How Healthy Tension Produces Effective Leadership with Dr. Matt Rawlins
In this episode, Ray sits down with Dr. Matt Rawlins for an in-depth conversation about tension and change and how we can be productive in the midst of diversity.
In 2001, Matt Rawlins earned his PhD in leadership and communication from the University of Wales. Since then, he has written 16 books and works with churches, mission agencies, and large corporations on how to lead their companies forward in a rapidly changing world.
Dr. Matt Rawlins is the CEO of Green Bench Consulting, and a sought-after speaker and consultant around the world.
“We live in a broken world and it’s scary. And we’re most scared of what’s inside of us.”
“It’s a dangerous thing to fall in love with God.”
“We are finite, broken, and gifted.”
1. What does it mean to be human?
2. God views tension differently than we do.
3. Humility is fundamental.
4. There is no change without risk.
Green Bench Consulting
Books by Dr. Matt Rawlins
Ray: Well, hello everyone. This is Ray Hilbert. I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith. We’d like to welcome you back to another episode. We have a chance to interview some of the most amazing Christ followers, CEOs, business owners, executives, consultants, the occasional athlete or celebrity, and we have a conversation with them about eternal business, real life. About the integration and the intersection of faith and biblical principles in the way they lead and live on a daily basis. We are so very honored and thankful that you would join us for this week’s episode here at Bottom Line Faith.
We’ve been on the program now for little better than two years. For the most part, we have interviewed US based leaders over the last couple of years. However, on today’s program we have a really special treat for you. We’ve got a real international flavor and calling in all the way from Singapore and there’s a 12-hour time difference. So I’m recording in the morning time and our guest today is recording in the early evening time. Folks, help me welcome Dr. Matt Rawlins, who is the founder of Green Bench Consulting and Broken Top Leadership. Good morning, my time. Good evening your time, Matt. How are you?
Matt: Good evening. The future is good, I can tell you the future is here for you.
Ray: Well, I am excited about the conversation that we’re going to have around leaders, leadership and living out faith in the marketplace. Before we get into that part of the conversation, you’re calling in from Singapore, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what brought you to Singapore, how long you’ve been there, maybe an interesting tidbit or two about the country.
Matt: Yeah. So Singapore is a nation state, island state. It’s bottom of the Malaysian Peninsula, just above Indonesia. It’s six million people, and we speak plus we’re predominantly four people groups, Chinese, Indian, Malay, and then Europeans. I first came here in ’83. I was with from ’83 to ’88. Dropped in ’88. Went back to the US did some graduate work, came back in 2005. Started with consulting company and have been here ever since. So my wife and I were thinking the other day, we’ve spent most of our … this is the longest place we’ve lived in our married life, has been in Singapore and it’s a great place. I mean, it’s a beautiful city, beautiful people and we love being here.
Ray: And weather, tell us about what’s the weather like.
Matt: Well, it’s hot and then hotter, hot, humid. Basically we’re just north of the equator and yeah, you don’t have to worry about getting cold, that’s for sure, but yeah, it’s tropical.
Ray: So tell us a little bit about the spiritual climate of Singapore, and I think that’s going to play into our conversation today, but just tell us more about that.
Matt: Yeah. Well, it’s a unique place and in one sense it has no right to exist because it has no natural resources. It’s an Island state. You can go anywhere just about in 20-minutes, driving across the island. Approximately 50 years ago, they left Malaysia, actually got kicked out and they started their own country. A lot of people call it the Antioch of Asia. It’s a very unique place with multiple religious, much more people’s, and the government is a strong government, but they’re very caring. They’ve done a great job in reaching out to people and setting up some systems, and yeah, God has been at work here for many years.
In the ’70s we had a revival here, just a sovereign revival where thousands and thousands of people got saved. So it’s a very unique place. It’s a nice blend of introducing between Asia and the Western. It’s very safe, I can walk any place. But you’ve got just diverse foods and peoples and it’s really quite great place to be.
Ray: That’s good. I appreciate that. That’s some good foundational background and I know that’s going to play in contextually to our conversation today. So Matt, you’re described as a passionate educator and an author and in fact you’ve written how many books?
Matt: Well it depends on how you count, but there’s about 16 of them out there. I’ve got about eight for the marketplace and about eight in the language of the church.
