained in this. So goes to your point, it is that seminal thing, that seed deep down 70 years ago, that God planted when I took my first breath, and it took that long for it to start growing.

Jon: That’s amazing.

Sam: And I think all of us are born with a seed and we see manifestations of it. So there’s nothing wrong with going through the success season. There’s nothing wrong with that. And going through the significant season. But don’t stop there. God’s got something special for you.

Jon: So using that analogy of that book, Who Moved My Ladder? So you use that picture, that word picture of your ladder’s hanging up against the wall. You’ve climbed up it, whether you’re at the top or not, your journey up the ladder, you found the right people to hold your ladder. And then you start sensing this transition where maybe my ladder’s not leaning up against the right wall. And so how do you transition off of that ladder, off of that wall? Are there certain steps, so to speak, that one should take in transitioning well, in moving your ladder? I know you talk some about this in your book, but unpack that a little bit for us. There’s a healthy way to do this. You don’t just abandon where you’re at, you, there’s a healthy way to transition through that process.

Sam: Absolutely. So first of all, no grand announcements. You know, don’t stand on the whatever platform you have and make grand announcement that God is doing this in my life, doing that in my life. I think He’s leading me there. No grand announcements at this stage and age in your life, you want it to be as organic as possible and let God lead the way. And timing becomes important.

Here’s a paradigm that in my consulting work I use all the time I did, I did that even today. It is that things don’t go wrong, they start wrong. Things don’t go wrong, they start wrong. And I think a lot of times we get into grand announcements, we start making plans, and I see God really leading us through awareness, relationships, open doors, and we need to become sensitive to those things, to opportunities that we never had before, or opportunities that are really not on our radar that show up.

So first thing I would say to people is be in touch with yourself. Be in touch with yourself, and no grand announcements. The second thing I would say is, you don’t have to necessarily leave your ladder. A lot of times you can transition to another ladder. So you’re not just, or talking about moving your ladder totally. We’re talking about transitioning. In my case, it was moving. In many cases, in many, many pastoral cases most of my consulting work now is in the area of pastoral succession and transition. And I’m doing more transition than succession. And that is simply because you don’t have to necessarily leave your ladder. You can reposition your ladder, but you don’t have to necessarily leave your ladder to do that. But the third thing I would say about how to handle this is to make sure that your spouse, your husband, your wife is tracking with you.

Don’t force the issue. Don’t rush the issue. Because I can tell you this can take a major strain on the most precious thing if you’re married, in an adult married person’s life. And make sure that you’re tracking each other. You can disagree with each other, but don’t rush each other. Just take those steps together. And as you take those steps together, there’ll be unity in the home. There’ll be unity in the spirit. There will not be any discord, and you’ll be able to have a much smoother transition had you not… And the reason I’m saying that is a lot of leaders get everything right organizationally, get everything right in the governance, get everything right in the finances, get everything right with the boards, and they don’t take care of their home.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: And if you don’t take care of your home, it’s going to come back to bite you.

Jon: Wow. Well, and it’s one of the things I learned from you, you’ve taught me this many times in that whole ladder example, is sometimes it’s good to think outside the box and not think it’s either this ladder, or that ladder. I mean, for example, now I’m doing two ladders. And you’ve been good at teaching me and instructing me and hearing you talk about don’t be so quick to just think it’s an either, or decision. Think outside the box of how maybe you’re called to steward two ladders. Maybe you’re called to steward two things at one time. How do you know when God’s hand or grace may be on you to do more than just either, or?

Sam: In my case, I have found that when God brings relief people in my life. Okay. I cannot do both justice, both ladders’ justice if I don’t have margin in my life.

Jon: That’s right.

Sam: And the only way I can get margin in my life is to have partners who come alongside and create margin for me.

Jon: That’s right.

Sam: And so the first thing that God does is he brings people into our life that we may not recognize as margin builders, but they become margin builders in our life. I mean, why did Jesus have disciples? Because he knew what His end game was. So He start building margin from the beginning. Luke chapter 10, He sends them out there so He doesn’t have to go and start digging it out. He says, “You go prepare the way, I come behind you.” One was John, John the Baptist created margin for Jesus. And so on, so forth. So I think one of the early indicators is the people that start coming into your life.

