Markus Watson was investigated for a sickening crime with no knowledge of who had made allegations against him, what evidence they claimed to have, and not even knowing the crime he was alleged to have committed. He faced accusations that threatened to destroy his livelihood and trash his reputation. He was betrayed, investigated by the FBI and forced out of a job.

 

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(This transcript is intended as a guide only. It may not be 100% correct.)

 

Emily Olsen 

Wherever there are shadows, there are people ready to kick out the darkness until it bleeds daylight. This is Bleeding Daylight with your host Rodney Olsen.

 

Rodney Olsen 

Imagine being investigated for a sickening crime with no knowledge of who has made allegations against you what evidence they claim to have, and not even knowing the crime you are alleged to have committed. That's the story of my guest on Bleeding Daylight today. We'll hear his alarming story in a few moments.

 

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Speaker, author and pastor Markus Watson faced accusations that threatened to destroy his livelihood and trash his reputation. He was betrayed, investigated by the FBI and forced out of a job. Today we'll explore his story, Markus, welcome to Bleeding Daylight.

 

Markus Watson 

Thanks, Rodney. It's good to be here.

 

Rodney Olsen 

Working in ministry wasn't your first career choice. In fact, I believe that the bright lights of Hollywood seemed to hold more of an attraction for you back in those early days.

 

Markus Watson 

You know, when I was a kid, my dream was to be a movie star. That's what I that's, I used to pray dear Lord, You know, as a little kid, you Lord, please help me to be an actor. While I'm still a kid, I still I wanted to be like a child actor. Probably good that I wasn't. As I got older, I was like, yeah, you know what, I don't want to be an actor, I want to be a director, you know, I wanted to tell the stories and be in control of the stories. And so after college or at the end of near the end of college, I got an internship in Hollywood as a production assistant, which is kind of the the bottom of the totem pole, that's, you know, that's the person who goes and gets coffee or delivers this script to that person over there, whatever. And is it kind of assists with a production, it was fun, it was a great experience for a while, until I realized that if I was going to succeed in Hollywood, I was going to have to make that my number one priority in life. And I couldn't really do that. I love God, I loved my church. You know, in college, I'd been involved in Campus Crusade for Christ. I mean, that was really my number one priority was my relationship with God. And I realized that if I was going to keep pursuing Hollywood, I was going to have to set that aside. And that's not to say that there aren't any faithful Christians in Hollywood, I know that there are, and some people maybe are better able to manage those priorities, than I might have been. So anyway, I got to the point where I realized that I was gonna have to leave Hollywood. And that was that was really, really hard. That was probably up until that point in my life, certainly, the hardest decision I've ever made. That dream had been with me for my entire life, you know. And so letting go of that dream was like cutting my arm off. I decided that I would do one of three things, I would either go on Stanford's Campus Crusade for Christ, which I enjoyed, or I would get a master's degree in communication, or I'll go to seminary and I lived in LA at the time and Fuller Seminary was nearby. And so I applied at Fuller Seminary, applied at the other two as well, Campus Crusade and, you know, explored some other graduate schools for communication. And I could get into those latter two, by the following January, I could get into Fuller, that fall. And I thought, well, let's give seminary a shot, you know, and if I don't like it, I'll pursue one of these other options. And when I got Fuller, first day of class was patristic theology with John Thompson. And I loved it. And I just thought, Oh, my gosh, I cannot believe I get to learn all this stuff. patristic theology, by the way, theology of the early church fathers, right. So just early church history. Gosh, I just felt at home, I didn't yet feel like I was being called to be a pastor, necessarily, but I did know that I was in the right place. That call to become a pastor was clarified over my time while I was in seminary. You know, several years later, I finished and I got ordained as a Presbyterian pastor and I got my first call to a to a church in Union, Kentucky, as an associate pastor out there.

 

Rodney Olsen 

It's interesting that you had that self awareness then as a young man to say, you know, this is something that's a dream for me, but I know it's not kind of benefit me to pursue it. I wonder what life would be like if many more of us had that self awareness at a young age to say, yeah, this is a desire, but it's not a good one.

