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Episode 51: Blowing Snow With a Masters Degree: Leading Young

April 10, 2018

Episode 51: Blowing Snow With a Masters Degree: Leading Young

Mingo catches up with one of the first ministry leaders who took a chance on him as a young adult. Character comes with time, and Rich recalls ways he was trusted as a young leader, and how he navigated seemingly insignificant tasks with a greater goal in mind.

EPISODE RESOURCES

GO DEEP INTO THE DIMES DROPPED, CONNECT WITH THE SPEAKER, AND CHECK OUT THE LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  1. Twitter: @richferreira
  2. www.GTItours.org

Episode Quotable

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Episode 51 Transcript

Mingo Palacios:

Hello and welcome to the PD Podcast where we dialogue with some of today’s most insightful ministry leaders on topics relevant to the next generation. I’m Mingo Palacios, your host and Pastor of Evangelism in Culture at Saddleback Church. Every episode you’ll meet a future focus leader who’s changing the face of ministry from millennials by simply observing the past. It’s our hope that these conversations challenge you to dream bigger, lead better, and intentionally make time to honor those who let us stand on their shoulders. Thanks for joining us.

Mingo Palacios:

Welcome everybody. This is the Purpose Driven Podcast. My name is Mingo, your host, and today what an awesome day. We’re actually at Thrive Conference day two, and who do I stumble upon but old ginger sage. The mentor of Mentors, Richard Ferreira from GTI study tours. Rich and I have a unique history which makes this a really special episode because rich was one of the guys who when I was young and reckless and not yet the leader that I have had the luxury of becoming, I’m not there yet, but certainly I’m farther than when Rich found me, is one of the leaders that spotted me and rolled major dice and put a lot of his leadership equity on the line to bring me to the table. So Rich, thank you for being on today’s podcast.

Rich Ferreira:

You know, I kind of want to tell stories about you after that introduction about all the chances that we took with a one young Mingo Palacios II.

Mingo Palacios:

Very squirrely Hispanic kid on your team in an area and in a program where there wasn’t a lot of permission for squirreliness. But, this episode is going to be a good one because we’re going to talk obviously about GTI and what you do now. But I think that it would be richer, it would be more rich if we talked about the fact that you in your youth were a very, you were a promising prospect. You were given a lot of responsibility at a very young age, which is how we met. And we’ve got an audience that is always hungry for that opportunity. And so I would just think it’d be really great if you could bring some of that wisdom to the table. We always focus on principles over particulars, right? Not necessarily what you got to do, but what were some of the principles that you looking back 10 years, 20 years realized God was doing in you as a young leader? Because I want to give those to our listeners and maybe as now what you and I are on the other side of that fence, I’ve got 10 times more gray hair than when we started, but now we’re a part of the team that’s picking the next generation and were eyeballing the up and coming emerging leaders and we’re bridging the gap between season leaders now. So what was it like being, give our audience a little bit of context. How old were you when you were given the shot of shots?

Rich Ferreira:

Sure. You know, those moments where God kind of opens doors that you have no clue where they’re going to go. And I was able to finish up seminary really quick. I got done with my master’s degree at 22 years of age and found myself sitting in a ministry where I was in charge of running some off-site programs, which, you know, now that I look at, I go, what were they thinking to put an unseasoned unexperienced person fresh out of school, running a program that they couldn’t keep an eye on.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, totally.

Rich Ferreira:

But I think they knew what they were doing because they didn’t give us a budget, so they knew that we couldn’t do a lot.

Mingo Palacios:

You can’t destroy too much without a lot of money. We know this.

Rich Ferreira:

Exactly. But I remember being given that chance, but really looking at it going, what an opportunity in the first thing that we did was we, you hire good people, you hire people that are going to create a really good team and you know, that’s kind of how I found you. You were a squirrely guy who was good at video.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, true. And totally outside of the lane that people maybe associate me now with. But that was a, that was unique because it was a trade that got me in the door and I think for young leaders, they always think, man, I could do the stage thing. I could get a microphone, I can be a host, I could be a speaker, but it’s usually your specific…Don’t worry we’re in an airstream. So sometimes things are a little tight here.

Rich Ferreira:

But at least the airstream wasn’t falling apart.

Mingo Palacios:

But it’s often the particular skills that you bring to the table that will get your foot in the door.

Rich Ferreira:

You bet. And that’s how our team came together at that point was they put me in that position because I was from southern California and they go, hey, surf skate camp, even though I don’t know how to skate and I don’t know how to serve. The San Diego-

Mingo Palacios:

They profiled you.

