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Freedom From Performance with Emmanuel Akinfenwa

In this episode of the Soul Work podcast, Ify Alexis Lee is joined by Emmanuel Akinfenwa, an apostle, church planter, podcaster, fashion designer, husband, and father. They discuss the importance of doing ministry without experiencing burnout and serving God from the inside out. Emmanuel emphasises the value of being real and honest, and shares his passion for podcasting. Tune in for an impactful and powerful conversation on building God's church and oneself without compromising integrity.


00:00 IFY Hey everyone, welcome back to the Soulwork podcast with me, Ify Alexis Lee. Over here we are all about doing the inner work, doing the soul work, the most important work of healing, wholeness, growth, defining, refining and all of that good stuff. On today's episode, I am joined by Emmanuel Akinfenwa. He serves the body of Christ as an apostle. He is a church planter, a podcaster, a fashion designer, a husband to one wife, and a father to two beautiful girls. And he is committed to raising up the sons and daughters of God to fulfill their God-given mission. So lean in to this episode. It is going to be impactful and powerful. Enjoy. Emmanuel, thank you so much for agreeing to be on this podcast. Like, honestly, when I was thinking about this topic, you were the person I had in mind, just to talk about ministry, building God's church, building yourself as well, you know, ministry, but without the burnout. I think I pray that we're a generation that does away with the ministry, but with all the scandals or the ministry, but with, you know, personal, public, private failure, you know, but just really serving God from the inside of who we are. So yes, Emmanuel, introduce yourself a little bit so we can know who you are exactly.

01:25 EMMANUEL Hey guys, first of all, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure for me. I'll start off by saying This is me. I prefer to just have conversation. I prefer being real. I prefer being honest. That's my brand. That's my identity. That's what a lot of people know me for. So first of all, I'm happy to be on here. This is the kind of space that if God ever gave me an opportunity, it's probably one of the first things I'd love to focus on more so for podcasting. But yeah, I mean, I'm a faithful husband to one. I'm a father to two beautiful girls, senior leader of City Worship London. I co-founded it with my brother and my wife by God's grace. By God's grace he has gifted me with many abilities. I do fashion, I do podcasting as well, I do community activism and most importantly I think For me, to sum me up, I'm just a man that loves God, that's passionate about God and just wants to hang around people, just be a man of the people, not in a sense of craving attention per se, but just to be a man that's known amongst the people, being a community man. So yeah, that's me.

02:51 IFY I love that something in what you said reminded me of like in the New Testament when these believers would kind of go around and they would have to have some sort of sign of their apostleship and you know something to say that I was baptized under this person, I was discipled by this person etc and then Paul says like you are my epistles, you are my proof of my apostleship and I think When I think about ministry, I always think about who do people say that you are, like, who do people define you and see you as? And I think Emmanuel, you're someone that I've always heard is, is real, you know, straight, no chaser, you know, you don't like to pad things up. And I feel like that is the kind of person that I like to talk to you. You know, I don't want the politicians answer. I don't want to be around bushes if we don't have to. So I think a sign that you are walking with God is really what people say about you. And I think your heart speaks. So I'm excited to get into today's topic. Before we get there, I've got a few, you know, quick questions I didn't send you just to kind of, you know, get to know you a bit better.

03:52 EMMANUEL No worries.

03:53 IFY If you could, what superpower would you have?

03:58 EMMANUEL Oh wow, what superpower? It would probably, at this moment in time, it would probably be to be able to speak any language on the planet. Why I say that is because being someone who loves being around people, look for the easiest ways to break down the barriers. And for someone who growing up really did not like learning languages, right now I'm just like, okay, if I could, if I could do anything right now, it would be to speak any language because I feel like with the way God made me, I could, you could put me in the middle of an ocean and I could make friends with fishes or, you know, the wildest beast. So right now it would be to be able to speak any language. Might not seem like anything big, but yeah, for me, I think, yeah.

04:51 IFY I think that speaks to like a real communications gift. I think that's great. I don't know what you call this gift, but I just remember when I used to watch like Smallville, Superman, and he would just like pick up a book and like scan through it super quick and just absorb all the information. I said, God, when I buy books, I'm like, God, if only I could just and just take it all in.

05:18 EMMANUEL No, I love that. I can't lie, to be fair, that would be a great gift. But I feel like the downside to that is the power of knowing much. Like when you get to a point of knowing a lot, I feel like it's such a crazy position to be in because with much knowledge, they say, you know, there's a saying, with much knowledge comes a lot of power. When you wield that much information, Kai, I feel like- The responsibility would just be like super high.

05:52 IFY Like you have no reason to not act. Just be fat off knowledge. You've got to work it out.

05:59 EMMANUEL Trust me. So I run away from those. No, I love intelligence. Don't get me wrong. I love I love reading. I love me. That's too much pressure. People are enough as it is.

06:09 IFY But just be selective with the books that you read. Just be selective. You know, the ones that you can manage. If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

06:21 EMMANUEL My goodness. One meal.

06:30 IFY It's a serious question.

06:32 EMMANUEL Yeah, it's very serious. You know what? It would probably be Nigerian fried rice and chicken wings and plantain. And am I allowed to add a drink there?

06:50 IFY Add a drink.

06:51 EMMANUEL OK, so if it's a drink, my favorite drink on the planet right now is Bigger Fruit Punch. Do you know what that is?