Jon: That’s so good. Because it’s impossible to-

Sam: And you’re going to recognize them. And nobody comes ready. If you’re looking for that ready-made plug and play person, that person doesn’t exist.


… That’s right. You got to bring them up.

Sam: And if you get a plug and play person, I can tell you that that is more superficial. They can do the job, but they don’t get you.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: And unless they get you, your values, your decision-making grid, what’s important to you, they will at the beginning create margin for you. But as time goes on, you’re going to end up cleaning up whatever they have done, and you’ll have lesser margin than when you start.

Jon: That’s a good word right there. So let me transition into talking about one of my favorite books, and then I want to get, I really want to get to your new book and spend a considerable amount of time on it, because I haven’t read it yet because it’s either just released, or it’s about to release at the time of this recording. But the title of it is crazy intriguing to me. So I want to get there.

But I’m telling you, this book that we’re about to talk about was one of the most transformational books for me because I was reading it right in the middle of one of the most painful seasons of my leadership, when I first became a lead pastor and we were going through hell to be quite frank, and taking over, I’ve talked about this on this podcast several times of coming out of a moral failure, becoming the successor to something that was broken. And so your book Leadership Pain really blessed me in such a way. I have so many quotes that I say all the time from this book, leadership; never trust a leader that doesn’t have a limp. And so why is leadership pain one, necessary, but two, why is this so beneficial?

Sam: So when I wrote Leadership Pain Back in 2015, and here’s the crazy part. Here’s the crazy part. This book came out in April of 2015. I don’t want to date this program, but we are years beyond that now.

Jon: Can date it. This will be the beginning of ’23 when this episode airs.

Sam: Okay. And out of curiosity, once in a while, I go to Amazon to see how it is doing under the category of Christian leadership. And for all these years, for almost eight years, it has remained in the top 30.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: Now in eight years, we know thousands of Christian leadership book have come out. So the question becomes, why is it still in the top? Last week it was number six.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: A lot of pain must be going around.

Jon: It’s because it’s impossible to lead without it. So when you start going through pain, you start looking for resources for your pain.

Sam: So I think the first thing you need to know is everybody going to talk to today is in pain.

Jon: Wow. That’s good.

Sam: I don’t care what spin they put on it, and how God is blessing, and revival is breaking out, and people getting saved, baptized. All that is true. And it is also true that they’re in pain.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: So what I have learned is that the higher you go, the pain gets higher. And the essence of that book is you will grow only to the threshold of your pain. And it came about when I started studying the common denominators of leaders that I know who are achieving great things. And the common denominator was they were all in pain, in constant pain. They had organizational pain, they had family pain, they had relationship pain, they had betrayal pain, they had board pain, they had resource pain. And they had the personal pains of never feeling like they are there. They’re like, they’re always climbing, climbing, climbing, climbing. And there is no there, it’s a constant, constant.

Jon: There’s no arrival point. There’s no summit.

Sam: There isn’t. You’ll never go home, you’ll never go home with all the boxes checked.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: And then you’ll never be off. So when I look at you, Dr. Chasteen, you’re on two ladders right now. You are never off. Now you can have a vacation, but you’re not off.

Jon: That’s right. Mentally, emotionally, whatever the case may be.

Sam: And the crazy part about pastors, if I could talk to pastors right now, you’re on vacation. You’re on a Mediterranean cruise. And Sunday morning, guess what you’re doing? You’re watching your church.

Jon: You watch your own church. Every time.

Sam: What’s wrong with you? And then you’re getting ticked off because how come that light is not on? How come they didn’t make that announcement? And why are they wearing that? And why are they speaking so long? And why did they do that set? I mean, you are…

Jon: Read my mail.

Sam: What’s wrong with you?

Jon: Read my mail.

Sam: But you’ll never be off. You’ll never be off. Because all growth is about pain. All growth is about pain. And so that is why pain is essential. Here’s the thing. The moment you stop feeling the pain, something shifted very, very deeply in your life. And it could be very positive, could be very negative, but something extreme just took place in your life when you can’t feel the pain.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: For example, when people leave your church, doesn’t matter how large your church is-

Jon: It hurts.