Ray: That is incredible. So you spent much of your life writing and you really have this passion for leadership and development and communication. In fact, you’ve got your PhD in leadership and communication. By the way Matt, Green Bench Consulting, Broken Top Leadership, tell us the difference and then I want to have you share with our audience how they can reach out to you. So tell us the difference between Green Bench and Broken Top.
Matt: One of the first books that I wrote 25 years ago, dialogue between an old school teacher and a young manager was just leadership and change, and it was called The Green Bench, because that’s where they sit and talk about this. So my marketplace side, my business where I do consulting in the marketplace, the government, civil service, college, coaches, executives, in fact is all done on that platform. Then on my religious language side, my ministry side is Broken Top Leadership.
There’s a mountain in Oregon called Broken Top. I love the double metaphor of Broken Top Leadership Institute, both as a mountain that’s majestic and also in the language of that we’re broken people and we need grace to be who God has called us to be. So those are the two pieces. I mean, I got the books, I put out a daily devotional on the Broken Top side to people who are interested, but those are the two spheres that I operate in. I enjoy both of them tremendously. I love the marketplace, love working, engaging people in heartfelt conversations and helping them figure out what’s going on inside of them.
Ray: If someone’s interested in reaching out to you, connecting, what’s the best way for them to find you?
Matt: The simplest way we’re setting up a little system. We have a free audio book. They can connect at matthewrawlins.org or brokentopleadership.com is where they could find out a little bit more about that side. The greenbench.com is on the business side so they can google on Amazon, some of the books and if technology the way it is, they just need to kind of poke around a little bit and they can come up with something.
Ray: Yeah, all roads will lead to you, right?
Matt: Yeah, right.
Ray: Well, as you look back over the course of your career, what do you see as some of the challenges for Christian leaders, whether that would be in the church leadership arena or in business?
Matt: Yeah, a story will kind of illustrate this. I grew up in America, rather monoculture, rather one dimensional in my camera thinking and interacting and the first church I’d gone to, very conservative church. It didn’t allow instruments in the church. So I had really kind of a funny idea of God. Then I went overseas. I was working in Siphon at the time and I’m in the US, I was starting to grow facial hair so I figured, I’m 21 years old, I want to grow facial hair, if I could just grow a mustache, I’d be a man. So that’s kind of my internal dialogue. I want to be a man and I want facial hair.
I get out and I’m into and there goes boy where I was just exploring. Fascinated that I had hair on my lip and he was running his finger over this hair on my lip going, oh, and I’m thinking, this kind of idea hits me. It’s like, okay, in one country if you have facial hair you’re a man. In another country if you have facial hair you’re a freak, and it really kind of opened my eyes to be able to go, well, what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be a male? What is [shrink 00:09:35]? What is … Really the journey that I have been on over these last years is because I’ve worked with so many different cultures, so many, traveled extensively, and what does it mean to be human?
And that’s really the thing that I discover more and more and it’s not just a Christian one. When I work in governments and work with some of the people there, you get involved in the system and then all of a sudden you’re just a piece in a cog, in a machine and you just kind of get turning it out, and a lot of work that I do is trying to help people remember that we’re humans. What does it mean to be human and how do we engage life assuming that this is important, this rationale. That’s really the sense of a lot of the work that I do when I’m helping people that are stuck or helping systems that need adjusting or changing or anything from family to … What does it mean to be human, is a fundamental question that I think we continue to wrestle with the core of our systems that we’re working in.
Ray: You talk a lot about leading through tension and being fully present in the midst of tension. Would you just take a few minutes and walk us through what do you mean by that or what’s the issue that really is at the core there?
Matt: Yeah, so a lot of the … In Asia, we have an idea of trying to deal with tension and the government is trying to deal with tension and I run tension workshops because it’s really is a core element that we’re wrestling with. Sometimes in Asia we translate that harmony means you have some tension or in the church oftentimes in the west we think that unity means the absence of tension. One of the things that I realized when I was doing my research, now let me be the first to say, and I am a coward at heart. I don’t like tension and my first response is to hide. Let me just put that right out there.
I don’t study this because I feel like I’m good at tension. I study it because I feel like I’m really weak at it. As I began to go back and look at dealing with different people in different cultures, there’s a one thing that we are in common struggling with as the norm and that is tension and tension, when I use the word tension, I’m not talking about conflict, I’m just talking about a difference, difference of opinions, perspectives, personalities or whatever. But anything that has a difference.
