Rev. Steven Martin
Founder, Lakelands Institute:
Education for clergy and church leaders in this rapidly changing world
Rev. Steven D. Martin has served United Methodist Churches as pastor for twenty years and is a graduate of Candler School of Theology. He brings his expertise in theology, the intersection of faith and politics, and media production to bear upon today’s most challenging problems.
He has produced several films for public television; his writing has appeared in America’s top national media outlets including the Washington Post and USA Today. Steven has served as the Director of Communications and Development for the National Council of Churches in Washington, DC. He speaks frequently at churches, seminaries, and conventions across the US.
Highlights & Imperfect Transcript
I would preach this lifestyle on Sunday morning that I was completely unwilling to live.
I felt like there was a much, much, much more expansive life that was out there waiting for me.
I didn't know if I had it in me or not, but I wanted to try.
I felt like this is a bottle that can't contain me.
You don't know where it's going to end up being. You just know you can't stay where you were.
Project ended up being a documentary called “Muslims in Appalachia”.
This is not linear. You're following your nudges. You’re following what interested you.
Whenever you're making any kind of transition, there's something you're having to choose to leave behind.
We're literally and metaphorically hoarders.
Maybe instead of leave it, we let it go or maybe we just go to the next place. It can be quite freeing.
Sometimes, when we're trying to find our courage or we're trying to muster up whatever it is to tell ourselves to really admit we're not really happy where we are. We want to go somewhere else.
We have all these ways of relating to each other and lifting each other up that don't require a building.
There's at least 100 more ways to which now we have an opportunity, thanks to the experiences that we've had and what we've learned from ourselves, we have an opportunity to learn from it, shape it, and live into it.
I would not be where I am today if it weren't for me taking some giant risks.
I know from experience, it will work out.
You will have what you need to get through this trial.
You'll have exactly what you need to get you through and then you'll be able to live another day.
Having those people around you who can buoy you when you're nervous, people who are going to remind you to take it one step at a time.
Times of great clarity when I've taken a purposeful ride, and just gotten out and occupied my senses with stuff so that my soul could be free to dream and imagine and get clear.
However we are drawn to taking care of ourselves, to stepping out of our routine, to feeding ourselves in a way that accesses different parts of ourselves.
“All I ever wanted was to love and to be loved.”
Cheri Honeycutt: All right. I'm so excited today. I'm getting ready to—we're getting ready to meet one of my good, good friends. It seems I'm always inviting my friends on the podcast. I do invite my friends on the podcast, but in this case, I have a really good reason to do so. Hi, Steve.
Steve Martin: Hey, Cheri, how you doing?
Cheri Honeycutt: Good, good, good, good. This is Reverend Steven D. Martin. He's Steve to me. And let me give you a little bit of background about Steve. I know him through my husband. He's a music person. I used to play in bands together. So I've known him socially first, but then as I started to get to really know, Steve, he is a powerful man. He's got lots of stories and lots of expertise. Let me tell you a little bit about that.
First of all, he served in United Methodist Church for a pastor for 20 years, for a long time. He's got this interesting sort of connection between theology and then how that intersects with politics and then he puts that out in media production. So he has his rich history of creating films for public television, his writing, which is appeared in a lot of wonderful places like the Washington Post, The USA Today. He's a sought after speaker. He was the Director of Communications and Development for the National Council of Churches. So he has this unique intersection between, like I said before, politics and theology and being a human on this planet. And he's just pretty cool. So that's my introduction of Steve. So far, so good. Am I doing it?
Steve Martin: It's too much.
Cheri Honeycutt: It’s too much. Way too much. Okay. He threw the bullshit flag on the play. But it's all true. It's all true. But all the stuff I just told you is not really why I invited Steve on the podcast. The reason I invited Steve on the podcast is because I consider Steve to be a thought leader. And I mean that oh, yeah, I do. And meaning, Steve thinks lots of thinks. He has lots of thoughts.
Steve Martin: I'm cracking up. I'm cracking up.
Cheri Honeycutt: He does. He's a deep thinker. And every time I have a conversation with Steve, I leave of feeling like I've really learned something and I've also left with a couple new questions. That's what I think a good thought leader is.