 

Markus Watson 

I don't want to give myself too much credit. It was, I mean, I, you know, I had grown a lot in my faith in college, but I'll be honest, you know, there were some difficult moments in that Hollywood experience. That was part of the self awareness, if you can call it that is just that, who I didn't like that. I didn't like that. You know, there were these expectations that you would work all hours of the day, especially if you're at the bottom of the totem pole. You know, no matter what even for no pay the couple of funny little stories, one was, I was delivering a script in the days, you know, just prior to email being widely used. So I was delivering a script to the host of this TV special, but delivered it to the wrong place and kind of stuck it through the door of the wrong unit in this condo complex. And I came back and the producer was like, You can't make mistakes like this. He's a star, you can't do this with a star. And then he goes, Well, he's not a star, but he is a celebrity. And I'm like, Oh, interesting. So there's a hierarchy that even with the big famous people, you know, and so there is that. And then the last job, it became clear, for me, it was a temporary job for two or three or four weeks at a company that did movie trailers, it had the possibility of becoming full time. And they did just decided not to keep me and I said, Oh, why, you know, what, was there anything I could have done? And they said, Well, you could have offered to stay late, meaning without pay, you know, beyond the eight hours per day, and I was just like, oh, okay, I see. And that was kind of, for me the, the last thing so you know, so that awareness came through difficult circumstances, and I was just kind of ready to let it go. But I do think that, you know, the more we can develop that self awareness, even as much as possible at a young age, the less pain perhaps we go through later in life, or the more less difficulty we go through later in life, if we can get started on the right track, I think it would have been harder for me had I stuck to my guns and said, I'm gonna make this work. I'm gonna make this work, even though I really kind of started to realize this just isn't gonna work.

 

Rodney Olsen 

And I'm sure that the irony is not lost on some that you decided not to go with a calling that was going to mean that you had to work all hours for no pay, and decided to go into ministry.

 

Markus Watson 

Oh, there you go. I had never made that connection. But there you go. Yep. That's funny.

 

Rodney Olsen 

I do remember working in a very different profession years ago, and thinking, I wouldn't go to any great lengths to continue this profession. And yet, when I considered the alternative, and back then that was to go and work in radio is like, Yeah, I'd I'd move I'd do whatever it took to actually get into that industry. And so it really starts to tell you where your true priorities are.

 

Markus Watson 

That's a good point. Yeah, one of the things I realized, I guess, was that I wasn't as committed to that desire, as maybe I thought I was, you know, I think my experience in college and Campus Crusade, that's kind of where my, my faith really grew and became my own. You know, that's where I began to lead Bible studies, with other you know, college students with us. I would give talks in our weekly meetings, you know, college student versions of little sermons, you know, and, and we did a lot of evangelism. That's one of the things Campus Crusade is great. And I learned, so I learned to share my faith, and that it's important for people to know Jesus. And so all of those things, kind of set me on it on a trajectory, I think, well towards some kind of Christian Leadership. And I didn't really know it, until until I knew it, I guess, until it became, but it was this unfolding, right. It's like a peeling back layers of an onion, and you get closer and closer to the core of, oh, here's what God is calling, calling me to do.

 

Rodney Olsen 

So we jump ahead. And you've mentioned that you started your first job as a pastor in a small church. Tell us a little about that experience.

 