06:58 IFY I have not heard of Bigger since we were in the school ground.

07:04 EMMANUEL Yeah, it's still around. It's still around. It's not good for those who are obviously on the healthy path, which, you know, I am by God's grace, but I'm just saying in the ideal situation, a cold Bigger fruit punch would be, yeah, would just be the icing on the cake. Yeah.

07:19 IFY Okay, okay. For me, it has to be rice and stew. A nice fried stew, you know, with assorted meat. Just keep it simple. Like, it's simple, but it's classic. I feel like you can't go wrong with rice and stew. Add some dodo, add some plantain, you know, and a nice cold water because I'm also trying to be healthy, you know. That for me.

07:41 EMMANUEL I hear you. Fried stew, fried stew for the win, though. That's, I can't lie, that's, yeah, that's probably top three for me as well.

07:48 IFY Yes. OK, last question. What was the last movie you went to and what did you think?

07:55 EMMANUEL Equalizer 3. I watched that last Friday with Toby and I thought it was brilliant. However, my wonderful wife slept 85 percent.

08:07 IFY Parenting is hard.

08:09 EMMANUEL It is, it is. But for me, it's kind of like we had an open, like we literally had a window because we dropped the girls off at my parents and we were coming home. I was like, babe, the last viewing is what? 10.25. Let's go and watch it. She was like, yeah, let's do it. I said, OK, fine, because we are not going once we pick the girls up on Saturday night. I don't know when we're next. We're going to the cinema. So, yeah, I enjoyed it. I think it was a solid eight and a half, nine out of 10. But that's because I really loved Denzel. And I actually love the concept of, of equalizer as well. So yeah, literally.

08:44 IFY My husband wants to go see that. So maybe, okay. I haven't watched any of the equalizers, but it is my kind of thing to watch. I do like a good action thriller, like that's up there, my major categories. But my last movie was Barbie. Okay. What did you think about it? It's so controversial, but I loved it. I cannot lie. I like to go to the cinema. I over-therapise sometimes. And so I like to like take off the therapy hat, take off the ministry hat and just enjoy a good entertainment without it becoming an educational thing piece. So when I did that, I just was like, you know what, for the culture, I loved it. You know, I love the essence of it. It's kind of like how there's kind of like male rulership in the Western world. It's kind of like flipped, essentially. And so, yeah, there's certain things I'm like, OK, that's a bit controversial, a bit too feminist for me. But I just was like, I love what it stands for. I love the essence of it. And as a mum with two daughters, I was like, I can get with this. Yeah.

09:44 EMMANUEL No, you know what's funny? I actually didn't want to go and watch it. And when I watch it, for me as well, it's the same thing. I was like, there's a lot of lessons we can learn from this. Obviously, not everything I would say I agree with, but I can say I enjoyed it.

10:00 IFY Yeah, I mean, because I follow like different people from different political views. You know, like in America, your political stance is your religion. And the people that were like bashing this movie, I'm like, When I saw it, I was like, is this it? Is this actually? You would think that men were slaves, but.

10:17 EMMANUEL Yeah, no, it wasn't. No, it wasn't. In my opinion, it wasn't that bad.

10:22 IFY It wasn't. It wasn't. All right. Now I'm going to grill you. You made a post on Instagram that I really loved. I'm going to read it out and try not to cringe, but just so everybody can know the kind of wisdom that you're working with. So you put Western Christianity has played a part in commercializing and even in some sense franchising the curriculum of God's purpose for mankind. with a unique spin. Many teach rhetoric on purpose, laced and injected with worldly rhetoric in order to market God's unique plan for individuals in a cheap, palatable way. That is not the way. If we look closer, there are signs of the root. The pressure to be someone that you're not, the pressure to do something you're not called to do, The pressure to appear where you aren't meant to be. The pressure to perform where you should be walking authentically. The pressure to be popular when your route is a quiet road. The pressure to be silent when your voice is needed. The pressure to step back when you ought to step up. The pressure to believe you're inferior when you are around those that are slash appear to be superior. The pressure to not occupy space where your gift is actually needed. the pressure to crumble where voices where the voices of the people become louder than the voices of the father and you write much more but I just wanted to find out where did that come from where what was God sharing with you that led you to share about that?

