188: Fellowship Ft. Sean Hanson: Humble Swagger: A Conversation On Ministry, Masculinity, And Early Lessons From Running An Organization
In this episode, Thane Marcus Ringler and his guest, Sean Hanson, come together for a fellowship conversation on ministry, masculinity, and management. Sean launched BUD Ministries, a nonprofit seeking to unite, disciple, and equip young men to be unshakably devoted in their pursuit of Christ. Thane and Sean discuss the modern challenges of spreading the Gospel, how masculinity means having a “humble swagger,” and the challenges of running an organization.
What inspired Sean to launch BUD Ministries? How did he discover God’s call in his life? Join in the conversation and be inspired by Sean’s story of how God called him to ministry!
Listen to the podcast here:[smart_track_player url=”https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/theupandcomersshow/UAC_188_Sean_Hanson.mp3″ title=”188: Fellowship Ft. Sean Hanson: Humble Swagger: A Conversation On Ministry, Masculinity, And Early Lessons From Running An Organization “]
Fellowship Ft. Sean Hanson: Humble Swagger: A Conversation On Ministry, Masculinity, And Early Lessons From Running An Organization
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This episode is a fellowship episode featuring Sean Hanson. Who is Sean? Gathering men together while a student at Pepperdine University, he used his passion for men’s ministry and a Master’s in Business Administration to launch BUD Ministries, a nonprofit seeking to unite, disciple, and equip young men to be unshakably devoted in their pursuit of Christ. Since its incorporation in 2017, BUD has successfully spread to college campuses throughout the country that now meets on a weekly basis using specific books and devotionals tailored for young men. Sean, born and raised in Malibu, California now resides in Nashville, Tennessee, alongside his siblings and nieces. His ideal day is spent playing soccer, smoking cigars around a fire, or shooting skeet. That’s a little bit about Sean.
This is a fellowship episode that is more of a peer–to–peer conversation type of format. We get to talk about a wide range of things, including all things healthy and godly masculinity, what his journey has been, what he’s learned, what’s been helpful and what hasn’t. Early lessons that he’s learned from running an organization and being an entrepreneur, what the upcoming generation needs and how it is similar or different from our own. There’s not that big of a gap, but technology is changing things rapidly. That was an interesting segment.
We talk about the ups and downs of being in full-time ministry and how it’s different than he expected. There are a lot of good nuggets in here. I enjoyed this time with Sean and getting connected with him further. He’s a great guy, has a great heart, and is doing great work. I know you’re going to be encouraged as I was by getting the chance to spend some time with him. If you haven’t checked out before, definitely go check out BUD Ministries. There are great things going on there. I love what he’s building through it. Without further ado, please enjoy this fellowship episode with Sean Hanson.
Sean Hanson, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much, Thane. I appreciate it. I’m excited and honored to be here.
It’s a joy to connect. This is going to be a lot of fun getting to dive into a lot of things that we’re both passionate about and a lot of the work that you’re doing. I’d love to start by talking a little bit more culturally speaking. I know you live in Nashville. How long have you lived there and what do you love most about Nashville?
I moved out here many years ago from California. My older brother and older sister and their spouses and I have a niece that all live out here. I wanted to be near family, but I love Nashville. Coming from California, I tell people, it’s mostly the efficiency that I love which sounds funny, but you can get about around town in about fifteen minutes to anywhere where in California you’re like, “We’re going to Target,” and that’s our Saturdays.
What part of California did you grow up in?
I was in Southern California. Right outside of LA.
I resonate deeply with that. Being in LA for years and now in Denver, it feels like such a shift. COVID has been different in general, but there is something about the amount of time and energy you lose in Los Angeles or Southern California that is life–sucking in a lot of ways. How has your perspective or view of the world shifted or changed now that you’ve lived in a different environment for the last many years? How have you seen yourself grow in that?[bctt tweet=”Take the time to stop, pause, and pray. ” username=”upandcomersshow”]
My mind immediately goes towards the different forms of Christianity because I work in ministry. That’s where my mind goes to first, but going from California, where it’s hard to find groups of people that are serious about their relationship with Christ and down to pursue it with all their heart. You move out here and we grew up in it. It’s become a part of us. Some people use the term cultural Christianity and that was never the case for me. I’d never experienced that before. That’s been something that has changed, I had to get used to, and has grown me a lot in terms of even finding community.