Markus Watson 

I was still newly married. So I had been a youth pastor in a really great church. I mean, when I think back to my favorite times in ministry, it was as a youth pastor of this church, Glen Kirk Presbyterian Church in Glendora, California. Something about that relationship with those kids really clicked. I still am in touch with many of those kids. They're all in their 30s now, but I just as recently as a year and a half ago, I officiated one of their weddings. That was a non ordained position. And then I became, you know, I finished my ordination process and then so Okay, now it's time gotta gotta go. Look for an ordained position as a pastor, senior pastor, associate pastor, and so I was looking at associate pastor positions. I was wanting to stay in Southern California, because that was home. And so I interviewed with a couple of churches in Southern California. And then I got a call from this church in Kentucky. But I was not interested in that, you know, I didn't want to leave California, but I thought, you know, what I need, I need interview practice. So you know, I, I said, Sure, I'll talk with you on the phone. They almost immediately said, Hey, we want to fly you out here and interview you in person. And I thought, what the heck, it's good practice. And I've never been in Kentucky. And so my wife and I said, Yeah, let's go. Let's do the interview. And so we did. I wasn't convinced that that's where God was calling us, although I wasn't totally opposed to it. Anyway, we came back And they offered me the position. But I was holding out to see what would happen with these other two churches. Well, just kind of things didn't work out with either of them. But in my mind after a month or so I had set this church in Kentucky aside, I wasn't even thinking about them. And I, I said to my wife, after these two churches in California didn't work out. I said, Well, what do we do? And she's like, well, there's still Kentucky. And I was like, Oh, yeah, oh, no. But the more I prayed about it, the more I you know, I went for walks and just saw right Lord told me, you know, what do you do? And it just became clear that that's where God was calling us. And so we said, Yes. And we, we lived there for about three and a half years. And it was it was a good experience. I was hired as the associate pastor, for youth. After a couple of years, the senior pastor resigned, which left me as the only pastor on staff. And so then I for about seven months, until they called an interim senior pastor, I, you know, I was the guy I had to learn to preach every Sunday and, and do everything else too. And so, in a way, I kind of feel like, I think maybe that's why God called me there, right? Because God knew I was going to need to push into that kind of a role to kind of prepare me or to show me that, Oh, look, I can do this. And that's one of the things I learned was that, oh, okay, I can do this. I can, I can preach every Sunday I can. I can lead teams and, you know, lead the whole congregation, I think I got this. And so I didn't just start looking, they kind of ran out of money. Markus, I think we need you to start looking for another job. And they didn't like push me out or anything. But, you know, I was like, Okay, good. So I started and ended up in San Diego, then after that,

 

Rodney Olsen 

And what happened at that point, you move to another church, and what transpired as you started to pastor there at this new church,

 

Markus Watson 

it was great at first, you know, my wife and I were really excited to move back to Southern California. And San Diego is a beautiful city, we'd never lived there. But of course, we'd been there to Los Angeles is only about two hours north of San Diego. And we were close to family and friends, certainly within driving distance. And so we were just so excited to come back to San Diego. It seemed like a good fit this church for me for for that time, it was great for about seven and a half years. You know, we've made some healthy changes to bring some life into the church make connections with, you know, families and the preschool, and many of them started coming to church, did some work in the community partnerships with local schools, and then about seven and a half years and is kind of when things took a turn.

 

Rodney Olsen 

When did you start to get an inkling that things weren't going well for you there?

 

Markus Watson 

That's a good question. You know, I think it would be when I requested a sabbatical. So I'd been there for about seven years. And you know, a lot in a lot of churches at seven years, churches will give the pastor a three month sabbatical, at least in our tradition that happens in a lot of churches. So I requested that and I had come to this place where I was like, oh, man, yeah, I'm, I'm on the verge of burnout. I had finished doing a doctor of ministry. And then after I finished writing that dissertation, I was like, you know, I'm gonna give everything I can to the church. So for like six months, I think I preached every Sunday, except for maybe like two, something like that. I remember crawling towards a two week vacation. And I say crawling, it felt like I was crawling on my hands and knees to this toward this little two weeks vacation just like oh my gosh, I need a break. And that's when I was like, I need I need a sabbatical. And I think it's okay for me to ask for one. So I did. But there was some pushback, our elders approved it. But they needed some convincing from another pastor in our presbytery, who came and he said, here's the value and someone suggested, why don't you let the congregation vote on it? Right? That way, you get sort of a vote of confidence. So I was like, Okay. And it wasn't a unanimous vote. You know, it was like a two thirds of the congregation voted to approve the sabbatical. The other third didn't. But I was like, Well, I'm going to take it. But but that was kind of a little hint. I'm not sure everything is as good as perhaps it once was. When I did take the sabbatical. That's when things really kind of took a turn for the worse.

