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Amazing Possibilities!

  • Matthew Kelly

Jack Beers Interviews with Matthew Kelly


Matthew Kelly:

Hi, I'm Matthew Kelly. Welcome to Profoundly Human. Today we are visiting with Jack Beers. Jack, welcome.

Jack Beers:

Good to be here with you, Matthew.

Matthew Kelly:

How are you today?

Jack Beers:

I'm doing great.

Matthew Kelly:

So tell me your favorite food.

Jack Beers:

Favorite food? It's a great question. My favorite food is chicken, which is an odd answer to the question. I eat a very specific food regiment for my health. And I am very well known among my circle of friends and that is it. On having the best salty chicken that you could possibly have. And I could eat it every meal, every day, anytime, anywhere, cold, hot, anything.

Matthew Kelly:

The chicken man.

Jack Beers:

The chicken man. Yes.

Matthew Kelly:

What about favorite movie?

Jack Beers:

Favorite movie is It's a Wonderful Life. Not only is it a great movie, with a great message, and just phenomenal lead actor in Jimmy Stewart, who's my favorite actor of all time. But is the movie that my family and I watched every year while we were decorating the Christmas tree. So there's just a lot of a deep familial roots in there. And the ending scene, I'm not a crier, but I can't help but tear up at the end of that movie every time.

Matthew Kelly:

Now, is there a line or a message that sort of particularly stays with you?

Jack Beers:

So my grandfather, he passed when I was four, but he is legendary in my family for always finding a way to do the right thing no matter the personal cost. And so I very much see my grandfather in Jimmy Stewart's character. And so the lesson of that movie is, you just do the right thing for the right reasons long enough, and you will discover that life is pretty wonderful down that path. So, I love that whole concept.

Matthew Kelly:

Powerful. Very powerful. What about favorite sport?

Jack Beers:

That's baseball. That's easy. I was five when I went to Shea Stadium, which is where the New York Mets play. And it was bat day and someone handed me a bat that was bigger than me. And I went with my dad and my uncle. When I first got into the stadium it was just like, "This is a touch of heaven. This is incredible." Even though I was five, I love the pace, I love the way that the game is played, I love the different nuances, and all the little unwritten rules and how things go. And I usually say something about baseball like, "It's the only poetry I understand and enjoy." But I love baseball.

Matthew Kelly:

So, my kids are crazy about baseball at the moment. And I remember a couple years ago I saw Shohei Ohtani hit a home run. It wasn't his first by any stretch. It was the first I saw and it was on a YouTube clip. And it was absolutely mesmerizing to me. And I called my boys down the kitchen, called them down to my office. And I showed them this clip of him hitting this home run just over and over, watched it 10 times. And then Harry said to me like, "Dad, why are you showing us this so many times?" I said to him, "This might be the greatest baseball player you ever see in your lifetime." And Harry said, "Like Babe Ruth." And I said, "Yeah. Like Babe Ruth." And I'm reading this week that the Mets are trying to buy, steal, borrow, Shohei Ohtani from the Angels. What do you think about that?

Jack Beers:

Well, he is the greatest two-way player since Babe Ruth. There's no doubt about that. And there's going to be an argument at some point, if he is the greatest two-way player of all time, because Babe Ruth didn't even... He was a pitcher and then a hitter, right? And Ohtani is doing both. I would take him on the Mets in a heartbeat and I would trade... There would be no one untouchable for Ohtani. However, I don't know if you've read this, but there's a feud between the two owners. So, the Mets got a new owner before last year's season. And one of the only people to vote against Steve Cohen being the owner of the Mets is the owner of the Angels. And then in the off season, the owner of the Angels outbid the owner of the Mets for a player that was on the Mets, and it was all the rage in baseball land that he did it specifically to stick it to Steve Cohen. So, I would be shocked if it happened. However, if Ohtani goes to free agency, I think he'll be a Met.

Matthew Kelly:

All right. Very good. So, he is not coming to Cincinnati play for the Reds?

Jack Beers:

I don't think so.