Sam: … You feel the pain. Doesn’t matter how large your church is, you feel the pain. The moment you stop feeling the pain of people leaving, your pastoral grace is shifting.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: So your pain is an indicator.

Jon: If you’re numb to it.

Sam: What’s important for you-

Jon: You become numb to it. It could be a bad thing.

Sam: … Yeah, it could be bad.

Jon: Now those leaders that you’ve, because you’ve consulted thousands of leaders from pastors to businesswomen, businessmen, Fortune 500 companies. Those who manage the pain or whatever word we want to use, tolerate the pain. Overcome the pain. What do they do with it? What do they do with the pain? Do they ignore it? Do they overcome it? Do they use it? Do they…? What’s the secret to the ones that you see that do it the best?

Sam: I think the people who do it the best are, number one, they’re aware of their pain. They don’t try to spiritualize it, they don’t try to cast demons out of it. They’re not the devil.

Jon: I love that.

Sam: It is stuff that comes with the territory. It is part of the territory. So they’re self-aware number one. Number two, they actually have, one of my chapters in that book is about pain partners. They actually have friends.

Jon: That’s right.

Sam: Very, very, very few leaders have actual friends. But actual friends, I’m talking about people you can talk without disclaimers. You don’t have to say to them, “Hey, don’t think any less of me, but…” Kind of thing. Or, “I’m going through a tough time.” Or whatever disclaimers. You can actually, these are your friends. And the other part of them is they will not give you advice.

Jon: That’s good.

Sam: They’ll not try to fix it for you.

Jon: That’s good.

Sam: But they will, they’ll receive it. And they become people on whom, with whom you can actually have those conversations. So self-awareness, pain partners. And number three is understanding that you will never get to the next level if you can’t overcome this level pain.

Jon: That’s good.

Sam: So I was born and raised in a pastor’s home in India. I pastored myself. And anecdotally speaking, about 10% of any churches is pure devils. They’re pure devils, not just demons. They’re there just to help your prayer life.

Jon: That’s right.

Sam: And so here’s the deal, if you got a church of a hundred, you got 10 demons, 10 devils. You got church of got 500-

Jon: That’s good.

Sam: You got 50. I mean, if you can’t handle 50-

Jon: You won’t be able to handle a 100.

Sam: … You know?

Jon: That’s good.

Sam: What do the scriptures say if you can’t run with the footman-

Jon: That’s right.

Sam: … what are you going to do when the horses and chariots show up?

Jon: That’s so good.

Sam: So everybody wants to go higher, but you see them moaning, groaning, complaining about what’s going on in their life.

Jon: That’s so good.

Sam: And if you can’t handle this, then you know can’t go any higher. And that’s not a fix it, but you got to understand that the price of promotion is pain, or pain is the price of promotion.

Jon: Man, that’s so good.

Sam: It is the entry point. And the other thing is, I think senior pastors have made it look easy. Senior leaders have made it look easy, even in the marketplace in which they make it look like, “Hey, everything’s good.” It’s all, they’re on the mountain top at all times, because we don’t like talking about the challenges in life and I would-

Jon: To show you weaknesses.

Sam: … I would say to you that the more you camouflage it, the harder it’s going to be for you to lead up and down the road. So I think it’s not only essential or necessary it’s the only way to get to where God wants you.

Jon: So one of the things you say, I said it earlier, you say never one of the, I’ve heard you say it. I believe it’s in the book. It’s been seven years since I read that book, but I believe it’s in the book. But I know I’ve heard you say it is, so for those of you who are followers that are following a leader, I’ve heard you say, never trust a leader that doesn’t have a limp. Why is it important for a… Let’s just, let’s talk about the person who’s not leading the organization, but somebody’s who’s on staff. Why is it important for the person that you follow or the leader of your organization or your leader to have a limp? What happens when a leader doesn’t have a limp? What does that mean?

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Sam: Think of this way, you’re preaching. No, I’m preaching. I’m preaching. And you’re in the audience. I tell you my success story, how it’s all fixed. Life is wonderful. I’m flying around, jetting around. Money is good, wife is good, everything is good. That’s one story. Or I tell you my pain story. Which one are you going to gravitate toward?

Jon: The pain one.

