Timothy (Jr.) and Jackie Flemming are both well-established pastors, speakers, authors, and business owners. They have been married over 14 years and have developed together over this time. Co-Pastoring one of the largest churches within the Metro-Atlanta area as well as growing each of their businesses and careers over this period. The Duo both have thriving businesses, 3 children and 2 churches in which they pastor. The Power Duo is currently teaching up and coming couples how to balance marriage, ministry, and family.
Rosie: Jackie on your website’s blog you mention “stop waiting for an opportunity and create one” What kind of opportunities did you both create for yourselves that got you to where you are today?
Jackie: The opportunities I created for myself was My own confidence and My own talk show.
Rosie: Timothy you wrote on your blog where you end up tomorrow is the result of the sacrifices you made today. What kind of sacrifices did you guys have to make to get your business off the ground?
Timothy: My wife and I made some really big sacrifices—and we came a long way since the days of searching through and under couches and under a car seat for loose change to buy gas and groceries with. We had those type of struggles in the midst of attempting to build our businesses. For one, my wife followed God’s will for her life and left a good paying job as a Section 8 Leasing Agent and launched out into her ministry and business. We knew it was going to be a challenge, especially in the beginning, but we also knew that anything God called us to would be more than worth it in the end. I remember telling my wife at that time, “Baby, go ahead and leave that job and obey God. I got you.” And she did. We had to downsize our living in order to pour finances into our dreams. We spent thousands of dollars to sit under business mentors and success coaches. I remember using my income tax money to buy a camcorder and some studio lights and a green screen, and designing my wife’s Jackie Flemming Show backdrop as well as buying a small set (high chairs and a glass table). We’d put those shows together, using our creativity. We didn’t have much then, but we operated in the spirit of excellence to the point where people thought we were filming in a professional studio with top-notch studio equipment. No, it was just me and my camera and a laptop. We just launched out there, writing books, creating video content, working social media, and staying consistent. And then, in what may seem like an “all of a sudden” moment, our lives shifted and we began to see the fruit of our labor…nearly a decade later. But I will never forget those days of sacrificing; the principle of sacrificing (or sowing according to the Bible) is how we live our lives to this day.
Jackie: Our time. Our finances. Long nights working.
Rosie: How do you maintain family life and running a business, while also being involved in so many different business endeavors? Do you guys coordinate schedules or have specific times set apart for one another/family?
Timothy: I can remember back when my wife and I started having children. I’d been in ministry since 1995, at the age of 16. I grew up as a preacher’s kid. I know the struggle of having to share your father with an entire congregation. But when my kids were little, I was so busy with ministry I didn’t have time for anything else. I was teaching the men’s ministry on Mondays at 6 pm, Outreach Witnessing Class on Tuesdays at 7 pm, attending Midweek Bible Study on Wednesdays at 7 pm (and teaching some Wednesdays), co-facilitating 5 am Prayer on Wednesday mornings with my wife, teaching some Thursdays during our Thursday Night Bible Study at 7 pm at our other location, and teaching Bible Study every Friday at 7 pm, teaching some of our Leadership Trainings on Saturday mornings, and then preaching every Sunday at one of our two locations.
On top of this, I was working full time at the church every day from 9 am until 6 pm. Many days, I didn’t see the light of day. Literally! But my dad sat me down and gave me some words of wisdom. He warned me not to miss those critical years in the lives of our children. I was tired too and wanted to cut back on a few of my ministry obligations. So we agreed. I gave up several of my Bible Studies and only stuck with the Monday Night Men’s Ministry. I’d teach only once a month on Tuesdays for the Outreach Training. Other than that, I refused to spend all of my time in the church and miss precious moments with my family. At that time, my wife and I established a rule in our household: Every Wednesday, we had to go somewhere as a family. Fernbank. The Georgia Aquarium. The movies. Centennial Park downtown. Piedmont Park. The kid’s museum downtown. Atlantic Station. Weekly, we were doing some activity as a family. During the summer months, it was our routine to attend the Screen-On-The-Green at Centennial Park (where they played classic movies on a jumbo screen in the park). Later, we incorporated (during the summer months) a new tradition: the drive-in theater. We’d stop by The Cook Out and load up on hamburgers, fries, and soft drinks and then head to Starlight Drive-In almost every weekend to catch a movie. My wife and I would schedule date nights and drop the kids off at my parents’ house. We realized the importance of spending time together as a family. Now, my kids are teenagers (except for my youngest), and they prefer to hang out with their friends at the mall rather than hang with mom and dad. But we still make them come along with us whenever we’re doing some family activity like riding bikes on a bike trail.
