Levi Lusko: What is Instant Gratification Doing to Church Creators?
Nik Goodner Writer + Creator of CRTVCHURCH
Levi Lusko is the author of the bestselling book “Through the Eyes of a Lion” and his newest title “Swipe Right,” pastor of Fresh Life Church, a multisite church in Montana, Utah, Oregon and Wyoming that he and his wife Jennie pioneered in 2007. He takes pleasure in small things, such as black coffee, new shoes, fast Internet, and falling asleep in the sun. He and his wife, Jennie, have five children: Alivia, Daisy, Clover, Lennox, and Lenya, who is in heaven.
CRTVCHURCH spoke with Levi for the CRTVCHURCH Podcast. Below is the rest of the interview not featured in episode twenty-six.
CRTVCHURCH: I wanted to get the essence behind your book, Swipe Right…
LEVI: Totally. Swipe Right is a book that is trying to open people’s eyes to see the power of sexuality; it’s powerful no matter what… for good or for evil and used right or used wrong sex is powerful. There’s almost nothing on earth so powerful as the forces of love, sex, dating, marriage, and relationships.
I use the illustration of a snowmobile accident I was in ten years ago where I slammed into a ditch, and my femur hit the handlebar of the snowmobile and snapped it in half. On that day, the power of the snowmobile — 600 horses or whatever was in there — was channeled into my leg, and snapped my bone like it was made of balsa wood. Now the same snowmobile in a different situation could have saved someone’s life. When you think about powerful things, it’s all about the application of force. So, in the book we talk about: what is the culture of Tinder and porn and hookup culture? What is it doing to us on the inside? Because, it can warm up your life, warm up a
CRTVCHURCH: What is the ‘Hookup Culture’ doing to wire us differently?
LEVI: Those who use porn and dating apps the most are the least satisfied sexually, and they have the highest amount of problems when it comes to depression.
Young men in America, of whom porn is used the most are doing worse in school, and are getting out of college at lower rates than women. According to Harvard and other studies that have been done are being digitally rewired on the inside due to the need for constant arousal and stimulation to get the same high as they did at first. It’s kind of like when you first smoke a menthol cigarette when you’re in middle school, that high you get from it. It’s the same way with pornography only there’s a diminishing return that kicks in exponentially.
CRTVCHURCH: So, people are seeking and craving immediate gratification?
LEVI: Absolutely and I think the bible talks about the way instant gratification can keep you back from ultimate satisfaction. Those who like sex the most would be best to defer it to a committed relationship like the bible presents with marriage, and you’d have higher rates of sexual pleasure
CRTVCHURCH: Our generation and the one coming up, we have a longing for immediate gratification — it is our thing. We see something, we can order it online, and it’ll be at our door by drone within forty-five minutes, but deep down we know we should be planning and inserting wisdom. Therefore, it can create internal friction. Can we talk about that a little bit about how that friction is created?
LEVI: Well, I think when you look at scripture, and you look at how the world was built, it was made with seasons — as long as the earth remains summer and winter, as long as the earth remains, so will seed, time and harvest. So when you think about your soul… your soul is like soil what we put into it, it’s going to take a while to develop, but it’s going to come out eventually. So then you think about how we’re rotting our brains out with addiction, stimulation, notifications, and Instagram.. this new device — our phone — only been around a for a decade yet we can’t go thirteen minutes without pulling it out and look at it. Every day we’re spending five hours, six hours on the screens and then add to that casual sex with an app where you can swipe right for a good time?
We should be living a life of waiting, of quiet, of solitude. I think you may not like what you get when you get to the future of a life with this kind of input and this kind of frenetic craziness.
CRTVCHURCH: I wanted to ask in the context of church creators and church leadership, what is the effect of instant gratification?
LEVI: If we’re not careful, we can get into a situation where as long as everything looks good on Instagram, as long as you’re getting the likes, and your podcast is being heard, then it could quickly be turned into a competitive numbers based thing. Where we’re not thinking about the rhythms of the soul and going deep and how a person’s emotional health is doing. I think it’s as essential for a church leader who is just as fundamentally insecure and seeking validation as anybody else in the church to not live that way.
I have to be careful; I don’t look at my phone until after I’ve met with Jesus. I try not to touch email until I’ve already done something great or read something profound. I want to make sure my family’s not suffering because of my constant need to be connected and that my soul and how I am with Jesus comes before checking how many people liked my posts.
CRTVCHURCH: You mentioned not checking your phone before you’ve had time with Jesus. Are there any other ways that we can be solving our instant gratification problem?
LEVI: Well, I think the same way you got in is the same way you have to get out. One day at a time gets you in and one day at a time can get you out. But you have to choose those right behaviors to repeat so that the compound interest can kick in. I think because we get overwhelmed at times by the immensity of the sprint, we do nothing as opposed to taking that one step in front of the other. That’s eventually going to get us to the place where we’re free and healthy and happy and in deep relationships.
CRTVCHURCH: Is there anything that you would like to say to the CRTVCHURCH audience that you think we might’ve missed or anything you want to expound on before we leave?
LEVI: I think the God who created the world and did a pretty creative job with just the word of his mouth lives inside your heart. And so to all those who are working whether it’s in creative sermons or creative design or buildings and video production when you have that kind of power inside of you, you don’t have to think safe… think big, think bold, and dream big because the sky’s the limit on what God wants to do through you.
Listen to the rest of the interview on the CRTVCHURCH Podcast.
Levi’s new book ‘I Declare War’ comes out in October, you can get the first chapter free by texting 99-000 with the message ‘ideclarewar.’