137. Is God Disappointed In Me? with Kurt Francom

Today is a great episode as I got to interview Kurt Francom and chat about his new book, Is God Disappointed In Me? Kurt has a podcast where he interviews others and talks all about leadership. And as I read Kurt’s book, I knew it would be perfect talk to you guys about today.

From points in Kurt’s new book, Is God Disappointed In Me? We discuss how his experience and knowledge and how it applies to all things “missionaries.” 

During our discussion, Kurt discusses the concept of the “gospel continuum.” Which explores the idea that there are seeming contradictions between faith and works, love and grace, and how their contrarian ideas are actually complementary.

This episode focuses on embracing your true self and not comparing yourself to others. God has a plan and he does not require perfection. God has a plan for each of us.

It’s an episode you don’t want to miss.

If you found this episode helpful, I want to invite you to subscribe if you aren’t already, share this episode with your friends and write a review. I know this work will help missionaries around the world and it would mean so much to me if you did. Until next week my friends.

Kurt Francom is the founder and executive director of Leading Saints and manages the day-to-day efforts of Leading Saints and is the host of the podcast. Kurt served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2001 to 2003 and was assigned to labor in the California Sacramento Mission, speaking Spanish.  Kurt graduated from the University of Utah in 2008 with a degree in Business Marketing. He ran a web development company for 5 years before focusing on Leading Saints full-time. Kurt currently lives in American Fork, Utah with his lovely wife Alanna. They are blessed to have three children.

Get Kurt Francom’s Book:  Is God Disappointed in Me

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0:00 [Jennie Dildine] Hey, what’s up everyone? It’s Jennie Dildine, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 137. Is God disappointed in me with Kurt Francom? I’m Jennie the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next.

0:56 Hey, everybody, I am excited to share with you a fun conversation today that I had with my friend Kurt Frankham from leading saints. And one of the reasons this was fun is because if you’ve ever listened to Kurt’s podcast, leading saints, he’s usually the one doing the interviewing. So it was fun to have him come on and talk about his new book. It’s called is God disappointed in me. And as soon as I heard the title of the book, I knew that I wanted to read it. But I also knew that it would be a topic that would be important for you guys, everybody listening, whether you’re, you know, preparing, currently serving or returned missionary, or even if you’re in leadership, or a parent, would be an important topic for you to learn more about in the shownotes. I’ll share all of the places that you can go get this book. It’s a beautiful book with lots of stories and heartwarming analogies and things that I think can be really helpful and transformational. So without further ado, here is my conversation with Kurt Francom.

2:02 Well, hello, Kurt Francom. Thanks for coming on the podcast. [Kurt Francom] Yeah, I’m happy to be here. This is I’ve been looking forward to our discussion. Yeah, me too. I’m really excited to talk to Kurt today about his book and about all things like that could help missionaries. I actually just finished his book. Is God disappointed in me, and I loved it. And I think that it is a book that everybody needs to read. But specifically, I was interested in having him come on, because I think that this topic is so beneficial and useful for people heading out on missions who are serving missions who come home from mission, so I’m really happy you’re here. Well, thank you. It’s uh, you know, when people tell me they listen to my podcast, that’s a huge compliment. But when someone takes the time to read my book, I mean, that’s, that’s even a bigger compliment. So that really means a lot that you do that. Yeah, I loved it.

2:57 Well, first, let’s just have you introduce yourself to my audience. For those that don’t know, you tell us a little bit about where you live your background? Sure. What you do. Yeah, so I was born and raised in West Valley City, Utah, which is the west side of Salt Lake Valley. And, you know, very traditional Latter Day Saints upbringing, jumped through all the hoops as a as a youth and served a mission in Sacramento, California, Spanish speaking. And I know there’s a mission focused sort of effort that you do. So the, you know, I was a bit disappointed actually, when I got my call to a place that was, you know, 12 hours down at from my house, I was hoping for something a little more, you know, exotic but, but now I consider it holy land. And I just love Sacramento and what I learned there and who I became, and maybe we’ll get into that, but I am the founder, producer of and the executive director of leading saints, which most people notice as a podcast, but we’re actually a nonprofit organization. With the focus and vision to help Latter Day Saints be better prepared to lead. And we do that through content creation. We just, you know, keep the discussion going about leadership in the church, whether we’re talking about culture, or how to run a meeting, or you know, how to how to minister to missionaries that are struggling, or, you know, all those dynamics that leaders face as a lay leadership, and it’s, uh, started that back in 2010. podcast in 2014. And it’s been going strong ever since. And I get to talk about a lot of fun things. And I live in American Fork Utah and married Alanna, who is grew up on a potato farm in Idaho. We have three kids and a dog. And I think that that’s a good synopsis. A great synopsis. Were in Idaho is your wife from she grew up just outside of Blackfoot, Idaho. Okay, cool. I’m over in Boise maybe I didn’t know that but I don’t think I did know. Yeah. And your podcast is so good.

5:06 I it’s so important, all of the stuff that you’re doing with leadership. And then you have these, like, what would you call them? Like these forums where you can get on and like, watch a whole bunch of series of videos for young adults or for Relief Society or state presidents? What what do you call those? Yeah, so we’ve done 10 virtual conferences, but then we take all those the recorded conferences and put them into a virtual library. So we call it our core leader library. So for that leader, individual who maybe wants to do a deep dive on, you know, helping how to lead youth or how to minister to individuals struggling with pornography, or so we sort of done a deep dive on all these different topics that are really pertinent to either leaders or parents, or any Latter Day Saints. And yeah, there’s hundreds of hours on there. And, and anybody can jump in and explore. That’s amazing. What did you do before you got into this? Like, what, what’s your education and? Well, I wanted to grow up and be a Disney animator, but that didn’t work out. So I got a two year degree in art, and then realized, I’m not as good as I probably should be. And I’m not really passionate about this. So I changed to a business degree and graduated in marketing. And then I worked for a variety of years. I actually worked for three years right out of college with Young Living One of the many essential oil companies in Utah County. And then I started a web development company, which I ran for five years before transitioning to leading STS full time in 2016. So I’m a marketing guy. You’re a marketing guy. I love it.