So when I fell in love with God, which as you know, there’s always a bit of a dangerous thing because a greater love opens you up to things that you can’t see in your own limits of love. I thought, okay God, how do you view tension? I realized that God views it radically different than I do. I mean, if you look at, I like hanging out in Genesis. If you look in Genesis, God puts a tree in the garden with Adam and Eve that creates tension. He allows the serpent to come into the garden, which creates tension.
When he creates Adam, which had Adam and Adam male and Adam female in this being, then he rips the woman out of male and he says, “Now put yourselves back together.” When you talk about tension, I mean … And then you start to think, okay, the very definition of the name of God, He’s one and He’s three, well come on. This creates tension for me. So I began to see that God used tension and diversity in a very different way. I look out of the bankruptcy of my soul at tension and I’m terrified of it. God looks out of the abundance of his love at tension and He goes, I celebrate it, so it’s that got me kind of thinking about this.
Then there’s a lot of work that people are dealing with change, and change is represented best in regards to tension. So a lot of the work when you’re dealing with leaders in organizations is, you could call it change management, you can call it whatever you want to call it, but that’s that essence of dealing with tension, and I just began to realize that that’s kind of that cutting edge, that leverage point in our relational capacities for us to be able to deal with tension. If we can deal with tension, we can develop and grow. If we can’t, we become less and less and diminished in the process.
Ray: Okay. This is very intriguing to me and I want to put a context to this. You’re defining tension as a difference of opinion, maybe a different perspective and so forth.
Ray: You’re not defining it necessarily as conflict. However, I want to talk about social media for just a moment because if there’s anything that exists in the world today where we’ve lost the ability to have a different viewpoint and different perspectives that lead to conflict, what are your thoughts about where we are as a human race, in terms of just the ability that to carry on meaningful dialogue with difference of opinion?
Matt: Yeah. Well that’s a good question and I wish I could answer it simply because it might sound far more profound, but I think that the essence of it is the accumulated aspect of people who have not done their inner work, who have not really settled who they are in God, don’t know how to enter into a situation to be present in the midst of tension with minimum anxiety, we become reactive. So there’s a stimulus response and we feel vulnerable and we become anxious and then it escalates. Then my anxiety goes up and then your anxiety goes up and then my anxiety goes up, and your anxiety goes up, pretty soon we’re feeding on each other in a vicious cycle.
That’s never going to get us anywhere. I mean, with the technology today of what we’re dealing with, it’s a fruitless exercise for us to be involved in it. What we’ve got to do, and I think honestly, if we created a way to have honest, vulnerable conversations with people and less static, you know what I mean? The noise being what it is, but really sat down and said, I’d like to hear you and I’d like to share a perspective and listened at a heart level, engage people. I think we could lead the way in this as we go forward in this process, but the church unfortunately is just as reactive and just as anxious and just as up in arms about it all rather than being able to be present with minimum anxiety.
I think it feeds off of each other. I don’t want to make it to sound too weird, but it really settles into a demonic plan where Satan doesn’t want us to think, he doesn’t want to talk. He doesn’t want us to engage, he just wants us reacting, kind of the most base elements of humanity. So we just can’t play by the world’s rules. That’s just not the way we’re going to overcome. This is interesting, but the only person Jesus ever silenced was the demons and they were speaking the truth. You know what I mean? He wasn’t to silence people. He just said, I want a level platform and I want to speak for the kingdom of God, and I want to set in context that speaks most relevantly to who you are, and then you get to be able to decide, and I’m not going to play in this power game or defensive reactive control game.
Ray: Okay. So I’d like to maybe just drill down just a little deeper on this.
Ray: So let’s say that I’m a business owner. Maybe I’m a manager leading a team, and let’s just say that I have somebody in my organization that I don’t like them and they don’t like me. We just don’t get along and there’s just this continual tension. Maybe give us some framework about how we can still be productive and still shoot bullets in the same direction, if you will. How do I deal with people that are just so different than me?
Matt: Well, the reason why different scares people is because they haven’t resolved it within themselves. In other words … So the first thing Adam does is hide, okay? And he hides from himself, not from God. God hasn’t changed, it’s Adam that’s changed, so he’s hiding from himself. He’s hiding from what’s going to reveal about him. So the fundamental questions that God asked Adam are the same. They’re really relevant and there’re continuing. First question is, where are you? Second question is, who told you? And the third question is, have you eaten?
