Chris Brown is a highly sought-after Pastor, Speaker, and Church Leadership Expert. He has over 20 years of ministry and financial experience. Brown has been featured on national media outlets such as Fox & Friends; but most importantly, he passionately loves the local church and has served as a Campus Pastor at Elevation Church and Executive Pastor and Chief Financial Officer at Potential Church.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I wrote a book documenting my childhood and all that I learned through it all but in short, I had a TERRIBLE childhood that included several drunk father figures, intense poverty, constant violence, and instability. To this day I fight bouts with the remnants of growing up feeling rejected, abandoned, and literally left for dead.
Growing up underneath bridges, under fishing piers, in abuse shelters, and in the back seat of cars has definitely left some scars but the scars no longer hurt…they are now reminders of what I have been saved from and a life that I have been plucked out of. There’s a grit and perseverance that can only exist inside a person who has been through some “stuff.”
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
I wish I would have realized what my primary gifts were earlier. Many of us can do many things but for me, it wasn’t until I was over 40 years old that I realized what my optimal lane was. I’ve spent 20 years doing a lot of different things, but it wasn’t until now that I realize the exact activities that I need to focus on to have maximum fulfillment and to also bring maximum value to others. The ironic thing about my answer is that THE PROCESS is actually NECESSARY in order for us to eventually realize our sweet spot.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Where do I start?! There is so much toxic advice out there. Just because it’s on the internet does not make it true or helpful right?!
Here’s one…and this may not be popular…but the social pressure for all students to go to college. I just don’t get it. College may be a good decision for some industries, but there are so many ways to be successful without spending heaps of money for a certificate that will be filed away and never asked about ever again.
I’ve hired hundreds of extremely sharp people throughout my career and I’ve never given a rip where they went to college. I’m concerned if they are humble, hungry, and good with people. The reality is they either have “IT” or they don’t.
Some kids may need the structure. Other kids may need ‘the years’ of diligent discipline in order to buy time for them to mature. But it’s time to get rid of the mass pressure for all to go to college in order to feel legitimate.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
Around the time I turned 40, I experienced what I think was a mid-life crisis. It was during that 2-year season that I felt a lack of direction, purpose, and community. I was right in the middle of success and my emotions could care less. I had success behind me, all around me, and in front of me, but all I felt was insecurity and inadequacy.
I used to think people that felt anxious thoughts like I was feeling should just “get over it” but not now after I went through it myself. These feelings came suddenly and out of nowhere and they decided to stick around, and they definitely didn’t suddenly leave out of nowhere.
I’m happy to say that I am about 18 months removed from that now and I credit my time with Jesus, a very loving wife, lots of pastoral advice, and professional counseling for my delivery from that dark time.
My biggest learning from that season is that we as human beings are always telling ourselves harmful lies about ourselves, other people, and our situation.
And now after going through that season, I now know the repeated lies that I fall for. And now I combat the lies with the truth on a daily basis.
In a strange way, I am very thankful for that season…I’m a much stronger person as a result.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
In Jim Collins’ book, “Good to Great”, he refers to the flywheel. We all have a flywheel that is our secret sauce that is at the center of what makes us uniquely successful.
For some people it may be speed, for others, it could be intelligence, relationships, pedigree, or verbal communication.
I’ve tried to pin down the secret sauce that fuels my flywheel and I am convinced it is TRUST. Yes, I have a lot of relationships with many influential people, but the relationships are only a byproduct of trust.
People trust me. People can depend on me. People can rely on me.
Consistency in competency and character over 2 decades has served me well and people in the spaces I am in, trust me at a deep level.
Steven Covey says, “Organizations travel at the speed of trust” and I really believe that to be true for me as well. My career has only gone as far and fast as how much people and organizations have trusted me.
What is your morning routine?
6:00 Wake up, silence, scripture, sermons, sauna
7:00 Personal Development (Books, Podcasts)
7:45 Kids to school
9:00 Revenue Generating Activities
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Physical fitness has been crucial in keeping my mind sharp and keeping my energy levels up, but even that fails in comparison to the value that reading scripture has brought me. Just to name a few of the benefits; it has provided me with a healthy life perspective in the midst of adversity and success, a hopeful outlook regardless of circumstances, wisdom for decision making, as well as priceless advice for all my relationships.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
One thing that I feel like I have mastered is efficient time blocking. I try to avoid as many transitions as possible throughout my day unless the transition has a specific purpose. If I am in the creative zone, I do not allow a text or email to interrupt the flow. If I’m in a collaborative time with the staff, I am all in while I am there. Being all in when collaborating with the team allows me to make relational deposits that allow me to retreat when I need to retreat in order to be in deep uninterrupted thought.
Another thing that I didn’t catch on to until later in my career but has been a game-changer is focusing the early morning on the most important items. For most people, the morning is a time that we are more focused and energized so I like to focus that time on RGA’s or Revenue Generating Activities or activities that lead to organizational growth in a pretty direct tangible way. The rest of the day can be spent fulfilling orders, interoffice communication, or even calling back current clients. This doesn’t translate to every industry and job title perfectly but I encourage you to think through how you can bend the concept to your context.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
There has been no book that has shaped me like The Bible. I have read countless leadership books and personal development books that have been incredibly impactful as well, but the concepts and principles have just been reworded Biblical principles.
Another book that has been foundational to my success besides the Bible is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This has helped me at home, in ministry, in real estate, with friends, and with complete strangers. For 99% of industries, you will not be successful unless you know how to win with people.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
CS Lewis was credited for saying, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” I realize we’re all not people of faith, but for me…this quote and the concept behind the quote keeps me focused on things that really matter to me and things that will really last beyond this life. I have found that when I get too focused on only the things that this earth can provide, my soul feels empty.
Another quote from an unknown source that has stuck with me through the years is “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” This has challenged me throughout my career to try totally new things and to go to new places. I am so thankful for every time I got outside my comfort zone…it has ALWAYS led to significant growth.