6:43 So you kind of touched on your mission a little bit. So let’s dive into that a little bit. And you mentioned it a couple of times in the book as well. So tell us a little bit about your mission and what that experience was like for you. Yeah, so like I said, I was a little bit disappointed called the Sacramento I’m the youngest of four, I had a brother serve in Fort Lauderdale, Miami area, my brother went to France and a sister that went to Portugal and like, I’m going to California, right. And, but you know, being the youngest, and seeing my siblings serve and hearing all the stories, and I was just so excited to get out on my mission, and serve. And from the night before, I was just like a little boy, on Christmas Eve, just excited to get going. And even in the MTC hugging my family, goodbye. I was like, here we go. And then day two hit. And the joke is is like the the first two days are the mission is is to equal lengths. The first two days is your mission. And then the rest of your mission. Right? This that transition to becoming a missionary was super difficult for me. I remember in the MTC, you know, I was I was learning Spanish, I was a Spanish missionary in Sacramento. And so I was in the MTC for about two months. And I remember the first two weeks or so I literally couldn’t eat like I was experiencing sort of these new feelings of anxiety. And like, it baffles my mind, you know, sitting in the lunchroom and chewing on a piece of food. I’m like, I can’t swallow it. Like I was just so anxious about what I was experiencing. And suddenly you really, you know, on being on that side of two years, it just seems like I’m never going home. This is my life forever. Maybe I’m in prison, I don’t know. And I remember a few days in just having a complete mental breakdown with one of my MTC teachers, and he was so gracious and loving gave me a blessing. And it would I remember just that feeling of release, you know, walking out of that room, making sure my district and notice I was I was crying. And I was sort of embarrassed by it all but just feeling like I just needed somebody to hear me that I was really struggling. And so I made it through the MTC and then it sort of started all over again, going out into the field, I went to Stockton, California is my first area. And you know, I know, I really resonate with those missionaries who fall asleep at night crying, try not to let their companion hear them cry, you know. And so it was just a tough transition for me. But, you know, you get going and you figure it out and you get used to missionary life. And then, you know, there’s this shift and it’s not like a switch by any means, at least not for me. But then I just I remember the sweet moment at the end of my mission where I was the you know, the district leader to a younger missionary who I knew was struggling and I had like a month left two months left and to for God to just open my eyes to what I had become the journey I’ve been on and how I love like Sacramento was now my home. And I just love that place and the people and what I was learning and and so I just am so grateful for that mission and what it taught me and I really I can empathize with those who really struggle during mission life, but at the same time, you know, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t change a thing, it was such a growing opportunity for me. That’s beautiful.

10:13 One thing that I thought that was interesting about what you said was just how when you had come out of that room after you got that blessing, and you’d been crying, and then, you know, this idea that we don’t want to hear our, like, have our companion hear us crying, right. I think that that is can be problematic. And I think that it’s sort of a thing that I see over and over is like, there’s missionaries who are struggling, but they’re afraid to like, own up to that or to share that with anybody. Sometimes they’re even afraid to share it with their mission president because of what the mission president will think. Yeah. And you did kind of touch on something similar to this in your book about, like, having these wounds where we, you know, are struggling or suffering, or we’re feeling sad, but this idea of how like, in order to, like, address them, and he’ll, we need to like, open up and like, share and be authentic with people. So do you have anything? Like, would you if you went back to that missionary that was really struggling? Would you have any sort of like words of wisdom or ideas for that person that feels like they’ve got to hide this from everybody? Yeah, well, really, it’s the you know, we should never make the assumption that a missionary is thriving, especially in those first six months, even though they can put on the show the smile, and you know, there is sort of that pressure, that expectation of being a missionary of like, no, like, everybody else enjoyed this, their love their mission, you know, the best two years, and you’re not so something’s wrong here. So you better put on a show, or something’s wrong here, you know. And so just to have somebody to talk to is is huge, right? Doesn’t have to be a therapist, that could be a companion, a zone leader could have been the mission president, if you would have called me and just said, Hey, I bet, you know, I struggled on my mission. I wonder if you’re struggling, like, really, how’s it going? Right. And some of the sweetest tender mercies that I experienced as a missionary were those letters from my other siblings, I remember my sister, who, you know, she went to Portugal, but visa waited in a different California mission. And she began to articulate through letters, similar feelings, and just that just gave me enough strength to get through that week, or, or that month, because I knew that I wasn’t crazy, or that this was these were normal transitioning times and feelings that one goes through. And so being open about your story, and so every time I’ve had, you know, I haven’t had any kids serve a mission, but nieces and nephews, I always am upfront to tell them, hey, this first six months were really, really hard for me. So I just want you to know that if you are experiencing that, you can talk to me or that it’s very normal. And so just just keep going. And I remember the sweet momentwhere Jesus showed up for me with one night, you know, I’m on, I think my third transfer, and just been a long, slow day, and I’m really struggling, and we’re about to pray to leave the apartment. Then across the room, I see this picture of Jesus. And I just remember, it’s telling it like tonight, I’m just gonna do it for you, like nobody else does for you. And I just felt so buoyed up from his strength, that he was willing to be on the mission with me, and get me through that day. And then, I mean, that momentum built and it just changed me. It’s such a, it’s such a tender mercy in my life, that mission thatbreaks my heart when when missionary struggles, but it’s so rewarding to see them thrive when they get to that point where they can thrive because it is possible. Yeah, that’s a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing that.