Steve Martin: So you set the bar really high. And I don't know how I'm gonna live up to it. So why don't we just close this interview out right now and call it a day, huh?
Cheri Honeycutt: (Laughs) Maybe that's a good plan. Nope, nope, you're not getting off the hook that way. The second reason, not only is Steve a thought leader, but also Steve has taken a fairly non-traditional career path for a minister. And so you know, this podcast is all about living on purpose. One of the biggest things that we discover as we're going along with our life is sometimes we hit a place where we're like eh, I'm not really sure that I'm doing what I want to be doing. So I don't know if that's where our conversation will go, but that's one of my ulterior motives. It’s to introduce you to more people and then let's just see where our conversation goes. How's that sound?
Steve Martin: Heck, yeah. Let's do it.
Cheri Honeycutt: Heck, yeah. Let's do it. Let's do it. So do you want to start where I just ended a little bit about your path where you are now or maybe where you've come from?
Steve Martin: Yeah. I'm trying to figure out that you’ve asked it in a way that's really, you know how people will ask you a question and you have kind of your road answer that you fly out there and you know, you've practiced it a bunch of times. And you asked it in such a way that I don't really, I can't really do that. So it's making me think about a little bit.
Being a pastor, when you feel called to ministry, you have this kind of feeling that doesn't have a voice to it yet. It's not articulated. It's not like you hear this booming voice. “Oh Steve, you should be…” You don't have this clearly articulated pathway laid out for you, but everybody around you tries to give it to you, right? They say oh well you're feeling this feeling, that's what, this is what this is. And people are quick to kind of guide you into a certain career path that may fit and it may not.
I did feel that call and I did pursue that career path because everybody around me told me. That's what you do. And it didn't fit it. I did a great job of it. I really enjoyed it. I really made it, you know, what it needed to be. But eventually, I talked about my soul being torn apart. How's that for dramatic?
Cheri Honeycutt: Oh, my gosh. I wish I had music.
Steve Martin: No, I would preach this lifestyle on Sunday morning that I was completely unwilling to live. And here's what I mean by that. I recognize that, you know, when I preach, I would always kind of drift back to the Gospels because Jesus is the dude and I like talking about him and thinking about him. And I recognize that Jesus lived a certain way that I was completely unwilling to live. So I was talking to people and telling them how to, you know, live according to Jesus’ way when everything in my life was not about that.
And it really, it's not around morality questions or things like that, it's down to, you know, and when Jesus was asked, “Hey, can I follow you? I'd like to come follow you.” His answer, in one instance, was “Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” So in other words, okay, you can come follow me, but you better know what you're getting into. And it's not a cushy, comfortable lifestyle with the Toyota Sienna minivan, and the big house, and all that. It's something very different.
That's just a really short version of a very long story where I just felt like I was more and more living at odds with the thing that was calling me out of myself, right? So my brother had taken a turn in the 80s where he decided not to work for the Man anymore. He wasn't going to work for a big company. He realized that big companies, you know, they take your hard work and your innovation, and then they, you know, they bottle it, mark it up and sell it and make more money than you do off of your hard work. He's saying, “I'm not gonna do that anymore.” And he went out to California and became a business owner, millionaire, and all that kind of good stuff. And that had always been intriguing to me and I'm a tactile learner. I got to do it.
Cheri Honeycutt: The entrepreneurial part, Steve?
Steve Martin: Yeah, the entrepreneurial part. And I just was so curious, like, wow, I really loved to, that sounds like fun. I'd like to do that. And so, you know, again, a very long story being cut short, when I really recognized that I needed to leave the pastoral ministry and strike out there and do something else. And it wasn't that I was wanting to go sell cars, it’s that I felt like there was a much, much, much more expansive life that was out there waiting for me. I didn't know if I had it in me or not, but I wanted to try. So based on my brother's experience, you know, and just understanding that the only way you really move ahead in this world is you just kind of grab it and go there, you know? And I did and it was terrifying.
Cheri Honeycutt: Absolutely. Oh my gosh. There's so many there are so many nuggets out of what you just said. If I can, I want to circle around to some of those.