The first one deals with an honest, vulnerable reality, not outside of myself, but inside of you. Then the second question is, who have you given authority? Who are you listening to? Who’s defining your life? Then the third question is, what are you responsible for. When I’m working with people the biggest challenge, even when I did this here in the market place and this place is … I tell them, one of the things you’ve got to accept is that tension doesn’t make you feel something, it only reveals what’s inside.
So you can’t make me feel anything. You can only reveal my resident insecurity or my frustration, and that’s what we have to own first because Jesus does get angry, but he never walks around going, “You guys make me so angry,” because He’s not. He’s not saying, you’re making me feel anything. He’s engaging, fully present and then bringing salt and light and truth into the presence as He’s engaging people with minimum anxiety. So the leader of a nation all the way down, a pastor, a business leader, the first thing you got to realize is, the people in your organization or your culture or the world can’t make you anything, and the tension is only revealing your resident insecurity. That’s then an opportunity for me to embrace it. Look at what’s going on inside of me, own it. Invite God into it. He’s God of comfort, spirit of empowerment, and all of that.
Then say, okay, now God, what am I options, create a gap between stimulus and response, what we used to call character. So that then I could start to look at options and rather than being so reactive. If I can do that, then when a leader brings minimum anxiety, then the people in the organization are minimal anxiety. It creates a safer place and almost half of the emotional angst of it goes away. Then we can start to have conversations that we need to have.
Ray: I have a good friend of mine, he says, he has a great question. I’ve heard him say this dozens of times in front of an audiences. He says, if somebody spits on you, does it make you mad? Of course, most people, yeah, that really makes me. And he says, no, it makes you wet. You choose to get mad and you choose to get angry, and I think that’s what you’re talking about is not only does it reveal what’s inside, but we have to own what’s inside as well.
Matt: That’s right.
Ray: So why is it so difficult even for Christians who we have the Holy spirit within us. Why is it still so difficult Matt, for us to deal in tension?
Matt: Yeah. Well, we live in a broken world and it’s a bit scary and we’re most scared of what’s inside of us. So starting with Adam and Eve, Adam blamed God. The woman you gave to me, he blamed the devil. The devil made me do it. So it’s so much easier to stay out there. And Jesus didn’t buy the argument. He said, “No, it’s what’s inside of a man that corrupts the man,” and he’s trying to lead us back. So the heart is both a love and hate relationship with it. We want a heart, but we want it on our terms and we want to develop it. So part of this struggle is we really don’t want to know what’s going on inside.
I don’t blame people in the strict sense. I don’t like looking inside. I don’t like what I’ve discovered. But if I want a greater love, then I got to be able to figure out what God loves about me, and the more I love, the more I figure out what’s inside of me, the more amazed I am at his love, which deepens my capacity to be able to engage the world. So it’s a bit of a conundrum, but it always begins inside of us and God works His way out in this process. It’s no small task, but it’s worth the adventure.
Ray: Absolutely. This is really helpful because it really does cause us to take a deep hard look at where we are in our spiritual walk and understanding who and what we’ve been created to be by our Lord. This is really, really important conversation. So I want to continue then just a little bit further into this whole vein of dealing with tension and differences and so forth. You’ve really had to live this out, right? Being in Singapore and in an environment with incredible diversity, cultural diversity, religious diversity and so forth.
What are some of the lessons that you have learned about living and working and dealing in such a diverse culture that may be transferable to someone listening to our conversation in the marketplace and how they can learn to deal with people of different backgrounds and persuasions and beliefs and value systems?
Matt: Yeah, well I think one of the things that I’ve wrestled with over the years, it’s growing up in a conservative church and being more interested as Jesus is a former fire insurance relationship and kind of rules and all of that. It’s a dangerous thing to fall in love with God. When I fell in love with God, I really did fall in love with him and I thought, okay, I’m going to get to know him. So the last 40 years it’s really been a journey of spending intensive times, studying and reading and figuring out who He is.
And one of the things that I have wrestled with and focused on for a season, I’m trying to kind of build a name for it here in Singapore is trying to talk about us, what does humility mean? Because I think humility is a key word that is fundamental for the days in which we live in. So I’ll give you a very simple three part process that I work with when I … because humility will allow us to be able to engage just about anybody in place.
The three pieces of humility are we are finite, broken and gifted. It’s not new. Andrew Murray said we’re created sinners and saints, but I can’t use that language in the marketplace when I deal with people, I’ve got to use a different language. So I’ve translated it to be, in order to deal with people from any culture in any place and to deal with human relations systems and to be effective, you’ve got to realize that you’re finite, which means you’re limited, you don’t know everything, you don’t know how to know it. You don’t have to know everything and you can engage people from a finite perspective.
