This episode of Bottom Line Faith features President and CEO of Cherry Street Mission Ministries, Dan Rogers.
“If you’ll allow it as a leader, certainly the things that I need to do for people, though harsh at the moment, can bring someone to help and healing because of it.”
Ray: Hello everyone, this is Ray Hilbert, the host of the Bottom Line Faith podcast and this is the leadership podcast where we take a look under the lid and under the hood of Christian leadership, of high-capacity Christian leaders to learn how they think, how they solve problems, how they live out their faith each day in the marketplace. For those of you who regular listeners to our program, you know that one of the fun things about the Bottom Line Faith podcast is that we bring to you a variety of high impact, high capacity Christian leaders, business owners, CEOs, from the world of athletics, and world of nonprofit ministries. That is what we are going to focus on today. We are so excited to have as our special guest for this edition of the Bottom Line Faith podcast, Mr. Dan Rogers, who is President and CEO of Cherry Street Mission Ministries in Toledo, Ohio. Dan, welcome to the program. How are you?
Dan: I am well, Ray, thank you so much for inviting me today.
Ray: I’ll tell you we’ve had a chance to spend quite a bit of time off the air and prior to today’s program. I just can’t wait to dive in. Our listeners are in for a special treat today. We’ve got questions that we love to ask on the Bottom Line Faith podcast. Dan, let’s just take a few moments to share a little bit about your background and then as you feel appropriate transition to what it is that you do here at Cherry Street Mission Ministries.
Dan: Well, you bet. Just starting with family, my wife and I have been married for thirty-eight years, we have five children, nine grandchildren. All out of the house, my wife and I have been empty-nesters over the years. So, just discovering what it is like to not make a lot of food, which is a task all by itself. I think we’ve now just begun perfecting, so we don’t need that much rice on a daily basis. So, it is just adapting to that. My wife and I have always just maintained a really super healthy relationship with each other. So, thankfully there is no readjustment for us personally because we had really spent a lifetime making sure that we were clear relationally. But it has just been wonderful to discover that. To have kids, to have grandkids is a really super event in my life, every single time that I get called grandpa. So, it is just a great thing. My friend told me years ago “You know; grandkids will come into your life, they will go into a room that you didn’t know existed, turn a light you didn’t know existed and all the sudden you have illumination in a part of your life that you never knew you had.” I have found that to be absolutely true.
Ray: And you have how many grandkids?
Dan: We have nine.
Ray: As I’m listening to that, I’m thinking of my own parents who, we have three children, and I’m convinced those are not the same people I grew up with.
Dan: Oh, that is definitely true.
Ray: My mom has a saying, and I love it, it is so funny, but she says her two favorite sets of lights in the world are the headlights when we are bringing the kids and the taillights when we are taking them home.
Dan: It is so true, man. I mean there are times where I’m like “Hey, don’t. You people should be going home, you have one.” And then five minutes after they are gone, I wish that they would come back. So, it is always that balance of work and life, Ray.
Ray: Absolutely. Well, Dan, we’ve had a chance as we’ve gotten to know each other a little bit off the air. You shared with me a little bit about your background on international work in some of the things. Just take a couple moments and give our audience an understanding of your vocational background.
Dan: Oh, my vocational background has been pretty varied. Pastored a church, I’ve done global missions, global work, I am a clinically trained behaviorist, So, I’ve done a lot of clinical work largely in the world of mental retardation and developmental disabilities. But, about twenty years ago I really started diving into substance and addiction, specifically helping guys twenty years ago in more about sexual addiction. Which I think is the most sophisticated addiction known to man, is sexual addiction. In how sophisticated in relative to how pervasive is it. Every time you feel that you got a handle on it, it changes, right. So, I cut my teeth into it and developed a lot of programs along the way. My wife and I started our own mission company about twenty years ago as well. So, we’ve got a lot of work that we support in Indiana and a lot of work that we support, that my wife supports largely in Jamaica. So, we got back into really, really ruler areas and we focus on two things, people development, and curriculum development and developing countries.
