Eric Scott

Eric Scott   Eric Scott was a stereotypical, rebellious pastor’s kid who looked good on the outside. On the inside, he was searching for his own identity separate from his parent’s faith and work. That led him to make some poor decisions in college that led him to a breaking point.

   But God used everything Eric went through to bring him into a relationship with Christ. Eric finally began to understand the meaning of grace and mercy, and he entered into a journey of discovering God’s love.

   After getting married, starting a family, and doing ministry work years later, Eric had to go through another journey of discovery. This time, God needed to teach him that the love of Jesus was not dependent on his performance.

   As the Associate Director of Campus Ministry at The King’s University in Texas, Eric now spends a lot of his time teaching the next generation the hard lessons that God showed him. He’s got plenty of good insight to share about his life, and some powerful words of wisdom about Gen Z that you won’t want.

Eric Scott: I knew church. I knew the motions to go through. I knew all that stuff. But I didn't have Jesus. There was a season when I was in college where I had made some really bad choices. Drug addiction and alcohol addiction and theft, stealing money from your friends and stuff. That's a part of my story. When those things were brought to the light, it humbled me and it started me down this path of forming a faith of my own and a relationship with Jesus that was real.

Testimony Interview:

Helen Todd: Eric Scott grew up as a pastor's kid, and he definitely fit the stereotype of being a prodigal son. He is my guest today on this episode of the Limitless Spirit podcast. I'm Helen Todd.

   It was much pressure on a child growing up in a family of ministers to fit a certain stereotype. In this interview, Eric and I explore the reasons why children who grow up in strong Christian family sometimes rebel against their parents and even their faith. Even after he established the relationship with God and started his own journey in Ministry, Eric struggled with trying to find his identity and earn God's approval through his own achievements until he made a critical discovery that changed everything. Also, as a campus pastor of the King's University in Texas that is educating and training Christian leaders, Eric has a great insight on today's youth and their place in God's plan for the future.

Helen: Good morning, Eric. It is great to have you on the Limitless Spirit podcast. How are you doing today?

Eric: Good morning, Helen. I'm doing fantastic. Thank you so much for having me.

Helen: Well, I'm looking forward to learning your story myself. So, we will dive right into it. You grew up as a preacher's kid, so to speak, and that's almost the stigma there that you livid out.

Eric: Most definitely. I am the prototypical case study for the preacher's kid who challenges all the rules and doesn't always follow in the example that they're given by their parents. Yeah. I definitely strayed through seasons in my life, but God was very gracious to me. No doubt about it.

Helen: Well, let's talk about this a little bit more. I didn't grow up with preacher's kids. So I want to see the dynamic of how this happens. Why this even became a term 'preacher's kid'? What do you think happens with children that are growing up in the families of ministers or even very committed Christians? It's not unusual to see that the children completely rebel against their parents' faith and sometimes against their parents' work even in Ministry. Why do you think that happens?

Eric: I think it really touches on the fundamental flaw that we have with understanding how we are created. Not to sound overly cliché, but we are human beings, not human doings. We associate so much of our identity, our worth, and our value in what we do. We're really good about doing that, especially in the church circles. And so growing up as a pastor's kid, you become labeled as 'you're so-and-so son'. That's obviously true, but you're then immediately put into this box or this category that is in association with the job function responsibility and in some ways identity of your parents. And so, it comes to bear when a child or a teenager is trying to find their own way and find their own identity. Sometimes, by virtue of just wanting to be them, they go the opposite direction because they are just trying to say, "I have my own identity. I have my own sense of worth or self", even though they don't know. That was my case. I didn't know who I was. I didn't really know who Eric Scott was. I just knew I didn't want to be that. I didn't want to be what everybody else told me I had to be. And so, it was like a long journey of just trying to really find who I am. And that's the longing of every human heart is to know who we are and who we are is not connected with what we do, but it's connected with whose we are.
   The beautiful thing about that is our real identity and worth, it doesn't come from any other person. It comes from our father. He was tiled, and he's proud of us. It just took me a long time to figure that out. But throughout that course, I was a Bible College student in the denomination that my parents raised me in. And so that stigma of being Charles Scott... My parents are wonderful people. My dad's a great man of God. My mom is a powerful woman of God. I'm blessed by the heritage that I inherit. And to be able to stand on the shoulders of such giants as my mom and dad, I'm grateful for that. But when I didn't know who I was, I shunned it because I felt like it was some burden that I had to carry. My parents never put that on me. It was never stated. It was assumed. That's just the way the enemy works, right? He tries to trick us into seeing things that aren't really there. But being in that context at the Bible College, this denomination that everybody knows who I am, everybody knows where I come from. I went about trying to find you was entirely the wrong way. It led me down a road of a lot of heartbreak and a lot of bad decisions. But it's through all of that that I crashed into the grace of God.

