Pastor Michael Todd, the first guest on Hoda Kotb's new podcast, "Making Space," knows a thing or two about finding clarity.
Todd is a bestselling author and lead pastor at Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where people line up down the block to hear him speak. A few years ago, that meant running and grinding.
But Todd has found wisdom in taking time away, including a 100 day break from social media, and making space for himself to set intentions. Here, in conversation with Hoda Kotb, he shares some of his insights that have helped his church, his marriage and his waistline as he releases his new book, "Crazy Faith."
Tell me what your big revelation was, by just this simple act of putting all phone, social media away.
I think, if I could sum it up in one word, the word is "margin." And I think about, like, the greatest things I've ever done — they came in the margin. It didn't come when I was trying to figure it out. It didn't come when I was trying to make it happen. It came when I made space. And it's so amazing that the title of this podcast has to do with making space. ... I just feel like there's something that happens when you get revelation, when you get ideas, and when you get new thoughts — when there's margin. And so, this year, I did it bigger than I've ever done before. ... I took 100 days, and I was gone. I was out of here. We had a new baby.
You said when you make space, it comes. How does it come to you? How do you receive the messages?
You know the crazy thing, Hoda, is people aren't still enough or silent enough to even listen to themselves, to be able to see how they're feeling, to be able to see what is being told to them.
So, something that's a practical practice for me every day is: I have what I call "quiet time." Where I do meditation, prayer, I read scriptures, and I write down the things that I feel strongly impressed on my heart. And sometimes it's things like, "Go take your wife on a special date." And I just feel impressed to do that. And other times it's like, "Hey, pray for that family," or, "Go give to that person," or, "Read this scripture over and over and over and over again." And I just follow those promptings. You know the crazy thing, Hoda, is people aren't still enough or silent enough to even listen to themselves, to be able to see how they're feeling, to be able to see what is being told to them by the people they love, and by the things that are speaking to them. And when I make that space every day, it's so crazy that one hour out of 24 hours can begin to set the trajectory for my life, my family, and miracles to happen in my life that really make me feel like I'm just a part of something that's way bigger than me.
You set intentions. For your relationship with your wife. For your relationship with your kids. For your job. Okay. Help me, because I want to do this. What do you do?
I think the first thing that you have to understand is: When you say what you desire, it begins to move your life in that direction.
I think the first thing that you have to understand is: When you say what you desire, it begins to move your life in that direction. And most people are scared to even say what they're hoping for. They're scared to even say, like, "You know what, I hope to be working a job that I have time for my family." ... And so the first thing I did, honestly, is got a vision, and wrote the vision down, and made it plain. Very basic, like: "I will date my wife for the rest of my life." I said that out loud, but it wasn't enough to say it. I had to write it down and I had to write it down to the point where it became written down in my calendar every week. ... And when I wrote it down, when I said it out loud, when I let my intention be known, and I put that vision down on paper, it's been two and a half years, and every week we've had a date night. Some weeks, twice. And me and her are closer today than we've ever been. That's my high school sweetheart. I met her when I was 15 years old, and we've been married 11 years, we've got four kids, we run a bunch of businesses together. But it did not happen by accident.
Did this intention come from, 'Uh-oh, our relationship isn't working, and unless we do something...'?
Our intentionality came from: If you're married more than five years, you're not married to the same person you married.
Our intentionality came from: If you're married more than five years, you're not married to the same person you married. We got a revelation that you keep changing every five years. And I needed to relearn who she was. What she used to like, she didn't like anymore. ... And so we made an intentionality that: I am not going to pause your growth on the frame that I remember you as. I'm going to keep learning you. ... And, as we began to do that, we liked that person better than the one we married. Like, we begin to understand, "Man, I love you even more now because we've been through this together, and because you're still here, and because we can still laugh about that." And, again, making space made us love each other even more. Right after we get off this podcast, I'mma go find her. I'm missing her right now. I need to give her a hug and a kiss right now.
You're pastor of this Transformation Church, and that was nowhere near where you began. Where were you first when it came to your fellowship?
I started out as the sound man of our church. Like, I would be fixing your mic right now if you came to my church. ... And then, literally four years later, I'm the lead pastor of the church, and I'm like, "How in the world did this happen?" Like, "Somebody got the wrong person!" And I gave to this transformation — that's why our church is called Transformation Church — because I believe that you can actually change. And I began to see things that weren't natural to me seeing.
This is a message of crazy faith. Because it's only crazy until it happens.
Like, 37 days after I became the lead pastor of our church that was less than 300 people ... I just hear this impression: The Spirit Bank Event Center is going to be Transformation Church. And I'm like, "What?" And I had the audacity to write it down. ... Five years later, Hoda, I got the keys to that building. ... It was a little miracle after little miracle: me believing in what I wrote down. Me telling other people that this is possible. And if it happened, this couldn't be us! This had to be some divine intervention. And, literally, step-by-step-by-step-by-step. And I had "maybe" faith and "baby" faith and "lazy" faith and "crazy" faith. But that's why I called this whole message that I'm giving people— It's like: This is a message of crazy faith. Because it's only crazy until it happens.
Do you ever drift away from God, do you ever—?
Oooh. You talkin' big language right here, right now. You used one of my trigger words: Drift. This year, our word, for our church, is "anchored." And we are trying to get anchored spiritually, emotionally, physically, like, in every area of our life. But the tagline is, "This is the year of the anti-drift." And the one thing about drifting— So you said "drifting," and it, like, went through my whole body right there. Because drifting is natural if there's not intention.
If you put a boat in water, there does not have to be a storm for that boat to drift. If you just put it there with no anchor, it's going to be out to sea in an hour and a half, because there was no intention of dropping an anchor somewhere.
If you put a boat in water, there does not have to be a storm for that boat to drift. If you just put it there with no anchor, it's going to be out to sea in an hour and a half, because there was no intention of dropping an anchor somewhere. And, yes, to answer your questions, there are tons of places in my life that I have drifted because I was not intentional. So, one of those areas was in my health, very practically: The church is blowing up. I'm having all of these kids. And as the church is blowing up, I'm blowing up. Like, I'm eating everything, I'm fat and happy, I'm eating ice cream, I'm doing all the different things. I'm eating. ... And this year, when we talk about anchored, I looked at myself and I was 264 pounds. I was completely overweight, out of shape, all of those different things. And, in a quiet time, I really felt so strongly that this was an area that I had been drifting.
And I made a decision that if I was shown something, I was going to start, in crazy faith, making steps toward that. So we started eating better, got a trainer. Like, I literally just finished working out. I'm— I'm 229 pounds today, from— that was four months ago. Almost lost 35 pounds since I made the decision. ... I have found myself being anchored in so many other places, because I decided to stop drifting in one. And I'm encouraging somebody: It takes one area that you get intentional in, that then begins to move all the other areas that have been drifting into alignment, too.
This conversation has been edited; for the full conversation, listen to "Making Space with Hoda Kotb" wherever you find your podcasts.