11:57 EMMANUEL So the honest truth is I sit back and I watch a lot of I sit back and I watch a lot of things especially in Christian space so I sit back I watch a lot of things and that kind of takes me back to my quiet time with the Lord and kind of assessing things. And then based on what I feel the Lord is sharing with me, I just, I just write. And that's something that I'm taken to a lot more this year. I knew I could always write, but this year I feel like being able to write expresses a depth to me that a lot of people may not see. So for this one, it all stems back to one of my key themes in the realm of authenticity. And I feel like the narrative or the topic of purpose is an important one, but for so long, I think it's, okay, let me be honest in some sense. So in the Christian space, I feel like there's a big pressure to to be what's obvious. That is, you know, fivefold, you know, being a pastor, teacher, apostle, prophet, whatever, or be some sort of Christian social media influencer. These are not, you know, intrinsically wrong. That's called, you know, God calls, you know, different people to do these different things. But I feel like there's a pressure from those who are there through what they say, how they appear, and how they present certain messages for people to kind of look at that as the blueprint for what Christians should do. And now we're seeing a heavy, you know, I forgot what it's called. um we're just seeing like a it's like a big recruitment list to to these spaces and it's kind of like guys like there's so much more to this and i always say to people look i ran away from this thing i i i knew god called me but i ran away for like three four years this is not something that if anything look i'd rather you know, just be, you know, a committed, you know, church member at a local church and do what I need to do than have a title. So yeah, don't even put me in there because me and God had a different deal. But when I see people chase after these things and trying to be something that they're not and trying to be these things and have these titles, because it speaks to a part of them that needs some sort of affirmation or some sort of recognition. then it just drives me to write and do this kind of stuff. And it's interesting because even though there are people who kind of take me in, I think there are some people who look at me and are like, but why are you putting others off the call of God on their life and stuff? And I'm like, I believe everyone is called, but is everyone called to this? Let me play my part. The little influence that I have, let me write something that's real to people. I don't want to have some sort of platform. And in comparison to other people, and my wife always tells me to stop this, in comparison to other people, I feel like, look, you know what, I don't even have 3,000 followers. Some people are like, no, that's a big thing. And I have to accept that, you know, in some sense, that is a big thing. the platform that I have been given, I know either way that even though I may not have a large followership on social media, I know a lot of people do know me or know about me. So I'm like, okay, use the platform I do have to share things that are from the heart, that even if other people don't say, let me say it. So with this purpose thing, I feel like I've gone to, I've heard so many, you know, teachings and preachings and watch loads of videos where it's like, God is calling you to, you know, God is calling you to start this ministry and it's like, I'm seeing even the next generation like Gen Z, I'm seeing them like, so many start ministries and I'm like, With all due respect, I don't believe God is calling all of you to start ministries like in church space. And I know it's going to sound controversial, but there's no way someone can't bring me on to speak my heart and me not be controversial in some sort of sense. And this is not a personal dig, but it's kind of like we've been there. We've done that. We've seen it, you know, kind of like what we were speaking a bit about before. God dragged us both out of certain ministry spaces. And when you see the bigger picture, you're like, hmm, actually, God, you saved me from some big stuff here. So for me, I'm like, now whilst, you know, I'm moving in the freedom I've always wanted to move in, let me use my voice to do something, you know, to hopefully set other people free.

16:51 IFY I just thank God that you said that. And I resonate with that a thousand percent. Like there were times I'll say to God, like, God, why couldn't you just make me a baker? Like, you know, why can't you just make me a chef? Like, why can't I just have the gifts of helps and solely serve in this capacity? And you're right. I think that there's this covetousness that comes with the fivefold ministry that people think that this is the only way to serve God. And I think it actually starts from what's being taught. Like, you know, if you're, if you know how to read your Bible, if you have wisdom that you must be a pastor or says who, why can't that same gift of wisdom be useful in the marketplace? And, you know, I remember having conversations with people like, oh, you know, so this is what God wants me to do. This is my career, but this is my ministry. So I set this up as my ministry. And it's like, well, why can't your career be an avenue for your ministry? Ministry isn't a platform. It's the impact that your life is called to have on people. And there's less of that. And this is, this is glitz and glamour of being on stage. Being on stage means you know it all. And so in your introduction, when you said that you, you like these kinds of like one-to-ones conversational styles, I would do a conversation over a sermon any day. Because this is where the transformation takes place. But when we see people with mics on stage, sometimes there's this thing of, well, they must have it all together. I wouldn't be there. So we neglect our true calling or the inner work in order to get there. Yeah. And it's a shame.

18:18 EMMANUEL it's I don't like it and for me there's an extra layer to it because I grew up as a PK so both of my parents are in ministry and growing up I saw you know how mum and dad went through what they went through in order to serve people and love people and bend over backwards and take loads of L's and this, that and the third and walk with integrity where other people try to take shortcuts and I watch them and I'm like, Lord, like these people are faithful and like many people may not know their name, many people may not see, you know, their impacts per se publicly or what public perception of impacts might look like they've done it, and I'm like, Lord, like, my only aim is to emulate a lot of what they've done, and then at the same time, learn the lessons from the mistakes that they made. And I'm watching it in real time, and there's a generation, and we are the generation, I guess, Gen Z, millennials, and even some of the generations after, and it's like, we have a lot to say about, you know, baby boomers and generations that were ahead of us, but we're doing exactly the same things. Creative ways and more modern ways. And it's kind of like, you're not doing anything different. Like it's literally the same thing, but it's just a different package. And it's just more, it's more branded. It's branded in a nicer, cuter way. And it's like, Lord, I just want to be a person that can be able to be honest with people and that's why I say I prefer avenues like this because I prefer to sit at tables, I prefer to come to your house and have a meal, I prefer to meet you and have a coffee, I don't want to, my focus is not doing an Instagram live with you, even little things like that, like I'm not even, once again I don't want people to take this personal but like Instagram live shouldn't be the avenue where I'm getting to know you first, should really be behind closed doors. But I feel like there's an element of, well, if people see us together, then it looks a particular way. And I always say optics is killing our generation, not just in the world, it's killing people in the church because what you see, you think is real. So you see people moving together, you see people commenting on people's posts, you see certain people following each other, you see people on, you know, their conference flyers and you think, that's it, I want that. And I'm like, you don't know you don't know the half you don't know the half of it but it's at the table it's at conversations like this where you can hear my heart and i can hear your heart and we can see where you know what it what things truly are as opposed to when we're out there we have to put on a particular you know image of ourself or we have to look a particular way because that is an alignment with that is in alignment with popular Christian behaviors. If I posture myself like this, and if I behave like that, then it makes me seem as though I am, do you get what I'm saying? And so, yeah, man, before I say something dangerous, I was there.