Second piece is we’re broken and that I own my brokenness and I need grace in my life and to declare I own that, I make space for you to be broken, and character limits the capacity of brokenness to kind of eke out of me and ruin some relationships that are really important to me. Then the third area is that I’m gifted. I bring a gift. I have a unique voice, I have a capacity to speak, express some aspect of God that nobody else does.
So those three things are constantly at work in our lives, and it’s not an either or, but it’s awareness of working with them and recognizing that those are in someone else’s life and in that interaction, then you can engage with anyone. You can engage with anyone, any place and it doesn’t mean you’ll get along because some people don’t want to deal with their brokenness. Some people don’t want to admit that they don’t know, but it has to start within.
Jesus wasn’t worried about other people. He was worried about who He was and then bringing the presence of God into those things. That’s what I tried to do. I just try to, okay God, how do I be fully present in a way that is accepting my limitations, aware of my brokenness, which is to hide and that I have a gift and it’s a small gift. And does anybody think in the larger picture of things that, that’s what I bring and that’s what I’m going to try to be faithful with to God and He gets to figure out how He’s going to get glory from it.
Ray: Okay, so how does this play out in a world that is so performance based? I mean, someone listening to our conversation and it’s, hey I’ve got to perform for customers or my leadership or my employees, it’s performance, performance, performance. So how do you balance that? How do you deal with that when we’re in a performance driven world and yet needing to live and lead with humility?
Matt: Well, we’re called to do stuff. So the question isn’t performance because Adam was called to steward. Adam and Eve were called to steward the world. So the problem is that their stewarding and believe me Ray, we deal with this in Singapore a lot because we’re a meritocracy. We’re defined by what we do. So we’ve got a very refined version of this, which basically says, whatever I do defines me, and the kingdom switches around and goes, no, I’m defined by God, and then I express who I am and what I express is out of who I am, an expression of my values.
When we switch that, then we’re not seduced by meritocracy. We’re not seduced by performing. We can say to people, listen, I got eight hours to do this job. You’re helping me to prioritize, that’s fine. You’re helping me clarify expectations, that’s fine. Let’s have a difficult conversation. But you can’t ask me to do more than is possible for me to do. So I can have that conversation only when I have taken the kind of the thorn out of my heart, that says, I’m defined by what I do. As soon as I take that thorn out, then you can argue at me till you’re blue in the face. You can’t affect my position, role or value in God and I can talk about it.
Now, it’s easy to say in the abstract, but boy, when you get into those situations. Oh, it’s so easy. I mean, I was going down the other day. I was teaching intention at the civil service code, so I walked over to get some local food called popiah and a little lady there, she’s become a friend of mine and she gave me back the wrong amount of money. Well, in that moment, my natural tendency is begin to withdraw, not say anything and walk away. I mean, I’m big on law, which is westerner here. I walked back and then I told the story to those guys and I said, see my response. I’ve got a PhD in difficult conversations, but my first automatic response is to hide.
So the next time I went back I thought, okay, I got to know how much popiah costs and I’m willing to have a conversation with her. I didn’t react before because I didn’t want to cause a stir, it was in kind of a hawker store. So again, we’re constantly negotiating in this process. I know why Paul says, he dies daily because that’s what it takes to figure out how to live in this life and in this broken body in a way that is genuine and real. So yeah, it’s no small task. It’s worth it, but it’s no small task.
Ray: Forgive me, but your kind of like the expert and you wrestle with this, right?
Matt: Oh man. That’s why I started off and whenever I’m talking about it, I quickly fill a story because there are no experts in this process. This is human struggling with growing up and maturing. The reason I speak on it is because I think it’s so key for our maturity, particularly as leaders and if they can manage tension and create enough tension to keep people engaged, but not so much tension that it steps over into stress or conflict, then we’ve got a maximum opportunity to be effective and engage and to grow and develop our people and our systems at work. But it takes work and it is hard work.
Ray: And it’s scary, right? I mean, it’s risky because we can hurt people’s feelings. We can get hurt and those things.
Matt: Oh, yeah.
Ray: But Matt, isn’t this really though where great breakthroughs occur, where new ideas and new concepts and new levels of relationship when we take these risk, is that what you have found to be the case?