I love that newer experience for you because I’m the opposite, growing up in the Bible Belt and then being out in LA after that. I’d love to hear a little bit more on cultural Christianity when you’re coming in a sense not having that experience in your past, and you come into a new environment where that’s more predominantly the culture. How has your perspective of that been unique? What do you see as some of the challenges or even benefits of that culture from someone who’s an outsider coming into it?
One of the benefits is everyone is open to listen, which is huge. Sometimes in California, you want to try and get them to the table. You’re trying to get creative and be like, “How do I tell you about the gospel when you’re like, ‘That’s not anywhere near what I want to talk about and listen to?’” The strategy is different, but out in Nashville and in the Bible Belt, pretty much everyone’s down to listen, have a conversation and at least respect the culture. That’s a huge benefit. On the other side of that, the difficulty that comes with it is everyone has a preconceived notion. I mainly had church experiences already and sometimes that can be detrimental if it was a poor experience with the church or a poor experience in the community. They’re spurned from talking about it and think they know the answer to whatever question or whatever topic you have.
As we shift into what you do with BUD Ministries, with it being a widespread ministry, how do you cater it to those different cultures because beyond and even within America, there are so many cultures present, many different pockets, views, and perspectives even within the United States. As someone who’s running a ministry in a platform that does span across the US, how do you think about maybe reaching multiple cultures within what you’re doing? Do you cater to or how do you go about that thought process?
That is a great question and one I’m still figuring it out and will continue to figure out for quite some time. The term in the Christian world, you could say, is cultural exegesis. That is difficult when you’re trying to deal with a lot of different cultures and different cities at different colleges, which, as we both know, colleges even have their own culture outside of the city or the state. It does get a little hard and confusing to navigate, but I rely on one, my team. We have multiple regional directors that oversee the student leaders at the different schools.
We rely on them to ask hard and tough questions on a regular basis to figure out what is the culture and what are the guys are talking about or what are their church backgrounds are coming to our weekly group meetings. Two, would be prayer. Discerning God’s voice on that is the best direction and guidance I can be able to get and receive. Trying to figure out, “How in the world do we reach guys in Abilene, Texas, which is super different than the guys that we’re reaching in Malibu, California at Pepperdine, whereas Abilene Christian University?” Taking time to stop, pause and pray and not act like I’m a good strategist, which I’m not and going to the best strategist is usually always the right goal.
It’s true. It’s like, “Why do we put so much onus on ourselves for solving difficult problems when the creator of us wants us to go to him?” We have access to that resource that’s endless. It’s hilarious how we get that mixed up so often. I relate deeply to that. One of the things I love about that is the lazy approach to any ministry or organization or anything is to say, “Here’s a one-stop–shop solution, and I’m going to apply it to everyone in every place because they can figure it out on their own,” versus saying, “Your story is unique and largely, what shaped that story is a culture you’re living in or around. How can I learn you and where you’re at so that I can better speak your language so that you can hear and receive the good word?” That’s a much more intentional, harder path, but I feel like it’s way more effective. Kudos to you for recognizing that and also working to try and cater to those differences.
I know in the conversations that we’ve had in the past, too, that’s been a huge part of your life and the different career paths that you’ve gone through and are going through right now. Definitely, I like that backup too.
I want to get into your experience with BUD Ministries, running it, and what that’s like, but I want to talk about how you got into it because your career path has been windy and most peoples are, but it’s interesting. I’d love to know a little bit more of the origin of when that pivot came of saying, “I’m called to these men and we’re going to find a way to make this work, and then here’s BUD.” I’d love to know that story because I think there’s a lot of value in that.
I always tell people that ask, “When did you know you’re going to be in ministry?” I said, “I think I still don’t know.” Ministry is something that I had sworn off. I’d never imagined I’d be in ministry. I had no desire to be in ministry. It was something that God’s Holy Spirit captured my heart and pulled me towards. It was a passion. My background is in business. My MBA is in business with an emphasis on real estate finance. It’s far from your atypical ministry. It was about several years ago now, I remember sitting on my couch in my apartment in Nashville, Tennessee. I was working on two different projects, one being real estate and the other being a weapons security company. Ministry was something that I was still doing. It had been five years in the making since starting BUD back in college at Pepperdine and had been spreading to other schools at this point.
