Untapped Church Podcast is an outflow of the book “Untapped Church,” by Derek Sanford. The goal of this podcast is twofold:

1. To inspire volunteer leaders to step into high-capacity leadership roles in their church/organization no matter…

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Welcome to the untap church podcast where I’m going to spotlight the great work that’s being done by volunteer leaders to help inspire other volunteer leaders. We’ll talk about what they do for a real job, what they do for volunteer job and you’ll get to hear about interesting careers that you may have never known about as well as actionable principles to help you with your volunteer work. This first season we will be highlighting high capacity volunteer leaders from Grace Church, who’ve all been spotlighted in my book called untapped church. If you’d like more information on anything around this subject, you can visit my website Derek sanford.com. And obviously, if this podcast is helpful to you, please first of all subscribe to it so that you can get all the latest episodes of but then also like and share and comment. All of those things help us to reach a broader audience. Today I’m joined by Jim scar pity he’s 65 years old, very recently retired accountant he was a partner and CPA at Maloney read scar, pity and company. And when your name is on the wall, you know your big deal. So he’s lived in a town called Edinboro, Pennsylvania, on the outskirts of Erie County here for the past 43 years. Jim now serves in a volunteer role as our pastor of pastors and is also the pastor of one of our weekend venues called the commons service, which is a congregation of about 120 people, you may learn a little bit about the captivating and juicy world of accounting today. And I hope you’ll also be able to speak or the will be able to speak directly to volunteers who may be in kind of a pastoral role. And so Jim, welcome to the podcast. It’s good to be here. Appreciate you being here, man. Do you know what the difference is between an accountant and a lawyer? I do not okay. The accountant knows he’s boring. This is fun, sir. Yeah. And here’s, here’s the one more okay, what do you call an accountant who speaks to one person a day, you know, no popular. But here’s the deal. You are not like these typical accountants, you’re incredible. I’m sure you’re a numbers guy at some level, but you’re incredible people person at the same time, which I appreciate so much about you, you’ve had a massive impact on our church. And, and specifically in this high capacity volunteer concept. You have been in so many different roles over the years and served our church so faithfully. So thank you for that. I can’t wait to get into that a little bit. But first, I want to talk about your real job, accountant. And again, I’m teasing around this accountant thing because everybody associates numbers with boring, right? So can you describe kind of this mysterious occupation to many of us, and to people like outs who are not accountants tell us what accountants do for?
Well, there probably are accountants that deal with numbers a lot. But one of the cool things about being a public accountant is that you actually do spend most of your time talking and supporting folks more than a consultant type of way than a numbers way. And so numbers are important in the business world, but But likewise, our caring for people and encouraging people to grow in their in their expertise and helping them make better decisions.
Yeah, so you you work with like, business owners, private individuals, different people like that. I mean, that that’s kind of your client base
that that really is from from, from individuals, but but also in the business world. And I do a lot of real estate, work with folks. And so just just a really great opportunity to, to encourage people in their in their walk.
Yeah, I mean, you’ve you’ve you’ve kind of taken on almost a pastoral role, whatever, whatever you do in your own life.
Well, and that happens somewhat naturally. Yeah, you know, that people tend to trust their accountant. Interesting. And so it’s really it’s a it’s an open door, which is kind of cool.
That’s that’s really true. I mean, that will you say that out loud to us like that. We live in a world that people probably trust our accountants more than they trust their pastor.
There would be sadly, some.
Oh, that’s, that’s interesting. Yeah. So what kind of was a typical day now you’re recently retired, so we just need to be clear about that. So it was we’re talking about this year.
And but still some of that, you know, especially with COVID, there’s been this transition has been difficult for all, lots of people. Yeah. And so I still am going in on a fairly regular basis, just trying to encourage my staff and to support the clients that have been taken over. So but a typical day is meeting meeting with people a lot, a lot of time on the phone or in the room with somebody and a lot of opportunities to to explain a situation to to a banker, or to somebody like that, that helps that client move forward.
