Aug 5, 2020
What to do you when your life gets hard? Where do you
turn? What’s your immediate reaction when pain, suffering, or
challenge comes your way? Think honestly about what your answers to
those questions might be. Everyone’s answers are likely to be
different, especially if you’re approaching suffering, pain, or
grief from the worldview of a Christian or not. If you’re listening
right now and don’t personally identify as a believer, please don’t
stop listening. Today’s episode might just be for you. My guest
this week is Daniel Grothe, the teaching pastor at the
influential New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO, and the author
Chasing Wisdom: The Lifelong Pursuit of Living
Well. Daniel’s book draws upon his 10-year
apprenticeship with Eugene Peterson, who translated The
Message translation of the Bible. Daniel and his wife Lisa
live on a small hobby farm outside of Colorado Springs with their
three children, Lillian, Wilson, and Wakely. You’re going to love
my chat with Daniel. This episode will go down as one of my top
favorites, so jump right in and join me as Daniel shares about his
life and the early challenges he went through early in his career
at New Life Church.
6:59 - The Daniel 101
- Daniel is originally from Tulsa Oklahoma, the son
of two pastors, he grew up in church and has traveled the world as
a musician recording on albums with bands like Gungor.
- He was in church all the time, and Daniel knew
early on he was meant to work in the church too. Shortly after
college, he married Lisa, and 12 days later they drove to Colorado
Springs to start work at New Life Church.
- Daniels parents never made him feel that church was
the “family business” that he had to be a part of. They invited
their children into their lives, teaching them their interests and
bringing them along on adventures.
- Many pastor’s kids resent the church because they
sense that their parents were disinterested in their lives or that
God is ripping their parents away from them. Daniel’s parents did
do that and Daniel encourages parents to consider whether they may
be giving their kids a reason to stay away from Jesus and the
12:09 – A Hard Ministerial Road
- Daniel has been with New Life Church for 15 years,
but the road hasn’t always been easy there. The church was
prospering when Daniel and Lisa arrived. The senior pastor was the
president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and New Life
was essentially the talking head for the evangelical church.
- Two years after Daniel’s journey at New Life Church
began, the bottom fell out. The senior pastor of the church was
caught in a scandal, and the church went from riding high to
scandal and also discovering the church was $26 million in debt as
the US economy was tanking. The church had to fire 44 people
overnight and had to look for a new pastor.
- As things finally started to turn for the better
and the staff started trusting a new pastor, the church was
attacked on a Sunday morning by a gunman firing an assault rifle
through the children’s area of the church. Two teenagers were
killed in the parking lot of the church and the shooter committed
15:29 – The Message
- Daniel was only 25, and he and his wife had just
had their first child. On his day off, Daniel went shopping in a
local Goodwill, and found a book on the shelf called “The
Contemplative Pastor” by Eugene H. Peterson. Daniel recognized
Eugene as the person who translated The Message translation of the
- Daniel read the book in one day. It grabbed his
imagination and Daniel decided to write to Eugene to ask if he
could spend a day with him. Eugene responded! He told Daniel that
he’d be willing to spend a day with him…after Daniel writes a
three-page paper on “what is church and a three page paper on what
is pastor to see if we even have enough common ground to begin a
- Eugene put Daniel through the gauntlet in response
to the papers Daniel wrote as requested. At the end of that letter
response, Eugene said, “If you think we have enough common ground
after these letters, then I’d be happy to have you. I just don’t
want to be a touristy visit.”
- That started a 10-year long back and forth with
Eugene and Daniel. Eugene challenged Daniel, made him read and
write, asked questions, listened, and pastored. Daniel told Eugene
in one of his last visits that Eugene changed his life with three
words: Not so fast. Eugene knew what he was building in Daniel by
making Daniel work for it and fight for it.
- Eugene was not famous until well after completing
The Message translation. He faithfully served the same congregation
of 300 people for 30 years. As soon as he translates a bible,
celebrities started calling. Had that happened when Eugene was
younger, it would have crushed him, but the Lord knew that after
decades of obscurity, he could trust Eugene with becoming available
to the world.
- The people we stand to learn the most from are the
ones that will never make it on the front page of a newspaper.
Daniel describes them as Saints who have been tested in the fields
30:25 – Chasing Wisdom
- Daniel’s book, Chasing Wisdom: The Lifelong
Pursuit of Living Well draws upon his 10-year apprenticeship
with Eugene and Daniel’s journey as a pastor.
- Daniel wants people to know that there are wise
sages and elders (like Eugene was for him) who can help you think
through an appropriate response to life. They are hidden in plain
sight. They won’t chase you down, but if you look for them, they’ll
help put you on the right track.
36:04 – Leading Your Own Family
- Daniel and his wife Lisa recognize that their
children are the greatest gift that God has given them and that
they will return those gifts they will release to the world after
- As parents, we are to protect our children, but our
jobs are also to invite them into the way life works with all its
complexities, to shepherd them and help them develop nuance and
abilities to think through life logically. Daniel tells his kids
stories and then ask them what they would do in that scenario.
- If we can’t manage our own families, what business
do we have trying to manage God’s house? We need to start at home
and do our best there first.
41:38 – Getting To Know Our Guest
- Daniel shares his recommendations of a favorite
books with “wisdom from the old libraries,” his unusual talents,
his pet peeves, and what his walk up song would be. I ask Daniel
the question I ask all my guests, “What does it mean to you to run
a business with purpose?” Be sure to stay tuned for his answer, it
will be encouraging to you, no matter where you are in your
business or chasing after your purpose.
10:10 - “That’s one of the great things that parents
can make sure they’re thinking about: Are you giving your kids a
reason to stiff-arm Jesus or the church?”
19:23 – “We think that if any kind of trouble washes
ashore in our life, that this Jesus thing is a scam or our faith is
weak…but a theology of suffering matters.”
28:14 – “I jokingly say that it only took Eugene
(Peterson) 65 years to be an overnight success.”
28:51 – “When I look at Eugene, to me, he’s a
provocation for living slowly and faithfully and letting God do
what he wants to do over the course of decades.”
34:00 – “The Saints in obscurity who have been tested
in the fields of obscurity and their lives have stood the test of
time: Those are the people you should chase. Those are the people
you should apprenticeship yourself to because they’re not looking
for the wrong things. They’ve got all the unholy ambition out of
them and if you’ll come close and ask good questions, if you’ll
dignify them and honor them, and then just wait to listen, they’ll
give you wisdom that it took them 87 years to gain. So ask!
39:18- “My job is to invite him into how life works
and shepherd him along the way…so recognizing that these are our
greatest gifts and our greatest gift to the world and trying our
best not to give our ‘leftovers’ to our most important people.
About Daniel Grothe:
Daniel Grothe is the Teaching Pastor
at the influential New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Daniel and his wife, Lisa, live on a small hobby farm outside of
Colorado Springs with their three children: Lillian, Wilson, and
Wakley. To learn more, visit DanielGrothe.com and connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Grothe is also the author of the book
Chasing Wisdom: The Lifelong Pursuit
of Living Well [Thomas Nelson, April
2020]. Drawing upon scripture and his own 10-year apprenticeship
with Eugene Peterson, Grothe has been featured in
Christian News Journal and
Crosswalk showing us how to get wisdom
for ourselves by examining what the Bible has to say about it and
by providing practical steps for acquiring it, including learning
to ask for help, living quietly, and above all, seeking those who
are themselves wise.