I felt the Holy Spirit break me. I was sitting on my couch and was like, “God, what am I supposed to do? My heart, my passion, everything I want to dive into and the reason I want to wake up in the morning is to walk through life with these college guys and introduce them to you because of how good you’ve been to me.” It was as simple as that. I reach guys that also are on the fringe, what I call the forgotten Christian market. I’m like, “You might’ve been partying last night. You might only come to Bible study for smoking cigars around a fire, but that’s my jam.” Those are the guys that I feel called to walk with and get from point A to point B, even if they’re not totally down. As they get serious, “I want to get them there.”
I remember sitting on that couch and God was like, “You know what to do.” I went in the next day. I sent in my resignation to the real estate company and decided to dissolve my weapon security company. I was like, “Let’s do it. Let’s go all–in on the one area of business that is going to make the least sense financially and it was one of those stories where two weeks later,” I didn’t even know Giving Tuesday was a thing. Apparently, that’s a big thing, which is good to know now. I had a call and then another call and, therefore, thousands of dollars out of nowhere. It’s where I was like, “I felt like God presses on my heart to give this to you and to BUD to support the work that you’re doing.” That was how I was able to live. It’s such an affirmation of, “I got me no matter what, even if you call me the craziest things possible.”
It’s such a cool affirmation of the faith that takes a step without knowing but knowing that the step is what’s needed. The thing that I want to dive into a little more is understated is that this isn’t something that is out of the blue. It’s something that you are already doing. You had started BUD back in Pepperdine. What led to you originally starting it then? I want to underscore that because I’m excited to hear the story, but even the fact that it was many years since starting it that it happened. A lot of times, especially as Christians, we think, “I have to wait until God makes it clear. I’m at the end of myself and then I’ll take action.” If we’re honest with ourselves, if we pause enough and if we seek God, we’ll have indication or prodding, it’s up to us to take that first step though. You’d already been taking those steps which led to that ultimate pivot then, but it wasn’t out of the blue. It was five years in the making before that, even. I’d love to know, even originally with BUD, how you started or got that off the ground at Pepperdine?[bctt tweet=”There is joy in the midst of pain and suffering. ” username=”upandcomersshow”]
It truly came out of necessity for me. It sounds selfish, but it was a pivotal moment in my life and college career where I was playing soccer and, through that, injured my back and fractured my L5-S1 vertebrae into two places. This took away my identity as the sports guy, the athlete and came to a crossroads of, “What are you going to do? Are you going to sit around and soul can try and still grab at that or are you going to turn and press into me?” Meaning God and “Create your identity around something much more everlasting?” That’s where this came out of. It was hard and tough. That sounds way better than it does. It was brutal and ugly. It was a tough journey of what I call finding joy in the midst of pain and suffering. How in the world when you’re in so much pain and taking four hydrocodone a day just to get through the day? How do you find joy when that’s altering your personality and it’s terrible?
Those couple of years was a large journey. I need people around me. Every single person at this school has their own pain that they’re going through. They’re trying to do the same. They’re trying to find that joy, not just happiness, but that steadfast, never–changing joy that comes from Christ. They’re trying to find that in the midst of their pain that they’re going through in this season. I started reaching out to guys and I was like, “I know you’re going through something similar type of pain. Let’s meet up. Let’s hang out around a fire. Let’s share that, be open and vulnerable,” which is abnormal for guys. “Let’s talk about it, drop the masks and start talking about Jesus because that’s where we’re to find out the direction and roadmap to get through those pain.” That’s how it started. It’s the origin story.
The idea that every single person has their own pain is powerful. It takes us all a long time to realize that and it takes a lot of effort to keep reminding ourselves of that because a lot of times until we experience literal pain, it’s hard to understand that it’s common for a lot of people. Not only just physical pain but all types of pain on top of that. It alters who we are, how we show up, and that allows us such another level of empathy, but also humility. You’re talking about that like, “I can’t do this all on my own. I can’t be superhuman or Superman or beyond what my peers are or even I think I’m capable of.” We’re all human. It’s an important realization we all have to come to and remind ourselves of because even when you come to it, I can easily fall back on. “I can do it on my own, I can make this happen or I can work harder,” a lot of those things that still aren’t true. How did you get from that pain point to where you are now? What were the different seasons or phases of BUD as you went through that process?