21:38 IFY I love it and I a thousand percent agree with you. It's this life and ministry that we're neglecting. It's life, it's ministry but with an aspect of life but actually true ministry is this life on life impact like we're actually serving together and that's often days it's lost. We were talking earlier just about how I feel like God has untethered me from some of these popular spaces like you know, there was a time where it was like, who's speaking here? Who's doing this? Who's doing that? And somewhere along the lines of getting married, having children, going back to uni, studying and stuff like, I just, I just don't really care, to be honest. And there's some places and some rooms, it's like, oh, the ministers of the UK are it's okay if you don't invite me. I probably couldn't make it anyway. But I wonder for you, like, how has it been, if you've had to at any point, like untether your identity from what you do or your identity from ministry or your identity from how many followers or what ministry looks like from the outside looking in? How has that journey been from you finding freedom from performance?

22:43 EMMANUEL So I would say it's been an interesting journey. So, um, I always use as many opportunities as I get to always pick up my inspiration. So my dad is after Jesus Christ, my dad is my hero. I talk about my dad a lot and a lot of people know that I talk about my dad a lot. He's someone that affirmed me from young. we always had such a great relationship. Doesn't mean that we haven't had disagreements or whatever, but yeah, he's my biggest inspiration. And so he's always put me in a position where I've never felt like I need to perform for his love. Even from a spiritual perspective for someone in church, I've never felt like I needed to perform for my dad's affirmation or in the home as well. But it got to a point where probably I'd say, from my early teens, maybe from like 13, I started like preaching out and about at different youth conferences. And up to probably uni times or just before uni, a lot was happening for me. I was out and about. So ministry was a very big thing for me and I was doing a lot of stuff in our local church. And by the time I got to uni, things kind of took a spin because God was calling me and at that time I was like, yeah, no ministry for me. I've seen what has happened for mom and dad. No ministry for me. I'm good. Give me everything except the title. Give me everything except for lead in a church. I can do everything else. And so I ran for the four years that I was at uni. it was it was a running it was a running thing um and then a few years later fast forward because i don't want to spend too much time but fast forward probably a long time actually let me fast forward to probably 20 19, the year before the pandemic. So 2019 was probably the biggest year of ministry for me. I was out and about nearly every weekend. And yeah, things were, you know, going well in a ministry sense. The pandemic came 2020 and 2020 really shook me differently because everything ministry wise went down the drain. I think I had one ministry, even though, you know, weren't really allowed to go out much and whatnot. But even though there were the influx of Zoom and Instagram lives and all of that, nothing was popping for me. I only had one ministration that year. And why it shook me was because one of my primary gifts is the ability to preach and teach. So that kind of, it was like, okay, well, I'm not holding a microphone. I am not on a flyer, I am not on anything, I am not being invited anywhere, not even on Zooms to lead prayer for 30 minutes. Ordinary prayer. Nothing was coming up apart from the church stuff that we were doing. And even the church stuff, before we started doing live streaming, it was Instagram lives and it was so hard because for someone who, you know, from their early teens has been holding a microphone, preaching and standing in front of people and being around people nearly every weekend of their life. So not having that at all, it was a major shift and it really, really affected me because it was kind of like, now that that's not there, what do I have? What do I do? What can I be? And for me, I'm really grateful for the pandemic, even though, you know, a lot of crazy things happened in that time. I am personally grateful for it because I had to kind of be brought to ground zero, to a point where I'm like, okay, what is it that I have called you to? And where are your strengths? Some of the strengths that you overlooked are the strengths that I now want to bring out. So i.e. I mentioned writing. That's something that the Lord had to use the pandemic for in my life to bring that gift out. my my ability to want to be around people in more intimate settings, God used that even like even though we weren't allowed to physically meet up, I used Zoom to connect with with other ministers and get to know them for them. There's no green room, no hype, no glitz, no glam and I used that FaceTime, all of that kind of stuff and it really brought me back to where I was meant to be. And so now everything that I'm doing, it's a greater level of freedom because I kind of found myself again, away from the mic. My identity is not in a microphone and it's not in a pulpit. And for some, that authentic piece has always been there, but I didn't know how strong the grip of the microphone was. so how how much I found myself and a lot of my voice in holding a microphone and be able to you know preach and teach the word of God and be able to communicate effectively and this it's not that that gift was a bad thing but I just kind of allowed that to be the focal point of my my life when people know me he's a preacher he's a teacher And that's something that God was trying to speak to, even from 2016, when God gave me the name Game Changer. But it was still a process. It was still me learning. Yes, I got the revelation. Yes, I am Game Changer. I can't be put in a box. There's so many things that God has called me to do. There's so many things that I am gifted to do. But the pandemic, a few years later, to recognize Hold on, there's still other pieces I need to take up. You don't recognize the depth of what it means to be called game changer.