Steve Martin: No, you can't.
Cheri Honeycutt: I can't do it now. Okay, podcast over. (Laughs) So a couple of things that you said here and there was this part of you and I just got this image of this like “pilot light” that is in some of our hearts and in our bodies, that there's this pilot light that burns—I don't know if it burns for everybody—but it burns for some who kind of feel that there's this thing that they want to create. That’s the vision I saw as you were speaking. And there’s a part of you, and actually, I do believe this is true for all humans that we all want to create something. We're creators, right? So when we sometimes end up following a path laid out before us that we didn't have to create, you know, we're just, going down the numbers, it can be unfulfilling, right? Is that kind of what happened for you?
Steve Martin: Right. And, you know, again, looking at things theologically, institutions are always broken. They're always broken. There's no good institution out there. They're all a mixture of good and not good and sometimes downright evil. And the Church is, you know—
Cheri Honeycutt: No exception, right?
Steve Martin: Yeah, just no exception. It wasn't really that I just felt like it was all going wrong. It's just I felt like well, this is a bottle that can't contain me. Yes. This is the “I'm sorry, I'm really not this Jesus-ey in my normal voice of conversation.” But it’s that whole image of new wine and old wine skins. It just wasn't working. It was bursting. And one more biblical concept and idea, it's Abraham’s wandering around out there in the desert. He's doing good. He's got all of his animals and his kids around him and everything's good. And here's God, say, you know, “Leave the land of your fathers and go where I call you.” God doesn't tell him where he's going. He says go and follow me. Just leave. Go. So you don't know where you're going. You don't know where it's going to end up being. You just know you can't stay where you were. And that's really kind of where I was at that time.
Cheri Honeycutt: I love that you've put it that way, Steve, because I know from my own clients, I know this from my own life, and I'm beginning to believe this is how it happens for those who they just have this knowing, you know, or this discomfort. Sometimes I talk about it about the rock in your shoe. There's just a discomfort that it gets so bad, you have to stop and say, “This isn't working for me.” And then it takes great courage because you're right, it's scary.
Steve Martin: And just to talk about how scary it was, the day that I left my office and my last pastor’s job, you know, I had all my books and boxes on a dolly and wheel it out the door and the door closed behind me and I heard the sound of it. And I literally just went, “Holy ****! What have I done?” What have I done? What have I done? It was probably three months before I started to settle back down and go, “All right. You know, I haven't made a mistake here. I think this is gonna work”. And it was really, really tough. I wanted to go back, but I couldn't. The door was closed behind me and I couldn’t go back.
Cheri Honeycutt: Closed literally metaphorically. And one of the things I don't think I've really mentioned as clearly as I wanted to, but at the beginning of the introduction is that when you did that, if I'm not mistaken, you created, your company's name is Lakeland Institute. And you have been evolving that into your own creation, right?
Steve Martin: Well, actually, what I'm referring to is back in 2006.
Cheri Honeycutt: Oh, when you preaching. Gotcha.
Steve Martin: When I left preaching was it was 2006. And I started something called Vital Visuals, which was about another long story, but it was about filmmaking and the possibilities of documentary filmmaking to connect people and to help us understand bigger issues. So that was the original vision. After that, I went to work for the National Council of Churches and then that finished up back last May or a year ago in May. Lakelands has been something I've been building since then.
Cheri Honeycutt: Gotcha. Okay. Sorry for that confusion. But leaving that that sort of predictable, you know, you'll always have a church. You’ll say, and then you're like, left out and go, “No, I'm going to go serve in another way.” So go back to this just for a little bit, Steve. We fast forward it to the part where you knew that you wanted to change? What were some of the signs along the way that were uncomfortable or that really got you to be aware, “Hey, this isn't working for me?”
Steve Martin: Well, the first thing was, it was a much more positive thing. It started really in as far back in 1996 when I did a refugee sponsorship in a church that I served up in Upper East Tennessee. And that was something that really broadened my mind about the ways we can really help change people's lives in churches. It was an unconventional kind of project. A lot of churches do it now or when they can do it when the law allows us to do it, when federal policy allows us to do it.