Helen: Well, let's back up a little bit. So, the decision to go to Bible College, was it your own decision, or it was imposed on you? How did you end up in Bible College since you were sort of rebelling against that Christian identity?

Eric: That is a great, great question, and it's a really important part of my journey. The truth is, as much as I want to try to believe that I was a rebel, there was also something intrinsically in me that I knew I needed direction and I knew I needed guidance. If I had had my druthers when I was an 18-year-old kid, what I wanted to do with my life is I wanted to become a basketball coach. I love the game of basketball. I love playing and I wanted to coach. I felt like that that would be a great path for me. I actually had a scholarship to attend college at one of the state schools in Arkansas where I grew up and had a chance to be associated with the basketball program there. I wouldn't have been a scholarship player, but I had a chance to be a part of the program. I had all these opportunities. I presented that to my mom and dad. I was really more subversively rebellious. I did a lot of things behind their back. I did a lot of things in secret that eventually God in his grace brought through the light. So I didn't want to do things blatantly and brazenly stepping out outside of my parents because I didn't want to hurt them.

   Anyway, I've presented what my dreams were what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go to college to my mom and dad. My parents said, "You know son, we don't feel like that's what God wants for you. We feel He has another plan for you and you shall trust us. We want you to go this direction." I really had a hard time with that. It was a real point of friction in my relationship with my parents. But I did submit to that. I went where they wanted me to go. It was a really difficult journey, but they were right. And eventually it helped me get back on the road that I needed to be on.

Helen: But you felt unhappy at a certain point and maybe unsettled?

Eric: All along the way. But it was again because there was something that God was doing at me. I knew Church. Even in those times when I wasn't living for the Lord, you could put me on a stage with a microphone in my hand and I could say all the right things or I could lead in worship or I could participate in leadership endeavors as a student leader. I knew the game. I knew the motions to go through. I knew all that stuff, but I didn't know Jesus. I had no real relationship with the Lord. And like I said, there was a season when I was in college where I had made some really bad choices. I hurt a lot of people. I've done a lot of terrible things. And what I had to answer for that? When those things were brought to the light, it humbled me and it started me down this path of finding that even at my worst God was at his best and He restored me and then that's where I've started down the journey of forming a faith of my own and a relationship with Jesus that was real.

Helen: What was that encounter like? Can you describe it more in detail when you realize that you don't have the relationship but you desperately need and want that relationship?

Eric: It's not fun when all of the things that you have been keeping secret come to light. It's not fun when people see the real you. There is a friend of mine. We were talking about our journeys. We kind of grew up in the same age. We grew up in the same fellowship and the same church world. My testimony is that God brought me out, and I'm grateful for that. I would much rather have a testimony that said God kept me out. Her story kind of follows more that line where she made better choices and God preserved her because of the choices that she made. She didn't experience the pain and things like that that I did. I'm grateful that God brought me out, but I would have much rather as a 15, 16, 17, 18-year-old young man have made choices where I didn't need to be rescued. Having said that though, what was that like? So to answer that question, it was a word that I would use to describe as "bitter sacred". It was painful. It was hard. It hurts. But it made me who I am. It was the way that God's grace became apparent in my life.

Eric: And so, I wouldn't advise and push... No parent wants their children to go through that. But at the end of the day walking through that with my mom and my dad where drug addiction and alcohol addiction and theft, stealing money from your friends, and stuff, that is a part of my story. I did a lot of things. I hurt a lot of people. But in that, not only did my relationship with the Lord become real, but I had a very deep and profound relationship with my parents. My parents were the ones who really helped me understand the grace of God as my earthly father showed me grace. It's like what Jesus said, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts. I had a good father and a good mother and they were with me and they walked with me through that season. So it forged a deep relationship with us. Yeah, it was a painful experience, but it was a beautiful one as well.

Helen: It is interesting because your journey of rebellion, if you will, started because you were trying to figure out who you were and you didn't want to be someone that people perceive you were. So you were sort of trying to discover yourself, and then suddenly the things that God brought to light could have been pretty crushing for an identity. It is not fun to realize that you are not really a good person. That has to be pretty crushing, especially at a young age. That encounter that you had with the Lord, how did it help you understand who you really are? That you are not that bad person that was brought to light, but rather to discover the person that God saw in you. How did that process happened?