Jackie: Set aside time to rest and focus on our family. I made time and I had to teach myself how to say No.
Rosie: Being followers of Christ and leading a kingdom-based empire does not negate you from temptations or struggles, if anything it’s more of a struggle! Do you find it difficult maneuvering through temptations/distractions, and how do you guys combat the temptations/distractions as they present themselves? (The women/men, money, fame, power, being in old environments where you once had to recover from)
Timothy: Temptation is inevitable, but the thing that makes “sin” and “wrong” so appealing is when you sow the wrong seeds into your heart. When you lie to yourself and justify sin in your mind, that’s when that sin will gain more weight in your heart—and when the opportunity to fulfill that sinful desire presents itself, you’ll already find yourself leaning in its direction. So the key to defeating the natural proclivities of the sin nature is to sow the right seeds into your heart. By that, I mean you must be mindful of what you tell yourself, become conscious of your internal wounds (some people fall into adulterous affairs because they claim the other person is more fun and exciting than their spouse, when in reality they were just wounded from the beginning and were very susceptible to the whims of an outside charmer who could easily pick up on their insecurity.
As a child, if you never received love and affection, that wound of isolation and abandonment will cause you to pursue fulfillment in the arms of strangers, even at the expense of destroying your life and family), and always think about the end result at the beginning. Not going to lie: I get tempted like any other man. I’ve had several temptations come my way. But at the end of the day, I always asked myself a few questions such as, “Can I really see myself spending the rest of my life with this person, or do I just want sex? After the sex is finished, what’s next? Is there even a real future with this? What would I be giving up if I were to fall into sin with this person?” Learning how to look past the moment and ponder the future ramifications of sexual sin has been a practice of mine for the longest. Also, having a strong sense of self-esteem is important. For example, if you believe another person can “save” you by hoisting you out of your state of depression, loneliness, and isolation and providing you with a life of fun, adventure, excitement, and fulfillment, then you’re already on the wrong track. If another person can become your savior, they can also become your enslaver. If they can rescue you, they can also imprison you. If they become your hope, your world, they can also become the source of your misery and the antagonists in your story. No one is worth losing your dignity and soul over. Furthermore, no one should have that much power in your life. You have to gain a profound appreciation for yourself and create a set of habits and practices that bring you joy and happiness. Discover who you are and what you are called to do, as well as what you enjoy. We usually sum this up by saying, “Learn how to love yourself.” Treat yourself. Get to know you.
Lastly, regarding the other temptations such as power, fame, and old environments, having an understanding of my God-given purpose while reminding myself of from Whom all of my blessings come keeps me grounded. I’ve never been very materialistic to begin with, but I’m not different than any other man. I can get swept up into “things” too, which is why I constantly look back at my past struggles, constantly keep my eyes on my current weaknesses and limitations (and we all have them), and focus on my divine mission to avoid becoming sidetracked. Because at the end of the day, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”
Jackie: I stay away and avoid temptation when it comes my way. Pray for strength to overcome.
Rosie: Jackie you left your corporate job to follow the calling of God, how did you know it was his will? Were you plagued by self-doubt? How did you overcome that?
Jackie: I spent a lot of time in prayer so God had already been speaking to me about it. He gave me different signs to follow him but he did send different prophets my way to confirm to me the same thing. When he first spoke this to me I was upset because this is something that I didn’t want to do but after fighting with God for some time I finally said yes to him and it opened up great doors for me because I started doing God’s will instead of my will. That’s when my life changed.