14:02 And I love what you said. It’s like, it sounds like what your sister’s letter did for you. And some conversations you had is it it normalize the experience that you’re having? Yeah. And the other thing that I love about when we share our experiences and what we’re actually going through, and we share those wounds and how we’re feeling is it gives permission to other people to share their experiences. And that can be healing for them as well. Yes. Huge, huge that so much. So what prompted you to write this book? The title is, is God disappointed in me? So I’m just curious, like, where that came from, and who you’re being for? Because there was times when I was reading it, it was like, Oh, this is totally for the parent. And there was times reading it when I was like, Oh, this is totally for my son. You know, so tell me a little bit about that. Yeah, so I just, you know, just in 2024 Nobody is naive to the dynamic that’s out there that some people leave the church, right or some people lose faith or struggle in the church. And I mean, we love the the storybook narrative of Noah, like, you get baptized and you know, you just thrive, you make covenants, the covenant path, like this is awesome. Happiness joy, like it all just works out, right. But we were born in a world at war, where an adversary isn’t just gonna let that happen. And we assume that well, if we can, if he can just convince us that we should just sin and behave negatively, then he wins. But the the, the warfare that’s going on is so much more sophisticated than that. And it comes in this in through his strongest tool, the adversary, strongest tool of shame. And the more I learned about shame, the more I saw, how it how the adversary you shame against me. And so I put some thoughts together. And on the leading saints podcast, I think it was actually in one of our virtual conferences that I also published on a podcast, I talked about this concept of godly disappointment, where we learn like all throughout our growing up years in the church, we learn that God loves us. And in fact, I believe the adversary actually wants us to know that God loves us. But because if he can convince us that God loves us, He can then convince us that well, he sure is disappointed in you. And so I see individuals overwhelmed, just exhausted from living the gospel day to day that they almost have to step back from the gospel because it is such this overbearing experience, I think, wait time out. Not the Jesus that I know like the the Jesus problem that Jesus promised is so much more than that. So I get that throughout my book, you know, I’m not BYU, PhD, religious scholar. And, and people may be like, Well, I don’t know if this or that is doctrine. But to me, it’s not about doctrine, or what’s true. It’s how we frame the truth and how we perceive it in a day to day life, like, how do we actually live the gospel, so that it is redemptive? It’s encouraging that it’s hopeful that at the end of the day, we feel renewed by it. And so I wanted to explore this, like, what would the gospel look like if we actually believed Jesus? You know, I don’t know if you’re familiar, Stephen Robinson in his work, and he wrote the book believe, believing Jesus, you know, believing Christ, that what if we actually believed him? That he was the answer, that he does give us grace? And what if we believe that he’s actually never been disappointed us? Well, then at the end of the day, like, maybe I do get to the other side of the veil, And God’s like, that was a cute book he wrote and everything, but I was actually disappointed knew most of the time, I’d be like, Well, my bad totally misread it. However, I was able to live a fulfilling life knowing that God has given me one more chance. And again, and again, like he’s such a redemptive God. And so I truly believe God has never been disappointed in you. And that is such a redemptive message that makes the gospel actually fulfilling and encouraging and keeps me going. Hmm. I love that so much. And I’ve thought similar things. I’m like, if you know, if I get to the other side, and then they’re like, Jenny, you got it all wrong. Like I love what you’re saying is like, what we choose to believe the way we choose to frame the way we see God and the way we see Christ. And the way we see ourselves has so much impact on our daily life, in our daily functioning, and in our ability to heal and to cling to the gospel, and all of that. And I think that is a beautiful way to put it.

18:53 So can you explain to people why this might be true in the book you talked about, like the difference between an expectation and expectancy, which I really liked, how you kind of the analogies you used and stuff for that. And so yeah, because I’m sure there’s people listening who are like, and especially missionaries, right, who are like, well, the expectation is that I’m supposed to contact this many people by the end of the of the week, and we’re supposed to have this many people at church, and I’m supposed to have this many baptisms. And they get to the end of the week, and they’re like, well, for sure, my district leaders, you know, I haven’t met his expectations. So for sure, he’s, you know, disappointed. And so that must mean then that God is to so help us understand where you’re coming from, and you’re thinking about this. One of the big missteps is that we are mortals trying to understand God and we can only perceive him through our life experience and mortality. And so we feel disappointed. Like when we have a child who doesn’t fulfill an expectation, we assume that God is having the same experience. And so we often project our mortal experiences onto God. Now, there’s lots of things that, you know, God is our Father and we have unique theology in our faith of God having a body and he is an actual being. And he, you know, looks like us generally and you know, talks like us and whatever. But we that but coming to this expectation dynamic, having holding an expectation for another person, that’s such a mortal experience. Now, hear me out if people are like, I don’t know, or what about all those commandments and covenants? Those are seem like expectations and talking in the context of missions. I mean, welcome to the world of expectations, numbers, numbers, numbers, and of course, yeah, every number is a person and we know, but this is like the first experience that a young Latter Day Saint really experienced as heavy expectations. Now, here’s, here’s a shocking statement that I’ll throw out there and you can chew on is that I believe God has zero expectations in us. I was like, come on, come on. How are you? How can that be? So if we go back to just the things we know about God, there’s there’s two camps one camp will say, Well, God knows all things the past, present and future. So does God know, every mistake that I make? Sure. Yeah, he does. Right. So when I make a mistake, or a sin, or I fall to a quote unquote, expectation, isn’t he know that I’m already going to do that? So how can he have an expectation when he knows that expectation is not going to fulfill now there is some theological debate about whether God is all knowing is future things? Well, even if that’s the case, imagine God standing up in a in a fast and testimony meeting, and he says, Today, I will bear my testimony of my Son, Jesus Christ. Do you think he’s like, Well, you know, I really hope it works like I’m in heaven, really crossing my fingers that Christ can come through for you. I’d be like, wait a minute, no, he would give the most confident testimony and knowledge that not only it will it work, it did work, it is over it is done, Jesus died for you. Your sins are paid, you are redeemed through Jesus Christ.