Matthew Kelly:

Is that what you're saying?

Jack Beers:

I don't think so.

Matthew Kelly:

Very good. You have become very famous lately, on the Feed Your Soul series for Dynamic Catholic presenting the Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, along with Allen Hunt and myself. What's been your experience preparing for the Feed Your Soul Reflections and how do you prepare? Has it been invigorating? Has it been anxious? What's it been like?

Jack Beers:

Well, the celebrity thing is an interesting way to tee it up because in my parish, people are coming up to me before and after mass and start talking to me almost in mid-sentence of an idea that I've shared in Feed Your Soul, and we do them somewhat in advance. So, it takes me a few seconds to like, "Who are you? What are you talking to me about?" But it's been really cool to have that experience of someone coming up to you and saying, "Hey, what you shared really helped me prepare for mass that Sunday, and this is what I thought about it and how it's impacted me." I've never had that before. That's been really praiseworthy because that's an interesting experience. It's also fun wrestling with my two kids while trying to be attentive to a person too. So, it's good.

Jack Beers:

My experience has been very enriching for me. So I get a list of which weeks I'm going to be working on. And then I like to look at all of the gospel readings first to get a sense of what the whole picture is. And then my step one is to actually try and think of a story that I have seen this gospel lived. I have this theory, I shared it with the content team here at Dynamic Catholic last week, that every person when they are being and living in the best version of themselves, reflects an aspect of the life and teaching of Jesus in a way that is modern and relevant to our times. And I was sharing it because one of our interns, I believe epitomizes when Jesus looked at one of the apostles when he first met him and said, "There is a person with no gale about them. And she's just so authentic and so genuine." That's that teaching lived.

Jack Beers:

And I believe that about every gospel. And so I try to think, have I seen someone live this gospel passage out? And I'll go right with that if I've seen it and the holy spirit helps me to remember it. If not that, then I look to see what great people have written on the subject. Journals that I've written in the past and reflecting on that gospel passage or great homily that I've heard that I can then turn and reflect. I've seen me do that with Fulton Sheen, with the great homily that I've heard, with all kinds of different people who've spoken on the gospels. So, I like to do that and it has deeply enriched me because it's taken my reflections on the gospels to a whole other level. And it has also helped me prepare for mass.

Jack Beers:

When I'm trying to help other people do with Feed Your Soul is help them walk into mass in a way that they're more prepared to hear the message and more, prepared to hear what God is trying to say to them in the mass and it's happening to me. So, it's helped me do that in a really beautiful way.

Matthew Kelly:

We email it out on Thursdays. And there are other people who release things for Sunday's gospel and usually they're releasing them Saturday afternoon. Why do we send them out on Thursday? And why does that matter?

Jack Beers:

Well, it's not a homily. So, we're not trying to replace your Sunday homily. That's not who we are or what we're trying to do. One of the things that we like to talk about at Dynamic Catholic, or a question we like to ask is, "Okay. So, if you think that the mass is boring, why do you think that the mass is boring? Or why are you going to mass and having the experience that you wouldn't necessarily call as an experience that's really feeding your soul?" And people have lots of answers to that question, right? The music, the homilies, the people, the stained glass windows, the pews, I mean the list goes on, and on, and on. But one of the things that you have taught many, many Catholics, including myself, is that we prepare for things that are important.

Jack Beers:

And if Sunday mass is really important, if the celebration of the Eucharist is really the source and summit of our Catholic faith, then we should prepare for it as if it is that thing. And this is our small, helpful, hopeful way for you on Thursday to experience the gospel, have a little bit of a reflection on it, marinate it with you for a couple of days, and then be prepared to receive what God has to say to you in mass. That day, potentially based off of your reflection from Feed Your Soul. And then from there, if that's your experience, then mass can never be boring. Because then God is going to be delivering a message to you, week in and week out. So, it's a small thing and it's a helpful thing that's released on Thursday, but it's really all about you having a great conversation with God on Sunday.

Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. It's a powerful statement. If asked then mass could never be boring. And so, prepare yourself for the mass. I find it interesting when we prepare, we just hone in on Sunday. Whereas when I don't prepare, on Sunday I'm searching for, what is the anchor point? What is the grounding of this? Whereas if I prepare, it's just boom. So, that's powerful. What about you've been doing on occasion also, and we're doing the monthly calls, now videos, for the Ambassadors Club. And of course the Ambassadors Club are the people who make everything happen here at Dynamic Catholic. They give $10 a month. They pray for the mission. They spread the word about our new initiatives and that sort of thing. And once a month, either you and me, or you and Allen, or me and Allen, we have a conversation specifically designed to help the Ambassadors grow spiritually. They're feeding millions of people through their efforts. And we have always been committed about feeding them and helping them grow. What has your experience been like serving the Ambassadors in that way?

Jack Beers:

It's been powerful for two reasons for me. The first is, I became an Ambassador with my first paycheck eight and a half years ago. You had come to speak at a place that was close to where I was living at the time and I thought that the Catholic Moments series and what Dynamic Catholic was trying to do as a mission. With the Catholic Moments, I just thought, if 10 of my dollars can help make that happen. Yes, I'm in. And so much of my journey has been as an Ambassador. So then to turn around and be sort of in support and in fellowship with all Ambassadors in this way is a very, very cool thing for me. But when we go to prepare and help nourish the Ambassadors, what I love about the approach that we take is, what's one thing we can talk about this month?

Jack Beers:

So much of the approach that we often take that can be a mistake in nourishing our spiritual lives, especially as a church it's like, "Okay, we've got this one moment with someone. Let's give them everything they could possibly need in this one moment and fill them with everything in the hopes that they absorb it all." And the Ambassador calls are so simple because we're just saying, "Hey, this is a topic. This one topic right here, you could really sit on this topic for a year or two and get a lot out of it. But let's just segue into it. Let's talk about it a little bit. Let's unpack it a little bit. And here's where we're at with it. Where are you at with it?" And just have a conversation with the Ambassadors in that way. And then an opportunity to thank them.

Jack Beers:

No other Catholic ministry in America, I think, is in the position that we are with the incredible generosity of our Ambassadors. And it's hard to communicate to Ambassadors how enormously grateful we are and how we're praying for them all the time. We're literally praying for them all the time and we really care about their spiritual wellbeing. So, it's a privilege in that way too.

Matthew Kelly:

At least nobody knows yet other than the Ambassadors, but this fall, we're releasing some resources around the fourth quarter of people's lives. And the book is called No Regrets. And then there's a sort of a workbook, which is sort of the ultimate guide to the fourth quarter of life. We've done a number of sessions with the Ambassadors around this topic of fourth quarter. Have you been surprised at their response? Or what are your reflections on their response?

Jack Beers:

The first time we talked about this, the No Regrets program, the previous month, Allen and I had done one. And we did it on Allen's upcoming bible study on Genesis. And it was the first time people I didn't know who were Ambassadors, emailed me and said, "I'm so excited. Thank you for that conversation. It was really enriching. I'd never thought about Genesis and the way you and Allen are approaching it. Can't wait for it." I thought, "Wow, that was really cool." And then the first conversation on No Regrets happened, and it was like a storm. The number of people who were reaching out and saying, "I'm not in the fourth quarter of my life, but I'm in the second quarter of my life, but I really needed to hear that. I hadn't thought about life in that way." And then the people who are heading into their fourth quarter who say things like, "There is literally nothing out there helping me to approach the fourth quarter in a way that I can flourish."

Jack Beers:

I remember we were doing some work with parishes around dreaming and I was at an event where we were trying to help a parish imagine a bigger, and better, and brighter future for their parish by imagining a bigger, better and brighter future for themselves. And there were people who were in the fourth quarter of their life, who would come to me and say, "That bigger, better brighter future is for first, second and third quarter people, not fourth quarter people." And just this act of giving people in the fourth quarter permission to dream about their fourth quarter was astounding, but we've only touched the surface for people who will actually get to read this thing and experience it. It's one of the best things we will be releasing in the last couple years. It is very powerful.

Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. I think one of the things I noticed for people who are in the fourth quarter approaching the fourth quarter... In the Dream Manager, I wrote about building a bigger and better future. And one of the things I realized myself in the last few years and has definitely been solidified by working on this fourth quarter program is that sometimes a better future is a smaller future. And in our culture, we have difficulty with that. We have difficulty believing that a better future could be a smaller future, or that a bigger future could mean less things, or doing less, or focusing on fewer relationships. And so our ability to contract in really meaningful intentional ways, I think is a big piece of it, and I'm excited to have people experience that.

Jack Beers:

Yeah. And on that particular point, my mom literally just entered her fourth quarter, and she had this really big job which was raising her kids. And now moving into this new space of empty nest, and this big job that was in the past, and her feeling she had to retire from a job she never wanted to retire from. And it's taken a new form, and talking to her about the concepts that are within this program, giving her permission to think about better on the terms that you're discussing has been almost like relieving of a burden. I've literally just watched this burden be alleviated. What I have to do next has to be more than what that was and that's not true. It's something different and you're being called to something different. And that's a good thing. That's a beautiful thing. And so I can't wait to see that burden be relieved for many, many more people because she's not alone in that.

Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. Not at all. Tell us about how you came to be in Cincinnati to be working for Dynamic Catholic. Walk us through that.

Jack Beers:

Well, I came into the church in 2012 when I was 21. And a big turning point in my journey in coming into the church is I read this book, I don't know if you've heard it before, it's Rediscovered Catholicism.

Matthew Kelly:

I'm vaguely familiar with it.

Jack Beers:

Yeah. And I was dabbling in Catholicism a little bit at the time, and there was something drawing me to it. And I didn't quite know what it was. And I was given the book right after Christmas and taking the book was literally the only way that I was going to be able to physically get out of that church. The person handing out the books was very friendly, but I wasn't going to get out of that church without a book. So took the book, had no intention of reading, couldn't sleep one night and thought what's going to help me sleep? Catholic book sounds good. Matthew Kelly-

Matthew Kelly:

Better than name be.

Jack Beers:

Yeah, better... Whoever this Matthew Kelly guy is, opened the book up, didn't sleep that night because I just tore through it. And I was in college and I'd been watching college in the collegiate life and the lifestyle and the philosophies that dictated that lifestyle. And I saw it tearing people down rather than lifting people up. I saw them giving themselves over to things that were really tearing them from the inside out. And I'm a person who is all in or nothing. There's very little middle ground for me. If I'm going to relax, there's no movement. If I'm going to get after something, there is no sleeping. I am going to get after it. And so I knew I was going to go dedicate my life to something. And when I read Rediscover Catholicism, it was like, "Wow, pursuing holiness is the only thing I've ever heard that makes every part of your life better."

Jack Beers:

Mother Teresa didn't have a dedication to holiness that then destroyed the rest of her life. Everything bloomed because she was pursuing holiness. And so I was in it and that book also challenged me to read the gospels every day for a year, and so I took that on. That catapulted me into making the decision to come into the church.

Matthew Kelly:

Sorry mate.

Jack Beers:

Again. So I'm coming into the church at 21 and I thought I was going to be a sports broadcaster. It's what I thought I was going to do with my life. I was going to be the play-by-play announcer for the New York Mets. And then I got the sacraments, I was baptized, first communion, confirmation, and God started stirring something else in my heart. And I started to realize that I might be called to something else. So I took this year of basically discernment like, "God, what are you calling me to do? Where are you calling me to go? Who are you calling me to be?" And I was just working to get by and I become an Ambassador. And I saw this, we're hiring email. And I saw two jobs. One was an event coordinator, which I was doing a little bit of, and the other one was the job I really wanted, which was team leader, the First Communion, First Reconciliation program.