Yeah, that’s great. So tell us a little tell us a story. Spin us a yarn here, a few some behind the scenes accountant, stuff that has happened to you over the years for
One of my favorite ones I always loved early on, a woman in her 80s walked into my office and asked me if I could review her tax return for and I said, Well, why are you sure? I’d be glad to do that. And she was, well, how much will it cost? I said, Well, I just bake me some cookies when we’re all diamond. So she hands me his tax return ended up being one of the most complicated returns I’ve ever looked at. She’s in her, I think she’s 85 at the time. And so but I do it, I committed to that. And she, you know, she gets pays me with cookies. And next year, she doesn’t even ask, she just comes over with a plate of cookies and her tax returns. And so we, we ended up becoming pretty good friends, she She trusted me, she trusted another fellow actually was an attorney. And one day she said to us, if if anything ever happens to me, make sure you go into the basement of my house. And, you know, we kind of met a mental note of that. And sure enough, a few years later, she falls and he reaches out to me and says, Hey, you know, this woman file and we better stop over and really check in the basement, we go down in the basement of a house. And it’s got a dirt floor. And there’s nothing except some some containers and some empty canning jars and and we saw nothing down here. And we start up the steps. And I said to him, I said, you know, we should probably look inside those containers. And they’re like, oh, pickled barrels, I guess. And we took off the canning jars off the top and lift up the pickle barrels and found $850,000 of cash. We didn’t have know how much it was it was in these big, big bags of some more paper bags. And so we just kind of gathered them all up and hand it over to the local bank and gathered with the bankers and we counted away for about three and a half.
Oh my goodness. So. So what did you do? Tell me take me to that moment. What was your What was your reaction? Did you guys
say there was a there was a major surprise, come to find out later that she didn’t trust banks. So never married, her dad left her with some investments and and she would get her dividend checks and walk over to the bank and cash it and, and put them down in the barrels. But when she said look, look in the face. I’m thinking we’re gonna find a couple 100 bucks and wow. So it was quite an interesting story. And lots of good has come from that. They formed a foundation and and people have been blessed by her.
Wow. Yeah. That’s great. So my great grandmother, we called her granny, she had a similar view of the banks. And so we always knew hers was she had a big huge stack of cash wrapped in foil and her Lazy Susan, oh my. That’s where we knew to live when granny needed to pay us for mowing the lawn or whatever she sent us over to the Lazy Susan. That’s great. Anyway, great. All right. So how would how would the world I want to stay in a accounting thing? Just for a minute? How would the world be different if people weren’t doing what you do for your job?
Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think that my hope would be that that’d be that’d be one less anxiety. You know, one of the greatest things I’ve got to experience in my latter years of accounting was meeting with older folks who felt that they didn’t have enough money to quit working or that they couldn’t slow down and just being able to point out to them that, that you have the ability to do that. And these are the reasons why and to see that light bulb go off in their head. Those Those have been big wins. I also I hope that there’s there’s less waste as a result, you know, people don’t make decisions that ultimately, they would spend more money than they would generate or that they would lose lose the ability of helping somebody because they thought they couldn’t afford it.
Yeah, that’s really good. Yeah, that’s, that’s excellent. Jim, thanks for sharing with us about that. So talk about your your journey into this volunteer world here at Grace, the high capacity volunteer world again, I said at the beginning, you know, you’ve served in a lot of different roles over the years. And in fact, I still tell stories about you from time to time from other roles. Because you were the one that was the I wrote about it in the book a little bit the the site pastor at our largest campus at one time walking in on the staff meeting that was full of all volunteer staff and one part time worship leader, leading a site of about 1000 people. So you know, you’ve done a bunch of stuff, what was how did you? What kind of opened you up in the first place to kind of do something like that while you were still working? Sure. I’m sure.
I have to give credit a lot of credit for that. Because after after vetting me out, I seem seemed like forever. I remember coming to grace, actually, in the very first Sunday, I introduced you to my wife who had taught Sunday school all of her life. And in the very next week, she was signed up to volunteer and the kids willing. Meanwhile, I had been involved in leading life groups at another church for a number of years. And I couldn’t even lead a life group
for a few months. Yeah, we put you through the paces. Yeah.
I think that was really a healthy thing to do to make sure that make sure we were in the right spot. But you invited me in and said you had a, you had this concept you wanted to start of having kind of a group of people, volunteers help with, with life groups. I think at the time later on, there was another invitation to be part of setting up a site, Pastor team at our at our site. And both of those things were the thing that really, really kind of grabbed me was that it wasn’t a matter of Hey, Jim, we want you to do this, it was a gym, we have this idea, what do you think, and you kind of let me kind of champion those those efforts, which which really, ultimately led to this current position of Pastor, Pastor, the staff, paid staff, because, you know, there was there was a, there was a sense in your mind with things going out and going on in the world, some of the choices that pastors were making, right, and leaders were making, that it might be good to have someone on staff that didn’t report directly to anybody, but had the opportunity to care for the staff and, and invest in their lives and, and be a place where they could go if if for some reason they couldn’t go to their supervisor. Yeah. And so it’s just really it’s been a been a really honor to, to work with them, especially in a season that we’ve been in. Yeah. Because I don’t care. If someone says they weren’t affected, I think everyone has been affected. It’s true.