22:26 Now, that means just he has he doesn’t have expectation in us, he has expectancy, that the plan will work just like we have expectancy that the sun will raise tomorrow. We don’t like look out the window like okay, it’s almost six o’clock. Let’s see, if the world is over. No, the sun just always comes up. We don’t even think about we have expectancy, that it will. So God has expectancy, that the plan works for you. It will work or else I mean, what are we doing? Exactly? Now there are individuals there’s a such a small minut sliver of mortality that turns away from God and cry and God wept over that it’s referred to as the residue of his people. I love that term residue, like such a small residue of his people will actually turn away from Him and say, Nope, not going to do the atonement thing. I’m not going to accept your son Jesus Christ. But what breaks my heart is we have faithful Latter Day Saints that are striving so hard to live the gospel. And they think I just don’t think I’m going to make it or God must be so disappointed in me like, What are you talking about? He knows his plan works for you. So keep going.

23:44 And the the example I give in the book is when I I was traveling, I’m a huge BYU football fan. I was traveling on that for an event and that was off the grid for over a weekend. But I was really interested to know how this BYU game turned out. And they were playing a competitive team Tennessee Volunteers. And so I made sure I recorded the game. So I could watch it when I returned home and watching the game knowing that they actually BYU wins in overtime. It was such a unique experience to sit and watch this game. Because drop passes weren’t really that concerning to me, or fumbled balls was like, Well, somehow this works out. And sure enough, my recording didn’t change reality. They won in overtime. that at no point along the path was I disappointed in any mistake that team made because I knew it works in the end and hear me clearly like Jesus works in the end like it works for you. So there’s not a minute that needs to be spent in shame. That a god is disappointed in you. He’s not. It’s so beautiful. I agree with you. And especially when you say that you’re heartbreaks that like there’s these people that are trying to live the gospel. And they’re they’re causing so much like pain and heartache from themselves because they believe that God’s disappointed in them. And what I want to say to missionaries too is like, Yo, you’re on a mission like, enough, like you don’t have like, you don’t have to be anything different than you are like, this was always the plan. And the plan was always that we would come here, we do all the things we do, and then Christ. Atonement is the rat. Yeah, if I could go back in time and talk to elder Francom 2001 to 2003. Like, you know, just these expectations are out there that nobody necessarily communicated to me, like being the youngest of two brothers who served a mission and were successful zone leaders, right? There’s this, this pressure of like, okay, I’ve got to serve at a certain level so that I get that that title, right. And guess what the title never came. And so then I begin, this is where the adversary steps in mean, like, well, that’s, you know, you just weren’t good enough. And it begins to attack the identity. And then I thought, maybe I’m not good enough. And that is exactly when we step into our own snare. And the adversary begins to unwind the grace of Jesus Christ. Yeah, that that doesn’t work for me. Yeah. Totally.

26:21 So can you talk to this idea? Because my husband and I have conversations endlessly about the difference between like faith or love and works, right? Yeah. Like, he tends to, like lean more towards the work side. And I tend to lean more towards like the faith and love side. And so I love this analogy that you share in the book about how there’s kind of a pendulum that goes between those two, but that, always in leadership and with ourselves, we should first swing to the left side of the pendulum. And there’s you explain the reason for all of that. Can you talk to that a little bit and help the listeners understand? Yeah, so I call this the gospel continuum, because these seem like contraries, right? That, okay, we’re saved by grace, but in God has no expectation. And so then why would we ever keep the commandments, or like, this seems almost like a dangerous message. Like, if I tell my missionary, that there’s no expectation of him serving two years and coming home, he may come home after two weeks, and I, and so many people will respond to be like, you know, I was raised in a way where there were a lot of expectations and look at me, I turned out like a good adult in society. And I’m right there with it, let me let me be very clear. Shame works. And it works very well. That’s why the adversary uses it. But but the, the God of the universe lives by a higher law of love, and will motivate us through love. So let me sort of break that down. And especially in a mission context, there’s a lot of expected behaviors and behaviors are important, they have a role in a reason. But anytime you are, you’re filling yourself form expectations of behaviors, or something’s being driven by behaviors, just walk carefully, because you are now entering the world of risking shame entering into the equation, anytime behaviors are in the works, shame is ready to jump in there. So as far as so on one side of this continuum, I have behaviors, right? These are keeping the commandments scripture study, every behavior you can think of right? And then on the other side of the continuum is the love, the grace, the acceptance, right. And so the point of the gospel is to be constantly moving on this continuum. And in fact, when you stop moving, that’s the problem, where some people can stop moving with behaviors, they get so stuck on behaviors, and this is often where I was as a missionary, like, Alright, I’m gonna, I’m not just gonna get like the the district goals of numbers, like they want us to contact 15 people a day, I’m going to do 30 a day, right. And so you begin to identify through your behavioral actions, and you get stuck on the behavioral side. And then you begin to interpret commandments, and goals and actions as a way to earn God’s love. And so we get stuck there.