But that was really the first big change, I think. And then in 1999, I think Adobe came out with software that would allow you to edit video on a desktop computer and prior to that, it required this roomful of tape decks and stuff, you know. I'm a computer nerd and tinkerer and I pitched to a group that I was working with, “Hey, I'd like to use this technology to make a documentary film and I want to get it on PBS.” And, you know, and I said that and they're like, “Cool. Here's $10,000.” And I said, “(stammered)” because I've never done it before.
I talked it up and I got the money. And then I was like, oh, ****. I've got to do the work now. I didn’t really know if I could. Well, that project ended up being a documentary called “Muslims in Appalachia”. And it went up to the satellite, the PBS satellite, which is amazing story in and of itself, but it went to the satellite in August, and or in July. And then in August, I saw that it had been played by six stations somewhere in the country. And I was like, “Oh, my God, this is incredible!”
And then, in September, the following month, I don't know if you remember it, but there was this thing where like, 19 guys flew a bunch of airplanes into some really tall buildings in the United States.
Cheri Honeycutt: Yeah. I might have heard about that.
Steve Martin: You might have heard about that – 9/11. Well, from that point on, American-Islam was front and center. And in the next six months, it went to 45 stations and 70 million households. I got to be part of the big conversation, right? The work of the pastor who has 140 people in their church every Sunday morning is a precious gift. It is a precious, precious thing. I don't mean this to demean. I don't say this to demean that at all. But, I realized that there was possibly a grander platform out there. There may not be a greater platform, but there was at least a larger one.
In the months after that was very heady time. I was, you know, being called. I get these phone calls, “Hey, can you come speak at our convention?” I was, you know, flying all over, speaking places. I had, you know, great, big, big names in church, church leadership life, you know, they would see me and they'd want to sit at my table at lunch. It was like this head snapping moment of “Wow, there is a bigger platform.” And you know, you're, you're kind of young and you're kind of in mid-life situations, and you're kind of thinking, “Well, maybe I could make a go of this.” And it took me a few years after that, you know, I was still making films while I was a pastor and everything. But then there was a question behind that, though. (Laughter)
Cheri Honeycutt: I don't know, I can't remember, but I'm taking your story. I mean, I'm learning I'm learning stuff that I didn't know and—
Steve Martin: But that's was the genesis of it. That was going on at the same time, this other, you know, the rock and the shoe experience, as you say, was still going on. It was like, you know, there's this platform that you have, this voice that you have, but now you're over here and you're feeling the possibility that’s there. But you're not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to pursue that and live that out. And I've just I've always been very, very curious about what I call the wilderness path, you know, Jesus, that's kind of you know, the high wire walk with a vision in mind, but no visible means of support.
Cheri Honeycutt: Exactly. Exactly. Wow. So a couple of things I just want to circle around to. That this is this is not linear. This is sort of oh, this thing comes up here and what I do hear though, is you're following your nudges. You were looking at what interested you. You were being open. And then you're like, “Sure, I'll make a film.” There was some risk-taking involved. To my way of thinking, when stuff like that comes out of my mouth, when I've all of a sudden say I will do something before I even know how, that's God talking. This is my own personal belief. It's like I said I would because it wasn't about me. You know? And I'm also hearing that there was both joy and pain sort of at the same time. There was this thundering.
Steve Martin: You betcha.
Cheri Honeycutt: Yeah, you're like, oh, people are listening to me, I'm part of the conversation, but I'm also not being fed in this area of my life.
Steve Martin: Yeah, since then, I've kind of figured out that you can never make a step forward without leaving something behind. Whenever you're making any kind of transition, there's something you're having to choose to leave behind.
Cheri Honeycutt: Absolutely.
Steve Martin: That’s the hard part. We human beings don't like leaving stuff behind. I don't like leaving stuff behind. You can look in my garage to see the very truth of that. Yeah.
Cheri Honeycutt: Yeah, we're literally and metaphorically hoarders, aren't we? We want things to change, but we want them to stay the same. We want new experiences, but we want to hold on to the old stuff. I think we think it keeps us safer because “Oh, what if I've changed my mind?” However, when we leave something, maybe instead of leave it, we let it go? Or maybe we just go to the next place. It can be quite freeing too, right?