Jack Beers:

And I thought, well, I've been Catholic for about 30 seconds. So, I'm not sure I'm well qualified to do that. So, maybe I could do this event thing. And my resume was on the discard pile, but it was on the top. And Mark Moore who hired me, said there was something weird about my photo. Not sure what that means to this day. He said there was something weird and I thought I'd take a flyer. And he called me in about 10 minutes into what we were talking about First Communion, First Reconciliation, and came out to meet the team and couldn't believe that this was even a possibility. And was offered a job to be the team leader of First Communion, First Reconciliation. I wasn't sure that I was ready to leave New Jersey, and I was on the fence, and you sent me an email. And in the email you said, "Come work with me at Dynamic Catholic and 40 years from now, you'll be sitting on a back porch with your grandkids telling them how you were a part of the mission that turned the tide on Catholicism in America."

Jack Beers:

I remember where I was, I was sitting in my car, about to go into my cold calling job, looking at my phone with this email, and I just said in my heart, "I believe him. I believe if I say yes, that Dynamic Catholic will do that, and I will get to be a part of it. And that is an opportunity I can't say no to." So all my belongings fit in my car, literally all my belongings fit in my car. And I rented my apartment site on scene. And I drove 800 miles from New Jersey to Florence, Kentucky of all places, and started here. That was about eight years ago.

Matthew Kelly:

So you came, you worked on Blessed.

Jack Beers:

Yeah.

Matthew Kelly:

Which I think is arguably one of the most impactful things Dynamic Catholic has ever done. It's the First Communion, First Reconciliation program, being used by millions of kids, and will be used by millions of kids. What was that like?

Jack Beers:

Well, it's hard to describe that time period for me. When you're single, you hope you have an opportunity to pour your whole life into something that is meaningful and impactful. And very early on when we sat down and you told me what the vision was for Blessed, the animation. And I saw the early illustrations. And I read the workbook. And I thought, "Wow, I have an opportunity to pour my whole self into something that will help children believe that Jesus loves them enough to always forgive them and to always be with them." And I still can't think of a better opportunity. Fred Rogers is one of my heroes. And he wrote something. He said that, "Every person who helps a child is a hero."

Jack Beers:

And I was given an opportunity to be a hero on an unimaginable scale. And I know that we have problems now with the world hero. And we think that they have to have capes, and magical powers, and all those other things. And it's probably a little weird for someone to refer to themselves as a hero. But I'm totally comfortable with it because I believe what Fred Rogers said, which is, "Someone who is kind and loving to a child is a hero." So, that was deeply personally impactful in that way. And then it was amazing personally for me, because I got to know my wife on that project. She worked with me very closely on that project. And then I got to do something I'd always dreamed of doing as a child, but never thought it would be possible to do, which is work on an animated series.

Jack Beers:

And you and I worked on those scripts quite a bit together, but to be able to write those episodes with you and to see them come alive is amazing. And for anyone who's watched Blessed before, there are a couple of hidden inside jokes in there that are worth looking at. For example, there's a snake in episode two of the first season of first communion. And I had named the snake Lucifer for obvious reasons, but someone maybe at this table, maybe not at this table, insisted that snake be named Jack. So, there's lots of little things in there, but it was a blast. It was really, really meaningful.

Matthew Kelly:

What did you think, feel, experience when it was all together? The box was there, you've got the workbooks, you got the leader guides, you got the DVD set. What was that feeling like?

Jack Beers:

Indescribable. Yet nothing like what it was like to see the first email come through of a dad who was traveling with his small child to the hospital and staying overnight because of the distance, once a week for a month because this kid was struggling with cancer. And that they would watch those videos together in the hotel room. And that those videos gave both of them the hope and the faith that they needed to embrace that challenge in their life. Now, that was something. So was the moment that the first email came through of a mom who was homeschooling her daughter because her daughter was having some health problems. And her daughter was the only one who went through Blessed. The rest of the kids went through something else because Blessed was the only thing that could be self-contained in the home. And was available online, that she could order for free, and just show up in her mailbox.