 

Rodney Olsen 

It must have been a little bit crushing to realize that this group of people that you were leading in this church, they didn't all have your back. They weren't all going in the same direction. Even though two thirds is a good majority, to know that there's a third of people who didn't believe that you actually needed a break. Must have been a little bit crushing for you.

 

Markus Watson 

Yes, yes. I think I maybe tried to ignore it a little bit. But you're right. It was a little bit disappointing. At a minimum, you know why? How come they don't all support this? Can't they see right how much blood sweat and tears gets poured into a church by a pastor. Me in particular in this case, right? Yeah, it was it was disappointing.

 

Rodney Olsen 

So it was around this time that things started to turn decidedly dark. Explain that to me.

 

Markus Watson 

Yeah. So I was about two weeks into my sabbatical. And I got a call from our executive presenter, who's sort of oversees our local regional presbytery. And he said, Hey, Markus, I need to talk to you about something. I said, Okay. This was on a Friday afternoon. He called He's like, Can I meet with you tomorrow was like, Oh, no, yeah, I'm gonna be up in Los Angeles, visiting my brother and some friends. How about next week? He said, No, I really need to meet with you tomorrow. I was like, Well, I mean, I'm on sabbatical. And I've got plans. Let's, let's do it some other time. And anyway, so I felt a little bit put off by that pressure. And I was like, What is this all about? So we ended up meeting on Sunday of that weekend. And he wanted to meet with my wife as well. And that's when he said, Markus, someone has accused you of having a problem with pornography, full disclosure. It's not like I've never looked at pornography in my life. But I have been in accountability relationships for a long time. And so I had been in an accountability relationship with another pastor in our presbytery. And so I wasn't worried about it. When he said that the that accusation had been made. I said, Well, what do you what do you need? And he said, I need to look at your I need to do a forensic analysis on your laptop. I said, you want to right now. And he said, that would be good. So I gave him my laptop. And I didn't want to debate it. I didn't want to not cooperate. I wanted to cooperate. And so they took my laptop. What I didn't totally realize at first, although I guess I kind of did was they weren't following our official process. There's a process for doing an investigation when someone brings allegations he was doing this kind of under the table. So he took the laptop set, it was going to take maybe two or three days and ended up taking three weeks, which was very frustrating, just because, you know, I didn't have my laptop with me. And, and I didn't know what was going on. That was the other thing, like, Why is it taking so long? Finally, after about three weeks, he called me and he said, Markus, I can't give you your laptop back, because your laptop has been handed over to the authorities and is now a potential criminal investigation. And I just, I was like, What are you talking about? What could they possibly have found on there? That would lead to a potential criminal investigation. And of course, the the accusation originally was pornography. And so I'm thinking, I mean, I know I've never looked at child pornography even right before and I had any accountability. I mean, never, ever, ever. And so, but I'm thinking is, is there something there? And you know, one of the things I worried about was, did somebody put something there, our tech guy who would occasionally work on my laptop, which had become sort of a, an antagonist in the last couple of years. And so I was worried, did he put something there? He didn't. But that's where my mind went, you know, did somebody put something there? And I didn't even know if it was pornography related. Did somebody put bomb instructions or something, you know, my laptop. And so anyway, that that led to a really, really dark time for me, because I didn't know what was happening, or what was going to happen. And you know, it just felt it was a it was a dark night of the soul is what it led to just lots of fear, lots of anxiety. And I'm kind of, you know, pros and cons to the fact that this happened during my sabbatical. I am glad that it happened during my sabbatical, because I had lots of time for prayer and reflection and silence. I had also had a great therapist that I was meeting with, who helped me to process all of this, and you know, what I was feeling and, of course, he didn't know what was happening either, but just kind of to process what was going on. But I did have a few moments of grace. I had a moment where I was sitting on my patio and spent a lot of time doing lectio Divina, and just silence and solitude and so I had just spent some time in the scriptures and I put my Bible down, I was sitting there quietly, and of course thinking about all that was going on, or that might be going on. I didn't know everything, but I was afraid, you know, and so my mind went into all of these worst case scenarios, and I thought to myself, I might lose my job, which I did eventually, you know, I thought I might lose my ordination. Yeah, I might lose my reputation right I might be remembered as that guy you know, Oh, you know what happened to Markus right in our in our presbytery among the other Presbyterian pastors in San Diego. And then I thought I might lose my family. If it looks like I'm guilty of something. Now, I don't think I actually would have lost my family. But you know, my mind was going into all of these worst case scenarios. And then I thought I might, I might become a registered sex offender. And everywhere I go, someone might I mean, people will believe something about me that isn't even true. And then I thought I could go to prison, if it looks like I'm guilty of whatever it might be. And so I had this image of myself, just sort of, in my mind sitting in a prison cell, having lost everything, everything had been taken away from me. And then it's like, in that moment, it was like I heard God say, but Marcus, no one can ever take my love away from you. And that was what I needed to hear in that moment. And in that moment, it's like God's love was more real to me than it had ever been before. You know, of course, I had for you know, for years and years and years, talked about the unconditional love of God, God loves you unconditionally, of course. And I believed all that, but I hadn't really felt it. Until that moment, that's when God's love just became so profoundly real in a way that I had never imagined. And really, I've never been able to shake that, which I'm so so grateful for. That's one of the blessings right of going through a time like this is, is what God can do, because of our suffering.