Ray: And, so you’ve been able to take that background, your professional training, certifications, degrees and so forth and really bring it into behavioral issues in ministry. Let’s talk about that.
Dan: Yeah. Well, I think there is a big difference, Ray, between when you work with people whether you’re a clinician or not. Maybe you’re just a neighbor across the backyard fence. I think all relationships require one of two things, you’re either going to be behaviorally stamped, or you’re going to be time stamped. I think if you really want to do the worst thing with people, is introduce time. I think really if you want to frankly do the worst thing with yourself, introduce time into your own development. We do this every time we say “I should have learned this by now,” “We should be there by now,” “We should be in this part of our career by now.” If you really want to strain anything good in your life, introduce time. However, conversely, if you really want the kind of construct that produces the kind of health in you and in others then make a behavioral stamp, right? It’s not that I should have known this by now, it is a matter of what am I doing to develop the type of behavioral stamps of where I want to go? So, when you think along those lines, you keep time out of the equation. The way that I got there years ago, I mean years ago, when I first started teaching other people on my trade was helping them understand the simple question that I always ask when I am doing training, and it is this: “If you were God, how many of you would you have killed by now?” And the reality is every hand goes up. I mean in my twenties alone Ray, I should have been obliterated from the face of the planet. Me, my line, my genes, everything should have been obliterated. Yet, here in my late fifties, I’m still standing, still serving God. Why? It’s only because God has never introduced time in our relationship. He is a timeless God. When we so freely receive that timelessness, it should be a thoughtful engagement on us to not introduce time to anyone else, including ourselves.
Ray: That is an incredible lesson and a learning there. I’m mindful of in the Word where He says “I’m the same yesterday, today and forever.” When Moses asked, “Who should I say who sent me?” He said, “I am.” He didn’t say “I was, I will be. I am.” I think that’s what you’re talking about.
Dan: Yeah, and He’s not wearing a stopwatch nor is He wearing a Timex. But we kind of feel like He is, and it’s mostly because Ray, we know we have a date stamped on our forehead. We know this whole thing is going to end. But, even the Apostle Paul would challenge us to say “Listen, this whole date stamp that you’re living in,” and he says that by saying, “Don’t walk in the flesh.” But essentially what he is saying is don’t live to your date stamp. Don’t live in such a way that time is introduced into your life, but walk in the spirit. Because, you know, the Spirit doesn’t know time.
Ray: Sure. That’s right, that’s good stuff. Folks, we are talking with Dan Rogers, the President and the CEO of Cherry Street Mission Ministries in Toledo, Ohio, on this edition on the Bottom Line Faith podcast. Dan, let’s transition now to the work here that you are doing at Cherry Street. Tell us a little bit about the organization and what you do and kind of how you define success here.
Dan: Well, tell you that Cherry Street is now nearing its 70th year. Seven decades of continuous work. I got to tell you if I wasn’t the President and CEO of this organization, I would still be thrilled. This is one of the greatest institutions in our region, for a couple of reasons. Number one for seven decades the lights have never gone out. We have been operating literally twenty-four hours a day seven days a week, nonstop for seven decades. That by itself is an amazing thing. What we do here though is we build on founding. Our founding, back in the 1940s all missions were based on the three “S”s Ray: soup, soap, and salvation. So, it’s how you get somebody cleaned up on the outside and the inside. Certainly, over the years, you take the practicality and the logic model that is associated with the gospel of redemption, and you bring forward innovation. How did the gospel not advance? I’m not really interested in advancing the gospel. I’m really more interested in scaling the gospel. I think the gospel of redemption is absolutely scalable.