Jack Beers:

And when it was time for the first reconciliation, the only one who was excited was her daughter, because she had seen Ben and Sarah go to confession and meet Jesus there. And she wanted to have that encounter with Jesus and she was excited. She wasn't nervous or scared or anything. And she was the first one in. And that keeps happening. Those were the first two that came up, but those things keep happening. And I've stayed on the Blessed email train so that I can continue to be nourished by those things. But that's happening all across the country, all the time. And that's just amazing.

Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. Today you are leading the content team here at Dynamic Catholic. There's an insatiable desire out there for great content. People are always contacting us saying, "You should do something on this. You should do something on that." What's your role like? What's your team like? What's your vision there?

Jack Beers:

Best role of my life. No doubt about it. So leading the content team. Yeah, we get a lot of ideas. A lot of people who want to do a lot of things and a lot of ideas that we as a team have. And those are great. Having the discipline to say not yet is a beautiful thing and a challenging thing, because we want to release as much life changing content as possible. But Dynamic Catholic has been built on great content, on life changing content. That is the bedrock of Dynamic Catholic. It's you on the road for 15 years delivering incredible content, writing books that feed people's souls. And today it's Dynamic Catholic in collaboration with you on a regular basis continuing to deliver amazing life changing content. There's this message of Jesus in which he talks about that the eye is the lamp of the body. And the eye can either let darkness in or let light in.

Jack Beers:

And 99% at this point of content that exists in the world is letting darkness in through the eyes and is soul destroying. And us as a team, we very much feel called to being the group of people that are providing the light for the eyes of God's people and God's children, and helping feed their souls. And at its highest level, that's why we get out of bed every morning. It's that. From a practical standpoint, I mean, we are a very dedicated organization. We're an organization that works very hard and it's no different on the content team. We bring an old school newsroom mentality. It's the only place ever known that can create amazing content very quickly.

Jack Beers:

And because we need to compete with the constant newness of content that exists out in the secular world. And it needs to be new, and fresh, and lots of it prolific, there's a lot on our plate and we really get after it, and we do that every day. It's taken a while for us to find the core team in order to do this work who believes in the mission and believes in the approach, but man, do we have it now. And we'll continue to add to that team. But it is an absolute blast coming to work every single day with that type of purpose, with that kind of directive to create life changing prolific content, and then to work with the kind of people I work with every day.

Matthew Kelly:

What would you say to someone who's thinking about applying for a job at Dynamic Catholic? They see those new roles we announce every month, or they visit the website, and they see the list of roles, we're searching for talented, committed people for... What would you say to that person?

Jack Beers:

I have a spiel that I give. And I give it to people who have reached the process right before they come inside to meet Dynamic Catholic. And what I like to do is I like to share, "Hey, this is what you're going to get yourself into. And it is going to be one of the most rewarding, and challenging, and meaningful experiences of your professional life, if not the most rewarding, challenging, and meaningful experience of your life. If you come and work with our team. But it is going to be those things. It is going to be challenging. It is not for the faint of heart. It is not for the person who wants sort of an artistic utopia. It is for someone who wants to have serious impact in a serious way, and who wants to have a ton of fun while they do it."

Jack Beers:

And I believe that those are the two things that our core of our team. We are extremely committed and mission first. And we're willing to take on what the mission asks of us. And we're extremely committed to having fun while we do it. So, is all kinds of things that happen. We have these full on project days where we will do an entire project, literally an entire project in eight to 10 hours. And the whole team works on it. And then last week at 4:30 the team hauled it and had an amazing week. And we just said, "We're going to go play ping pong and get some ice cream. And just talk about the incredible impact that we're having. And how we can't believe we get to do this together and have some perspective." It very much reflects me, all in. All in on the fun, all in on the dedication. So, it's really good.

Matthew Kelly:

Jack, great conversation. I look forward to us getting together and talking some more.

Jack Beers:

Me too. Thanks for having me, Matthew.

Matthew Kelly:

Thank you. Have a great day.

Jack Beers:

You too.


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