Matt: Yeah. You said it. I’m not sure I could say it any better, until you take a risk personally and step outside of your safe, which means to show up and be present and to say what needs to be said and to hear what needs to be said from the other, there’s going to be no change. One of the examples I use in my company is if you can’t talk about it, you can’t change it, so that’s kind of a defining aspect of my company. If you can talk about it, you can change it. If you can’t talk about it, you can’t change it. It’s no more complicated than that.
Ray: Let’s say that somebody listening to our conversation right now, and I’m going to go away from business just for a moment because this is a universal applicable concept we’re talking about.
Matt: That’s right.
Ray: Let’s say they’ve got something going on in their marriage or something going on with one of their children or a close friend and there’s just this underlying tension there and the silence is growing, the distance is growing and they just can’t bring themselves to bring it up because it’s just that pain point or here we go again. Coach us through that. Help us understand not only how, but why we need to have that difficult conversation.
Matt: Yeah. So the first difficult conversation really that you have to have, it’s not with someone else but with yourself and you got to bring God into it and we’ve got to create an interface between our head and our heart and most of the things we’re dealing with are not rational, they’re emotional. The Bible says, “That where your treasures are, there will your heart be also.” The way that our values speak out of the treasures of our heart is through our emotions. So the emotions are really where our values and a lot of those core pieces inside of us go.
So the first conversation is I have to have with myself and I’ve got to go deep enough to say I’m afraid. Well what am I afraid of? I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. But where did I learn that if I show up, I’m going to disappoint you? An once I kind of get to those roots and I label and name those feelings and define them and bring God into them and the truth of Him and say, Jesus became a disappointment so that I don’t have to ever fear disappointing God or anybody else and I have a specific place to apply faith in this situation.
Then when I walk into this situation, keeping one eye on God, I can begin to say, I need to have a conversation and first let me share what I’m afraid of and create vulnerability from my perspective because what we’re really trying to do in those difficult conversations is to change someone else. But you can’t change someone else. If you talk about family systems theory, what you’re really talking about is whoever changes in that change changes the whole family, and that’s that leverage point that I have, the way I can change this family is by changing myself. It sounds simple and ridiculous because we want them to change but that’s where the kingdom starts.
Ray: It takes some real courage too, right? To have that real conversation with yourself.
Matt: Oh man. It’s terrifying, yeah.
Ray: It’s revealing, but it goes back to understanding our own limitations that we are broken and that we have giftedness to bring to the conversation.
Matt: Amen. Well said. That’s right.
Ray: Well you said it.
Matt: Well, you said it well.
Ray: That’s fantastic. That’s great. Matt, I want to just transition to kind of a last section of our conversation, what we call our advice and insights section. So as you look back over the course of your own leadership career and so forth, what would you say is a really big mistake that you may have made along the way, and what lesson did you learn or what did God teach you as a result of it?
Matt: Yeah. Well, the simplest story is give an example of this. I was running down the road and some other people were walking towards me and I didn’t want to stop to run. So I kind of casually turned around and started the other way. When I had done that, I felt like there was this divine, God spoke to me and He said, “Matt, you’re not running from them. You’re running from yourself.” The thing that was so disruptive in my walk with God over these years was thinking that other people were making me feel something and rather than recognizing that I’m not running from them, I’m running from myself.
If I’ll just own up to what’s inside of me and own up and then bring God into that, that I will then slowly grow in my ability to be present, engage and speak and to hear, in an authentic, real way. I think that’s really a key for me in this process. I spent so many years running from myself and it took me so long and nobody can really kind of help me slow down and walk through myself. So a lot of it has just been a work in different cultures, in different places and going, okay, God, I’m a human being and I’m in this culture and I’ve got gifts and I’ve got broken pieces and I’ve got limitations. Where are you in these three things in my life, and then how do I learn to walk you into it?
That’s where … I mean, at a very personal level when I was a little boy, I was sexually used by a neighbor next door, that created kind of a bent and a twist in the center of my soul. So it’s been unpacking that slowly kind of unraveling God at work and who I am and dealing with shame and beginning to own my life and to say, no, this is my life and I get to live it the way I want, and my one responsibility is to love God and everything else He’s got to have to figure out and worry about on His side of the process.