Yeah. And I and I do really appreciate that, that you’ve been really kind of a, you know, an independent voice and independent presence almost that, obviously, you’re connected here to the church in a profound way. But, but you’re also I think, I think the fact that you’re not paid actually gives you some additional credibility. Because, you know, essentially, you’re, you’re not, you’re not taking a salary from me, if, you know, people would frame it that way. And so, you know, there’s, there’s no obligation there for, you know, for you to report back to me or anything like that. Right.
I think I would agree with you at the same time, which is what, which I think you comment, I know, you comment on this in your book, we’re, I’m treated almost as though I am paid. And that really gives you a sense of value, if you will. Okay. I remember early on, you know, having to kind of let let let our staff lead know that I was going to go on vacation. Right? Some people would say that was that’s kind of weird. But for a
volunteer to basically applying for vacation.
I filled out those forms, right. But it really it adds value to the position.
Yeah, well, not only that, I mean, there’s a practical reason for that. Because when your role is so big here, it’s like, we need to know when you’re gonna be gone. You know what I mean? Because it’s like, yes, there is a value, a value statement there. But there’s also a practical thing of just saying, what are we going to do while you’re gone? Because what you do here is so valuable. Talk about your current role a little bit more. I know, you talk about being a pastor, to a pastor, to our staff, essentially. What does that entail? What kind of stuff? Are you doing that, that? You know, that as you go through a week, or go through a day, you know, what are some of the things that you’re doing as a part of that job?
Sure. Well, I think I wish I could do more. And maybe we always, I think in this ministry, that’s always the case. Right. But I do have the privilege of meeting with, with staff individually to encourage them in their walk with Christ to encourage them in their marriages. We have a relatively young staff. I think that’s still true, right? Yeah. I don’t want to make sure it’s not just from my perspective.
Yeah, they’re all younger than you.
There was a day where that wasn’t true. But I think we have one guy, I think he’s in the book.
Yeah. Vernie he’s, yeah.
Yeah, God bless him. But anyhow, I marriage is so important to me, I think I think that we are God when God puts you together with with your spouse, the opportunity to minister to share his love and grace with everyone just, I think kind of quadruples or just expands exponentially. And, and so it’s not easy. It’s not easy. I have a little saying that. I think I actually created this one. I didn’t steal it from that unlike birthdays, anniversaries don’t come automatically. And and I just I believe that to the core that involves working Balsam ever. And the cool thing is, most people want their marriage to be better, even if it’s good. They want it to be better. And and I don’t have any extra wisdom but i i Once I once shared somebody’s story at a at a wedding when they said what what made you have your marriage perfect. Five years, and they said, we always made sure when we argued we argued naked. And I think I’m not sure that’s quotable. But But
Well, you just did.
I don’t offer that kind of counseling. But I do. I do enjoy listening. And I do and I and I have found over and over again that when when when people talk about their marriage or talk about their life or talk about work, that that more often than not, they they teach themselves with the next one, what the right next step is, yeah, super blessing to me is our marriage. We’ll be married 45 years in December, has grown. It gets better every day. And it’s because I walk away from those conversations, and realize that there are things I could do better as
a result. That’s excellent. That’s excellent.
Lots of times, people do come to me, I shouldn’t. But people will come when, when there’s something they don’t understand. Maybe they’ve talked to their supervisor, and their supervisors done their best at giving an answer, but they’re not ready to, then they don’t maybe they don’t like it or whatever. Yeah. And again, 99% of the time, you know, you kind of point out, maybe just just just say, well, maybe your supervisor thinks this or maybe they’re walking through this. And and on their own, they’ll realize that, that yeah, you know, I need to give this another shot. Yeah. And, and most of the time, it seems to work out.