Rich Ferreira:

They did, they profiled me. If they would look at me they would notice I sunburn really easily. So I wasn’t the best for that as far as the look. But we went out and grabbed great people and I remember, you know, the guys we hired for that where people who are go getters who are hard workers willing to do anything because when you’re off site, you got to be able to pull off-

Mingo Palacios:

It’s kind of like a utility player. Right?

Rich Ferreira:

And then as we found you, you were a video guy and we realized in the process of putting in that position, you were also good at this stage. So whether you wanted it or not, that’s, that’s where we put you.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah. That’s good. Well, and I think of the fact that you were trusted, it was incremental. And this is a thing that I think a lot of young leaders are missing is the fact that there’s a process of trust. There’s a process of what you’re given access to. And you started, if you even rewind behind that, correct me if I’m wrong, but you started just serving inside of their junior high program, right? And you were a utility player on the junior high program and as you shown, as you showed faithfulness and leadership qualities, it was a ramping escalator of what they were going to trust you with.

Rich Ferreira:

I got into the team because I was willing to run their snack shop.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s awesome. That is a great perspective. So listeners, chasing greatness or chasing a great opportunity, you’re hearing two very specific cases, Rich who has been trusted with so much over the time that he has led inside of the specific areas that he was leading in, he was willing to lead the snack shop. That’s not a position of, there’s not a lot of honor in the snack shop. Let’s just be honest.

Rich Ferreira:

I mean you can only make so many, you know, chili boats and feel honorable about it.

Mingo Palacios:

You can only master the craft of the chili boat so much. But to be faithful with it is what makes you stand out. And it’s funny, I remember you and I used to be on like the midnight ice patrol when winter camps would roll around and you’d be like, you did this unique thing that I think is worth noting is you would make every seemingly just terrible task worth like diving all in on because what the payout was going to be, which you didn’t see in the moment, was going to be that it was going to set you up to be seen as faithful and dragging somebody else along the process one, so you didn’t have to do it alone in the cold and midnight.

Rich Ferreira:

Exactly.

Mingo Palacios:

But two, you’re creating a pathway for somebody else to be seen as faithful. That was the unintended reality I think that I got the dividends from because Lord knows I would have never signed up to be on the 2:00 AM snow blowing shift, but because of your faithfulness just a little bit down the road, you afford me to be seen as faithful, which certainly I didn’t deserve. But that’s a killer key for somebody who’s in a position where they’ve got a seemingly probably insignificant opportunity. It’s stacking unbeknownst to you, right?

Rich Ferreira:

I remember one time I was out blowing snow it was two in the morning by myself and I just got my master’s degree. I’m sitting out there and I slip on some ice and I ended up sliding about 30 feet down this inner tube run and I’m laying there soaking wet and I’m frustrated because I’ve got a masters degree in theology and here I am blowing snow. It’s not what I expected.

Mingo Palacios:

And nobody to see it. Right? You’re laying on your back and nobody’s a witness even to the tragedy.

Rich Ferreira:

Except for maybe a squirrel that was not hibernating sitting over there. But I remember the words of my dad saying, “Rich you choose what you do.” And so I remember sitting there laying there on the ground going, I choose to blow snow. That’s what I choose to do right now because that’s what needs to happen. And I think that understanding and also that perspective, it goes a long way in work, ministry, whatever it might be, is that we choose to be the part of the things that we are given to us. And then we give everything we’ve got with it. And God opens doors as you go.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, I love that. If I can take it just a little bit deeper. I was interviewing a pastor a few months ago and he said, you’re born looking like your parents, but you die looking like your decisions, which is like, Dang man, like you’ve got a lot of decisions to make in your leadership lifetime. Right? And sometimes we choose the easy way out because we don’t think that the payout is going to be in parallel with what we want in wherever position we’re chasing or whatever platform we hope that we might eventually arrive on. And we fail so often to realize it’s the small insignificant things done when nobody’s looking at really tee you up and forge the character inside of you. So that when you do arrive in a place where people can see you, you’re actually made of the actual stuff that needs to be seen.

Rich Ferreira:

For sure. I’ve got one of my employees where I’m at right now, she makes the analogy that we’re on a tandem bicycle and if God’s in the front and we’re in the back, our jobs is to pedal and the direction will be made, you know? And we just have to trust that. And so I think a lot of times in life you don’t know what God’s doing, but most of the time he’s crafting character and character takes time to be formed and to be molded. It takes actually putting in the blood, sweat and toil to make it happen.