What came out after that season of finding joy in the midst of suffering was a prayer journey. If you know me, I harp on prayer 24/7. It’s because I know my shortcomings and I think if I do anything outside of prayer, it ends up being bad. If I’m not in prayer to break that down even more, what is prayer? Prayer is where you’re having a conversation with the creator of the universe, the heavens and earth, which is pretty wild in itself and that’s so cool. That was the journey after that where BUD didn’t progress or turned into something after the prayer journey. It was coming to terms with I was praying a lot. I was that guy trying to pray over other guys and trying to pray out loud.
I was like, “This is futile. My words are either me regurgitating what I’ve heard from other people or me being concerned about how I sound when I pray out loud.” I didn’t feel any power in it. I went through this journey of, “This seems fruitless and pointless,” and I don’t even know what prayer is. It wasn’t until I started figuring out, receiving training, receiving wisdom from mentors and people I looked up to in the church that taught me, “You can just sit and listen. There are in a multitude of ways that God wants to talk to you.” That was something that completely changed my entire life, and as to your question, it completely changed the direction of BUD and what that community looks like.
I resonated deeply with it too, in the sense that I read a little meditation or devotion and talking about how prayer is so often weaponized for our ego’s purposes of telling God what we want to happen or telling God what we want from Him. That is not at all what the intent was in what prayer is. This contemplation is a closer form of a word to what prayer is meant to be. It’s this sitting, receiving, being with and in communion with someone, which doesn’t mean just talking at them. If this show is me talking at you, this would not be worth reading to and it would be horrible.
Prayer is active contemplation of sitting, listening, receiving, being with and sharing as well. That’s a part of it, but it’s way over–emphasized, especially in the Western world, in our practice of it here. It’s way more powerful then. It loses power when we do all the talking. Since the ministry is focused on men, I’d love to dive into something we’ve talked about and that is, what is healthy or godly masculinity entail? What does that mean? What does that look like? How do we foster that? That involves both of our personal journeys, but also your ministry and the people that you aim to serve. If you think about this idea of healthy or godly masculinity, how would you in a short or succinct way, describe it?
It’s a huge point of topic in conversation, especially amongst college students and young men with all the social pressures, all the changes and you name it. I get made fun of this all the time because I love this term. I call it a humble swagger. What that means is, one, humility. Being a man of God, I think masculinity is humility. Where I pull that from is the scripture and the story of Jesus and trying to learn from and model how he was a man on this earth. Everything he did, he did it with humility. That’s something that is a lost art amongst men, especially in this day and age. It’s something that I’m trying to learn and do better and something that hopefully I’m able to teach to the guys that are part of this ministry and the guys that we come into contact with.
On the other side of that is sometimes it gets a bad stigma, humility amongst men, and guys can see it as, “That’s a little feminine. That’s not being a man. Maybe it’s letting people walk all over you.” That’s not true. That’s why I had that cheesy word, humble swagger because now it is cool to be humble. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten from a mentor is he said, “Do you know how I knew that guy was the wisest man in the room? Because one, he was the least likely to talk and two, he said, ‘I know nothing about anything.’” He was referring to a spiritual conversation and the guy he was referring to was a well-known pastor. I loved that term because he was humble. He was probably the smartest and wisest guy in the room but his point was, “I didn’t know anything outside of what God tells me.” To me, that was the coolest you could ever be. That’s my term for you in terms of masculinity now is walk into the humble swagger.
It’s like that pairing of humility and confidence. Thinking of the lost art that humility is, you mentioned working on growing it. That is something that we have a responsibility to do in some ways of working on how do we improve and grow in our capacity for humility. It’s also something we receive. It’s both. It’s passive and active, but how do you approach it? What is helpful for you? What have you found to help you become more of a humble man?
The verse that comes to mind and that’s been on my heart is Proverbs 24:5-6, and it says, “The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grew stronger and stronger. Don’t go to war without wise guidance. Victory depends on having many advisors.” That’s not only the verse that I’m going for growing and humility but pretty much every area of life. Surrounding yourself with men that will challenge you in humility and also show it and exhibit it in their life, that’s true discipleship. Walking through life with men that are trying to model their lives after Christ. That’s how I’ve been trying to grow it is surrounding myself with people that I want to emulate because I see them marrying Jesus.