 

Rodney Olsen 

At this time, you don't fully know what you're being accused of, of what has been supposedly found on this laptop. But did you know who was making these accusations at this point?

 

Markus Watson 

I didn't. I had some suspicions. And they turned out to be right. What I found out was that it was a staff person at our church. What someone had told me, she had said was that in one of our staff meetings, she had told me about her husband's problem with pornography. And I fully recall that conversation. And then she said that, you know, when I told pastor Marcus, he just didn't react the way I thought he would I bet he's got a problem with that, too. That was sort of the foundation for the accusations. And so the staff person went to the presbytery, and said, I think pastor Markus has a problem with pornography, and then they kind of took it from there. And then what I did find out later, whatever it was, that triggered my laptop, going to the authorities, which I found out also later was the FBI. You know, it was basically pictures of my kids, you know, goofing around in their underwear when they were little. And so the person doing the analysis said, well, it's not my job to determine if this is pornography or not. I'm just a mandated reporter. So I'm going to hand it off. And then eventually, the FBI said, there's no pornography here. And so they just gave me the laptop back and closed the investigation. And so that was that was good.

 

Rodney Olsen 

And it must have been difficult, knowing that there was someone that you were somewhat close to within the church who is making this accusation? How difficult was it for you to step back and realize this must be coming from a pain point in her life? Because she's struggling with her husband dealing with this? How difficult is it to separate yourself from that and actually start to understand what she's going through?

 