Mingo Palacios:

So true. There are very few things that are forged fast that have a lasting impact. I know that because we’ve been working on this air stream and you can’t fast forward anything on this thing to buffet appropriately. You have to go so slow and it just ate at my soul having to go so slow. But I knew the process and the payout was a better product to display because we’d decided to take our time.

Rich Ferreira:

You know what, I’ve found a section over there that could use a little bit more.

Mingo Palacios:

I’ll get to it after the episode. If we segment this conversation that was you coming to the table, but then there was an entire series, several seasons where it’s like you built a reputation on picking great people. I got to be one of probably well at one point you were picking 50 people at a season. How would you, or what would you tell people in a season where there may be in middle management or they’re in middle leadership and their job is to be faithful and show up and deliver a great ministry experience or a great product and they’re tasked with finding great people. Give us some principles or maybe give us some keys as to how you learn or how you deploy picking great people.

Rich Ferreira:

Sure. I mean it’s all about good people. And you know, there were multiple times where I’ve found that God would move me in position and people would sit there and go, oh, you’re doing a great job. What’s the secret? The secret is surrounding yourself with people better than you and creating a great team. And one of my keys all the time was looking for that person who has one, the ability to learn and work hard because you can teach people skills but you can’t teach them how to work hard and you can’t teach them work ethic. And that’s something that they got to come to the table with already. So what I would look for, especially in some of the programs I was running is who are those people who maybe had a different job doing something else? Maybe it was, you know, a service job or whatever it might be. Who at the end of the day would come and say, hey, can I volunteer to be a part of what’s going on over here? You knew their heart at that point. I think they’re done with their eight hour day, nine hour day of work

Mingo Palacios:

And now they’re showing up.

Rich Ferreira:

Now they’re showing up going, hey, how can we be a part of this? So those are the people I wanted. I would keep note of that and go, how do I hire that person the next time I have a job opening? Because I already knew they had a work ethic, they had a work ethic to get their jobs done and then they would show up and be a part of the ministry or whatever we were working on at the time and wanted to be a part of what we were doing.

Mingo Palacios:

It’s good and I’ve been in the seat where you use your leadership equity to cover the maturation season, right? Where it’s like, hey, I picked you, I chose you. You’re on this team. You have my covering. It’s my reputation on the table. And sometimes as the chosen one inside of that team, amongst other chosen people, you don’t realize how much is at stake for the person who chose you. And man, there’s some seasons. I know, I look back on it. I go, man, I really abused being chosen. What are some characteristics if you think you’ve chosen great people, but man, they’ve got a long way to go by way of maturity. How are some of the ways that you remain faithful and that without just firing somebody? I mean certainly I think at one point you used to make a mantra of saying like, if I don’t fire you two times in a week, you’re not doing your job.

Rich Ferreira:

Yeah. Again, when you find people who are worth investing in, investment is messy.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s good.

Rich Ferreira:

And that’s part of what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to look at the road ahead and where this person can get and I would look at people who I would hire depending on the jobs. What we’re doing is going, what are they going to look like three months from now? What are they’re going to look nine months from now? Some of the programs we ran were nine month programs and just going, this is a start to finish thing. It’s not about what they can give me, that’s going to be a part of it, but it’s what can I help develop in them as we move forward?

Mingo Palacios:

That’s so biblical too. That’s Jesus’, his whole mandate, I’ll make you become, right? That’s his promise. I will make you become fishers of men. It wasn’t an earning process. It wasn’t like, please can I be on your team because I can do great stuff. It was him picking great people, right? Him, picking people with great potential and committing to their successes. I feel like you did that over and over and over again in so many young people’s lives as they came to the table. Hungry for opportunities.

Rich Ferreira:

Yeah and you knows sometimes you get burned though. There are times where you know you’re always accountable to somebody higher than you. There’s never a point where you’ve ever reached the “you’re the guy”.

Mingo Palacios:

Doesn’t exist.

Rich Ferreira:

There are times where I’d have to go in and tell those people, sorry, I made a mistake but you give the benefit of the doubt. You work hard with the people around you and you hold an expectation of where you want to see them at.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s good.

Rich Ferreira:

But you hold something that you know that they can achieve, you know, in something that is doable and if you don’t create an environment where mistakes can be made then nobody grows and so you’ve got to create an environment where, hey, you’ve got the ability to make decisions here and if you make a mistake, we’re going to own it together, but we’re going to own it together and just so you know that your mistake is also my mistake.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s good.