Wise guidance equals growth in many ways. That is the reality of being human is recognizing that we can’t do it alone. We need other people. That is the core of humility is not thinking more of ourselves than we should, in that sense. If you look at the ways, what prevents us from pursuing that community, wise guidance or humility, and even more personally, what’s prevented you in the past, or what has gotten in the way from you going down this path?[bctt tweet=”Drop the masks. Let’s be open and vulnerable to each other. ” username=”upandcomersshow”]
It’s because we can easily see it as a weakness. When we need to reach out for hope, especially as we’re talking about masculinity, it’s tough. It’s tough to reach out and say, “I’m not doing this to the best of my ability. I might be failing at this in life.” That often prevents us from reaching out to that help or saying, “Maybe I need a mentor, guidance or a group of guys every week that I’m going to have to tell, ‘I messed up bad last night. The person I’m dating, I need prayer for that.’” That’s tough. The culture right now is trying to say that would be weakness and looked down upon. We don’t need to share everything we’re going through. Even that phrase, “No one really cares,” that’s personal. We need to be careful of who we share and divulge personal, intimate information with, but that there’s such a need for it.
It’s universally true in every generation that comes through. It doesn’t matter, the cultural moment. I don’t know if that has ever changed. Technology adds to the importance of it because we have this fake feeling of connection without real connection or support, which is the more important aspect of that. It’s like, how many times do we not think we need it or don’t want it because we’re afraid of being vulnerable or authentic or having our real self be known. Having your real true self of all the good and bad and everything in between be known is the most powerful experience we can have as a human. That’s what God promises is saying, “I know you better than you know yourself and ever will know yourself. I love you.”
That is going to transform you. That reality, when it hits you, transforms you. We can experience that in small ways here and now through each other by doing what you’re talking about. By saying, “Here I am.” By receiving that support, love, encouragement and challenge from that person that you communicate with is life-changing. We experienced moments of that. It’s attainable for all of us. That’s why I love what you’re sharing and having this conversation with you because I know that I have benefited so much from that. The people, the mentors in my life, who I was able to share and gain wisdom from, they’re the ones that I know their nuggets of advice and wisdom, and they stick with you, especially in those formative years.
Even to this day, that role should persist and can carry forward in each season of our life because of how important it is. It’s essential. We over-complicate things like this idea of masculinity. We over-complicate what is helpful or what it should be or what it looks like. All those things don’t matter as much as what do we carry within ourselves that can express it in all the different flavors that each person has. Every person is different. Inevitably, there’s going to be a wide range of how it looks with each person, but that underlying humility paired with the confidence of knowing who we’re called to be as men are the foundation of it, I believe. You hit the nail on the head there.
It’s also tough. Someone brought up in a conversation was the idea of fatherhood. I’m also reading John Elder’s book, Followed By God, which helps too, which has been amazing. We’re talking about masculinity, humility and trying to emulate how Jesus walked on this earth is so tough when father figures and even good dads that I know. It’s becoming harder and harder because of how we live our life in COVID, social media and not taking up more time. Going out fishing is more of a rarity these days. Seeing that father figure, whether you call it a father figure, a mentor or your actual dad, they are so much rarer and but they are so needed in terms of teaching us how to live out that humility.
Still being involved deeply with men in college, what do you see as different in the challenges of the college of this next generation versus what you and I had to go through when we were in college? What do you think has changed or shifted in that time period or that generation gap and what remains the same? I’m curious to know what that kind of breakdown from your experience has been?
Not to say age is too much, Thane because we’re not too far out of college. The main thing that keeps stirring up when I’m having conversations with college guys is loneliness. That was the thing when we were in college, but it’s only been exacerbated. That feeling of, “I am not connected to anyone. I have no community.” That’s where ages open up a window for the enemy to climb right in with everything else with a comparison. From the conversations that I’ve had, loneliness has been the main theme. Everything we’ve been talking about adds to that. Being on Instagram 24/7, scrolling and two hours go by, you’re like, “I haven’t hung out with anyone. I haven’t even talked to a real person. I have been looking at what other people are doing and feeling bad about my own life. I’m sitting in my bed in a dark room and now I need to do a homework assignment. It goes my night of ever having a community.” That’s been the biggest issue that I’ve seen.
We got the early phase of that, but this is much more of a well–oiled system phase. I even think about if I had to go through high school with social media being where it is now, I can’t imagine. It was so early on and I think I just had a Facebook but the technology piece has added such an interesting component. As you said, loneliness is not how God designed us. He didn’t design us to be by ourselves. He designed us to be in community, fellowship, and relationship with him and with each other.