So, if I’m at fifty people a year that I’m leading to Christ and discipling, I’m only thinking how do I get to 100? How does the gospel scale? So, what we do here at Cherry Street is we take our founding, and we are constantly every generation of the leader is charged with this ideal: “How do we innovate and build on the gospel of redemption? How can redemption this year increase for all people, not just the people that we see, but all people?” So, the word all from our founding til today has been in our statement that we would receive all who come to us. I got to tell you, Ray, that has been both our glory and the bane of our existence because when you say that you’re going to be open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and no one gets turned away, think about how many people you wouldn’t want to serve fits into that. No one would be turned away, so registered sex offenders, felons, people that are running from the law, people that have been kicked out of their houses, I mean all times of the day no matter what. So, Cherry Street has always been focused on innovating the gospel of redemption moving forward.
Ray: That really was what Jesus was talking about, right?
Dan: I think so.
Ray: I’ve had the incredible privilege even before we recorded this session on the Bottom Line Faith, that you’ve taken me on tour here. Of this building, but there are how many buildings in the greater Toledo area that are facilities in the ministry.
Dan: Totally. Cherry Street serves A to Z in the different neighborhoods through seventeen facilities. The building that we are broadcasting from today, the one that you just had a tour of is called the Life Revitalization Center and we are building it out as an adult vocational and career center.
Ray: Awesome. And for our listeners that might want to take the time to learn more about the ministry, what’s the website, or how can they learn more?
Dan: Super easy, Ray. Our website is both mobile so you can get it in on your app on anyplace. But it is cherrystreetmission.org. There you can learn really, really super quick what we are about and engage us in various ways.
Ray: Well, folks that is cherrystreetmission.Org.
Dan: All spelled out and all one word.
Ray: Very good. Well, Dan let’s now transition to your role here and leadership in particular. We’ve got some questions here that we like to ask each of our guests. We’re going to just jump right in. Tell us a little bit about perhaps about growing up in your career. What was the best piece of advice that you can recall someone giving you and how does that continue to impact you today?
Dan: I think the best piece of advise that I got early in my leadership career was “Be as fearless as you possibly can, whenever you possibly can.” And I found that to serve me so well. I certainly observe other leaders and other organizations, sometimes mistakes are made organizationally or in leadership because there wasn’t enough good old-fashioned bravery involved in the decisions. Certainly, my early mentors when I was in my twenties, and I knew clearly that I could like walk into a room and someone was going to appoint me the leader, so I knew pretty early that that was going to be my track in life. Others saw that as well, Ray, and started really folding heartfelt thoughtfulness into my development. And certainly my early leader and mentor helped me not just learn, by his own behavior, courage and good old-fashioned bravery, but challenged me to be courageous, and all of my decisions which requires you to be honest with people and to be honest with yourself. It also requires you to make really super unpopular decisions during really super impossible times. So, I have found that courage has been not just my best lesson during early on in leadership, but it continues to be my best lesson.
Ray: Would you say that doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t have fear, it just means having that courage to make those difficult decisions in the midst of that. Is that true?
Dan: That’s absolutely true. I don’t know if you can be courageous or brave in absence of fear. Because if you don’t have fear what are you being brave about? So, I think absolutely you need the synergy of trouble, the synergy of suffering I often find it even in my own work, that leaders will get themselves in trouble particularly on faith because they don’t have a quote-unquote theory of suffering. They don’t realize that God meets us so very sweetly during very, very difficult times. So, you’re absolutely right; fear is definitely a part of my business, every act of bravery that I’ve had and it’s thirty-five years that I’ve lived organizations, without it, there again, there would be no reason to be brave.
Ray: That is actually great segue then into the next question about mistakes or things that we’ve learned. So, tell us a little bit as you reflect over your thirty-five plus year career. Maybe the biggest mistake that you can recall that you’ve made and what did you learn from it?