Rich Ferreira:

But I’ve got your back and you can do that for a while. Someone continues to not do well in that area, you do have to move them on.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah you have to make adjustments accordingly. Yeah, that’s great man. I’ve definitely had that conversation with you a couple of times, but you know, it’s funny, it certainly forges though a trust with those that you’ve hand selected. And I will say this, that you don’t necessarily have to start with a deep relationship with those you choose, but you have to commit to building one in the process. Otherwise it just feels so superficial. You know, you feel like you’re getting used in somebody else’s rise to leadership instead of feeling like you’re a part of that movement altogether. You did such a great job at making others feel like it was their victory too.

Rich Ferreira:

For sure. And I think something people always have to remember is that you can never pay anyone enough money to do any of these jobs, especially in ministry. So, if they don’t feel a part of the team and they don’t feel like they’re walking away with something from it, that they’re only going to be with you for so long and so you’re trying to create the equity of helping them grow. If they feel like they’re being helped to grow, then they’ll be a huge part of your team because they want to be a part of a team that growth is happening and they’re seeing that they’re a part of the vision.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah it’s communal growth so it’s not like it’s just all on me or you’re just focusing on one, but as our entire team succeeds we all get a piece of that pie. So let’s transition now to GTI. You make the move from leading a seasonal ministry where you’re having high touch with, I mean arguably tens of thousands of people in a calendar year and now the Lord has really ramped you into an even higher, I would say even more sacred space where you’re doing some of those same things that you did 10, 20 years ago and now you’re doing it on a global scale, global leaders with a much richer, a much deeper impact in doing holy land tours.

Rich Ferreira:

Yeah. It was crazy. I mean we’ve always had a passion for Israel and just the biblical lands. And so all of a sudden this moment comes up of getting to step into a company that has been around since 1992 and just has a great reputation. But really what drew me to it is one, my life was changed when I was in Israel. I remember standing on top of a mountain. That’s where the demons were cast out and Jesus cast them out.

Mingo Palacios:

Yes. I need to go there.

Rich Ferreira:

Yeah, you do.

Mingo Palacios:

I need to see that.

Rich Ferreira:

You need to be there.

Mingo Palacios:

I preached that message, so I need to see that space.

Rich Ferreira:

I stood there and I remember just going, seminary was amazing. All of a sudden these stories came together in a way that I never envisioned them to. It’s not that you have to go to Israel to have this moment with God, but I had this moment there where I just walked away and my wife said, you’re different and I said, I am different. I am different because I got to taste and I got to touch and all of these things I’d learned and known and loved just became 3D.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah that’s great. 40.

Rich Ferreira:

40. So now the opportunity to work with pastors because really what GTI does is we work with pastors who want to take their groups to Israel because the best person to lead a trip to Israel is the pastor of the flock.

Mingo Palacios:

Of course, the shepherd.

Rich Ferreira:

If you can take the shepherd, if the shepherd can take them over and bring them back, then really we get to work as a church ministry because now the church is growing because the group is having an experience together. So to get to work with these leaders and to get to help them continue to grow their churches, it’s phenomenal. I love it and I never would have thought just the touch points of getting to be with guys doing men and women doing amazing, amazing ministries and all of a sudden GTI gets to be a small piece of what they’re doing.

Mingo Palacios:

And what a huge pivot too, right? It’s just like you open the expanse of what they see and hear and understand according to what they’ve studied and known probably for so long. I’m going to ask the naïve question from maybe the same posture. Some pastors who have always thought that would be really cool, but I’m not that educated, right? I’m not a historian. I know theology and I know how to study, but that’s a ball game that’s beyond me. What would you say to a pastor who maybe has the desire but as intimidated or doesn’t know the pathway to make a move for everybody to join him in that experience?

Rich Ferreira:

A couple of things. One is be who you are. And pastors are already good at preaching God’s word. That’s what they do on a day to day basis. So what we do as GTI is we come alongside them and we take pastors over to Israel every year, we underwrite the cost because one, we know that a pastor who gets a chance to go to, to Israel’s, going to hopefully they’re going to bring it back to their pulpit and bring it back to the church, to their ministries. So we get them over there and the biggest thing we’re showing them is, hey, you can do this. We’ve got the ground teams. We’ve got the guides who can help do all the historical background. You just be you. Let the guides talk about geography and location. And then you step up and talk about David and Goliath and why that’s important in our lives today because that’s what a pastor does every day.

Rich Ferreira:

So, we show them that those are tangible things they can do and then we provide all the ground support, logistics, all of that so that a pastor can get over there with his group and just be with this group.