Markus Watson 

It is really difficult in the moment, it's a little bit easier later on. In the moment. I wasn't even really thinking about that. I was just thinking about survival. To be honest. How do I get through another week? What happened was at the end of my sabbatical, within a few weeks, you know that my laptop was returned to me. And now all of this was an under the table investigation, right? not following the process. And so those who were involved in it said, Alright, hey is over, we're done, we can move on. Clearly, there was nothing there. Within a few weeks, someone I was hand delivered served a notice from the presbytery, saying that no formal allegations had been made. I still didn't know who it was. But now formal allegations were made of child pornography. The accusation was basically that well, since the laptop went to the FBI, there must be something there. And so that kicked off another investigation, a formal investigation this time, which after a few months, concluded again, that there was no evidence to support the accusations, which I'm really grateful for. Like at that time, I was like, somebody, somebody is not just trying to protect the church at this point. Someone is trying to destroy me. Right? They want me to go to prison, right. And so what I did find out eventually, a guy that was that was hard, and I'm not a particularly confrontational kind of a person. So I didn't really confront her at first. I did eventually bring our Chair of personnel into a conversation with her, and I brought it up and well, it did not go well. That was the last time I interacted with her and our elders said we're gonna put another elder over her as supervisor and I said, that's fine. It was really hard. I wasn't really able to begin to forgive her. I think and So after I was gone from that church A few months after that person made another accusation after the presbytery for the second time, you know, exonerated me, then she made the same accusations to our elders. So we had to deal with it with the elders. My accountability partner came in to that meeting and said, Look, I have years worth of accountability reports, if you want to see them. We had a new executive presenter at that point, he came in and said, as far as the presbytery is concerned, this is a closed matter. And so, you know, my friend and I, my accountability partner and I we recused ourselves for about half an hour came back in and our elder said, Marcus, you have our trust as our pastor and I thought to myself, Oh, maybe it's over. Maybe this is it, maybe I can finally move on. You know, it would have been great, except that one of the elders for whatever reason, decided to believe the accusations and started calling people in the congregation saying that pastor Markus is into child pornography. I didn't know that that was happening. The other elders didn't know that that was happening until about two or three weeks later, when we found out I realized, and I think so did the other elders, there's no coming back from that. Right. So there was a congregational meeting and a long discussion, you know, with me recused, but I was able to hear through the door. But you know, there was a vote to dissolve their relationship with me. And they voted to do that by a margin of two votes, it was a bare majority, you know, and then I moved on to another another work, that was a really good, wonderful place to be in that time, after leaving the church was when I was finally able to sort of step back and reflect on, you know, what might have been going on inside of her. I did know that there had been some kind of abuse in her past and, of course, her husband, his problem with pornography, so I knew that there was pain there. And, you know, they say hurt people hurt people, you know, I was able to accept that after, after some time. I remember being in the car listening to a podcast with Steve Scazzero who wrote Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. He asked in this episode, something like, you know, are you able to pray for your enemies? Something like that? And I said out loud, I think in the car, nope. I can't do that. And then I was like, oh, okay, Lord, I guess I have to do that. And so I started to I just started to pray for that person. And then a few others who were kind of involved in this. I didn't mean it, you know, with much affection I not that I didn't mean the prayer. It just there wasn't from my end, a lot of love at first, right? There wasn't much forgiveness at first, but I was like, okay, Lord, I'm called to pray for those who persecute me. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna do it. And then, you know, over time, I was able to mean it more. And I was able to let go of the bitterness and the anger. Sometimes I wonder to myself, what would happen if I ran into that person? Now? I don't think I would hate that person. But it would, you know, it would be an uncomfortable conversation. If there were a conversation, you know, my life is not consumed with anger, or bitterness, or how could they or why did they or I hope something bad happens to them? I got I don't have any of those kinds of thoughts. So I'm grateful for that. But there's, you know, when you look at someone who has never been through anything hard, or nothing significantly difficult in life, and then he looks at someone who has been there is there's sort of almost like a shallowness. And when I look at myself, prior to this experience, I look back and I'm like, That guy was just a kid. You had no idea what life was really all about? How could I even have been a pastor at that time, of course, God is gracious and helped me be a pastor. But, but it's almost like I, when I look at that, like, I hope I never go through anything like that again. But I would not undo it. Because I have become more fully I believe, the person that God created me to be because of that experience. When a person I think, at least my case, but I think when it when a person is able to move through suffering in a healthy way, right? You can move through suffering in an unhealthy way and become bitter and angry and cynical. Right and harbor unforgiveness, right? But if you can move through it in a healthy way, I think it makes you more compassionate, I am better able to relate to people who are suffering now, even if it's a totally different kind of suffering, right? But there's a part of me that goes, I kind of understand now, right what you're going through and so I'm better able to identify with them. I'm better able to pray with people

 

Rodney Olsen 

Where has life moved for you since then you said that you moved into a position with a not for profit, what happened since that time?