29:17 However, on the other side of the continuum, there’s a lot of people get stuck on the left side of the continuum. And sometimes it’s hard for people to hear but often, especially in modern times, you’ll hear this like, oh, we just gotta love, love our kids just love them. Right? Like, just love our missionaries. That’s all you got to do. And I’m like, wait, timeout, that seems overly simplistic. And we’ve almost used it so much. It’s turned cliche and lost all meaning so, but you can get stuck on the left side, where you’re thinking, you think I’m just loving them, they can do whatever they want, like, No, you know, life is hard, but at least I’ll just love them. And that often doesn’t work. And so people say the gospel is all about love. And I would say, No, no, the Gospel begins with love. There’s a gravitational pull through the grace of Jesus Christ constantly beckoned you back to love. So when you get stuck on behavior side, God will disrupt and do things that will often pull you back to the love side where, for me, it’s in the little things like even on as a missionary when he did not make me a zone leader, he’s something I learned a great lesson than that of credit the other day, the title doesn’t matter me, like I love you, as much as I love the zone leader. So maybe come back to the love side of the continuum. And what happens when we go to the love Simon, when we feel the grace of Jesus Christ, when He turns to us and says, Jamie, like, I don’t care, like, Whatever you do in life, like I just love you completely. Today, like I accept you completely today. And this is often the charged term in our modern society of acceptance, or like, like, we want to say, Yeah, you know, Jesus, yeah, of course, he accepts you. But come on, like, let’s get on the mission. And we need you to serve a mission. And this is actually or go to college, or we need to do these things. Of course, we accept you. But no, no, like Jesus accepts you today. Even if you never changed, easy. I love you completely today, even if you never change and what happens as we learn about the how it’s defined on Church of Jesus christ.org grace of Jesus Christ is the enabling power of Jesus Christ.

31:26 So something becomes enabled in us because when I feel complete love from a God, regardless of my mistakes, my sins, anything I’ve done in life that is disappointing, and others, when I see him love me completely, I can’t help but turn to God and say, How do I become like you? And then he’ll say, Well, I’m glad you asked. Because I have a plan. I have this list of commandments and covenants. Now, be careful here, when you enter into these commandments and covenants, don’t think you’re trying to earn a place in my heart, you know, you have a place in my heart, that you will become something remarkable. And when I feel that love, I’m like, let me give me more commandments. This is all you got, I want more and more more commandments, I want more covenants. And suddenly, just as a covenant is it is a relationship with God, where he is mentoring me, coaching me, and develop me me into the disciple, and to the person I can become more like Jesus.

32:32 So in, in the world I live, I’m trying to swing back and forth on this continuum. Some days, I just need a lot of love. I need this an elder Holland talk where he wraps me in his arms, and he says, Kurt, you’re loved. And then I, you know, I listened to a beautiful Christian song or, you know, or him where I’m just enveloped in his love and other days. I’m like, Okay, I want to develop some things like what what could be my potential, if I could really get into the scriptures, like, some days, I need that Hebrew translation of this Bible verse, or whatever it is like to really get into the behaviors of it. But we can’t get stuck on this pendulum. That’s when disaster happens. Hmm. It’s such a beautiful idea and really resonated with me too, because one of the things you know, as a coach, too, we talk a lot about how emotion fuels action. And so this like idea of how, like if we can fully feel God’s love and fill ourselves up with love that that is what is going to be the momentum or the fuel that will carry us to want to take these behaviors. Whereas if we’re just going through the motion of these transactional behaviors, hoping to earn God’s love it it feels more like obligation or pressure or sometimes even. Right, like, I have to show up in this certain way. Otherwise, I I’ve missed out on something or I’m missing out on part of God’s love. Yeah. I love how you talk about that. But like, we got to start with the love and then that is the momentum or the fuel that will swing us to the other side. Yeah, let me put a little caveat in here for the parents that are listening know, there’s probably a lot of missionary parents that listen to your podcasts and, and they’re thinking, Okay, this is great and all but like, what, how do I do this? As a parent and believe me, I’ve got I’ve got three kids 11 year old girl, nine year old boy and four year old girl now my nine year old boy. He’s a tough kid for me. He I call him my Yoda because he was sent to this world to train me to be a better me. And he’s sometimes really difficult to parent. And I’m, you know, Mister podcast, boy, I’m a little bit verbose. I am vocal. And so I raised my voice at times, and I hate it when I do that. I don’t want to be that dad, right, because I know what it’s like to have a parent, a teacher that sometimes scrapes and it’s scary as as a child, and so I don’t want to be that debt. And so but like, how do I? How do I help that? Like, in my, in my mind, I just, I just want Taysom to go on a mission like I can’t help but hold that expectation because like I’ve talked about, it changed me, it was such a beautiful experience. And so how am I going to go through those high school years sort of without nudging me, man, like, the mission thing is sort of what we’re gonna do. All right, like whether you like it or not, but we get so caught up in our faith tradition of emphasizing the good behaviors, or the good expectations, like in a priests quorum, it’s hard not to say like, Hey, let me show you the mission because I love my mission, loved my mission, love, hey, you should love your mission, too, you should really go right. It’s hard to do that. But I challenge you, as as parents listening to, to just mention, and remove that expectation. For example, I plan throughout those developing years to tell my son about the miracles of my mission, what it did for me, personally, I’d love to have him listen to this episode and understand like, it changed me and it brought me to Jesus, and I loved it. But you could never serve a mission. And I’d still love you. I am completely okay with that. And if I’m not okay with that, I sort of question my belief and faith in the tone of Jesus Christ as if he can’t be saved completely or developed completely. Without that that mission. And so we do we do a lot of like, emphasizing either aggressively or passive aggressively those expectations, but try to just mention from time to time, that actually that expectation isn’t there. And what happens? This is we worship a paradox God. And absolutely, and so it feels like No, no, if I don’t encourage, it won’t happen. But actually, it has the opposite response, if they know it doesn’t matter to you, they will consider it more more deeply. Now, no, do it as sort of this, you know, reverse psychology like, oh, actually, I want them to go on a mission. So I’m gonna say there’s a North note, just that full acceptance, that full grace is going to swing them to the left side of the continuum. And when they’re on the love side continuum, they can’t help but consider deeply the behavior, the commandments side, side of the continuum.