That’s great. Yeah, I will say, I mean, it’s just, you know, we’ve been talking about it as if you’re a pastor, to our staff, I just want to say, I mean, you’ve been the pastor to me, many, many times, because you do this, not just for our staff, but for me, too. And for I mean, it’s everybody on our staff, and you know, it pastoring and leading can be a lonely place. We’ve talked about this before, and to, you know, to have somebody like you who’s just really good at being present, listening and offering wise counsel. It’s just a, it’s a huge blessing, Jim. So I really, really appreciate what makes it fulfilling for you. I mean, you just shared a couple of things. But yeah, was there anything else that you’d say? That’s just like a fulfilling story? Or if you know, what makes it enjoy? Yeah,
for sure. For sure. I think of I think of several things, one, one is, again, just seeing seeing marriages blossom, if you will, seeing people’s stay staying in the game. You know, that’s always a challenge. And you’ve recently spoken or other people spoke on how difficult that’s been, I think we attended a leadership summit together just last couple weeks ago. And that seemed to be the theme from every speaker. To see people flourish with their gifts, because because they’ve been able to just by sharing, not because the necessary thing I’ve said, just by sharing with someone who cares, you know, their struggles, they’ve been able to walk through and make better choices. And those better choices have led to them being being able to use their gifts in a way that glorifies God. Yeah, I think that’s huge. It’s awesome. You know, from a, from a personal perspective, again, it’s the marriage thing or, or just the, just the ability to communicate better. In fact, and I’ve been I’ve grown from this, I have to tell you a story just happened. Recently, I started to use a local restaurant on a regular basis to meet with folks and there was more space. And yeah, it was real friendly place. And there was one waiter in particular that didn’t didn’t rub me the right way. I just there was something about him, you know, and I just wished he wouldn’t wait. I mean, this one day, man, he waited on waiting on the gentleman I was with, and I and the gentleman’s who goes to grace, I confessed. I said, I just I don’t sound about this guy. And doesn’t he say to the guy when it comes up? Hi, my name is Jay. What’s your name? And then you do says me to him. And, and that that conversation? I actually like when he waits on us now, I mean, or when it comes to the table, because he brought he pointed out to me things that I try to remember, but I don’t always remember myself, who knows where he’s at in life. Maybe he’s doing this job, because he can’t find a real job that you really would like, yeah. And it was just so encouraging. That’s great.
So I want to say another thing, Jim, just about you being on staff, because one of the things that I wrote about in the book was just the importance of creatively thanking high capacity volunteers. And so this isn’t to toot our own horn or anything, but just because I have you on here. I want to be helpful to people who are thinking about doing this in their own church. But you know, one of the things with your particular occupation that we tried to do a number of different years was to thank you at tax time. And not only to thank you, but to try to thank your whole office for sharing you with the church from time to time. So you know, in the in the weeks leading up to April 15, we would sometimes send in some food or some, you know, fruit trays or whatever so that your staff knew that we appreciated not only you, but with them for sharing you with us. Yeah. Again, just to plant some seeds for some ideas about how you can thank people
who and I hope people that have that ability to do that would listen, because that not only encouraged me, but it was a huge encouragement to our staff, and a reflection of the church. And so I always look forward to that. Because, because I can remind them of how how caring really we are as a church.
That’s cool. All right. So I want to talk to, there may be church staffs or volunteers listening right now who may be in a kind of a pastoral or shepherding role, because that’s, obviously what your role is. And so I want to, with each of these give people some tangible kind of practical leadership principle takeaways from these. And so from your position in kind of a pastoral role. Let’s talk about a couple of actionable ministry principles that apply to your volunteer position.
That’s great, I’d love to do that. You know, I, I recently read a book by Mark Colston, where he one of his chapters was entitled, be more interesting. Did than interesting, more interested than interesting. And I, I just love to listen. And so I don’t know that that’s something I have to work at, although, with technology and with, you know, my phone beeping, when I’m in the middle of a conversation or something, it does require some effort at times, but, but love to listen and, and realize that, that, that if you can, if you can ask open ended questions, and, and just pay attention to the answer that can lead people to, to, to sharing things and, and lead us both to a direction that is going to be better for everyone. Yeah,
that’s great. And I mean, I think I’ll just weigh in here. I mean, I think you you do this so well. And I mentioned, you know, we’ve been in plenty of these settings before where you’ve just been checking in with me on things. And the thing that I will say about a person who, who lives out this principle, and I’m thinking people might be listening, who are life group leader, or small group leaders at their church, or, you know, in some sort of even a ministry, leadership role, or pastoral role, this whole this whole idea of being more interested than interesting, it’s so often, people just want to turn the conversation back to themselves, or to make it seem like I, you know, well, you went through that, well, I went through this and they can’t kind of one up your whatever. One of the things, Jim, that you do so well, that is lived out in this principle is just that this idea of saying, you make the person you’re talking to feel so important and valued. And it’s not really anything that you’re saying. It’s more you’re attending your your your posture, your attending your questions, that that just make the other person feel so valuable. So I think it is such a, like you said, in this day and age, such an important principle, and everybody’s trying to be a superstar, and everybody’s trying to be a, you know, an influencer or whatever, that man, there’s something to be said for being more interested than interesting. Wow. So thanks for
Him, praise God. But I I’m the benefactor of it, because I learned I learned and I think I behaved better in other circumstances as a result.