We have to be intentional and proactive to counteract our tendencies that are shaped often by technology now. That’s a human reality. We all face that. There’s no one immune to that. I love that you bring that up. I’d love to learn speaking to ministry because I’m curious to know more of your perspective now that you are in “full-time ministry.” Is it helpful or not helpful to think of ministry as separate from other vocations? Like vocational ministry versus being in the business world. Do you find that being helpful or unhelpful, or how do you think about that in a way that is helpful?
I think it’s helpful to connect the two, especially if most people that you’re trying to minister to are not in a typical full-time ministry. To be able to speak their language and understand what they’re going through and as college guys, their career aspirations, there’s a small percentage that is looking to do full-time ministry. Connecting the two also helps you have a better understanding of everything going on that needs to be prayed for and talked about. One example to add to that would be the immediacy of everything. That would be the other thing other than loneliness that is different is things were quick and fast when we were in college, but it’s a whole new level now.
Even when it comes up with the money, you look at everything going on in the stock world with cryptocurrency and the rise of SPACs. You couldn’t think the market can get any quicker, but it has. Whether it’s money or things we’re looking at online with our eyes that we shouldn’t be, it’s immediate in your hands in an instant. When things don’t come in an instant, which oftentimes what God wants for us in His timing, they do not come in an instant and maybe weeks, years and decades. If we’re modeling the Bible, that’s exactly what it’s going to take. That’s been a huge issue that I’ve seen with guys and college guys. Connecting the two ministry and secular is that instant gratification becoming even worse and how that’s crippling college guys because they don’t know how to wait. They don’t know how to pause. They don’t even know what is working towards something.
I even feel that in general, younger people regardless of the era, that is true because we’re younger in age, we’ve had fewer years of life. We want things to happen faster than they do. That’s the naivete of being younger. The older you get, the more you realize how long it takes to do anything well or sustainably. I felt even in 2020 with a couple of my grandparents passing and understanding the idea of legacy better by reflecting those celebrations of the life of man like, “I need to be thinking, projecting, and pursuing an impact of the legacy of saying, ‘What do I want my grandkids to remember when I’m gone?’” That’s a real, lasting legacy. That’s something that I can build towards even now by shaping the character of who I am, what I’m committed to as a man, and even the choices I make more in a long–term view of like, “How can I think about a ten-year goal instead of a ten-minute goal?”
Shifting into that more has been a healthy practice for me, but I can only imagine how much harder it is with technology being preeminent. Regardless of if you’re in college, in a career or whatever stage of life, everyone feels that. It’s real to call it as it is and say, “Our short-term gratification muscles have gotten strong because there’s a lot of dollars at stake for those muscles.” How can we start taking ownership back of those long-term muscles? That patience, persistence and endurance that outlasts the storms that are going to come because life has storms and we’re going to face them. Let’s get some endurance back. Let’s get some strength for the long run back. We all need that reminder a lot in daily life. That’s a sweet thing to bring up.
It reminds me of looking through rhythms. If you go through the Bible and if you look at Jesus’ rhythms, it’s a pendulum swing. You go from working from rest and not resting from work. He goes back and forth between abiding in God and resting and then working and bearing fruit. His rhythm is different than all of our rhythms now. If I look at my own life, I’m like, “This is bad. I prayed ten minutes before this meeting. I’m good to go. I know what I want to do. I knew I didn’t need to say. God, thanks for that.” Then I look at Jesus and I’m like, “You took 40 days or more. Is that what we’re supposed to be doing?” That is wild. That’s radical. That’s something that’s been on my heart and mind that I’ve felt convicted of personally is, am I not taking enough time to stop, pause, and listen before I act and getting caught up in, “If I did that, that’s inefficient or if I took that much time, that is laziness?” If that’s what Jesus was modeling, then maybe our whole view on that is all skewed and wrong.
As you say that, I’m convicted in the sense that if I ask myself, “Is efficiency from God or is it from the devil? It’s that idea. Which one is it from?” That’s a great question. I don’t think it’s a simple answer. It’s too complex for that. The easy understanding is it’s less from God because this bent towards efficiency. What is that about? It’s about becoming our own deity. It’s like, we’re becoming self-sufficient because we’re efficient that we become a superhuman that we can operate at a higher level. It’s like elevating ourselves ultimately, which I never thought about. That is one of my core drivers. My wife will tell you.