Martin: Yeah. I learned that with a summer in Berlin. You ready for this?
Cheri Honeycutt: I'm ready. Hit it.
Steve Martin: Well, just simply. Once I launched into this wonderful entrepreneurial world, I was free to travel and free to do some adventurous things. I talked to foundation into a project that involved me spending the summer in Berlin with my kids, with my family. And we traveled Europe the whole time. We did all kinds of great things. But part of what I learned there for sure was, we read it—I've got a big family. There's six of us, wife and four kids, little kids at the time. We needed a place to stay over there and I was able to arrange for an apartment, which was, it was 2,000 square feet. And I thought, well, this'll do because we need all this space for our kids. There's a lot of kids. And we got over there and the place was lovely, but it was way too big. You know why? Because now, we’re stuffed in it. The kids didn't need all that space. They didn't each need a bedroom. They were fine being together. But what I realized was that wow, I have the big house in the suburbs. Not for me, it's for all that stuff I'm not willing to let go off.
Cheri Honeycutt: Stuff. Yes. Yes. I'm listening to George Carlin speaking in my head about stuff. All of a sudden, I just heard George Carlin. You gotta have storage for our stuff.
Steve Martin: Yeah. And so that's a whole another journey there towards smaller or simpler living. But…
Cheri Honeycutt: Yeah, and for those who do that, you know, you I'm attached to my stuff. I really, really am. But for those who have less of it, they're able to weave and bob through their not life a little easier than those of us who a tease everybody. I'm like I've got enough stuff in my garage in case of a friend of a friend's kids daughter needs to have a wedding catered. I'm good. Why am I holding on to stuff? You know? But we do.
Steve Martin: Yeah. And I just realized, you know, just quickly, I realized that I was living for that stuff instead of that stuff living for me.
Cheri Honeycutt: Exactly.
Steve Martin: So it's still a long, ongoing journey, but I'm trying to get rid of the stuff, trying to downsize continually. It'll probably be a project until I die.
Cheri Honeycutt: I have these things, I talked about the seven tenants of living on purpose and one of those is letting go of what you no longer need. And of course, that's a pretty simplistic statement, but man, it's a hard one. Discerning do I need it? Do I not need it?
Steve Martin: Hey, Cheri. E = mc2 is a pretty simple equation, but it has some pretty big ramifications. Right? Smartass. (Laughs)
Cheri Honeycutt: By the way, when you hear that beep. I am not sensoring Steve. Steve is sensoring himself. (Laughter) He's got his own buzzer. I am not buzzing him.
So the other thing I want to go back to the story. You said you watched your brother do this. Sometimes, when we're trying to find our courage or we're trying to muster up whatever it is to tell ourselves to really admit we're not really happy where we are. We want to go somewhere else. We have to look and see evidence that it can be done or at least I think that's a real help for us. You did that with your brother. While it wasn't necessarily the ministry, and you know what, Steve, I have a feeling and that ministers are now watching you craft a new life in a way to minister in a new way.
Cheri Honeycutt: I hope so. I hope so. Because it's my contention that the old model is broken. I'm a United Methodist. I'm a member of what we used to call the mainline churches. And I don't know, if you've been paying attention, but that model, that way of doing things is broken. It is done. And yet, you know, the need for spirituality in society is probably at its greatest peak. I actually got to pitch this idea to CBS and they did the show. It was a one of these little Sunday morning documentaries. I said you should look at the kind of decline in the mainline churches and the in the rising interest in spirituality.
You should do an investigation of the proliferation of yoga studios in the cities because that's where people are going instead of church. It's a religious practice, but it involves, you know, commitment. It involves the whole body. It brings benefits, but it doesn't bring, you know, baggage, obligation, dogma, all that kind of stuff. You're probably ought to pay attention to that. That is one of my big kind of things. That we think this is becoming an irreligious culture, but it's not. It is a deeply spiritual culture that we just express our need for community, our need for spirituality, bonding, all these kinds of things in very different ways that we did in the 1950s and 60s. And that's what we got to pay attention to.