Sam: The pain story. So I want to start answering your question by saying, do you want to be an attractional leader? That people say, “I like him. I love him. I love her. She is real.” But the only way they will know is because they can track with your pain in your life, the difficulty of life, the failures of your life. Because anybody can tell success stories, but it takes a genuine person, who’s authentic with themselves, to be able to share their hard-

Jon: That’s so true.

Sam: … tough stories of their life. So why is it essential for people to know that you have a limp? To, first of all, to know that you’re a human being. Number two, that they will know that you can empathize with them, that you will feel their pain. Number three is that they can trust you. They can trust you. I can trust people who’ve been through hell and back more than people who are Teflon.

Jon: So true.

Sam: Who always have this together. They always have a sure word from God. I want to be around people who say, “Man, God is stirring stuff in my life, but I have no idea what He’s doing. I am so lost right now. I’m trying to figure out where God wants me to go. I have no idea. I’m praying about it.” I’d much rather, I find a lost-ness more attractive than-

Jon: Wow.

Sam: … somebody who got certitude in their life. “I know what I’m going to do. I know what I’m going to say.” And I think that’s the key to leadership. The key to leadership is authenticity. And authentic leaders are willing to say, “I don’t know? I’m hurting. Things are happening.” So you’re having a staff meeting. You’re talking about people who have left your church. I think it is good not just to talk about why they left the church, what happened, but to talk about how it’s impacting you.

Jon: Be vulnerable.

Sam: How the pain is affecting you as a pastor. And till they see that, they’ll just end up fixing a system.

Jon: That’s so good. That’s so good.

Sam: They’re going to end up saying, “Well, what can we do to return phone calls better? What can we do to do pastoral call better?” And all that is good. I think it needs to be done, but there’s sometimes there’s nothing to fix. It is something to feel.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: I think it’ll be… I wonder what it’ll be like if a pastor says, “I’m just feeling so betrayed right now. Not in a bad way, but I’m feeling like I thought these people were going to do life with us.”

Jon: So we post several clips from the podcast or whatever, clips, and we had a guest on a few months ago, Pastor Sean Johnson, I don’t know if you know him? He has a great church in Denver called Red Rocks. But he went through a bout of anxiety and had a mental breakdown, had to be admitted to a treatment facility for that. And he got very vulnerable, wrote a book about it. But then on the podcast he got vulnerable talking about how do I go back to my church and tell my church this? And tempted to hide it. But he just laid it all out there. And he is very open about how it helped his church greater than anything he’s ever done.

And even the clip that we posted on my Instagram page, I’ve been blown away about… I mean, it’s gotten hundred times more traction than any post we’ve ever made. And it’s just him tearing up talking about his pain and how he didn’t want to tell the church. And it just exploded on social media, which just told me people are attracted to this. People want to know that their leader’s real, not a robot. So you’re so true. You’re so right. And the pain of that is so important. Did the writing of this book come from a place of discovery of what you saw in other leaders? Or did you walk through some pain of your own that helped formulate this?

Sam: It’s both. It’s both. And in that book, I write about stuff that my wife and I went through when we’re going as students at Bible college. She’s white. I’m not. The pain of just being rejected by my friends, rejected by people that I thought were with me and for me. And then of course, church pain. So all that was there. And then discovery was, I started seeing that the number one, the number one reason why leaders get to a higher place of achievement is their pain threshold, more pain they can handle. And that is the trajectory. So I start putting them all together and I start talking to my friends. And you notice in that book, every chapter starts with a story from somebody who’s still alive today.

Jon: That’s right.

Sam: So it’s not a Winston Churchill story or a Mother Teresa story. Nothing wrong with those. But I chose to go to my friends and say, “Hey, tell me your story.” Like chapter one opens with Craig Rochelle talking about when his pastor and suicide-

Jon: The suicide, yeah.

Sam: … and so on, and so forth. So to let people know you’re not alone. Number two, don’t run from it. Number three, if you numb the pain, then you’ve created a ceiling on yourself right now. It can only get lower, not higher. And how important it is to have voices in your life that can say to you, “Nothing’s wrong with you. You’re not sinning. God is not punishing you.”

Jon: That’s right.

Sam: “You’re just going through…” Right now-

Jon: You’re growing.

Sam: … Right now, Brenda and I, my wife and I, for our devotional reading, are reading through the book of Job. We are reading through the book of Job.