Dan: The biggest mistakes that I’ve made was, I was hiring a key position in our roles as Chief Operation Officer, and so the mistake that I made was speeding through the process. Again a moment ago I said you should never introduce time. If you really want to fail go ahead and do it. If you don’t, please don’t. But, man, I introduced time in the process and was down to my last candidate, And I got to put the word “last” in air quotes because it wasn’t like the next day the world was falling apart, Ray. So, wasn’t my last candidate. It wasn’t that I had interviewed 7.2 billion people for the job, right, and exhausted every human resource on the planet. But I introduced time, and oh my gosh totally hired the wrong person in a very key leadership role. That person was with me for eleven months, three weeks and one day. So, just shy of a full year of operations. But it ended with their abuse of a staff member, physical abuse of a staff member and boy it was just a really, really bad decision and there was a lot of cleanup after that. It was probably a year of just really helping teams that saw that happen to pick up the pieces and trust again, right? Because I had brought that person into the organization.
Ray: You were very specific there on how long that leader was in your organization, right.
Dan: What killed me, Ray, is you put a lot of energy into a key of a leadership role.
Ray: Yeah, so that eleven months-
Dan: Yeah, three weeks and one day.
Ray: Yeah, how far into that process did you realize oh my goodness, we’ve made a big mistake?
Dan: Day seven. When I look back on it, the two things we talked about today, timelessness and courage were absent. So, I should have absolutely and looking back on it, Ray, oh my gosh I probably would have let this person go on day eight.
Ray: Yeah, and that’s, in dealing with hundreds of business owners and leaders that I’ve had the pleasure of for the past two decades, this is the number one thing.
Dan: Oh, yeah.
Ray: And we’ve all heard the phrase “Hire slow, fire fast.” We tend to reverse that we hire fast and fire slow.
Ray: Just as a reminder out there for our listeners, maybe somebody as you’re listening to this program you’ve got a key leader right now that you’ve been wrestling with. We are strong believers here at Bottom Line Faith and in our supporting ministry at Truth At Work that the time to let an employee or leader go is the exact moment that you decide to let them go.
Dan: That is exactly right.
Ray: But we just hang on.
Dan: I’ll tell you, it is just such a great key practice. I had rarely made a mistake prior to this decision, and I guarantee I haven’t made it since that was about six years ago. But it is a tough, tough lesson to learn. I’ll tell, to be honest with you and the leaders that are listening, I was surprised looking back on it. I totally surprised myself that I was breaking more standards than I could create new ones with this person. When you get to the point that you’re breaking standards faster than you can make new ones you’ve already, you’re rearranging chairs on the Titanic at this point.
Ray: That’s exactly right. That’s right.
Dan: You’re playing the violin.
Ray: Folks, we are talking with Dan Rogers President and CEO of Cherry Street Mission Ministries in Toledo, Ohio. Our co-host Adam Ritz is out on assignment. So I get the pleasure, this is Ray Hilbert, your host today for this edition of Bottom Line Faith and we wish Adam well on his travels this week, as he is out on the road. So, Dan, let me kind of transition a little bit to a couple other questions here. Let’s talk about how you live out your faith in your leadership. You are a man of faith, a Christ-centered leader.
Ray: What does that look like for you?
Dan: Well, first of all, its pretty unwavering, I will tell you. I think consistency is one thing; constancy is another. Consistency speaks of regularity, constancy speaks of you’re never found not doing it, it’s a double negative, but I live out my faith pretty, and I’m going to use an unusual word, Ray, but I’m going to us correctly I wouldn’t recommend anybody put it on a teeshirt. But I live out in a very bigoted way. I know that is a dirty, horrible word mostly because it is associated with really horrible, dirty things. But, the definition for that word is “a very narrow and unyielding point of view.” When it comes to Christ in my life, I have a very narrow viewpoint that is for my life. I don’t see it on the corner with a bullhorn and insist it upon others. Because I think my life is an open book. If you want to read it, you can. But in order for me as a leader to stay straight, for myself, for my family, for my team, they really have to see that constancy, don’t they? They have to know that come hell or high water, their leader is always in the same place. As best as he or she can be and the best version that can be trusted. So, that is a great leadership challenge but one, that I can tell you I conquered long ago, only because I see the ill effect of not being constant, of not seeing you on a corner that people can trust you on and just watching things unravel so rapidly. Again, bring up some good old-fashioned bravery are plays as much constancy about your faith and about your values and make sure that you live your faith and your values openly. So, again if people want to read your book, they can.
