So is success…empty?

Why is it that the highs we all experience when we succeed at something never seem to outlast the lows or the hollowness that comes afterward?

Derwin Gray has more than a little experience with that emotional journey.

From making millions in the NFL, to leading one of America’s fastest growing churches, best-selling author Derwin Gray shares how success disappoints, and also explains how he’s positioned his church plant in Charlotte to reach thousands across racial boundaries.

Welcome to Episode 13 of the podcast.


Guest Links: Derwin Gray

Derwin Gray at Transformation Church

Derwin Gray on Facebook

Derwin Gray on Twitter

Transformation Church on Facebook

Transformation Church on Twitter

Christianity Today

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future by Derwin Gray

Hero: Unleashing God’s Power in a Man’s Heart by Derwin Gray

Coming Soon – The High Definition Leader: Building Multi-Ethnic Churches in a Multi-Ethnic World by Derwin Gray

The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast archive

Kenny and Elle Campbell’s Youth Ministry Answers Podcast

Stuff You Can Use

The Orange Conference 2015

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Keeping your staff, volunteers and leadership honest in your church presents challenges. If you have people on your staff who are dependent upon you for their financial well being, they won’t always tell you about your blind spots.  Here are three ways you can make sure your feedback circle stays honest and true when you’re successful:

  1. Have people around you who keep you grounded. Surround yourself with wisdom and maturity. Derwin says to keep people around you who have life experience, people who aren’t dazzled by something that’s new, but dazzled by something that’s true. When you have people who can point out mistakes, it creates a healthy environment that encourages Gospel integrity.
  2. Be approachable. Create an environment where dialogue and approachability are possible. Christians say they don’t want a pope or pastor, and they want a plurality of leaders, yet they think pastors do everything. Maintain the lane you stay in, but don’t act like a celebrity. Have conversations with church members, be a servant and help others.
  3. Establish what you look for in leadership, and make it multi-ethnic. Being a pastor is emotionally hard work; you take criticisms and shots. Derwin says Christians don’t understand the importance of ethnic diversity in church leadership because they’ve been raised on an individualistic, reductionist gospel. Jesus developed the church to embody His kingdom on earth, and it’s not a segregated kingdom. Don’t just let those of other ethnicities hold token positions, but encourage a multi-ethnic environment that offers variety.

Quotes From Derwin

Congratulations to our First Podcast Contest Winner!

First of all, a big THANKS goes to those of you who participated in our first podcast contest! Listeners left more than 100 comments in response to questions that related to each episode, and many of you gave new insights and fresh ideas that will help others lead.

Congratulations goes out to Joe Robideaux! Joe has won free admission to The Orange Conference 2015 and join me and Jon Acuff backstage for coffee!

Thank you again for participating in our first podcast contest. We enjoyed hearing from our listeners and readers and look forward to having more contests in the future, so stay tuned!

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Next Episode: Ryan Russell

Sex takes down more than its fair share of leaders and families. Why is sex so seductive? How do you open up an honest dialogue about sex with your church or with your kids? Episode 14 features my interview with’s Ryan Russell.

Got a question? Leave a comment!

CNLP 013: The Emptiness of Success, the Promise of Evangelism and the Multi-Ethnic Church—An Interview With Derwin Gray


  1. Chris Shumate on December 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I got to the end of the podcast and thought of MLK Jr’s speech about his dream of America. I think Derwin’s dream for the church is along the same line. Here are a few of my nuggets to go along with yours:

    1. Until we [the church] come together as one, we will continue to be a joke to the world.

    2. Chasing numbers makes leaders become tyrants and hurt people
    and damage the name of Jesus. These people may become spiritual whores. Your
    joy should not be derived from a weekend number or being in Outreach Magazine.

    3. We take God’s blessings and worship them then those blessings become a curse
    because they cannot satisfy because they are created. Only the uncreated
    Creator can satisfy, then those blessings become instruments of leveraging His
    grace for the world.

    4. If leaders do not begin to make the changes now [regarding multi-ethnic/multi-generational] they’re going to be like Blackberry smartphones in 2050.

    I love the thought about the new heavens and earth being multi-ethnic. Something that would have been appropriate to have been said is: If you don’t someone because of their skin color, you will hate heaven. I derived that phrase from something my pastor said about worship, “If you hate that we worship so much you will hate heaven, it will be going on all the time.”

    Not that I am living a fully integrated multi-ethnic life now, but I can tell you first hand that my family has been changed for the good thanks to small group members I have in my group. Christ changed me, and is using me and my small group to change the way many in my family think about others who don’t look like “us”.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 10, 2014 at 6:27 am

      Chris…so appreciate this. Thank you for sharing. Well said, and I agree.

  2. Chuck on December 9, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Dude. Bring him back. Period. End of story! Actually stopped grading exams for a second and physically applauded at his comment on “integrating the person the drives the Rolls Royce with the person that eats at McDonald’s” and inviting them to share a meal at one another’s homes. YES!!! That’s one way community gets fired up. (This is a strength of my own small group.) It’s not easy, but it’s GOT to be done.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 10, 2014 at 6:27 am

      Derwin’s amazing, isn’t he Chuck? And for sure, we’re going to bring him back.

      • Chuck on December 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm

        Umm that would be an emphatic yeah! Im into his sermon podcasts now during my grading sessions. His talk on walking thru the wilderness incinerated me. Good call having him on. He’s got a new fan! !

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