28:45 IFY I think the pandemic for all of us was a hard reset. It was a hard reset. Like it was the time to really come back to what, especially those of us in ministry, like what is actual ministry? What does it mean to actually serve people? For me, I think in the pandemic, I had my, my eldest daughter, Ariella, and that in and of itself was just like a big reset for me. Like I no longer have the capacity as I used to, to do certain things. And I had to see people being invited to speak because similar to you, like having a microphone was something that I was doing from as early as 19 for me, you know, like having some sort of voice and some sort of influence, but actually being able to see other people with the microphone and not me. and having to battle those feelings of like, oh, am I jealous? Am I am I envious? Like, how do I how do I balance this? And I always say that jealousy is an invitation to really explore discontentment. I think we see jealousy and we think, oh, that's such a negative emotion. But what is jealousy saying to you? It's saying I'm not feeling content and having to find my contentment in the season I'm in and find my joy in Jesus. it's something that takes a lot of work to see that even if I don't do another speaking engagement, I'm still so valuable to God. I'm still so loved to God. Even if all I do from henceforth is serve my family, like this is a ministry that God has given to me. So I echo everything that you've said. It's that real life on life, free from performance that matters to God. And for me, I found that it changes how I even approach the microphone, having a mic and speaking into people's lives. It's so much more of a privilege now to be able to, you know, that's just one of the ways in which God moves through me, but it's not the only way now. If I don't communicate my point as clearly as I wanted to the first time around, it's no longer an indictment on my character. I can just go back and say it again, you know, if it's not as punchy or as, you know, as I wanted it to be, that's okay. as long as people understand it, because God moves even through our lack of eloquence. So I agree. And I love everything that you've said with that. I wonder how can one cherish their voice if they don't, and their calling, if they don't exist within mainstream circles. So we kind of spoke a little bit about how sometimes clicky things can kind of be. And if you're finding that you're not within certain mainstream ministry circles, how can you still value the gift of God within you?

31:19 EMMANUEL Very good question. I think the first things first, one of, I think the greatest example we can ever find in scripture is our saviour. And when I recognised his journey into public ministry, one of the, if anything, the thing that really broke him out into public ministry was was his baptism and the father affirming him publicly before people are hailing him as Messiah, before people are saying this amazing rabbi, this amazing dude, his cousin baptises him and the Father and Holy Spirit, the other two persons of the Holy Trinity, they're there, you know, affirming his, not just his sonship, but his identity, his nature. And I really feel like now, irrespective, now, like, I feel like God is leveling the playing field because what we know as a celebrity culture in the church context, people are kind of, people are craving for something deeper. They're craving for just genuine fellowship and genuine community and genuine people. And that starts when we get back to, When I look at myself and I understand who God is in me, can I recognize that I am valuable, even if I don't have the name. So I did a blog post earlier this year where I was looking at the body of Christ. And one of the things that I love the most about Paul's writings in First Corinthians is that he talks about how some of the most important parts of the body are the bits that we don't see. yeah so it really shapes like it should really shape how we deal with people because there are a lot of people who may not be seen but they are they are like a backbone or they are like a heart beats to how the church function but because we're so enamored by the optics what we can see we only feel like that's the case and like it's not it's my you can see my hands but inside my hands there are veins there are there's, I have lungs that allow me to breathe, I have a heart, I have a rib cage that's protecting my heart, that's protecting my lungs, like there's so many things that work in a background. I have a spine that allows me to stand, that allows me to, you know, grow in different, in different ways. I have a brain. These are things that we can't see, but they are important to how we move. So for someone who's thinking or recognises, look, I'm not in these mainstream spaces, I'm not out there like that, nobody knows me, or I'm not amongst those that are that are popping right now. For you, it's recognising wherever you've been called to be, when you play your part, it allows others to do what they need to do. Because that's something else that I like, I really love the study of the body of Christ, just from like a physiological perspective. Because what happens is, one thing I've recognised, in the body of Christ is when some parts are missing, other parts have to overcompensate. And so now what God is, like I said, God is leveling the playing field. So he's bringing those, he's bringing those little parts, those, those little, you know, bones that feel like they don't have a part to play. And God is like, no, you bring value, you bring value to the, to the situation. So when you recognize that you can feel empowered that you know what, Without me doing this, and it's not even a prideful thing, but it's a sense of importance, godly importance, that when I play my part, it allows everybody else to do what they need to do. And if I don't, that means others will overcompensate. And I feel like what we're seeing with the hyper visibility of certain people is they're trying to overcompensate for people that are not playing their part. So now, for me, I see this as an invitation. Whoever you are. You are needed right now. You are important. And as long as the Father affirms you and celebrates you and identifies you and recognizes that you have been called and chosen and formed and forged in Him, by Him, then for me, there's nothing better. It doesn't, even if me or the greatest man or woman of God on the planet recognize, it doesn't mean anything. It really doesn't. Because people will say like, as you know, the common rhetoric, one day they were, you know, celebrating Jesus, the next minute they crucified him. people are always going to be fickle. So for you, you've got to have your identity rooted in something that's deeper than everything else. And it's got to be in what the father says. And from that, we see Jesus moving out in his public ministry, in a power, in a strength, in a grace, like never before. Simply starting because of what the father says about him and Holy Spirit affirms that by coming upon him, you know. So yeah, I just feel like for the person that may feel like, oh God, I'm not out there. God's design is not that everyone needs to be out there in the first place. And I've come to that point of realization as well. So I'm not even just saying something to you that I wouldn't apply to myself. I'm in a space where, look, if I don't get another preaching engagement, that's i am actually fine with that because i recognize i am much more than a preacher i recognize i am much more than a preacher and for so long it was killing me because it was kind of like because that's one of my primary gifts i it was just i'm just so locked and focused into that but when i take all all of that away and god does heart surgery he's like look there's so much more value you have to bring those things so when you take that all away and god shows you how much value you bring when you recognize and you identify what is placed in you, it will encourage you to go, you know what? I don't need to wait for somebody. I don't have to, you know, I don't have to be seen. I don't have to be on a flyer. I don't need to have X amount of followers. I have the father's words. I have his heart and I have his goal. Once he says go, that's me.