She calls it out on me a lot and it’s good because a lot of my pet peeves are things that fuel inefficient or the things that I struggle with, something that feels inefficient that we do or that she does, or even that I do. That isn’t necessarily healthy or helpful. I love even thinking about that with you now is like, “What is a godly form of efficiency?” What you’re saying is the answer of understanding the rhythms that are necessary for walking with God through life. That’s what Jesus did. He walked with God, not out in front of God, and then return to God. Not on his own and say, “Come on, God. You can do this. Come with me.” He was with Him and he pursued Him too in that. That’s a good word. In going into full-time ministry now, how has it been different than you thought it would or what’s the feeling or the experience like that is different than you expected?
The feeling that I always have to keep at the forefront of my mind, that I now know that I didn’t enter into it, is I have to be okay with it all shutting down. That is terrifying, but as soon as I lose that mindset, I should not be doing what I’m doing. I didn’t know that was needed and essential coming into this. That’s a big thing that I think I’ve grown, learned and stepped into is, “God, if you want to shut this down. If I was no longer walking with you, if your blessing and your hands are on it and your favor is not on it, and I’m doing a lot of work for you and not with you, then shut it down tomorrow.” That is terrifying. I’m a business guy and my mind is like, “That’s my paycheck. That’s my retirement fund. How am I going to be okay with that if now my career and my finances are attached to my calling and my mission?” I love that it is. It keeps me humble. It keeps me thinking, “None of this is my own doing.” In a sense, being in ministry also acts as an accountability partner in itself, which, me being a prideful human, is awesome. That’s something that I’ve learned that I didn’t even know I needed and I love it now.
I can relate to that in a lot of ways. My wife and I, we were long–distance dating and it’s hard. We had this picture of walking forward with a hand wide open of saying, “I want to hold this with an open hand.” That is true with what you’re talking about. Even now, as I work on supporting my family and not just me, it’s a different season. It’s a different time. It’s not the same experience. I see all the ways that I’ve gripped things too tightly. It’s like I’ve been exposing more things like, “You’ve been closing your fingers around this ball in your life. Now, we’re going to work on taking those off and completely getting a place of surrender.”
You’re talking about saying, “I’m committed to this with an open hand of saying, ‘It could be gone tomorrow and if that is, great,’” because that’s what you wanted. We all know in our hearts when we’re there, but it usually takes some prying of the fingers off that ball for us to get there and I relate to that. Once you’re there though, it’s such a freeing place. We’re freed up to do whatever it is that we hear God calling us to do. That is a place of openness where we can hear and receive from God as he wants to communicate with us. I think the reason why we aren’t in that place very often is because we’re bent on security, safety and control of things. It’s scary, hard and we’re all human too. That’s part of it.
It’s such a clash between what we’ve been indoctrinated in since birth and that’s what makes it difficult. I struggle with it every single day where I’m like, “Are you sure you don’t care about status and how much would I make God? Are you positive?” That’s radical, but that is what he’s calling us to. He’s like, “If I tell you to drop everything and move, it’s not going to make you any money, it might be for a season. A lot of people are going to doubt you, questioning you and think you’re wild and off your rocker. That’s what I want you to do. That’s obedience. That’s what radically pursuing and furthering the kingdom of God means.” That’s tough.
That’s what Jesus did too. All those experiences, like people questioning us or not thinking it’s wise or makes sense is exactly what Jesus experienced. That’s more in line with some of the persecution than a lot of the modern church like to make it out as some blatant attack from the enemy. It’s more this inner doubt persecution of, “I don’t think that’s wise. You shouldn’t be doing that. You need to be doing this.” All those more seemingly innocent things that when we’re truly following God’s path, that should be a common experience because that’s what Jesus experienced in many ways.
It even seeps in a lot in ministry. You think, “Ministry is a safeguard. We’re good.” Not at all. As you know and have experienced yourself, I have even through my own heart and my own mind. Even with my advisory board and people that are donating, you’re like, “I have to meet these numbers with this ministry. I have to grow to these many schools and these many guys by next year and five years from now.” You lose sight. You’re like, “That is jacked up. That is twisted.” What if my measure of success was how deep I got to go with this one guy last year and see him not even coming to weekly meetings to then being baptized for the first time and becoming on leadership and leading another guy and he became baptized. This is a true story. “What if that were the measure? It’s tough because even the ministry it’s a constant battle for how do we measure success and security with the world’s view of it versus God’s view of it.”