Jon: He got some pain.

Sam: It all started with God being proud of Job.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: It all started with God bragging on Job. I never want God to be bragging on me. It was like they were in Las Vegas. I mean, putting bets on Job. I mean, that’s what was going on.

Jon: God was bragging on him. You’re right.

Sam: I never want God to be that proud of me. I never want God to be that proud of me. But we haven’t got to the last chapter yet in-

Jon: That’s right.

Sam: … in our family, in our, Brenda and I, devotions. I think we are on chapter four now.

Jon: Gotcha.

Sam: But we know the story. Of course we’ve read it before. But everybody wants to talk about the last chapter, but this-

Jon: They want to skip the pain.

Sam: … is incremental. Yeah. And there’s not a person in the Bible, including our Lord and Savior who didn’t walk through the crucible.

Jon: That’s good.

Sam: The crucible of pain. And I don’t think we’re going to be exempt.

Jon: Refiner’s fire. That’s really good. So I want to talk about your new book. One, selfishly, I have to get a signed copy because I think I have a signed copy of almost all your books.

Sam: You got it.

Jon: But I can’t wait to read it. So I don’t know anything about it. And I’m super curious, because the title of this book is How Leaders Create Chaos. That’s so the opposite of what every leader would think they’re supposed to do, every leader would think they’re supposed to fix the chaos or calm down the chaos. But the subtitle of this is what’s crazy to me it’s, How Leaders Create Chaos, And Why They Should. So you got to explain this to me.

Sam: So I was at the wedding of a friend, and the father of the groom, who is my friend, who is also the CEO of my company, was speaking blessings over the life of the couple. This was in Orlando. And he started talking about, he’s from the Netherlands, his name is Martijn van Tilborgh. And he started talking about how God had called him to ministry and how he started this many churches and how he was a missionary here. And he was talking about all these things that had happened in his life back there.

And then he started talking about how life started happening to him. And a thought occurred to me at that wedding. And I checked out of the wedding, pulled out my phone and wrote the seminal thoughts of the book on my phone at the wedding. And the seminal thought was, we go into leadership, we become entrepreneurs, we start a business, we found a church. We go to a church, we become president of a nonprofit, and we go in there like a roaring lion. We have a roar. We have a roar. And then life happens. People happen, circumstances happen, situations happen. Betrayal happens, lack happens. And that starts taming the lion.

Jon: That’s so good.

Sam: And pretty soon we look like a lion. We walk like a lion. We roar like a lion. But really all we are is an overgrown house cat.

Jon: We’ve been declawed.

Sam: Yeah. The roar has become a meow. And once that thought hit me, I started saying to myself, “We are all born to create chaos.” Because change creates chaos.

Jon: It does.

Sam: And so you go in there as a leader, you start creating chaos, and then you start listening to other voices and you stop realizing that you were placed on this planet to create chaos.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: Jesus said, I have come with a sword. I mean, if there was ever a chaotic character, it was Jesus.

Jon: That’s so true. He is very disruptive.

Sam: And a close second to him will be John the Baptist, and then Paul the Apostle. And then you start looking at all the prophets in the Old Testament and all the patriarchs. Yeah, they’re all chaos creators.

Jon: Wow. Wow.

Sam: And somehow we get, the church world will tame you very, very quickly because our goal becomes keeping people.

Jon: Yes. Say that.

Sam: That becomes our goal is to keep people.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: And as a chaotic leader, you are not going to be able to retain. You are going, here’s the thing, you’re going to attract more than you’re going to lose. So your net gains are going to be good, but in the meantime, you’re going to have major losses. So in that book, I simply encourage people to remain roaring lions.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: So that’s why the title of the book is How Leaders Create Chaos, And Why They Should. And I want to encourage everyone to ask, what tamed you? Who tamed you? Have you lost your roar?

Jon: Wow.

Sam: Have you lost the lion that you are meant to be? And how do you get your roar back? And what price are you willing to pay for that? And those of you who are starting into business or leadership of any nature, how do you keep-

Jon: Gosh.

Sam: … your roar? How do you not let circumstances, situations, people tame you? So that is the essence of the book. And of course, I took a lot more pages to say that.