Yeah. Talk about a second principle.
The second principle to me is that that everybody has stuff. And it’s so easy. In fact, I remember I remember, for years, I would walk by you, and think, I hope he likes what I’m doing. Okay. And then the reality is, you probably had another meeting you are going to be doing and you had to prepare your message for that weekend. And you might have thought there’s a nice guy for a second, but that probably wasn’t the number one concern on your, in your mind as to how you know. So. So it can be it can be as simple as that, like, you know, thinking that everybody is worried about you, but more importantly, the reality that life is just difficult. People, people have people in their lives that are causing stress for them. People have health issues that that I have no knowledge of that might affect somebody, by example, in the restaurant, you know, people maybe are in a career that isn’t a career that they want to be in and not to say that that isn’t for that person. But maybe and and, and so, I think to always, always go into a conversation knowing that that you don’t know what’s on that other what’s happening on the other end.
That’s really good. You know, I think the The phrase, there’s a famous quote out there, you know that everybody’s fighting a battle that you can’t see. And I think I think that goes along with what you’re saying here that everybody has stuff, that there’s this, just under this, you know, we’ve all seen the picture of the iceberg, you know, in the water, and the tip of the iceberg is all the stuff that you can see. But underneath the water, there’s all of the hopes and dreams and fears and anxieties and depressions and health issues and all the stuff that we don’t really present. But man, it’s going on under there. And I think, you know, as you say, just from like a pastoral principle, that walking into every encounter, knowing that that’s true, knowing that what, what we’re saying back and forth here is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a there’s a bigger iceberg going on under there is is is a very powerful pastoral principle, I think.
And I think it helps it helps me in my walk too, because yeah, because it’s very easy for me when I see somebody do something that just makes no sense whatsoever. To judge. Yeah, and, and, and often I still do
my gym, you’re perfect. You’re 65 and perfect. got
it nailed. Ask Susan. How? Susan. Yeah,
but she’ll say that you’re perfect. Yeah,
she’ll say I’m a real person. And so yeah, we, it just it just it just, it’s just the thing that we I think we could all yeah, do better.
Yeah. Agreed. So two great principles. Jim, thank you be more interested than interesting. And know that everybody has stuff that every encounter that you’re walking into, there’s usually something beneath the surface. So hey, thanks so much for sharing with us today. I have a couple rapid fire questions. Cool. We’re not gonna we’re not going to expand on them. Just boom, boom, boom, ready? Okay. What’s the latest book that you’ve read?
Mark Homer’s the ruthless? Elimination of hurry. Great one, right.
Was that impactful? Yes. My
wife asked me what I’ve learned so far. We’re not we’re not going to expand.
Okay, that’s right. Who is the person the Bible you most relate to?
James? I love his name.
There’s always named after you. Yeah.
Yeah. lots lots of lots of good stuff on listening and doing that’s good.
worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten. I’ll leave your bags at the door.
Unemployed boss of mine once thought I was too emotional at work and, and I think are too personal. And I think it’s really important to
to be personal, folks. That’s great. What’s your favorite thing to do on a date night?
Walk with my wife, I guess a better view of my wife is the day night walk an ice cream?
Ice cream? All right, good. McDonald’s or another.
McDonald’s is good, because the price is right. Often someplace, there’s the
accountant. Okay, what’s the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen?
I’m sorry to be corny. But my wife, man, you know, 45 years. And she looks better now than she does before.
That’s awesome. Jim. Hey, thank you so much for the impact that you’ve had on our church through your servant leadership. And for these incredible high capacity roles that you’ve served in here. You’ve made an eternal difference in so many lives. And so guys, if this conversation has been helpful for you, I would encourage you again to like and to share, and to comment wherever you’re listening to this podcast so that more people can hear it. And we’ll see you next time on tap church.