 

Markus Watson 

So I got voted out on a Sunday afternoon and the very next day I was on a plane to Little Rock, Arkansas for a pastor's retreat that had already been on my calendar for six months. And so it was like, okay, God knew what I needed this week. And, and that was a place of great healing. I was, believe it or not, not the only person who had been voted out of their church that same day. So there was a little bit of commiserating there and a lot of praying for each other. And so that was a real gift to have that that following week, within a few weeks, a friend of mine who had started a nonprofit called flourish San Diego, you know, said, hey, let's have lunch. And he invited me to join him on staff of this nonprofit. But that was a really good healing place for me to be. I was there for two years. The only reason I left was because I had to fundraise my own salary. And that is really hard. And, but I loved I loved every moment being there. And it was, for me, it was really good because I wasn't in charge. Right? I got to be a part of the team. And I loved being part of that team. As it became clear that I was going to need to leave for San Diego, I had been doing a lot of guest preaching a fellow pastor who was here in San Diego and kind of knew what was going on. As soon as he heard what had happened at my church. He said, Hey, Marcus, I need someone to preach in three weeks, do you want to preach for me? And my initial reaction? I didn't say to him, but when I read the email, I was like, Oh, I don't want to do that. I told my wife and she said, I think you should do it, you need to get right back into it. I was like, All right. Okay, I'll do it. And so actually, that led to a really great ministry kind of on the side, too, is just guest preaching, you know, a couple times a month in various churches all over the San Diego area. And I loved doing that, partly because I could go and I could go home, then go to the church, preach, and then go home and no pressure. But that was that was kind of a healing thing for me to to, to be able to proclaim God's word right and use my gifts. While not having to bear the burden of leading a congregation after having been through such a difficult experience.

 

Rodney Olsen 

I'm interested there in both those situations with your friend who's running the nonprofit flourish. Also your pastor friend who says, Hey, come and preach for me. Yeah, I'm interested in the value of close friendships at a difficult time. Because it's its friends who come alongside you and their offers of here, come and preach or here come and work with me. Yeah, in some way, saying, I don't believe any of that. And I'm here for you. Yeah. How valuable is that for you?

 

Markus Watson 

Oh, my goodness. So so valuable. In fact, my accountability partner who is also another pastor, and not the one who invited me to preach that, that first time, we're good friends and our wives I like we're as couples, we are good friends. And we get together a lot. You know, when we can when it's not a pandemic. But we used to do it every every week, and every Sunday night, we would get together for dinner, he was such a blessing to me, especially during those those first few months. He went to bat for me as a as another pastor in the presbytery. He went to bat for me in ways that I couldn't for myself, because I was the one being accused. And he would raise questions Why? Why are you doing it this? or Why are you investigating him like this? You know, what? Why aren't you following the process? And he would, he would just, you know, be a friend to me. And he would text me or call me at least every other day. How you doing today? You know, you're hanging in there. He Take me out to dinner every now and then. And and it was after one of those times, that I was confronted with my own sense of lack of self worth, where I realized, Wow, he really cares about me, you know, and that became a way for me to understand the love of God to when because he cared for me, clearly, God must also care for me. Right? And so that gave me that deepen my understanding of God's love. And then after, right after all this happened, this friend who had started a nonprofit, I mean, I don't know what I would have done I suppose God would have provided something else but but this is what God provided right through this friend Jeff shoe. And it was just what I needed. Same same with this other pastor John Moser, Mount Soledad, Presbyterian church who invited me to come preach, and it was just what I needed. And and I don't think I could, you're right, I don't think I could have healed as well. I'm trying to decide if I want to say as quickly I'm not sure it happened quickly. But it happened, right, because of these friends, that I had these relationships, these support the support system that I had, that helped me get the people who knew me, right, who also knew Marcus. This isn't true, right? This is Marcus, this is not true of him. And so it was so good to have those people to help me get through that.

 

Rodney Olsen 

And then you move on, after a couple of years at flourish. What did God provide for you next?