Jon: Well, what a great time for a book like that to be released. When you talk about what tamed us, and you may go into this in the book, I don’t know. But in a post-COVID world, church especially, I mean a lot of pastors, we just became tamed because it all became about how do we get these people back in the doors? And then you have all the, what’s happening in the world with people getting canceled, with pastors are afraid to say anything because they’re afraid they’re going to get canceled. Do you think COVID has been a culprit of this? I mean, I know that you said-

Sam: Absolutely.

Jon: … numbers are one driver. What are some of those other drivers? I’m sure COVID is one.

Sam: COVID is one. But this is what I want to say to all of our listeners. You can use COVID as a whipping boy only this much.

Jon: That’s good.

Sam: Two, you got to get beyond what COVID did. Now COVID did crazy damage. I know that. I know that. COVID hurt on deep levels that none of us are prepared for. I know that. So taking nothing away from it. But there’s no way you can continue going into 2023, talking about 2020. And 2021.

Jon: That’s right.

Sam: Sooner or later, we got to get beyond that and say to ourselves, “Okay, it happened. We hurt, we learned. And what does the future hold for us?” And lean into that. Otherwise, we will be retrospective leaders, not futuring leaders. It’s like this. So I talk to pastors, Dr. Chasteen from time to time, and I’ll say to them, I say, “So how many people you have Sunday now?” And they all start with the same answer, “Well, back in 2019…”

Jon: Let me give you my first number.

Sam: Yeah, it’s like this. It’s like this. If I say to you, “How much do you weigh?”

Jon: I’ll tell you how much I used to weigh.

Sam: Yeah. “I used to weigh…” What? So, okay. So we all need baselines. I understand that. I’m a church consultant, so I know we all need baselines. I think January, 2022 is your baseline.

Jon: That’s your new church. Yeah. That’s your new number.

Sam: That’s your new number. Start from there. Start from there. Would you allow me to just read-

Jon: Please.

Sam: … a few sentences from my-

Jon: Please.

Sam: … from my book?

Jon: Yeah. Put it up there so we can see it. Just let us see a good shot of it. Because I don’t have a picture of it. Okay. That’s a great cover. I love that.

Sam: Yeah. So I’m reading from the last two pages of the book, page 157. And the subtitle is Always A Lion. “As I mentioned, I love to watch shows about nature preserves in Africa. And I’m always fascinated by the behavior of lions. They’re not called the king of the beast for nothing. The eye of every gazelle, every chimp, every wildebeest, every warthog, every buffalo, every elephant, every bird are on them. Where are they? What are they doing? What havoc will they create next? I believe this is the nature of true leadership. Yes, I know that this metaphor has limitations. I’m not advocating that you become ferocious predators.”

Jon: That’s right. Yes.

Sam: “But I am certainly pushing you to be bold and assertive, to make waves, to create chaos in ways that are supportive, productive, meaningful, kind and honoring to God. Don’t drift into being a house cat. If you think you are one, put your infusion of lion DNA, and roar again.”

Jon: I love that. I love that. And I love that you qualified that, you quantified, you qualified and quantified this idea of healthy. You’re not going to go crazy. We don’t mean chaos is be a tyrant and you’re going crazy over people. You’re doing it in a godly way, you’re doing it in a kind way. You’re being a good leader, but you’re creating chaos. Because you’re right, change creates chaos. It just does.

Sam: Yeah. So every leader listening to me right now, you go into a new business, you walk into an airport TSA line, you go into a church service, and what are you doing immediately? You’re rearranging everything.

Jon: That’s right.

Sam: If I was in charge of TSA at this airport, I would do it this way. I’ll do it that way. You walk into a church and you say, why are they doing that?

Jon: Restructure.

Sam: Why don’t they do this? I mean, if you were allowed to do everything you want to do, you’d be just a chaotic leader. And that’s what you were born to do. But you got to marry that with wisdom, understanding, contextualization. But I want to say to everybody, you were born to be a lion.

Jon: That’s so good.

Sam: Don’t settle to be a house cat.

