Hi, there!

Markus Watson family

Since you’re on the “About” page, you must be dying to know more about me!  🙂

Well, here’s the short version, followed by the longer version below.  I’m a Presbyterian pastor, living in San Diego with my beautiful wife, Robin, and my three kids, Micah, Macy, and Drew.  I currently serve as an interim pastor at a small but mighty congregation in the rural town of Westmorland, about two hours east of San Diego.  I also host the Spiritual Life and Leadership podcast and am the author of Beyond Thingification: Helping Your Church Engage in God’s Mission.

I’ve been serving in churches for over twenty years.  But, believe it or not, church ministry was never on my radar when I was young…

Hollywood Ambitions

Ever since I was a kid, my dream had been to make it big in Hollywood. After college, in 1994, I got an internship working on the Clio Awards (an awards show for the best commercials) and a couple of music videos (including a Muppets music video!). Then I got more gigs on other TV shows. I thought my dream was coming true.

But I learned something during those first couple of years working in Hollywood: If I was going to succeed in Hollywood, I would have to make Hollywood my number one priority in life.

I just wasn’t ready to do that. I had developed a deep love for God through the college campus ministry I had been involved in. I wanted to stay involved in my church. But I could see that Hollywood was going to take more and more of my time and energy.

So, I quit Hollywood. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done. It felt like I was throwing away a part of myself. That was in the summer of 1996.

Aerial view of Hollywood sign

The Reluctant Seminary Student

Fuller Theological Seminary

I ended up at Fuller Theological Seminary that fall for no better reason than that I didn’t know what else to do with my life. I thought, “What the heck. Let’s give seminary a shot.”

And I loved it! I recall thinking to myself, “Wow! I can’t believe I get to learn this stuff!”

But I couldn’t yet see myself as a pastor. I thought maybe I’d do some kind of media ministry. The only reason I started the Presbyterian ordination process was because a friend of mine brought me the paperwork and said, “Here. Fill this out and I’ll drop it off for you.”

So, I started the ordination process. And I dragged my feet the whole way.

What I needed was an intervention to get me to finish the process. That intervention came in the form of a Good Friday service in 2003.

I remember it vividly. It was a beautiful, contemplative service and we ended with a prayer by Saint Augustine. The first words of the prayer were, “Late have I loved you.”

My knees almost buckled when we prayed those words. I knew in that moment that I had been late in loving and surrendering to God. I prayed, “Lord, I’m so sorry. I’ve been dragging my feet for so long. Please forgive me. From now on, I’m all in.”

That summer I finished the ordination process and by the next spring I was an Associate Pastor.

Life as a Pastor

My wife and I spent the next three years in Union, Kentucky, about twenty minutes south of Cincinnati. It was a good experience, learning to live in a different culture (i.e., not Southern California!). My time there really stretched me when the Senior Pastor resigned leaving me as the only pastor on staff for seven months. That’s where I learned that I had a knack for preaching and senior church leadership.

In 2007, my family and I (by this time we had two small children) moved back to Southern California where I served as Senior Pastor of a church in San Diego for eight and a half years.

Markus Watson as a young church leader in Union, Kentucky

A Dark Night of the Soul

My time at that church was a wonderful experience for most of my time there.   Unfortunately, my last year was very painful.  Betrayal, false accusations, and eventually being voted out of that church left me reeling.  My professional, emotional, and spiritual life was turned upside down.

And, yet, that experience drew me closer to God than I had ever been in my life.  It left me with some scars, but those scars have helped me become more fully the person I was created to be.

(Click HERE for a list of podcasts where I’ve told this story as a guest.)

Flourish San Diego

In 2016, after things at that church came to an end, I went on staff with Flourish San Diego, a non-profit whose mission is to help people and churches become who they were created to be so they can join God in flourishing their city and the world. I loved working with Flourish San Diego, inviting people and churches to participate in God’s mission of shalom for the world through their seemingly ordinary vocations.

The two years I was on staff with Flourish San Diego was a time of deep healing for me.  I came alive in my faith and leadership in new ways as I worked with pastors and churches to help their people live into the mission of God.

Markus Watson teaching

Living Into God’s Story

And that’s what I continue to do. I come alongside people, churches, and teams and help them discover who they really are and who they were created to be. I inspire them to find their story within the Big Story of God. And as they do that, they are better able to participate with God in bringing healing and wholeness into the world through their own gifts, passions, and vocations.

This is my passion:  To help the people of God learn to participate in God’s mission of restoring shalom in the world.  That includes not only an individual person’s inner life shalom, but also shalom for their families, their neighborhoods, and the world as they live out their gifts, their skills, and their true selves.

Grow in Your Leadership

I’d love to come alongside you and your church or organization to help you discover more fully how God has wired you to serve him and become the people of God you’re called to be.  Click this button to get my free online course, Leading Your Church Through Change:

And if you just want to take some first steps toward being a healthy church—a church that lives out God’s mission from a place of deep connection with God—click this button:

Markus Watson speaking