37:46 IFY I just feel like that needs to just marinate for a second. There's so many amazing things in what you said. And I think God gives us the perfect example with our body. And you said it, you know, first Corinthians 12, he's speaking about the parts of our body that receive more glory than other parts. You know, our skin is one of those. That's a part that receives a lot of glory, but our skin isn't doing so well. We're aware of it. but we might not always be aware of some of the inner intrinsic things that are going on within us. And it's about every part knowing its purpose and acting it out very, very well. We can't all receive the same amount of glory as it were. And I think you just highlight that so perfectly. So if you are not, if you were feeling like you need to be on a certain platform or have a certain amount of followers or whatever it is in order to function well, it's time to think again. And I think it's an invitation back into that place of how God affirms us, how God speaks to us, how God calls us his daughter, his son, whatever the case is that you are loved, you are valued, you are cherished and your gift is for now, you know, whether that looks like being on the stage or it doesn't, whether that looks like how you work with numbers, that's a gift too. Like let's cherish the gift of God within us, however it comes about. And I think burnout oftentimes comes from not working within the realm of grace, not working within the place that God has put you. You're now operating out, you know, you're the eye trying to be the leg or the leg trying to be the hand, you know. when you are in that place of grace, it's harder to experience burnout. And when you are operating from an identity that's secure, so you're not even trying to fight for security, you already have it. Burnout becomes something that we don't have to experience as much. And if we are experiencing burnout, then it's about restrategizing. It's about, you know, getting a bit wiser with delegation and stuff like that. But working within the realm of grace is really the key thing here.

39:45 EMMANUEL Yeah, I agree. I agree totally. I feel like even the analogy, one of the analogies I use for this is, it's like a race. So you're on a racetrack and there's like eight lanes or so. And every athlete has a responsibility to run in their lane. As long as you run in your lane, there's nothing wrong. You can run fast, you can run slow, just get to the finish line. The minute you step out into someone else's lane, the referee disqualifies you from the race because that lane that you stepped into or the lanes that you stepped into were not your jurisdiction, they were not your space. And so, if I relate this to the Christian, we we step out of God's grace for our lane when we meddle in others when we sometimes it's by chance maybe sometimes it's because of our stride maybe sometimes because of our balance but whatever it is as long as you step out of your lane you're stepping out of the grace that God has allocated for you and I feel like absolutely this is where burnout comes and the pandemic made me realize that, look, in some cases where it's not even like I recognized for me, it wasn't even like I wanted to do it on purpose per se, I just recognized certain things weren't being done and I tried to, you know, meddle in other things. And Lord was like, look, so why did I, why have I given you this responsibility? Why have I called you as such? Why have I called you as an apostle? you're not going to equip others to actually step in their lanes and do what they need to do, as opposed to you doing what they need to do sort of thing. And it's like, even you can have good intentions or a good part behind it, but you still need to recognize that once you step out of your lane, you step out of the grace that God has apportioned for you. So for me, I'm just like, okay, cool. I can recognize where God gives me grace and I'm fine with it. I'm happy with it. I don't look, I am now at a point where As much as people can be gifted and X, Y, and Z, I can celebrate it. I can be like, wow, that's amazing. And at the same time be like, yeah, you know what, God, I'm fine with everything you've given me because you know what, what you've given me is enough. I have enough to do with this. And I think that's why even now, like I'm just me, I'm just moving. I'm just moving in my own space, in my own world. I don't know if, I don't know if I'm, I don't feel like I'm out there. and I feel like that's just because I'm just doing me at the moment and it doesn't really require like you know I've got friends in ministry and all of that kind of stuff but I just feel like I'm in the space where I'm just doing me. I don't feel like I need to be out there like back in the day I used to you know conferences and events like not even when I was ministering but just going there and being there and it's like yes in one sense we're going to support and then in another sense I can recognize it was just yeah let let you know you want to be seen you want to you you want people to know that we're out here you know sort of thing and that's it's such a worldly thing because I remember you know before getting saved like you know you would go to raves or you'd go and be out and about you would hang around with with the in people And what made it worse for me was, I've always been a people's person. I've always been someone that everyone knows my name sort of thing. So when you're out there and about there, it just even, it's even more, and it just even attracts unnecessary attention to you as well. So for me, I was just like, yeah, like me, me, I don't feel like I need, honest to God, just as you said, you know, after having your first daughter, For me, I can't lie, I'm happy in my house. I'm good in my house. I'm good with, you know, linking up with people as opposed to going to loads of conferences and this is not a dig at conferences. I think it's just a thing of, we've been to loads of them. We've been to loads of them. Stay up. The reality is we have enough. Okay. Yes, that's, this is what I'm trying to say. We have enough. We've been empowered to a point where so many of us have been empowered to a point where what we've received, our output doesn't reflect what we've been, what we've received. It doesn't, it doesn't make sense. So the more conferences and events you go to, you're taking in more. This is why, like, you know, in the beginning when you were saying… The superpowers. You get what I'm saying? And in the body of Christ, like, we go to these things to a point where now, like, a lot of it for a lot of people is hype because what you've received, you've not done with, you've not done anything with it. And to be honest, from a scriptural perspective, Jesus, you're in a more difficult position because the Bible says, to whom much is given, much is expected. You look at the parable of the talents, to whom much was given and much was not done with, removed the talents and gave them to the faithful servants. So it's kind of like God is releveling things where it's kind of like, you can be out and about, that's cool. But if you're not doing the basics and you've not doing what God has assigned you to do, then you're only deceiving yourself. And that's why, yeah, a lot of leaders have been burnt out. That's why a lot of them are burnt out right now and are just, they're running off of fumes. The honest truth is a lot are running off fumes, but the fumes can only last for so long. So now conversations like this need to happen. People, we need to just be honest with ourselves, honest with our peers. Be like, you know what, bro? You know what, sis? I love what God is doing in your life. I'm your bro, I'm your sis. But I just feel like right now it's a bit too much. And I feel like the body of Christ, I don't know why, but sometimes there's this narrative where if I'm trying, especially if I know you, and I know kind of like, okay, you're overdoing it now, where it's kind of like I'm trying to dampen you know what God is doing on your life or I'm trying to I'm trying to pull you down and it's like I'm not trying to pull you down it's either I've seen it or I've been there and I've done it or I'm watching you and I know who you are but you're doing you're really stepping outside of the realm of God's grace for your life if we if we were more honest when we were talking earlier when you alluded to the point of you know public or private scandals a lot of this could be averted Yes. If we stay within our lanes and we're honest with each other. If we, if we remove the lens of, Oh, if, if I'm talking to a brother, if I'm, if you're my brother and I have to call you a puzzle or pass, then I don't, my honest thing is you're not my bro. That's you can, and you can ask my friends. I don't call any of my, I call you on a first name basis. We do we're joking about, but I call you on a first name basis because when I put that title there, I've put an optic in front of it and I'm speaking to a facade. I'm speaking to an image or something that's not the real you. I'm speaking to you that's on stage. I'm speaking to you that's on a flyer. I'm speaking to you that's got, you know, 10,000 followers. But when I, when I can take that off and speak to you, man to man or man to woman, brother to sister, brother to brother, friend to friend, then we can, I feel like we'll see more progress. I don't know if that, I don't know if that speaks to what you were speaking to before, but yeah.