Ray: Wow. I love that. I wrote that down. Just I’ve got to own up to what’s inside of me. And as you said, you weren’t in that situation, you weren’t running from those individuals. You were running from yourself, from the things that God was trying to shape in your character. I think that somebody listening to this conversation just that was a real bulls-eye for them as well, is to really take a look deep inside. If you were to go back and you could sit across the table from the 20-year old version of you and you’re sitting across from 20-year old Matt Rawlins, what advice or what counsel would you give to the 20-year old you?
Matt: Well, I’d tell him, follow your heart. Trust your heart, not the deceitful side of your heart, not the broken side of your heart, but follow the love that you have in your heart for something bigger than yourself and follow your inclinations. Trust yourself. God is for you, and He’s going to work it out. I would just speak reassurance to this young, insecure 20-year old who doesn’t know who he is, who’s running from everything around him, who’s known how to disappear. I’d wanted to say, listen, trust your heart. God is so much bigger than you and you’re going to fall in love with Him and you’re going to love Him more than you could possibly imagine, and you’re going to run through some rough spots and it’s going to be awkward and difficult and it’s going to scare the crap out of you, but you’re going to make it and it’s going to be good and it’s worth it all, so don’t give up.
Ray: That is really good. That’s a great segue then into the last question, Matt, that I ask every guest here at Bottom Line Faith. It’s the same one. This is what I call my 423 question where Solomon writes, “Above all else, guard your heart for it determines the course of your life.” So as we kind of wind down our conversation here, would you just fill in the blank? What is your above all else advice? In other words, that you get a chance to tell our audience, hey, if you don’t remember anything but this above all else.
Matt: Well, the heart piece for me is God is worthy. Above all else, worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive Lord in the suffering. Worthy are the art thou Lord our God to receive honor and glory and blessing and power. That word worthy is such a powerful word that when we see something that has great value, it captures our hearts and that above all else, remember, He’s worthy of your life, and that puts everything back in perspective immediately for men. Periodically, I asked to do that. Remember Matt, He’s worthy. I get that and it’s going to be okay.
Ray: Wow. That is powerful. I don’t know that we’ve ever heard that on Bottom Line Faith. We’ve had some incredible answers but that’s going to be right at the top for me. Just He’s worthy of it all.
Ray: That’s your above all else piece, thank you. Well, Dr. Matt Rawlins, founder of Green Bench Consulting, Broken Top Leadership and author of 16 books on life and leadership. And one more time. Matt, what’s the best way for our audience to find you or to check you out further?
Matt: Well, on the Christian side, if they go to brokentopleadership.com or matthewrawlins.org or the greenbench.com, either one of those will kind of get you in my direction. They can email me email@example.com. Any of those will kind of point them in a direction for a conversation if they’re interested or writing or any of the things that we’re talking about, Ray.
Ray: That’s fantastic, and the spelling there folks is R-A-W-L-I-N as in Nancy, S as in Sam. Dr. Matt Rawlins, thank you so much for being here with us at Bottom Line Faith.
Matt: It’s been a pleasure, Ray. God bless you.
Ray: Well folks, what an amazing conversation we just had with Dr. Matt Rawlins from Singapore, founder of Green Bench Consulting, Broken Top Leadership and author of 16 books. As I’m looking at my page of notes here, there are some really great nuggets there in talking about the importance of tension and effective leadership and understanding the difference between tension and conflict, how important it is to look inside ourselves when we find ourselves interacting with people who are different than us or situations that are challenging us that we can’t be made to feel anything.
We have to, as he described it, we have to own up for ourselves. We have to own up to what’s inside of us, those feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty and fear and doubt, that is God’s way of shaping our character and forming us as leaders. Then I loved his above all else advice about worthy is God. God is worthy of it all and he can be trusted with it all as well. Even all those insecurities and then those three aspects of humility, understanding that we’re finite with limitations, we are broken as people and we have a gift to bring it to every situation.
What a rich, incredible conversation we’ve had today with Dr. Matt Rawlins. That’s what we’re about here at Bottom Line Faith, the eternal business in real life. That’s what we talked about today are these eternal biblical principles being lived out, being played out in real life, in business, in leadership, in our homes and families. That is what we’re about, at truth at work. So I want to thank you for joining us on today’s program. Hey, here’s how you can help if you’re interested. Why don’t you go online, give us a review that really helps us to spread the word and the more reviews we get, the more commentaries we get, the more people can find us, that’s how you can help us. So until next time, I am your host at Bottom Line Faith, Ray Hilbert encouraging you to live out your faith every day in the market place. God bless. We’ll see you next time.