Cheri Honeycutt: Gosh, Steve, I love that so much because it's been mislabeled. People are not interested in sitting on a pew for two hours every Sunday morning. I mean, some are, you know, but, but it draws me back to your part of your story. That all of a sudden, you were doing this thing that you were interested in, follow me here, Steve, if this makes sense. Before it was even invented, Adobe comes around and you get to start editing films at home. You had this niggling of this thing you wanted to do before some of the things were invented for you to do it. So now we're in this place where churches transforming or has the ability to transform, and we just have to go with it even before the answers of how it's going to make sense five years from now will not even be evident now. Does that make sense?
Steve Martin: Yeah, it totally does. I was working with one church, they were trying to re-plan their worship service times and stuff post-COVID. They kept coming back to “If we do something online, how does that bring people into the church?” What do you mean? Well, we want to bring them into the building, so they can be one of us, you know? How do you get them to give money to the budget when they're online?”
It's like, “Hmm, is that what we're really supposed to be doing? Like once they're in the building, then we have done our job.”It's a totally misguided and inadequate view of what community life can look like in this new Zoom-based kind of era that we live in. Where we talk to our parents via FaceTime. We connect with friends with Happy Hour. We have Zoom Happy Hours, whether there's a pandemic locking us down or not.
We have all these ways of relating to each other and lifting each other up that don't require a building, don't require a building that was, by the way, built in 1958 and hasn't been updated since it was built. When you update your kitchen every five years, you know, we won't update our church buildings, and we wonder why young people don't really want to come in.
My premise is basically that the essence of it is still good and beautiful, but the structure we have is completely broken. We have an opportunity, thanks to COVID, we have an opportunity to totally re-learn some things in COVID and we have an opportunity to imagine them to bring them out, to try to make mistakes. Was it Elon Musk who says run around and break things or something. I don’t know. Something like that.
Cheri Honeycutt: And so what you just described so beautifully with that the church has the opportunity, I would go so far as to all of us have an opportunity in our own life—
Steve Martin: Isn’t that something?
Cheri Honeycutt: We’ve been sitting on the couch, watching Netflix, figuring out what's worked, what didn't work, things that got removed that we don't really want to replace again, you know?
Steve Martin: I just lost the connection.
Cheri Honeycutt: Yeah. Are you back now? You're still frozen up on my end, but that's okay. Are you there now? Yeah. Okay, good. Good, good, good. We're gonna start that over.
Steve Martin: Yeah, start that over and we’ll pretend it didn’t happen.
Cheri Honeycutt: I want to take what you just said about the church, and sort of overlay that very same sentiment on us as individuals and us as the culture at 50,000 feet in us as individuals, where we're going like, ah, do I really want to add back what got removed? We were much more judicious. We've also had a big spotlight lined up on us going hmm, I don't know that I like that anymore. In that uncomfortable place in our discomfort, we get to ask ourselves, how can we do this differently in our lives?
Steve Martin: The workplace is going through an equally huge—the workplace as an institution, you know, and everybody's wondering, Well, why is it people don't want to go back to work right now? Why is there a job shortage? Well, maybe it's because the government support programs were too generous. Maybe? Maybe we’re just incentivized to stay at home. We don't want to work. But it could also be that “Gee, I'm, you know, I'm not sure I want to work for $2.12 an hour at a restaurant anymore. There might be a better way to do that.”
Cheri Honeycutt: Yeah. And rely on somebody to tip me. Yeah.
Steve Martin: And yeah, maybe I don't want to go, gosh, I kind of liked—mean, I live in suburban D.C. and I used to get ready. I used to commute three hours every day. Three hours of my day. Now, it was a good commute because I was on a train and I could relax—
Cheri Honeycutt: Holy cow. But still…
Steve Martin: —and everything, but that was three hours that was neither work nor home. I think that the commute is an institution that we're all questioning now. Is that really a good use? COVID, in all of the pain that that brought us, it caused us to ask those questions. There's at least 100 more ways to which now we have an opportunity, thanks to the experiences that we've had and what we've learned from ourselves, we have an opportunity to learn from it, shape it, and live into it.