Eric: That is an interesting point, Helen, because I think that one of the tensions that we hold as followers of Jesus is that all of us by the grace of God are capable of being very bad people. Sin is intrinsic to the human condition. Again, kind of going back to what I said earlier, my unrenewed mind will sometimes trick me into thinking that if I do enough good, it will outweigh the war that is raging inside of me. During those formative years of my life as a young man I kind of justified my bad behavior with some of the good things that I was involved in even though deep down the things that I was doing I wasn't doing for the Lord and I really wasn't doing for other people. I was doing it because it made me look good. So again, all of those things were just upside down. And that season in my life, God turned everything. He turned me upside down. He rocked my world, but really what He was doing was rightsizing and turning things into the right perspective for me to wear that. It wasn't an immediate process. I have to be honest about that. Even after coming to know the Lord and serving the Lord, and even in my early years in Ministry, I still had some bad tendencies of making things still about my performance.

Eric: So to answer your question, that whole early journey was kind of the beginning of discovering that it isn't about me. It is only and always about God, His goodness and His grace. So I guess if I could circle back, it is holding that tension of knowing that those things are a possibility for us to operate with the wrong motive even though we are doing the right thing. It is an opportunity to disguise our true character with our behavior, our outward behavior, or the persona that we put forward. That temptation is always there for every single one of us. And that journey in early 2000s as a college student, as a young man, it was so humiliating. But in return it became so humbling because it awakened me to what I was capable of, but more so how gracious and how merciful God is. Because as bad as I was, it could've been a lot worse. As much damage as I did inflicted and it pores my decisions were God was still merciful because it could have been a lot worse. I don't if that answers that question well, but I guess just the reminder of God's grace and mercy.

Helen: We will go a little even deeper into your story. You mentioned in your testimony that a few years down the road from this experience and you were already in your early service in Ministry, you suddenly discovered that you were an unbelieving believer. I found that very intriguing. So, can you elaborate more on that?

Eric: Sure. Yes. I'll just be vulnerable and honest. My personality type, and we can sometimes get really hung up on some of these tools that the corporate world provides and that secular society and psychology offer us. We can lean on them too heavily. At the same time I think that just like modern medicine, these are tools that God can use to shine a light on how He wired us. So don't get too hung up on this, but just to be real, my personality type, every assessment that I do it always kind of come back to the same deeply embedded characteristic in my personality. I am a performer. I am an achiever. I am kind of hardwired to get things done. And sometimes at my worst, by any means necessary. I know that about myself. And so, even in trying to serve the Lord and even in trying to advance the Kingdom, even in trying to do everything that I could for what I deeply believed in, which is the Gospel of Jesus. The unbelief part of that is that it's up to me. That it's about my effort, my energy, my grip, my determination, and all good things. But if those things are up to me, that leads down a road of disaster really, and that is where I was a few years ago.

Eric: March 2013 is when all of this kind of came to a head. I have been serving in the local church for a number of years at that point. I have been married for almost eight years to the love of my life and my high school sweetheart. When we were kids, she walked through that season with me. The season I was referring to before when I was in college. She stood by my side even when I was at my worst. And so, God and my parents said, "You better marry that girl", and I did. We have been ever since 15 years and we serve in Ministry together as a young married couple and then we had our first child in 2009. We were having so much fun on that journey. But my theology and my understanding of God was still tied up in my performance. It was still tied up in what I achieved, what I did for God. And that was leading me down this road of burnout and exhaustion. So I believe the message. The unbelief was in really still understanding the goodness and grace of God. That even if I didn't achieve and even if I didn't perform, God's favor in my life, God's love for me, God's goodness to me, was not connected to my performance. And that realization hit me like a ton of bricks eight years ago to see that God was smiling at me even as a young man in college and even when I was trying to grip my way through life and got it out so to speak in Ministry. God's opinion of me had never changed.

Eric: That was a game changer for me, Helen, because then it made the journey of serving the Lord. Not about my performance, but about His. Next week we're going to be going through Passion Week and Holy Week. We're going to reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf and the resurrection that we celebrated Easter. That is the ultimate testimony that His performance was enough. It's not up to me. So the unbelief was that He didn't do His job, and I got to do mine, so to speak. That I've got to really perform for Him to like me, to love me, to favor me, to bless me. Rather, He loves me and now I perform if you will or I achieve or I strive from a place of His finished work.

Helen: This is a very interesting journey. And in essence, both of these experiences that you had were the process I think if I were to summarize your story was the process of Eric Scott really learning who Eric Scott is. I don't think that we can connect our series of this podcast as greater purpose and about people connecting with their greater purpose. And truly, I don't believe we can connect to our greater purpose or even discover what it is until we have an understanding of who we are in God, in Christ. And so, would you say that you have discovered who Eric Scott is?