Rosie: Timothy, you mention supernatural events made you surrender to God’s purpose and ministry. How did you know the supernatural events were specifically calling you to ministry and not something else? How was that transition from sports to ministry like?
Timothy: Okay, I didn’t want to be a preacher. I specifically remember telling my dad to his face, “I will never become a preacher. You and Aric (my oldest brother) can have that.” Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself in the pulpit preaching. As the old saying goes: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
I had my eyes on gold—Olympic gold. I wanted to become a gold medalist in boxing, and I was working my behind off to get there. I’d just won the Golden Gloves Regionals in South Carolina at this time (in 1995) and was on my way to the Nationals in Michigan. Before going to Michigan, I took a trip to the Holy Land (Israel) with my church. I did expect this to happen, but while there I fell in love with that place and developed a sudden insatiable appetite for the Bible. Walking the landscape of the Holy Land made me want to read the stories in the Bible even more. During that time, God was cultivating within me a deeper passion and longing for His presence. I became interested in God, not ministry. That trip changed me. When I got home, the only thing I wanted to do was watch the movie “King of Kings”. Fast forward. I’m in Michigan, at the Golden Gloves Nationals, and God was still showing His hand in my life. My coach was a muslim named Mohammed. Somehow, someway, upon arrival, the staff got our information mixed up and had me booked to share rooms with another coach, a man I’d never met before. Turns out, that other coach was a Christian minister. Every morning, he’d get up and start the day off with prayer and Bible Study. I’d participate. God was still dealing with me at this time just as He had been in Israel, only now the fire in my soul for His presence outweighed—and even conflicted with—the desire in my soul for Olympic gold. It was the tale of two passions. At first, I thought it was the devil trying to distract me from my goal, but it turned out to be God trying to get my attention and usher me into His will. I couldn’t drum up the same amount of passion and enthusiasm for the boxing ring as I once had, and I ended up falling out of love with boxing and into love with God. From there, He showed me in a clear vision that I was called to the ministry. I had a vision of myself preaching in my dad’s pulpit after praying one evening. A month later, I was giving my trial sermon. There was no ambiguity there. I even remember what I had on in the vision and the hand motions I was making while thundering into the microphone—that vision was that clear. I’d always known that was God’s will, but I didn’t want it for all of the wrong reasons. I just didn’t want the pressure that the ministry brings, but I’ve since come to understand that people will be people no matter where you go or what industry you get into. So learn to deal with and love people and be ready to forgive at a moment’s notice. Remember who your true employer is: God, not the people. Focus on pleasing Him and everything will be alright.
Transitioning into the ministry was easy because I understood that God’s plans for us are always greater than our plans for ourselves. So I had an even greater sense of anticipation of greatness ahead of me. However, what I didn’t count on was the fact that God would begin to pull out of me other gifts and talents I didn’t know I had—and some I forgot I had. Those gifts are what led me to where I am today, owning my own business, creating, designing, producing, writing, publishing, and more. And I’m still having visions of greater up the road.
Rosie: Being in unknown seasons and walking by faith can be frustrating even as a believer, and as you state Jackie “God doesn’t give you all the answers upfront” So, how do you guys encourage others to walk by faith when advocating to non-believers?
Jackie: Put your trust in God even when you don’t understand.
Rosie: What is something you guys do to keep the spark alive and keep the momentum going in your marriage and not get lost in the sauce by all the work/ childcare and keeping up with ministry?
Jackie: Date nights are always helpful. Vacations with just the two of us are also a great way to decompress and unwind and remember the love that brought the two of us together. For those tough seasons (and they will come, especially after 18 years of marriage), having accountability partners and even engaging in couple’s counseling is a must. For me, a fun activity I like to do is look at old pictures of the two of us, back when we were dating, when I was skinnier than a toothpick. You have to be proactive about your marriage and choose to keep the love going, realizing that unforgiveness will smother the flames quicker than ash and that a marriage will not sustain itself any more than a car will change its own oil and replenish its own gas. Maintenance is the key; it’s the work you signed up for. But when you look at what you and your partner have built and are able to build together, your realize that the work of sacrifice is worth it.