Cheri Honeycutt: Absolutely. And what I would add to that is I don't want us to go too quickly to the answers. Let's make sure we're asking the right questions. Let's just keep asking questions before we jump to the answers. We'd love to have the answers. We want it to be tied up in a neat bow. But let's let it evolve.
Steve Martin: I'm convinced I'm not smart enough to provide any answers. I'm really not and that's where I think it's another cool thing that's going on these days. We can ask questions and there's always this… I mean, you remember when the internet became a thing. Every little town had 15 little internet start-ups before Comcast came in and bought up everything. Likewise, this is this wild time where everybody's out there trying it and they're experimenting. There’s just so many areas of life where it hasn't just jelled together and become this thing. We're in that experimentation phase. It’s exciting.
Cheri Honeycutt: It is exciting. That circles me back around to the very beginning of your story where you said you had this calling, but you couldn't put words to it. And then others tried to tell you what it meant and to quickly put you into a formulaic way for that to be made present in your life. That's what we have to be really careful of trying not to do again. That as people saying, you know, this isn't working for me, is allow folks to sit in that and fit instead of going, “Oh, well, I've got the right idea for you.” We may tend to do that pretty quickly if we're not careful.
Steve Martin: We also have to be very careful not to act out of anxiety. So it's very difficult. We don't do well in limbo. We don't do well when we're wandering in the wilderness and we don't really see where we're going. That's just human nature.
Cheri Honeycutt: It’s hard for us, right?
Steve Martin: And you have to be willing or able to stay in. And a lot of people just aren't. I think sometimes your circumstances are such that you just can't. I thought I could, I jumped off the cliff, and realize the minute I jumped off, oh ****, this is really uncomfortable. But what I did find out is I am quite certain that my life has been much bigger, and much richer than it ever would have been if I had maintained the career pat. We're not talking about churches and pastors and calling. It was the certain career path that was weld, the road more traveled, shall we say.
Cheri Honeycutt: Right, it just wasn’t a good fit.
Steve Martin: Yeah. I just would not have been able to do that. I would not be where I am today if it weren't for me taking some giant risks.
Cheri Honeycutt: Yeah. So I wanted to see if I can ask you a couple questions that I asked a lot of folks on the podcast just to kind of have some kind of connection between these. So let's go to that question. What, what do you do now and what did you do in the past when you were in that that limbo place to kind of stay okay while you're in a place of limbo? What advice do you have around that? Or what tips have worked for you?
Steve Martin: So anytime you're starting out something new, there are periods of discouragement, you know? And you're like, sitting in a work, I don't know why, you know, and you get really frustrated and you’re like grrr! Thankfully, I've been in this long enough that I know, and I know it's not just kind of a pie in the sky thing, I know from experience, it will work out. Something will happen tomorrow or next week. Something will drop in your lap that you weren't expecting, you don't know where it came from. You will have what you need to get through this trial. You won't have more. You won't have less. You'll have exactly what you need to get you through and then you'll be able to live another day. It's not even something I really even think about anymore, other than just to say, “You know, Steve, you've been through this before. It's gonna be fine.”
Cheri Honeycutt: So, there's faith there.
Steve Martin: There’s faith. There's also support from a very, very special person in my life who is ready to say, “It's all gonna be fine. Don't worry. It's gonna work out.” And that's something that I didn't always feel in my marriage. To her credit, there was so much at stake, you know, four kids. It's a big deal.
Cheri Honeycutt: To stop what you're doing so and go—
Steve Martin: Yeah, that's a big deal. But to have people around you who also believe in you and know that it's gonna work out, I think that's really key to keep you going.
Cheri Honeycutt: That amen brother. Having those people around you who can buoy you when you're nervous, people who are going to remind you to take it one step at a time. We can't underscore that enough. So how do you know when you're and I call it in the flow or really in the
flow? Maybe the other question is how do you know when you're out of the flow? Talk about that for a minute.
Steve Martin: My perception of the length of the day. If I find myself, if I look up and go “Wow, I can't believe it's only 10:30.” If I find myself, you know, watching the clock, then I know I'm out of it. I'm out of flow.