As we bring this conversation to a close, I’d love to know with COVID and 2020, you’ve had to do a lot of pivoting and reworking as everyone has, but figuring out how to make it work even in a new era, all the restrictions and everything that’s happened. You did a lot of cool things, even the conference in 2020. I know you got some things in the pipeline. I’d love to know what you are most proud of thus far, and what are you most excited about ahead?
It was cool to see God’s prompting the Holy Spirit and being like, “We know group meetings in person are tough now because we can’t even have them. Let’s get on Zoom.” College guys, including everyone that’s not even a college guy, Zoom burnout is real. He led to something we call Summer Sessions. Also, as you talked about our Unshakable Conference, that’s something that I’m super happy with, that he led in that direction. Summer Sessions ended up being 30 different colleges represented by college guys, 150 guys, every Thursday night, getting on Zoom and bringing in speakers from seven different industries that were Christian men to come and share wisdom and teaching. Going from there to then the conference, which we had about 350 guys from eight different countries and eighteen different breakout session speakers and four keynotes.
It blows my mind. To your question, I don’t take any pride in any of it because I think I’m still shocked that even happened and it all went smoothly to an extent. Those are things that I’m grateful for. I can’t believe that God did that through us as a vessel. Moving forward, we have what we’re calling the Unshakable Summit. We’re going to be having a father–son retreat. I felt led that as we’ve been talking about a lot about masculinity on our time together on this interview, that’s been something on my whole heart is how do we take guys and their fathers or even if it’s not their blood father, it’s their father figure, and how do we build that relationship between the two? How do we have fun and go fishing and four-wheeling but also add in the aspect of spiritual development? That’s what I’m looking forward to most.
There are two questions to wrap us up here. The first one, if you could study one other person for an entire year, who would it be and why? The first one, the gut-level response. I know there’s a lot of great people to study.
I’m going to sound such a fanboy, but John Mark Comer. I love his books and his podcasts. We talked a lot about the rhythm of Jesus. That is something he goes in on. That would be one person.
The final question that we ask every guest on the show is if you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there, what would you say and why? A short message they get from you on their phones every morning.
“Rise and shine and give God the glory.” That was something that I hated growing up, but my mom would come into my room and sing that song. If you haven’t heard it, you can go look it up on YouTube. Look up Rise and Shine. That’s what I’d say. It’s simple and that’s what I love about it, is the simplicity.
Those things that our parents do that drive us crazy, but there’s a good reason because it sticks and it will bear fruit. Sean, thanks so much for coming on. This has been a blast. Where can people find more about your work and what you guys are up to or even connect with you?
You can either go to BUDMinistries.com. That’s our website, and you can check out anything from there. Unshakable.live where you can check out our events, conferences, and retreats, or check us out on Instagram @BUDMinistries. Those would be the best ways. If you want to get in contact with me, email me at Sean@BUDMinistries.com.
Until next time, it has been a blast. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your experiences. I know it’s been an encouragement to me and I’m sure to all our readers.
Thank you so much, Thane. It’s been an honor. I appreciate it.
For all of you readers, we hope you have an up and coming week because we are out.
Following up with one last things to note. If you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from, whether than be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, quotes I’m pondering or even some sermons I’m enjoying, In-Thane is a monthly newsletter than brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Go to ThaneMarcus.com/inthane to sign up and you’ll be sure to receive the very next one. Each edition of In-Thane is released the first Sunday of the month. This is just a once-a-month newsletter than I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time.
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About Sean Hanson
Gathering men together while a student at Pepperdine University, Sean used his passion for men’s ministry and a master’s in business administration to launch BUD Ministries, a nonprofit seeking to unite, disciple, and equip young men to Be Unshakably Devoted in their pursuit of Christ.
Since its incorporation in 2017, BUD has successfully spread to college campuses throughout the country that now meet on a weekly basis using specific books and devotionals tailored for young men. Sean, born and raised in Malibu, CA, now resides in Nashville, TN alongside his siblings and nieces. His ideal day is spent playing soccer, smoking cigars around a fire, or shooting skeet.
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