Jon: I love that. And I think a lot of times we settle in because we get comfortable. So we get everything the way we want it, and then we get comfortable. And we had a guy in one of our staff meetings the other day at the church that was a new hire that came in and gave us perspective that we just hadn’t seen. He had a fresh pair of goggles on that we weren’t wearing. And so it’s always good to surround yourself with people who see things that you don’t see that cover those blind spots that then cause you to say, “Oh my gosh, I need to create some more chaos in this area.” I love that. I love that. Well, Dr. Chand, I want to be respectful of your time. One, man, I just want to say thanks for being my friend.

You’ve helped me so much. Times where you’ve spoke over me with your mouth, but other times you’ve spoke over me with your words on pages. And so I know that I’m not the only one that you’ve encouraged and challenged. So thank you for your gift to the Body of Christ, and to the world, to the business world. So I love you. I appreciate you. I respect you so much and what you did, and what you’ve done, and what you continue to do. So tell us how, the book, what’s the best way to get the book? Amazon? I know you have a website.

Sam: No, no, no.

Jon: What’s the best way?

Sam: I got the best deal for people.

Jon: Okay, let’s hear it.

Sam: It is samchandbook.com.

Jon: Okay.

Sam: For $19 you’ll get the book, you’ll get a study guide. You’ll get five masterclass teaching videos.

Jon: Man! That’s better than Amazon.

Sam: Oh, yeah. Why do you want to give money to people who have no interest in you?

Jon: Woo. There it is. I love that. Okay, samchandbook.com.

Sam: That’s it.

Jon: All right. You guys heard it here first. And you have other resources. So talk to pastors about, well, I know you’re kind of beginning to hang it up, but do you want to be available? What’s the best way a pastor can get some of your resources?

Sam: First of all, they can go to my website, samchand.com. And from contacts, they can access me. But I’m most excited about the Sam Chand Leadership Institute.

Jon: Yes. Talk about that.

Sam: And we have put the price right on it. The price is whatever you want to pay. So here’s the website: setyourowntuition.com.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: Setyourowntuition.com. And I’ll tell you what you get for that. You’ll get 12 of my books. One book a month, it’s a 12-month program. So your entire leadership, your volunteers, your staff, whoever you have, they can all go through this as a cohort or independently.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: So they will get 12 of my books, one book a month. They will get three teaching videos teaching that book a month. And at the end of the 12 months, they’ll get a certificate of completion. And no questions asked. You put your price in the blanks and you start the program.

Jon: The King’s University does not have one of those websites.

Sam: No.

Jon: We have not gone that path just yet.

Sam: Yeah, yeah.

Jon: No, I love your heart with that. I love that.

Sam: Yeah. That is that as close to free as I can get. But I’ve also learned if you give stuff away, it does not have the same value.

Jon: So you got to have some buy-in.

Sam: Yeah. So right now, 78 countries-

Jon: Wow.

Sam: … are using this program. We have scholarshipped about $6 million through this program. And the way we calculate scholarship is it used to retail for $2,000. And if you pay a $1,000, so a $1,000 is what we call scholarship.

Jon: Yep. Yep.

Sam: So counting that right now, we have done $6 million in scholarships.

Jon: That’s great.

Sam: So that tells you the volume that is out there. But yeah, that’s as close to free as you can get. Setyourowntuition.com, no questions asked, no pushback.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: Your email address, the amount. And bam, you’re in.

Jon: Wow.

Sam: 12 books, 36 videos for whatever you want to pay.

Jon: Well, to my listeners, if anybody cheap shots you, we’ll hunt you down. If you do $1, the Church Intention podcast is tracking you, we will hunt you down. No, I’m kidding. No, I love that. So samchandbook.com, samchand.com, and setyourowntuition.com. All right. Sam, I love you. I appreciate you so much. Thanks for coming on the show today, my friend.

Sam: Anytime. Anytime. Thank you for everything that you do. Thanks for being a strong infusion of encouragement in a time that if there’s one thing that leaders need is more encouragement.

Jon: Amen.

Sam: And you give heavy doses of that. So I applaud you. And anytime that I can be of service, Sam Chand is here.

Jon: I appreciate you, man. Thanks for listening today, guys.

Church InTension
Church InTensionhttps://church-intension.simplecast.com
The Church InTension podcast is a place to have healthy conversations about areas of tension and the intentions of the Church. Hosted by Dr. Jon Chasteen and powered by The King's University and Gateway Church.