34:07 Yeah, and I agree with you, I love this, you shared a pretty clear example of this about, you kind of talk a little bit about not just behaviors, but how outcomes which would maybe like, we focus a lot on outcomes, like I want my serve a mission or my daughter to serve a mission and, and all of these things, and you shared such a poignant, like experience that you had, with your, I think it was your nephew in the car. And, and you mentioned how you weren’t sure if he was going to go on a mission. But you use this example. And I want you to share it here in a second. But it was to, to illustrate this idea in the book where you say, we need to regularly communicate full acceptance, yes, regular. So instead of like, we need you to do this, we need you to like, even if we’re talking to like a mission leader who’s listening to this, instead of like, we need you to meet these goals. We need this many baptisms, like first and always, regularly communicate full acceptance. So can you share that experience with us? Yeah. So a few years ago, I was, I think my nephew came over, he had graduated high school, sort of in that phase of like, everybody’s sort of waiting, you’re gonna bring up the mission thing or what’s going on, right? And, and we’re off doing a task, and I just found myself driving down the road with him in my car. And I, you know, I obviously, I want to be a mentor, resource, positive voice in the lives of my nieces and nephews, just like any good uncle would want to be. And so I just talked about, you know, what his plans are? Are you doing school? Like, what do you think you want to study? Or what’s your plans? What’s your long term thing, just exploring without this, this heavy burden of like, well, there’s some expectations here that, you know, and so I brought it up, like, hey, no, I bet. You know, you’re sort of at that stage of life where people are expecting you to go on a mission. Like, I just want to recognize that that pressure, like I recognize that pressures there. But I want to be very clear that it’s not coming from me. And I just want you to know, like, if you ever need help, like processing that pressure, I’m willing to talk about it for me, like, whether you go on a mission or not like you’re my nephew and I just I just love you right? Now again, not that not to connect that conversation with what happened the feature because he did serve a mission. It did happen. But and I’m not saying that that propelled him there but it hopefully created some space in his mentalis spiritual mentality to consider it knowing that, you know, maybe I want to do mission for me and not necessarily for the pressures that are out there because that makes for a hard mission when you’re doing it just just for shame or the pressure of it. Only and what you’re saying, you know,

39:54 I work also with like, parents of missionaries and things like that and none of this is to say, right when we always regularly communicate full acceptance like that, that’s gonna be the thing that pushed, we have to do that from a place of like, This is who I want to be, I want to be the kind of person that regularly communicates full acceptance. And they get to choose from their right they choose. And the other thing that I think that is beautiful about this analogy, and the story that you’re sharing with us is, that’s how God is with us. Yeah, absolutely. And then let’s go over the rest, because it’s already made up for the rest, right? Yeah. Now, let me let me like, put another little caveat on that that story, or this dynamic of parenting or these relationships, we have, like, let’s say, my, my nephew took a different course. And he’s like, you know, I actually hate the church, he takes a left turn, and, you know, maybe he’s getting neck tattoos and, and joining gangs and doing drugs. And I don’t know, I mean, maybe he really goes down a path, right. And, and, but if we have a relationship established there, because I know that path, like any path away from Jesus is not going to work forever. Like, and I know that some people are out there listening like me, actually, I’m not really doing the Jesus thing, or the church thing is working for me, like, I promise you, at some point, you’re going to face something and mortality that will give you pause and wonder, okay, this isn’t working for me. So if my nephew came to me, maybe 1015 years later, and just in anguish, and wanting like, what what do I do, Kurt? Like, I don’t know what to do. Like, there’s never a point what I would not point him to Jesus Christ and say, Actually, I encourage you to try the, the covenant side of the continuum for a little bit, see how that goes. Because you’re actually going to find more love and more motivation, that’s going to swing you back to the love side of the continuum. And you’ll find healing and hope. And so this isn’t some laws, a fair form of parenting, or where the like, you never want to mention anything about like, you know, commandments or covenants at the end of the day, they work, they are a developmental mechanism that is successful. And, and so just know that like, that is still part of the conversation. But we don’t have to start there. Because the gospel doesn’t start with covenants. The Gospel starts with love, and then swings us back to competence. And it can be problematic, right? If we only focus on those behaviors, like they, we have to have the love, like cuz, you know, I work with some return missionaries, where it’s become so focused on the behaviors, their whole experience in the church and their whole experience after coming home. And I think you talk about this in the book at some point that can become so repellent, if it’s not coupled with love, it’s like, it feels hurtful to continue with those, because you’re almost like is this, this is how I earn it, but then you, you never really earn it and never feels like you’re earning it. So it kind of pushes you away. So that’s Yeah, this isn’t a fair fight. Like, we have to realize there is an adversary in this that is constantly striving to insert shame in everything we do. Even though, of course, it’s great to encourage your kids to go to church, of course, it’s great that they should serve admission, of course, it’s these behaviors are wonderful. However, they offer opportunities for the adversary to attack, and then in their minds, say, define them, or their relationship with parents and God, you know, because of these behaviors, so we have to be aware of it and make sure that okay, it looks like today, Tommy needs a whole lot of love. Or this year, he needs a whole lot of love. Or maybe this decade, he may not serve a mission. But actually I’m okay with that. Because maybe in his 30s when he gets married and has a kid look in his eyes and say, What’s God, he’s going to suddenly have to really articulate those things in a way that push them back towards towards covenants. Yeah. And the thing that kind of comes to mind too, is this idea is like, I’m thinking of this example. Like, some weeks, my daughters go to mutual and some weeks, like I just see their pain and they’re so stressed out and I’m like, Listen, you don’t have to today because it’s not about mutual, it’s about me, it’s about how I love you. It’s how you need to care for yourself. And that love comes naturally.