Mingo Palacios:

It’s like A to Z support.

Rich Ferreira:

Yup. Completely. And the beautiful thing about it is where a bunch of guys running this organization who wanted to find a better way to do trips to the holy land. So by buying a company and putting it together, we were able to create all the things we always wanted.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah you make it as desirable as you want to do experience when it was your chance to do it as well. I’ve touched in a few of those places with our connection to Hume Lake, which has been really, I mean, it’s one of those life changing moments. Even if you’re only spending a couple hours in a space where you’re thinking so much history has unfolded in the place where my feet are on the ground right now. It takes you back and it puts you inside of a narrative that’s so much bigger than you are. Right? And you think this is going to change the way I engage as a leader, it’s going to change the way I experienced and think about my savior and it does. It leaves you a different person. It really does impact you that much. If people wanted to get connected to you and kind of go down the pathway of maybe planning a trip in partnership with GTI, how do they do that?

Rich Ferreira:

Well, first off, go to GTItours.org. That’s the easiest place to start and we would love to get every pastor that we can to Israel. We go in January every year. Like I said, we underwrite the cost by about half.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s great.

Rich Ferreira:

For pastors and their spouses to go because we also think that that’s a great experience for them to be together. No strings attached. You can go on that trip and never do anything again with us and that’s totally fine because we see it as building the kingdom and then that’s the best way to see it and then if somebody wants to do more than we can walk them through all that.

Mingo Palacios:

Host the trip or something like that, get their homies, come on, right?

Rich Ferreira:

Take their church over there and we’ll walk them through and then we customize everything to fit their church so the dates they want to go where they want to go. We walk them through all of those pieces and set them up. So GTItours.org and we’d love to get every pastor to Israel.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s a great mission. I know it’s changed our ministry a ton, I mean, Rick, and his executive team, a lot of them are as passionate about getting beyond kind of like your own borders. It’s a part of the process of maturing when you expand your cultural worldview and just experience that comes with doing a trip that takes you out of your normal everyday experience. There’s so much leadership potential and just having that experience together, let alone being in the holy land or a place where something significant biblically a went down. So, any last words to our viewers on the topic of picking and growing great leaders or being given opportunities when you think to yourself, there’s no way I should have this opportunity. Anything that you would leave a young listener with?

Rich Ferreira:

Well, 1 Timothy 4:12 says, let no one looked down on your youthfulness, but rather than speech love conduct, basically show yourself an example of one who believes. So for all the young leaders out there, God is opening doors in, might be shoveling snow, might be blowing snow. It might be working in a concession stand. Just walk through them, see what God’s got for you. Then two, take a risk on people because I get to sit here right now with you and I’m just amazed that the ministry that God’s got and where God’s with you and who would’ve thought that a young surfer kid who knew some video, who knew a squirrel who I would hire a would end up going to Bible college and just doing the things you’ve done since then. Those are the blessings. Sit back and see them.

Mingo Palacios:

I’ve heard it said really well, they said, “the greatest satisfaction is when your fruit grows on other people’s trees” and certainly your investment and your faithfulness and your commitment to the grind and the not glorious opportunities is just one. One leaf on a massive tree that the Lord has allowed you to be planted in and that’s the, I think, hope that I have as an emerging leader because I want to live the kind of legacy of the people that poured into me and for the people that poured into you, I think that that’s the satisfaction of going like Jesus, we have no clue. You have absolutely no clue how and what those insignificant moments of like going and getting popsicles while you’re waiting for a bus load of kids to come to camp is going to turn into 10, 20, 30 years down the road. So no significant moments, no significant people, no significant opportunities. They all matter in the grander scheme of God’s economy.

Rich Ferreira:

Amen.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, I love that. Rich, thank you so much for our listeners. If this conversation impacted you, if it mattered, a share it because that’s the way we encourage one another. You don’t realize how many people are blown back when you say, hey, this conversation reminded me of you and I think that you could grow a little bit if you listened to it. So, share the conversation out GTI Tours and be blessed. We love you guys. We’ll talk to you soon.

Mingo Palacios:

We’d like to thank Purpose Driven Church for making this podcast possible. If you’ve been feeling burnt out or plateaued in your ministry, we invite you to join us for Purpose Driven Church conference happening this June right here in Southern California. You can learn more and register by visiting PD.church. We hope today’s insights left you feeling inspired and propelled towards your greatest potential. Thanks again for joining us for another episode of the PD Podcast. Until next time.

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