Eric: You hit the nail on the head. I think that even still, I'll turn 40 this year which when I was 20 I thought 40 was ancient and now I have a completely different opinion on the age of 40. I think that really the journey with Jesus is what you just described. It is the journey of becoming and knowing who we are, learning things about our self, discovering things about our self in light of who Jesus is. But the world does a good job of labeling us, identifying us, telling us who we are, and even in some respects helping us. Like I said before, the tools and things that are available for self-awareness and emotional intelligence, those are valuable resources for leadership in any context. So, we are always trying to discover who we are. But if we don't discover that in the light of who He is, we don't see ourselves through the lens of the cross. There will always be a gap in purpose because you always feel unfulfilled to your purpose if it's not connected to who He says you are. And regardless of personality type or regardless of gifting or regardless of even passions that we have in life, if we don't come back to, He says I am forgiven. He says I am righteous. He says I'm enough. He says I'm loved. Those factors about who we are in Christ will be the determining factor of how well we understand who we are as a person.

Eric: So yes, that journey in early 2000 is when I really started developing a true relationship with the Lord for myself. It was this coming to grips with who I am as a young man and then in my adult years, in my early 30s, still shaping and defining that this understanding of who I am and even today at 40, almost 40. I'm not there yet. I am almost 40. I am still wrestling with the way that God has wired me in connection with His spirit and my identity in Him, how I can best serve the Kingdom of God and make a greater purpose in the world. And I think that that is really the journey that we say yes to when we say yes to Jesus. It helped me discover more about who you are. It helped me learn more about myself and it opened my eyes to how those things intersect to kind of who you are and who I am. How we intersect together to make a difference in the world around us.

Helen: I think it is an ongoing journey honestly. You can't measure it with age. Somehow we expect that when we reach a certain age, hopefully we acquire more wisdom or more understanding. Sometimes it does naturally happen that way, but I don't think it is measured by the number of years that will live on this Earth. But rather without desire to pursue that, not everybody strangely enough is in that class. But also with the circumstances that God brings our way, you know, we've all gone through this challenging year 2020 and the challenges are not over. But I think that a lot of good came out of that because if we were challenged to put in some type of extreme circumstances, sometimes we don't have the full understanding of who we are. And that too goes along with God helping us to know who we are, how we would respond to these trials and helping us grow through them.

Helen: So now, you are as the campus pastor at the King's University, you are pouring that wisdom that you have learned and acquired into young people, into students who are just like you now are in pursuit of discovering who they are and pursuit of their greater purpose, their training for a career in Ministry potentially or maybe another career but still very Christ-centered. I visited the campus of the university and the atmosphere is just absolutely beautiful. You can sense that young energy and excitement and passion for Christ. You mentioned that this is in a sense your greater purpose is pouring into the lives of these young people. So what can you say about this young generation, the next generation that is coming after you?

Eric: Helen, you are so right on a circle when you said this is how it's going to go. Yeah, growing old does not mean growing up. There are a lot of immature adults. We know that. That principle in reference to this generation, and I am going to try not to be emotional because I can't talk about this generation without getting that way because I think that get the worst rap ever and I think through feud as this problem and they are not. If we believe the word of God, it is true. When Mordecai said to Esther who would know that you came into the Kingdom for such a time as this, then why are we complaining about the generation that God in His infinite wisdom foreknew and foresaw would be burst in the middle of all the chaos that is going on around us. And as leaders, as parents, as business leaders, as previous generations, we have to be honest with ourselves because it is what another generation establishes that sets the stage for the emerging generations. And so, whatever we complain about in them, we have to take responsibility for because they didn't get that way on their own.

Eric: So, when we talk about entitlement and when we talk about selfishness or self-centeredness or lack of grit, all those things that this generation gets slapped with as far as labels are concerned, we have to own that because they are looking to us and we created the world that they are growing up in. We are the ones that set the table for all of it. So, instead of just expecting them to be like we want them to be, we have to take them by the hand and walk this thing out with them. Because again, some of the characteristics that we call bad, I don't think we're all that bad. For example, let's talk about entitlement. We said this generation is so entitled. I think everything is just being handed to them. Well, I mean, is that the worst thing ever for them to expect more? Is it the worst thing ever for them to look at problems and say it doesn't have to be this way? We deserve better. We as a society deserve better than some of the different things that we have been told we have to just live with it. So I think that what we label as entitlement could be something that will become a righteous discontent with the way things are.