44:32 Okay, as we start to kind of wrap up here, um, you have interviewed hundreds of people on leadership, and you have all these videos and forums and your core leader library and all of that. It’s one of the things I hear pretty regularly from missionaries. It’s like, oh, my gosh, I’m a district leader. I don’t know what to do or not some leader or an AP. I mean, I think that there’s mission leaders who are also listening to this podcast and I worked with one over the summer before they left. And they were like, Oh my gosh, what do I do now that I’m in this leadership position, it can feel very intimidating. So I’m just wondering whether from your book or just from the experience that you, you know, have and also in your book, there is a whole chapter on like, leadership with love. But what do you have for us with all of your experience? And it sounds like, last years of like, studying Leadership and Learning, what would you share with people? Yeah, well, you know, I love this dynamic of mission leadership, because it really is the first taste that missionaries get about these dynamics of, you know, you know, of different levels of leadership of, of okay, that what does it mean to be a district leader, zone leader, you know, what’s my relationship between me and my mission president, and I remember getting that call as the district leader, and sort of the extra pressure, you know, and I’ve got to serve super well, I’ve got to do things even, you know, it’s not just the the 15 or 30 contacts, there you go. 250, you know, and so there’s these these pressures, there’s a few dynamics that come to mind is not that there’s any order here, but this?

46:19 Well, I’ll say this one first is, as far as that, that personal relationship, the one to one relationship of everybody you lead, it’s so easy to sort of turn into the mission bureaucrat that’s sort of just passing down the message of, well, the assistant said this, or, you remember what the mission president said, we got to do that, and you know, perfect obedience, and on and on, you can get sort of caught up in that. But to actually have a one to one relationship with those that you lead is crucial. So if you do nothing else, and then there’s probably feels like a ton of expectations as a leader, like, you know, I gotta, I gotta behave in so many different ways. But if there’s one thing you could do, is have regular one to one connection with those that you lead and really hear their story don’t just, you know, jump to like, Well, how’d this week go looks like your numbers little down. They’d be like, you know, Elder Johnson, like, what what was your What was your thing in high school? You’re were you the jock? Are you the gamer? I mean, what was your thing like, really get to know them and create space for those relationships to develop, because when push comes to shove, and you do have those goals, or you do have those, you know, quote, unquote, expectations, you know, we can’t get rid of them completely. You know, they because they come from other people. But when you need a march into battle with somebody, they will follow you into battle. And I love you can study in Alma, the relationship that the captain Moroni had with his armies to the point that when they were began to fail, he simply pointed to the vision, the title of liberty, and to see it shift in in those in those soldiers that followed captain Moroni, because I’ve no doubt he had a relationship with them. He, they bought into his vision, because they knew they would look at Kevin Rona and probably say that he knows me. He’s my guy, he knows me and where I come from, and you know what’s hard, and then, you know, being if there’s other Elder Francom out there that are struggling, they’re more likely to end up if they’re given that space.

48:23 The next thing I’ll say is there is that you also get the first taste of this concept of aspiring, like, that was my experience, whether you like it or not, I was sort of there have been like, Okay, I gotta be good missionary, I gotta get the title. So when I come home, and this is this is a future book that may come out but in my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring now that may not sit well with with some people and I don’t know about that. We’ll just just think about this. In all the generations of time when we go back to the beginning, who was the very first person to ever aspire to a calling and it was Jesus Christ. Here am I send m. There’s nothing wrong of desiring leadership. There’s nothing wrong of wanting influence because God put into you a heart of a leader. And so it’s an identity. Now that calling may or may not come to you that title, however, what I love, you know, I spent, you know, five years as a bishop and then a few years in the State presidency, and it was a remarkable experience being in that position with that influence. But now it’s sort of intriguing intriguing challenge for me because I think okay, I’m I’m maybe done with those those callings I make I’m not in them currently. But I wonder if I could have a similar influence of in my ward, right. So I challenge missionaries if they’re not, if they’re not in those roles, I challenge you like how could you have just as much influence without the title? Maybe you? Yeah, you do take some time to get to know the other elders or sisters in, in your district or you spend a little more time like sharing your talents and being more helpful and you begin to find ways that have influenced for good. And you become just such a, an influence for many missionaries who may be struggling or they will look to you as a mentor. So you do not need that calling that title to be a leader, but we’re all leaders just like before the Savior had his title. he aspired to lead. I love it. And, and I love this idea of influence. It’s, it’s something I say to like clients and stuff, too. I’m like, now you can be a voice. Now that you understand you can be a voice like it’s okay. To struggle, it’s okay to feel, you know, and just like continuing to share your talents, your gifts and that love. Yeah, is can be so powerful, whether you’re in the calling or not.

