I am so excited to have had the opportunity to interview the first lady of C3 San Diego (and my church!), Pastor Leanne Matthesius. If you have heard this woman preach, you are not likely to forget her. Her energetic and witty humor, combined with a “keeping it real” style of preaching makes her not only relatable, but extremely likable. After hearing her for the first time, I walked away feeling inspired and thinking, “I get this girl”. If she can overcome her fears and insecurities and walk into the future that God has set for her, then so can I. And I am here to tell you, so can you!
A quick recap: After Pastor Leanne and husband, Head Pastor Jurgen Matthesius, heard God’s call, they left their home in Australia and moved to San Diego, CA to start a church. Their journey wasn’t easy, but through faith, perseverance, and an unwillingness to give up, today stands not one location, but THREE locations around San Diego county. With a fourth on the way! Can I get an amen? And to top it off, they did this with 3 children under the age of 10.
I know what you’re thinking, who is this super woman? Well, I had the opportunity to chat with Pastor Leanne and am excited to share that conversation with you here:
Tiffany: What would you say to people who feel called by God, but the obstacles seem too great?
Pastor Leanne: When building C3 San Diego, I definitely had moments of feeling overwhelmed, but I never questioned what God had given me. I knew I was meant to be in San Diego, and that this was God’s will for our family. Because of this, I never wavered if I was doing the right thing. We had to believe in God for financing, and had Sundays that were small or difficult. We experienced struggles such as limitations with resources, but knowing that God wanted us in San Diego to start a church kept us secure. God gave us an opportunity to create something new. Something that had never been done before, and that was exciting. We had the opportunity to start the first C3 in San Diego and build a church that we would be excited to go to. A church that’s based on the Word of God and was not only a church, but a family.
Tiffany: What did you do during those moments of discouragement?
Pastor Leanne: There were lots of moments of discouragement, but we didn’t let discouragement dictate failure. Discouragement only leads to failure. When you’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, you need to just keep walking. Just like seasons represent weather, there are seasons of life that represent every aspect of life. There are seasons of harvest where things are bright and prosperous, and then there are seasons of winter where things are more difficult. We had to learn to not be confounded by the feelings that are so normal to life. Feeling discouraged is apart of life. I felt discouraged, but I didn’t stop. You have to have some determination. You have to have some grit. Life isn’t easy all the time. Actually it’s rarely easy, so in these seasons you need to keep walking.
God gave me a word that I clung onto. Isaiah 43:19 says, “I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”. I was to make streams of living water spring forward in the desert, and to make a highway in the wilderness. I was to create an environment in San Diego. When I felt discouraged, attacked, alone, or persecuted, I knew I wasn’t alone. God was with me.
Tiffany: Did you ever have moments of feeling intimidated?
Pastor Leanne: I was 30 years old when God called us to start a church, and I definitely felt intimidated and unqualified. I only had a 10th grade education, and by the world’s standards I was uneducated. Everyone thinks you need to have a degree in order to preach. So immediately it was an opportunity for the devil to make me feel like I wasn’t enough. There were feelings of insecurity and intimidation. We would look at other churches and their buildings and think, oh we would love to have that many people in our church. But it was all in our future. The Bible says do not despise the day of small beginnings, for the Lord loves to see the work begin. We just had to keep plotting our course.
Tiffany: You often speak of how God helped you to control your anger when you were a newlywed. Was there a defining moment when you knew you had to change for the sake of your relationship?
Pastor Leanne: Yes, there was! When my son was a newborn, I had been married about 5 years or so and had created a model in my life where when I was angry I would fly off the handle. I wasn’t able to control my feelings and emotions. If I felt it, I expressed it. One day I looked at myself and didn’t like who I was becoming. My behavior made you believe I was an angry person, and I wasn’t. I knew I would destroy my marriage eventually. So I made a decision to change, and asked God to help me. I felt like I was out of control to how I reacted to situations.
I then had a revelation about the Fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I felt the Holy Spirit remind me that I did have patience, gentleness, and self-control. I prayed for God to help me gain control when I felt out of control. And God did. Once I reminded myself that this was something I could access, something started to shift. It didn’t happen overnight, but where I used to be a 10, I was now an 8. And then a 5, and then eventually patience overrode what used to be emotional outrage. This didn’t mean I became a doormat. I still had a voice, but that voice came from a place of wisdom, control, and strength.
Tiffany: I love how you’ve said that you used to preach like you were God’s public relations manager and didn’t want to make him look bad. An example of this is the story from Matthew 15:21-28 where Jesus speaks to the Canaanite womanly harshly. Is addressing these parts of the Bible that do not make sense something you have prayed over and sought wisdom on?
Pastor Leanne: (Laughs) I don’t exactly like to talk about controversial parts of the Bible, however in the past, I would feel I needed to make an excuse as for why something is in there. But then I realized I just needed to read what the Bible says, and let the Holy Spirit work on them. If someone has a problem with what’s going on in the Bible, they should go to the source. I’m not going to avoid certain things if I feel lead to talk about them. God’s big enough and secure enough to deal with his own reputation, and I just need to be obedient to his Word. I am not to serve a culture that doesn’t want to hear the truth. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. DON’T GIVE UP. The Bible says Jesus is a stumbling block of offense. A lot of people will stumble over what they read because they have to acknowledge stuff in themselves.
Regarding Matthew 15:21-28 and the conversation between Jesus and the Canaanite woman, on face value Jesus seems mean. A lot of people can’t cope with that. But Jesus is actually crafty and smart. He is compelling her and asking her, “how much do you want your daughter to be set free?” What if I ignore you, exclude you, and insult you? Will you keep coming? How much faith do you have? He wants to know how great is your faith. He was provoking a response in the right way, to see how much faith she has. You need to have resilience and go a bit deeper. The Bible says “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways.”
And lastly a “sneak peak” bonus question…
Tiffany: Can we expect there to be a book from Pastor Leanne in our future? ☺
Pastor Leanne: Yes! There is to be a book in the future, and it is to focus on Wisdom for Living. I want to have my messages transcribed and find a way to collate them into a book. I want to show my inner struggles and triumphs and be a voice to share what God has taught me over the years. When I was younger I frequently prayed for wisdom and as such, Wisdom for Living is my primary asset. Solomon, who God was with and was beloved by God, also prayed and asked for wisdom. That is a prayer every pastor needs to pray. We always need to use wisdom. So I want my book to be about the wisdom to live well.
Thank you so much to Pastor Leanne for taking the time to sit down and share her journey and her faith! If you would like to hear more from Pastor Leanne you can head over to c3sandiego.com or download the C3 San Diego app and navigate to the messages section.
A huge thank you to Pastor Jurgen and Leanne Matthesius for starting C3 San Diego, and being such an inspiration! If you have any questions or lovely comments, please leave them below!