Eric: And the other thing that we know about this generation is because of advances in technology, because of their exposure to facts and information at such a young age, this generation is extremely intelligent. So doesn't that mean that when they look at things and they refuse to accept them the way that they are and they are extremely intelligent, we can come alongside them and teach them how to be problem solvers and teach them how to follow through with things and take them by the hand and walk a journey with them. I think that all of this is a Divine set up. I think the conditions are perfect for us to gather to accomplish our greater purpose. And so, instead of looking at them and saying fix this, fix this, fix this, we got to own our role and then we have to be willing to take them by the hand, hear them, value them, see what God has placed them in. Again, you mentioned a moment ago the age factor. Why we assume that they have to be 20 before they can make a difference? Why we assume that they have to be 30 or 40? They don't. Scripture is full of examples of leaders who made an impact for the Kingdom of God and the calls of God's Kingdom.

Helen: Starting with King David.

Eric: Absolutely, as young people. You talked about my journey in coming to know the Lord and coming to know who I am in Christ. We have to understand as leaders that our formation, our transformation, is never about us. It is never just for us. It is always for someone else. It is for God to be able to use us to make a difference in His Kingdom. That is greater purpose. And so, we have to see the opportunities that are present in this season that we are living. And you touched on with COVID. Do you know that because of shelter in place, because of that season where we weren't able to gather and worship online Ministry and online spread of church services and the gospel became so crucial? Churches recalibrated. Churches pivoted towards online. And as a result of many platforms for online Ministry are recording not just record numbers, astronomically high record numbers of people coming to know the Lord in the middle of a global pandemic. God is working. He is always moving. His purpose is always going to be accomplished. The question is whether or not we are going to wake up and be a part of it. And this generation, they are primed and ready and able to make a difference in the world. But we got to be willing to do the hard work with them and take them by the hand, cheer them on, and release them, empower them to do it, because there is no doubt in my mind they can.

Helen: I hundred percent agree with you. I'm a mother of a 24-year-old and a 15-year-old, so I have a great scope of the generation that is coming behind us. I am in awe. I am very proud because I see. I mean, there is negative in every generation, but I see, like you mentioned, tremendous intelligence, awareness of what is happening. They are very alert and aware of what is happening around them. And if there are complaints that they are not passionate which I didn't see. The young people that I encounter are extremely passionate about Christ. If there is even any complaining about them not being passionate about Christ, then is it not our fault? They are the generation that will not stand for counterfeit faith. They are very genuine and they look for genuine. And so, unless we are genuine in our faith, we can't impart it onto them. They will not take it. And so, I'm excited Eric about you speaking at the Greater Purpose Conference that is coming up in just a few weeks in May. I look forward to hearing what you have to say and impart on to young people, parents, and grandparents alike. So, thank you so much for coming on this podcast and we will be talking to you very soon.

Eric: Helen, thank you so much for having me. And likewise, I cannot wait to be with you in May. I know that God is going to do some amazing things and I just can't wait to be a part of it. I am so honored to partner with you in it.

Helen: I think Eric's story is a powerful reminder of the destructive impact that the misguided identity can have on a person's life. And today I think this is especially important because we live in a culture where success and influence have tied to the approval of the majority and we have the cancel culture that has the power to destroy a person's life. And this is why I think that as Believers we truly have to pursue that identity in the grace of Christ which gives us true confidence and ultimately connects us to our greater purpose. I also love Eric's passion and his whole pool view of today's youth. I mentioned that Eric Scott will be speaking about our Greater Purpose Conference that is coming up in May, and I would love for you to check out the details and consider joining us. Go to our website, rfwma.org.

Helen: And why we didn't talk specifically about missions work on this episode, that's another way that God is moving and working right now. For instance, I have just returned from World Missions Alliance's first trip to Mexico. Mexico is one of the few countries today that has kept its borders open during the COVID-19 pandemic. We held discipleship training sessions, street evangelism. We ministered to the people who lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. But my favorite moment was leading in a salvation prayer an 83-year-old woman and then handing her very first Bible. It made me think that it is never too early or too late for us to establish that personal relationship with Jesus and start pursuing and discovering our true identity in Him.

Helen: If you would like to learn more about getting involved in the Great Commission, go to the same website that I just mentioned, rfwma.org. And there's more information there on how to get involved. Thank you for your prayers while we were in Mexico, and I also want to thank Eric again for being my guest today. Finally, thank you very much for listening. Until next time. I'm Helen Todd.

Voice Prompt: Limitless Spirit is produced by World Missions Alliance. If you believe in the importance of the Great Commission sharing Christ around the world and helping those in need, check out our website, rfwma.org. If you liked what you heard, consider supporting the Limitless Spirit podcast by going to rfwma.org /give. Subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform and leave us a review. Tune in next week for another exciting episode.

Eric's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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