50:57 So because shame, I just have a couple other questions for you. But shame is a pretty big focus of the book. And you talk about the shame trap and how shame attacks identity. It really resonated with me, because that’s one thing I hear a lot from missionaries, like, either a bad missionary or if I am feeling a certain way, then there’s something wrong with me and right, those are attacks on our. So do you have any just like, in the trenches, like helpful things, too, like when when you find your brain kind of going here to like, there’s something wrong with me, I’m a bad missionary, this is why I didn’t meet this goal is because because I’m Brad. Just quick, like, quick takeaways, someone listening to this could kind of implement in their day to day experiences. Yeah, I would say simply, awareness is really three fourths of the bat, the battle, just being aware of it. And when you when you feel like a thought or a feeling that is connected to identity, right, you can stop and say, I think I am being attacked or influenced by the officer because I’m being turned to these negative thoughts of identity. And this is the beauty of our theology is the pinnacle of our spiritual experience here and mortality is the temple. And what do you go to the temple for you go to be endowed with an identity. Like it’s beautiful. And so I love the passage in Moses, where the adversary came tempting. And, and in the atmosphere, we will we’re most often than not, he’ll attempt through identity statements, right? So he’s convincing Moses, he’s awful. And how does Moses respond? He says, Behold, I am a son of God. He responds with an identity statement. So whenever you feel those those thoughts come on, the one step is awareness being like, Oh, I’m aware that I’m sort of in this soup of shame right now. Then everybody’s getting the accolades. And I’m really trying hard, but nothing is working out. Maybe there’s something wrong with me like, Oh, that is an identity statement, negative one. There’s the adversary at work here. So I will respond with an identity statement that I am the Son of God, consider the name you receive in the temple and go study that possibly in the Scriptures. And look for identity statements related to that name, and that is who you are, you are a child of God endowed with power from on high. I mean, I’ve got the Superman cape for those that are watching video I got the Superman cape for me, that’s my Superman Cape from when I was a young boy, my mom gave it to me, I went round when I went to the supermarket with my mom went under my clothes, just in case crime broke out because it was an identity at a young age. Not because you know, little boys like superheroes. But God comes to little boys, through stories of heroes to teach us at a young age before we can read the scriptures, that you are a superhero, that you have an identity from another world from a divine being. And so what can stop you because you are ordained of God? Yeah, I love that. And it reminds me of something else you said earlier, like, because we’ve heard that so much. And we’ve heard like, Jesus is our Savior. But like, really? It’s like you want to be like No really? Like no really, really are a son or daughter of God and no, like actually, Jesus took care of all of it.

54:32 Like actually believe it so good. Yeah. So if you guys get the book and I highly recommend everybody should go get this book or or download it wherever the audio where’s the audio gonna be? Yeah, so it’s all available on Amazon or audible to I read the whole whole book in my voice if, if you’re okay. So, yeah, the books available there depending on when this releases if it’s all up for presale right now, if it’s before the launch date in February, and or it’ll be on Amazon or audible and Yeah, jump in and get just come on the journey. Like, if you’re just really struggling in life with how to contextualize the gospel, like, it just seems so hard and like I walk out of church more, more burden than hopeful, like a step into this, this framing of God’s grace. And I think you’ll realize what messages come from satan and which ones are coming from a graceful God that has nothing but encouragement to say to us, and I hope it will help. Awesome. Yeah, when I was listening to the audio book you actually include so it all wraps up with this, like video clip of that soundbite of you helping your it was your daughter, right? Yeah, yeah. So walk and how this was such like a an impactful like moment for you to see how God sort of sees us and it on in the audio book, you’re like, I cry every time I watch this video, and here I am crying listening to you watching. Yeah, so just with all of that in mind, and this analogy of like, our God being there, like in our corner, helping us to learn to walk, he’s never disappointed. Like, what do you hope people come away with with this book? And then the last question I’ll have for you. Is there anything else that you want to offer that comes to mind? I mean, we’ve got you know, mission leaders listening, we’ve got early returned missionaries listening, we’ve got service missionaries listening like anything you want to say, Yeah, well, I would definitely point people to leading saints of wherever they’re listening to this podcast, they can find it’s red logo, and especially those serving out there in the trenches. Like, I love to hear from you, as far as whether things that are working, or maybe unique circumstances you’ve come across that are really tricky. And whether I have the answers for those, I just appreciate knowing what’s happening in the trenches, you know, because I can’t be in all those places. But I know that those problems were real. So I would love to, to hear from from them. They’re so I guess the final in relation to the book and the message there.

57:14 I just like what what what if they just step in this reality with me? What if God like loved you completely? And like, he’s not even disappointed in anything you’ve done? Like, what would that do for you? And so I just invite you like, you’re gonna read this book, and there’s gonna be several basketball? Well, Kurt, I disagree with you there. But that’s fine. I would rather you come into this message, and maybe get you thinking, even if you disagree with everything, at least you have a better understanding of why you may do. But what if you stepped in and every time you engage with the gospel with God, and you knew that he was just like the largest, most eternal cheerleader, in the ethos that was encouraging on from the distant corners of heaven, like, just keep going, like, I’m right here with you. I’ve never ever beat this disappointed you. And I feel that just like you mentioned, like listening to the story, my daughter, the reason it makes me cry, and even you who maybe don’t even know my daughter, because it hits the core of what, what makes us who we are our eternal identity that, yes, it’s so familiar. Like, that’s, that’s the God. That’s a God, we knew that we walked with it that sent us here. And I think he wants me to keep going. So just keep going and know that that God was never ever disappointed in you.

58:30 It’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful message. So people can find you were at Leading Saints leading saints.org. And you know, there’s the newsletter there, I send out a weekly message that we do two episodes a week, where I interview everyday leaders about how they lead and then we do a deep dive on a certain topic on on Saturdays and there’s just so much there. Just jump in and reach out if you have any questions. Or if we publish our six most listened to, I think they’re, I guess our nine most listened to episodes on our homepage. So those are good jumping off points. Beautiful podcasts so much. Good. So thank you so much for writing this beautiful book. And it really had an impact on me and everybody. Thank you. Beautiful, beautiful book. Thank you so much.

59:18 Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can present a unique set of challenges, and many of those challenges you might not even see coming. So you’re gonna want a unique set of solutions. It’s easier than you think to overcome worry and anxiety, serve the successful mission you’ve always dreamed up and navigate your post mission experience with confidence. That is why I created some amazing free goodies that I’m sharing in my show notes. Maybe you’ll want to grab the free training for preparing missionaries might video course for RMS or maybe you and I should hop on a free strategy call. If you’re ready to take your preparedness to serve or your preparedness to come home,to the next level, then go grab one of those freebies. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in, just know that Jennie the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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