47:14 IFY No, you are, you are spot on. I think what's going to save the soul of a lot of us in ministry is true accountability. And I think perhaps people spoke so much about accountability that people think that they know it all, but it's just being honest with your life, like living your life in the light. You know? And if there's any areas of darkness, exposing it to the light of people that can actually come and say to you, hey, bro, hey, sis, this isn't right. Or when you find that you're veering off and veering off doesn't have to look like you're in full-blown sin, but you'll find that your heart is being pulled away from God. Having those honest conversations, it's doing the inner work. It's sitting with therapy, with mentors, with pastors, and just really showing your life. I've got one more question for you before I let you go. What does because you have two beautiful children, a beautiful wife. What does caring for your soul like your soul look like in this season? Like, how are you really finding balancing a family pastoring, working full time and all of that? What is caring for your soul look like?

48:21 EMMANUEL Caring for my soul, like I said, one of the first things that I've done that's really helped me is just being me. On a practical note, like on social media, a lot of the things, like a lot of the things that I post, whether on stories or my actual posts, they're things that are real to me. I don't have a social media strategy per se, I had one at one point, which was heavily focused on preaching reels, and they started to flirt. And I just said, I'm just going to be very honest here. I just said, you know what, I'm tired of all this. I said, because people know I'm a preacher. I don't need to keep on trying to prove to people for the sake of content and for the sake of growing a platform. I don't, and I'll be very honest, I'm not, I'm not trying to grow a platform. In all, and it might sound weird, it might sound like, some people might be like, just yeah, this guy's capping, this is not telling, I'll be very honest with you. I am, my aim is not, my aim is not to. So that's why now, the post that I'm posting, If anything, my life should be an example. I'm not trying to grow my platform. I post fashion posts every Sunday. I post about my family. I post about things that are real to me. Because that's what's real to me right now. There's no pressure to perform. When I post a clip of a sermon of mine, it's because I want to do it, not because I'm pressured by seeing other people do it, because there's a mechanism or there's a way that it works for people to grow a platform. So that's one of the ways. Another way is just spending time, generally spending time with my family. My family know, like, that's me. No one can take me away from spending time with my family. I spend time with my family, just general things, whether taking the girls out or watching stuff with them on TV at home. Same with the missus, like we're in each other's faces, we're in each other's spaces. you know, because for me, like family is a value that I hold very dear to my heart. And that's something that I want people to remember me for. And why I say that is because I feel one of the things that I'm, I'm a very good student of church history and great men and women of God. And one of the key things I've consistently seen is that for every But every failure, in terms of ministry failure, a lot is connected to family, especially for men, where because you have to be on the road and because you have to do the work of the Lord X, Y and Z, you kind of have to focus on that and forsake your family. And for me, I've always said to God that if church ministry is going to take me away from family, then I will pull away from church ministry because I can't win followers and people and lose my family. I will stand accountable before God one day, so that's of no interest to me if I could be big in front of the world and lose my home. There's so much for me that I love them, I want to empower them, you know, I've got two girls. I want them to see, something I say to anyone that really gets to know me is that I want my girls to be able to see me and go, if daddy could do this, we can do it. Like sometimes I think sometimes the emphasis when you have kids, it's like on sons, especially when you're a minister and you have a son, it's kind of like, okay, yeah. wanting to be a man of God or something like that. I want my girls to look at me and go, you know what, that encouraged me to be me first, authentic, and then empowered me to say, I can go against the world. That's what I want for my girls. That's what I want for my wife. I want to empower my wife. And I do, by God's grace, to empower her to be the best version of herself. And I don't want to stand in the way of that. I want to stand beside her and go, look, there's so much inside of you that God wants to do and God is doing. go for it, and I'm all behind them. So family is the second thing. And