Cheri Honeycutt: Gosh, that’s right.
Steve Martin: And if I find myself looking up and going “Wow, today's going fast.” I talked to so and these people and learned, you know, that's when I know.
Cheri Honeycutt: That is a brilliant distinction. I’m nodding my head because I agree when I can get immersed and not. And I'll tell you when I start to do that I'm clock watching, I just get up, and go do something else. Just get up and do something else. Do you have a routine or anything that keeps you sort of centered and grounded? Do you have a practice, a spiritual practice or routine, anything that you want to speak to?
Steve Martin: You know I'm one of the most undisciplined people you'll ever meet.
Cheri Honeycutt: I don't believe you.
Steve Martin: Well, it's true. And I don't really have a regular practice that I do. I know I should. I know I’d benefit from those things when I do them. But I'm not the kind of guy to have to do his morning devotionals and all of that. This is gonna be really whack and I'll have to explain it. So three years ago, I started riding a motorcycle. And there have been times where I needed to make some big decisions. I need to come to terms with some things. And there's one notable time when I got out on my bike and was told by my partner to just go ride for, you know, ride all day, just go. And I was out for about eight hours. And I use the time to really think and meditate.
And the cool thing about that is, is that it's a very, you know, if you haven't ridden a bike, it's kind of a Zen exercise because you got to be so hyper alert and aware of everything going on around you because your life depends on it. You have to like stay right on top of things. Your reaction time has to be sharp. You've got to be really, really tuned in and that occupies that side of your brain that allows the other side, the intuitive side, to kind of break free and be.
It’s kind of like yoga. I'd never done yoga. You can look at my body and tell that I've never done yoga day in my life. But I understand that's kind of what is going on. Yeah, there have been some, some times of great clarity when I've taken a purposeful ride, and just gotten out and occupied my senses with stuff so that my soul could be free to dream and imagine and get clear.
Cheri Honeycutt: That’s beautiful. Yeah. I love that. When I asked the question, I wasn't tied to it needing to be a daily practice or look a certain way. I mean, it's however we are drawn to taking care of ourselves, to stepping out of our routine, to feeding ourselves in a way that accesses different parts of ourselves. All that, in my mind, is part of our practice. If you had to put your motto on a bumper sticker, what would it be?
Steve Martin: My motto on a bumper sticker?
Cheri Honeycutt: Yeah. Your philosophy, your motto?
Steve Martin: My philosophy, my motto. Gosh, I'm gonna get real vulnerable here. And I'm gonna say, “All I ever wanted was to love and to be loved.”
Cheri Honeycutt: Oh, hmm. That's lovely. I love you.
Steve Martin: Well, the preface to that is as it turns out. Because I've looked for all these other things, but as it turns out, all I really ever wanted.
Cheri Honeycutt: So you know what, Steve? I wonder if that's not true if all of us really got to the core of it. If that's not true for all of us.
Steve Martin: I'm guessing. It could be.
Cheri Honeycutt: Yeah. That’s beautiful. So here's my last question for you. Is it milk chocolate or is it dark chocolate?
Steve Martin: I gotta say milk chocolate.
Cheri Honeycutt: Aww, we're not friends anymore. I'm just kidding!
Steve Martin: That’s a tough one. There's no right answer to that one.
Cheri Honeycutt: I know! But you know I’m biased.
Steve Martin: It depends on the mood. I’m going to be pondering that question for a long time.
Cheri Honeycutt: Okay, good. Yeah. I would have taken you for a dark chocolate guy. I would just say that, but, you know, what do I know? Steve, I have loved this conversation. I have written down so many notes. So many ways. Your story has sparked in me a real a real connection to my own work. I know it is sparked and will spark and others who are listening to this.
This idea that when our discomfort is not something we run away from, but it might be a sign that we're ready and able and find the courage to move into the next thing, even when it's not all laid out for us. And that you've highlighted the power of having support around that and trusting and also sitting in the time where it's not super clear. And I love that you've been vulnerable and shared that with us. And I love you dearly, friend. Thank you.
Steve Martin: Love you too.
Cheri Honeycutt: This was great.