 

Markus Watson 

So as things began to come to an end at Flourish, and I realized, okay, I'm being called to step away from here, I'd been guest preaching and there Was this one church, about two hours east of San Diego, a little rural town called Westmoreland. And there's a little Presbyterian church there. And, you know, they got my name from someone and I had been guest preaching there. Their pastor had retired and I was guest preaching there about once or twice a month on average for about a year. And then when they heard that I was leaving for San Diego, they said, Would you like to come be our interim pastor? And I said, well, let's, let's talk about that. And, you know, after some discussion on what that would look like, since they are two hours away, and it just, I think it just became clear, you know what I think this is where God is calling me now, there was a part of me that resisted becoming a pastor again, but truly, if it weren't for this little church, with some really wonderful kind, gracious people who I could tell, just loved me even as a guest preacher, but we had gotten to know each other because I was there on a semi regular basis. If it hadn't been for them for that particular church, and those particular people, I don't think I would have stepped back into a pastoral role. And it's been a really great experience. I've been there for two and a half years now. I'm their interim pastor. It's a part time position. I'm out there Sundays, and Mondays, and then I work from home the rest of the week. Right now, I'm just there on Sunday mornings, but we do a Bible study via conference call on Mondays, and they've done some really great things. They've got a food pantry, what I mean by great is just great service to their community. And I've loved to be a part of that. I can't take credit for it. Other than I asked a question one day, what else do you do besides church on Sunday mornings? And they like? Good question. And so they started this food pantry, this tiny town with lots of food insecurity. And they serve almost 200 people every week. And it's just fantastic. And it has brought life to that congregation. And I feel grateful that I get to be a part of what God is doing there.

 

Rodney Olsen 

And when you're not ministering there, you've got other things that are on the go, such as your podcast, also a little of that.

 

Markus Watson 

And that's another thing that came out of this experience. You know, my my podcast is called spiritual life and leadership. I do it because the inner life of pastors is really important for the sake of their outer life. Right? If we're going to if we're going to lead in a healthy way in our outer life, we need to have a healthy inner life of union with Jesus. And so that's kind of what the podcast is all about. How do we as pastors as leaders, develop that healthy inner life Emotionally Healthy Spirituality to us Pete Scazzero's language, right? union with Jesus? How do we navigate things like the dark night of the soul? Because we all have to at some point, and so sometimes, interviews focus on just kind of standard leadership things most of the time, there is certainly a spiritual formation component with it. Yeah, I don't think I would have even thought to start this podcast had I not been through what I went through. My podcast has been adopted by by Fuller Seminary as part of their new church Leadership Initiative. God provides in surprising ways. And I'm, and is led right life is not a straight line, it is twists and turns and ups and downs, and who knew who knew something like that was going to happen.

 

Rodney Olsen 

So in the same way that you had a number of people who had your back through a difficult time, who were able to provide that support, you're able to do that to a whole range of pastors and leaders.

 

Markus Watson 

Yeah, that's a great way of putting it. That's really my hope and my goal. And that comes partly out of being at Flourish San Diego where I was able to support pastors during my time there and encourage them and, and so I just, I really do I love that I love being able to help pastors, because I know I'm not the only one who has struggled. And I know I'm not the only one who has suffered.

 

Rodney Olsen 

NACA, so if people are wanting to get in touch with you, if people are wanting to listen to the podcast, what is the best place for them to find you?

 

Markus Watson 

Yeah, so then go to my website, markuswatson.com and that's Markus with a K. A lot of times people misspell it with a C because that's a common spelling but it's Markus with a K, markuswatson.com you find my podcasts there, I've got some other resources. Anyway, you can check those out that are available for free. And I've also got a book that I released about a year ago called Beyond Thingification which, in part comes out of my experience as well and as well as some other things, but you know, a lot of times churches do what they do in order to either survive or just get bigger, right and and we tend to lose sight of the people that were called to care for and we think defy them and so we need to get beyond thingification So I invite you to check that out as well. You can find that on the website too.

 

Rodney Olsen 

Marcus, it has been a delight to chat to you. I will put connections into our show notes at bleeding daylight dotnet so that people can find you there but Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for being so open and honest and sharing your story today on bleeding daylight.

 

Markus Watson 

Thanks so much, Rodney. I really I love your show. And I think you're doing a great work by sharing these stories too. So I appreciate getting to be here and telling my story.

 

Emily Olsen 

Thank you for listening to Bleeding Daylight. Please help us to shine more light into the darkness by sharing this episode with others. For further details and more episodes, please visit bleedingdaylight.net

 

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