then third is just making time for me. So something that, you know, I've been doing for the last four months, I picked up a new hobby of outdoor running. I'm in my outdoor running gear right now. I haven't gone for a run because it's quite hot. I'll probably go later in the evening. just doing stuff that is real to me. So I used to, I have, I mean, I have a PS5. That thing is collecting dust. That thing I spend a lot of money on is collecting dust. And I think it's just because I still have a lot of things going on, but I do make my time for myself on a daily basis. So I do go to the gym. I do outdoor runs. It just provides another outlet for me where I don't have to necessarily focus on church or family or money or work or this or that. It's just free and it's, it yes mental health is a space for that it just gives me the freedom to to go okay cool if i need to blow some steam if there's a lot on my mind as i'm running on the roads and i'm looking at different scenery and you know i'm trying to push my body to go beyond what it's done before I don't have to worry about everything else. And it's just that space of safety. It's that space of, I'm still challenging myself, but I'm using different muscles. So it's not necessarily spiritual muscles per se, it's not necessarily emotional intelligence. This one is more about my physical wellbeing. And then a final thing I'll say is, your community. My community have been some of the biggest, I wouldn't say some, they've been a very big blessing to me. I kid you not. And I do want to say, just as a word of advice, especially for those in ministry, please, all your friends don't have to be in ministry. I think that's one of the best things for me. I have people that don't have language or context for ministry. So when I'm talking about ministry, they're like, how were you talking about? Then I'm like, yes, I don't have to talk about ministry. I can talk about X, Y, and Z. So community are big because they keep you in check, as you said, the accountability, but they journey with you. They recognize what life is like. and they provide that safety that you need, where you don't have to worry about everything else. It's just whilst we're in this moment, let's just be here. When I need to ask questions, I'm calling up my close friends. Bro, sis, this is what I'm thinking, this is what I'm feeling, and vice versa. But it's just that we have that, and in ministry I think sometimes because people want to keep up with appearances and look a certain way or appear like, ah, I'm spiritual or I'm a prophet. I don't go through things like this. Nah, like having people that you could just be open and honest with. So those are the four things that I'll, yeah.

55:25 IFY Amazing. Emmanuel, thank you so much for your time. This has been so enriching, even just for myself. People that want to get in touch with you, your church, please tell us where we can do that.

55:38 EMMANUEL So for me, I'm on Twitter, I'm on Insta, and I'm on TikTok.

55:44 IFY You're still on Twitter? Yeah, I am.

55:46 EMMANUEL You know, you know, no, you know what, actually, that's something I'm surprised that we actually didn't talk about it. Twitter is like, I feel like that's my favourite platform. I'll be very honest, because I get to, I get to speak And just be me, whereas Instagram. Yeah, yeah, I'm very much on Twitter so you can follow me on Twitter. It's G-A-E, so it's Game Changer but it's spelled differently. G-A-E-M-E-C-H-A-N-G-E-R, Game Changer, and that's Twitter. the same handle on Insta and the same handle on TikTok. For our church, it's City Worship London, so all one word, we're on YouTube, we are on Instagram at the moment. By God's grace, we're working on our website, so our website will soon be up. But yeah, you can find us, City Worship London, if you are looking for a church to fellowship with in West London, or you're just looking for one in general, we're here, so yeah. But yeah, thank you very much. I do want to say thank you very much. I love these spaces. I love every opportunity I get to just be honest and open, you know, with like-minded people and where I don't feel like I have to perform. There's a time and space for diplomacy, you know that. But I didn't feel like you pressured me into doing that. So I really appreciate you and appreciate your platform as well. So keep doing your thing.

57:14 IFY Thank you so much, Emmanuel. God bless you and your wife. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. I hope you were able to glean so much from it just as I was. Head on over to my website, forward slash podcast to access the show notes from today's episode. If you are watching on YouTube, go ahead and give us a subscribe, a like and comment below. And if you are listening on the various podcasting platforms, do leave a rating and a comment to let us know how you found it. Wishing you all the best on your journey as we do the soul work together.


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