Ray: Well, and so the tie-in there is that being a follower of Christ in the marketplace, this boldness sometimes having to make those hard decisions but in the moment they may not seem, at least to the receiver, caring, compassionate, Godly. But you’ve got a bigger picture, this consistency that you were talking about, right? You’ve got a higher standard; that’s what I’m hearing, and I got to believe that dealing with the clientele that you serve here, seems to be part of your regular part of your experience.
Dan: I think it is too, but don’t you think Ray, that we in the community either in the business world or the faith world that we are working with the wrong definition of the word compassion. It seems that in today’s 21st-century marketplace that we have compassion all wrong. Compassion almost seems to be translated as “we will serve you, but we will never address your brokenness.” And I don’t think of that is compassion. If I’m walking down the road and I see a car that has gone over the ditch, it’s not compassionate to make sure that I rope them down some sandwiches so they can be feed while they are stuck. Compassion says “No how do we get in, how do we solve, how do we free?” And so whether it is a staff member or one of our guests, or anybody in the community or even a major donor. If I see people stuck, it’s not compassion to ignore their stuckness, it’s not. It’s not my role as compassionate leader to lead people as I found them because I’ve never had God’s compassion translated that way, for me. I mean God must be right where I am, but He has never left me where He found me. I think if you just translate that to everyday work, whether it’s with your staff or anybody else, that certainly I’m going to be pinged for not being compassionate or being a follower of Christ and not being very godly. But, it’s only, Ray, because I think people are working with the wrong working definition of compassion.
Ray: That is spot on. So, Dan, there is a good chance that right now somebody listing to this interview with you, who is wrestling with a tough decision and maybe they’re facing a difficult conversation with an employee, a co-worker, a vendor, a customer. Perhaps even someone in their family and thinking to themselves, “You know, I probably should go have that difficult conversation, but I don’t want to hurt their feelings.” You are giving us some really great equipping and teaching on why that is not the compassionate thing, that is not the loving thing, is to let that go, is that right?
Dan: Yeah, there’s a verse in Hosea that says “Come, lets us return to the Lord, He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us, but he will bind up our wounds.” You can’t read that verse without it leaving a pretty significant taste in your mouth. That the same God that wounded you is the same God that is healing you. It is that work of God; you know that the sword that God uses for us is double-edged, right? It wounds and heals. Often times we just accept Jesus as Jehovah Rapha the Healer, but we don’t accept him as Jehovah the Wounder. There are things about us; there are sensibilities that we have, ideas that we have, and long-held beliefs that we have, that God totally wants to offend. He totally wants to wound us over those things and extract them like a wise master surgeon out of our lives. I had surgery nine years ago, and that surgeon is absolutely careless about how I felt about it, right? But he was surgical. He cut exactly where he needed to cut; he was only in as long as he needed to be in. He bound his wound very carefully and was healthy as a result. It’s interesting to me how we can understand physiologically, biologically but when it comes to the wise master surgeon that is Jesus, the creator of us, who knows us inside and out, if we would see him coming at us with a scalpel and say to Him, “God, I know they there are things in my life, that I need you to open up a wound on.” If we can appreciate that, that can be translated, if we allow it as a leader that is certainly the things we need to do for people, though harsh at the moment, is, in fact, a wound. If you know what you’re doing, you can bring someone to health and healing because of it.
Ray: That is awesome stuff. Folks, we are speaking for this edition of the Bottom Line Faith podcast with Dan Rogers, the President, and CEO of Cherry Street Mission Ministries in Toledo, Ohio. Believe it or not, Dan are down to just a few more moments, so I have two more questions.
