CNLP 130: Scott Sauls on Cultivating True Friendships in a Lonely Culture and On Working With Tim Keller

Our culture has never been more connected, yet people have never felt more disconnected.

Scott Sauls talks about how to cultivate true friendship, deep conversations and meaningful dialogue—especially with people who are different than you.

Plus Carey asks Scott for his top lessons from working alongside Tim Keller in NYC for 5 years.

Welcome to Episode 130 of the podcast.

Scott Sauls on the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast

Guest Links: Scott Sauls

Scott’s website

Scott on Twitter

Scott on Episode 49

Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear by Scott Sauls

Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides by Scott Sauls

Free chapter of Befriend and Jesus Outside the Lines

Links Mentioned

ReThink Leadership Atlanta, Georgia; April 26 – 28, 2017

TrainedUp Leadership

App for Daily Book of Common Prayer: Mission St. Clare 

Scott Sauls’ blog post: How I Go About Writing a Sermon

3 Insights from This Episode

1. Social media is great…in moderation.

Social media allows you connect with others. Pastors get to engage with their people and people get to connect with their pastors. We get windows into other people’s lives that we otherwise wouldn’t. And that’s a really great thing.

But like steak or politics, Scott argues, too much of it can be unhealthy or turn you into a jerk.

Too much social media can have a reverse effect if we only communicate through screens. Even though we’re “connecting” with more people, we aren’t being truly known, which leads to loneliness.

2. Gossip is a self-salvation strategy.

We all feel shame and we spend our lives strategizing ways to cover it up. We do this by drawing attention to the flaws and weaknesses of other people. One of the biggest ways this manifests is through gossip.

Scott gives a punch to the gut when he makes the point that gossip and pornography aren’t all that different. Think about it: Gossip is a way to exploit someone else’s weakness without making a commitment to them. We gossip for cheap thrills and to feel better about ourselves entirely at someone else’s expense. We objectify others with gossip.

The most insecure person in the room is the one who gossips the most. It’s a self-salvation strategy… it’s subconsciously saying that Jesus isn’t enough, it’s up to us to get rid of our shame. Shame and gossip destroy community and damages souls.

3. The Gospel transcends all things that divide us.

If we follow Jesus to all the places that He went, then it means loving people beyond the lines of difference. The Gospel transcends all things that divide us. Christianity is the most inclusive religion in the world.

It’s not wrong to be friends with people who are like you. However, when you only hang out with those similar to you, you risk a few things. The first is compassion. Without the perspectives and stories of people who are different than you, we can become cold or blind to their struggles. The second thing we risk is a lack of true friendship. When you have something in common with someone, you might only talk about your common interests and never go deeper.

Bonus Takeaways: 3 Things Scott Learned from Working with Tim Keller

Scott had the opportunity to work with Tim Keller for five years. Scott graciously lets us pick his brain on lessons he learned from the working with one of the greatest preachers of our time.

1. Tim is a man of imperfection (and he’s okay with that).

Tim personifies letting faithfulness being your platform. Scott makes the challenge that it’s time for us as pastors to become less concerned with platform and more concerned with faithfulness.

2. Tim is a man of deep prayer and devotion.

Scott admires Tim’s preaching, leadership and vision… but believe it or not, when it comes to the things that Scott admires about time, those three aren’t even at the top of the list. The thing Scott admires most is that Tim has become more prayerful the bigger his platform has become. Usually the reverse is true.

3. Tim knows how to take criticism.

Tim receives a lot of criticism, a lot of it untrue. Scott never saw Tim get defensive or strike back (even in private). Tim never gossiped or spoke ill of any person who criticized him. In fact, as Scott mentions in his book, Tim takes time to reflect “where’s the kernel of truth in this?”

Quotes from This Episode

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Next Episode: Kyle Idleman

When he was in his early twenties, Kyle Idleman couldn’t get anyone to hire him as a preacher, so he started his own church, which grew to 1000. Two years later he left to join one of the largest churches in the US as a teaching pastor. Kyle and I talk about his journey as a planter, leader and author.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 130.

CNLP 130: Scott Sauls on Cultivating True Friendships in a Lonely Culture and On Working With Tim Keller


  1. […] CNLP 130: Scott Sauls on Cultivating True Friendships in a Lonely Culture and On Working With Tim K… […]

  2. Christoph Koebel on March 8, 2017 at 12:58 am

    in a process getting a beard or forgot to shave????

  3. Mike on March 7, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Great interview, Carey. I especially appreciate the comment about gossip porn and how it creates an “I it” relationship rather than “I thou”

    One thing that pricked my heart was the concept of the lonely pastor. I think Scott specifically recognized that when comparing clergy to non-clergy, we can never be best friends because organizationally we are not equals.

    This is a huge theme of hurt in my life. I have always felt “less than” or “one down” when interacting with church staff. For me it’s impacted my spiritual life to the point that I cannot set foot in a church or even read the Bible because in the back of my mind I hear the narrative “you are not as important or special”.

    How would you speak into the perspective that a church hierarchy creates distance in the body of Christ and objectifies individuals into office roles or attendance numbers? Organizational porn?

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