Q+A with Barnabas Piper
Barnabas Piper is an author, podcaster, and Brand Manager for Leadership Development at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, TN. Barnabas is also the son of John Piper, a prominent theologian, pastor and author in Minneapolis. His first book The Pastor's Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity was released in 2014. His 2nd book Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not the Enemy of Faith was released in July of 2015. Barnabas is a die-hard sports fan and is great follow on twitter @BarnabasPiper.
Recently he was gracious to answer a few questions about the interesting life he leads.Me: What was it like the first time you decided to write a book?Barnabas: It was more of an accidental development than a goal I’d set. I was asked to write an article for Table Talk magazine about the challenges pastors’ kids face and how the church can care for them.
As I wrote the 875 words they’d requested I realized I had much more to say and much more pent up feelings about the subject than I’d realized. After turning in that piece I started jotting down notes and loosely outlining ideas bit by bit. As I did this I started getting feedback on the Table Talk article and another piece I’d written for The Gospel Coalition, and people were overwhelmingly encouraging and appreciative. That’s what nudged me to try a book, The Pastor’s Kid.
Me: Did you write the book and pitch it to someone or did a publisher come to you about the idea?
Barnabas: As I was outlining the idea and was close to ready to begin pitching it is a book, I ran into Alex Field from David C. Cook Publishers (now at Waterbrook-Multnomah) at a conference. I explained what I was working on and he was really interested and asked to see the proposal when I had it ready. I sent it to him and a couple other publishers who both passed. Cook liked the proposal and made an offer, and off we went.
Me: You are a writer but you're also a podcaster, as well as working in church leadership development at Lifeway Christian Resources. I'm curious to know which of these come most difficult for you?
Barnabas: My full time job for LifeWay is much more multi-faceted than the others. Writing is writing. Podcasting is podcasting. Working in leadership development is a thousand things – marketing, messaging, brand development, coaching, project management, budget balancing, partnerships, etc. This means that parts of the job are quite challenging and don’t come easily or naturally. It demands more of me and stretches me more than the other two.
Me: What would be your ultimate dream job?
Barnabas: I haven’t found it yet! And that’s not to say I don’t love what I do. I simply mean that I enjoy a wide variety of things and putting them all into a single job seems near impossible. I love writing. I love podcasting. I love working with a team of sharp people. I love helping start new things. I love serving the church. I love speaking/teaching. If you know of a job that allows for all those things please let me know!
Me: What was it like relocating your family from Chicago to Nashville? (biggest adjustment?)
Barnabas: The biggest adjustment was just starting over. My wife grew up in the Chicago area and I had lived there for 12 years. Then we moved to a place where we knew very few people and needed to use GPS just to get to the grocery store. We love Nashville now, and all things considered the transition was pretty smooth. But those first few months were disorienting.
Me: I'm sure you’re constantly asked about being the son of a famous pastor. Did you get tired of hearing that or did you embrace that?
Barnabas: I used to get tired of it, especially when I was at a place in life where I wasn’t really comfortable in my own skin and identity. I think (hope?) I’ve matured a bit and have a different perspective now. He has impacted a lot of people, and most of the time when someone brings him up they’re expressing appreciation and that is meaningful.
Me: When you're entrenched in the faith-based world in your job, what ways do you look for opportunities to share your faith with non-believers?
Barnabas: Having kids is a good start. They make friends through school and sports and those friends have parents. I have opportunities among extended family as well. Being friends with people in the church who are plugged into a broader community creates opportunities as well through social gatherings and the like. It’s easy to not share one’s faith, but it’s also easy to find opportunities if you want to.
Me: I'm fascinated by podcasts and actually hope to be a part of one on a regular basis someday. Where do you see technology and platforms like blogging and podcasting going over the next 5 years, both in the church community and society as a whole?
Barnabas: I’m a terrible prognosticator and much more of a reactor to such things, riding the wave of whatever seems to be working. I suspect that in the next several years the distribution of podcasts will be come less Apple/iTunes centric as other platforms are developed. I think blogs will continue to be important sources of information/opinion, but the personal blog will continue to decline in importance. I think more blog collectives will rise in prominence and come to be.
Me: What's your favorite sports show? (tv or radio)
Barnabas: I watch live sports on TV and engage almost all my other sports media on podcast. I love The Starters, the Lowe Post, Move the Sticks, CBS Sports fantasy football and baseball podcasts, Garbage Time with Katie Nolan, the B.S. Report, and a Minnesota Twins podcast called Gleeman and the Geek.
Me: Pick 4 sports related figures to have dinner with and tell me why you choose those 4.
Barnabas: Jackie Robinson because he changed baseball and America and did so with a level of courage, dignity, and fire that has rarely if ever been seen.John Wooden because he is the greatest basketball coach ever and was like a combination of Peter Drucker, Yoda, and the Apostle Paul.Bill Simmons because he is the most polarizing sports media figure of my generation, always has an interesting opinion, and I can’t decide if I like him or not.Charles Barkley because I can’t imagine a sports figure who would be more fun to hang out with than Chuck.
Me: Pick one. Kirby Puckett, Kevin Garnett, or Cris Carter?
Barnabas: It’s a choice between the first two, really. My elementary school self would pick Puck. My middle and high school selves would pick KG. My adult self is glad this isn’t a real choice because it would kill me to make it.
Me: Greatest Minnesota sports team is? (91 Twins?)
Barnabas: It’s easy to pick them because they won the title, but I think the 15-1 1998 Vikings were the best. They ripped my soul out in the NFC championship game, but they were unbelievably dominant. The ’96-‘97 Gophers final four team with Bobby Jackson and Sam Jacobson is right there too even though the NCAA decided that season never happened for them.
Me: What was your favorite childhood sports memory?
Barnabas: Games six and seven of the ’91 World Series. Not even close. So many heroic plays and vivid memories – Puck’s catch and home run, Jack Buck’s call, Jack Morris going 10 in game 7.
Me: What's the best sports day of the year?
Barnabas: It used to be Thursday/Friday of March Madness, but the NCAA ruined that by expanding the field. I love baseball’s opening day and think it ought to be a national holiday. Super Bowl Sunday is maybe the most fun, though, because it’s so festive whether or not your team is in the game (and mine never is).
Me: Have you ever met someone else with the name Barnabas?
Barnabas: Twice. Once in a small town in Uganda and once when a family at the church I grew up in named their child that once they realized it hadn’t totally messed me up.
Me: Any plans for a 3rd book?
Barnabas: I am about ready to turn in the manuscript for book 3 to B&H. It is called The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches All of Life. It’s about how developing a sense, a habit, of curiosity deepens everything in life from a person’s relationship with God to their love of others to their engagement with culture.For more on Barnabas, check him out at BarnabasPiper.com.