Dan: It’s just been too much fun, so I had no idea.
Ray: Maybe next time we’ll have an hour-long program and see where it goes. This has flown by. We were talking offline before we went on air here you deal a lot with business leaders, business owners, people who have financial resources and they want to help make a difference in the community, and yet you see some mistakes made sometimes. So, maybe give a little advice to a business leader or someone who has financial resources, we’re listening to our interview and wants to make a difference in their community, what would you advise them to be careful of?
Dan: I’d be careful about legacy, to be honest with you. I think we have, I’m okay with the word legacy itself even for the definition of legacy, but I’ll tell you from a behavioral standpoint I don’t like how legacy gets unfolded. I think founding, programming, work that make a large and significant impact in community. It can’t be about legacy; it really has to be about endurance. You know I like what Abraham Lincoln said about in his address once, he said in the Gettysburg Address, he said that “this nation will endure.” The decisions he’s making have nothing to do with legacy; it had to do with what was going to live afterward. I think business leaders and leaders all across the country are beginning to dial in that legacy is more about what is happening today and endurance is more about how do we build sustainability, so that when we are gone, that the good work of God or the good work of our hands continues. So, I would say to folks to try your best if you’re going to use the world legacy use it in a way that gets defined and behaved in endurance.
Ray: I love it; that is terrific advice. So, we are down to the last question, believe it or not. Dan, I’d like to take just a moment and set the stage. This is the last question I ask every guest here on Bottom Line Faith and we call this our 4:23 question and it is based out of Proverbs 4:23. That Solomon, who we believe is the wisest man outside of Jesus who ever walked the face of the earth wrote these words, and it says in Proverbs 4:23 it says “Above all us guard your heart for it determines the course of your life.” Dan, in kind of researching there are many biblical scholars who believe that those were perhaps some of the final worlds that Solomon wrote. Perhaps he gathered his loved ones around on his deathbed, you know, as he is about to leave earth and he had written all of these proverbs and all of these wisdom treats and so forth any yet he is saying all of that is great, but above all else guard your heart. So, Dan here is your chance, you were talking about time earlier, but let’s flip the clock forward and let’s now- you’re at the end of your time here on earth, and you’ve gathered your loved ones around, and you’re now, in parting, your final words of wisdom, what is your above all else advice, for people to consider?
Dan: I hope it is what I’m saying today. Live, believe, and behave in such a way that you jealously guard the heart of another person and be absolutely sacrosanct about that. Where you see abuse, where you see injustice, where you see the need for defense for the defenseless, to your spouse, to your kids be a jealous gardener of the heart. If you can do that, then carelessness is falling far from you, my friend. Ray, you never have to worry about being careless if you will just jealously guard the heart for another person.
Ray: Great words of wisdom lived out over a lifetime. Folks, we have had the incredible pleasure on this edition of the Bottom Line Faith podcast to be speaking with Dan Rogers, President and CEO of Cherry Street Mission Ministries. So, if you are a business leader, if you are a parent, if you are a non-profit leader, you have had the opportunity in this edition of Bottom Line Faith to gain some incredible pearls of wisdom from Dan Rogers. Dan, I just want to thank you so much for the generosity of your time.
Dan: You’re welcome.
Ray: And for the extension of your wisdom. Thank you for all that you are doing here.
Dan: You’re welcome, Ray. It has been a true pleasure to be with you today and your listeners and trust that God will continue to use this kind of a podcast to bring encouragement to a generation of leaders that need it.
Ray: Well, folks, if you would like to learn more about Cherry Street Mission Ministries here in Toledo, Ohio the website is cherrystreetmission, that is all spelled out, lowercase. Cherrystreetmission.Org. This has been Ray Hilbert, your co-host for the Bottom Line Faith podcast and we look forward to meeting with you at our next edition. God bless. We’ll see you soon.