Welcome back to my interview with Mark Altrogge, senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church (Indiana, PA). Read part one of the interview here and part two here.
Mark, what single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your effective use of time?
To read Getting Things Done by David Allen. And to buy Mindjet MindManager mind mapping software.
However, I liked the way David Powlison described his effective use of time in your previous interview. So I’m going to throw out Getting Things Done and Mindjet and start reading novels and going for walks.
What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your leadership?
Years ago, your teachings on grace revolutionized my leadership style. Previously, I had a “me against them” attitude. I believed I had to whip my flock into shape against their will, as if they had dared me to try to make them love God. But you helped me understand that God’s grace gives believers his Spirit and hearts that desire to love and please him. My job is to point them to Christ who empowers them to overcome sin and carry out the longings he implants in them.
I command all leaders to listen to your message “Grace and the Adventure of Leadership.” Best message I ever heard.
Where in ministry are you most regularly tempted to discouragement?
I used to get discouraged at our church’s slow growth until I heard someone quote Spurgeon’s advice to small church pastors, “So you’re discouraged about leading a small church? Is it enough to be accountable for on judgment day?” Cured me.
Over the years God has worked in me grace to trust that Christ, not me, will build his church. This helps counter my temptations to discouragement over my manifold inadequacies and failures. And your reminder, C.J., that a church is not built on one sermon, but over many years, always encourages me.
Do you exercise? If so, what do you do? If not, why not? (Please be specific.)
I jog seasonally, only in warm weather. I don’t do anything in cold weather. This goes back to the one and only time I went deer hunting. We took our positions in the frigid dark at 6 a.m. I was so miserably cold (and bored) that by 8:00 I had consumed my whole thermos of coffee and all my lunch. For the rest of the day I sat there hunched over, shivering, teeth chattering, holding an icy rifle, that I never shot once. Scarred me for life.
I jog 2–4 times a week, 20–30 minutes, using my patented 1/1 interval training, which I will now share with the world. I jog for 1 minute, then walk for 1 minute, all the while telling myself I can do anything for 1 minute. So when I’m dragging my carcass up a hill, I cheerfully encourage myself saying, “I only have to do this for 1 minute, then I can walk.”
Currently, what sport do you like to play and/or watch?
Why does it always have to be about sports, C.J.? I’d like to know what art museum are you currently visiting? What abstract expressionist most influenced your life? If not, why not?
Ok, my favorite sport is curling. No, professional origami. Hey, I spent 19 years of my life at little league fields watching my kids. I raised a son who wrote a sports book. What more do you want from me?
What do you do for leisure?
Hunting and lacrosse.
Actually, I like to go out to dinner with Kristi. And Barnes & Noble. I like to read, write songs, watch Iron Chef America. I like to wander through the streets of any city with a camera and take photos of sewer covers, wrought-iron gates and neon signs (remember I was an art major). Coffee shops.
If you were not in ministry, what occupational path would you have chosen?
When Brent Detwiler talked me into becoming a pastor I was teaching Elementary Art, hoping to someday teach art at the university level. So I guess I would have become a professional athlete.
My friend, thank you for a most memorable and insightful interview!