From Pastor to a Psych Ward - Ask Me Anything about Life, Faith, & Mental Illness - with Steve Austin

Steve Austin
Feb 18, 2018

Got burning questions you've always wanted to ask a clergy person but never found the courage? Do you have out-of-the box thinking when it comes to faith and spirituality? Do you live with mental health and struggle to reconcile that with your faith? Have you been affected by suicide? Are you a member of the LGBTQ community and been wounded by church folks? If you've ever uttered the words, "I love Jesus, but..." you're going to love this chance to chat with ex-pastor, Steve Austin!

Steve Austin ( is an Amazon best-selling author, ex-pastor, and host of the #AskSteveAustin Podcast ( Steve lives his life at the intersection of faith and mental health.  Abuse, addiction, and a suicide attempt weren't the end of Steve Austin's story. In fact, a suicide attempt is where his life began. These days, Steve spends his time as a life coach, and is working on a brand-new book, Catching Your Breath. ( 


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Did people's perception change after you tried to commit suicide?
Feb 23, 3:09PM EST0
Who were the ones who supported you in your recovery process, both physical and mental?
Feb 23, 3:09PM EST0

Have you ever helped a person suffering from depression or some other mental illness?

Feb 22, 7:57PM EST0

Who do you look up to?

Feb 22, 2:58PM EST1

What a great question! Thanks for asking!

  • Ed Bacon (
  • Rob Bell (check out his podcast, The Robcast)
  • Oprah
  • Paul Young (author of "The Shack")
Feb 22, 3:35PM EST1

Did you feel let down by your faith in your darkest moments?

Feb 21, 8:07PM EST1

I felt let down by institutional religion and religious people, but my genuine faith is the only thing that kept me holding on.

Feb 22, 3:33PM EST1

Very good.

Feb 24, 1:32AM EST0

Do you have a life motto?

Feb 21, 12:51PM EST1

Grace is Messy.

Feb 22, 3:33PM EST1

What do you think the meaning of life is?

Feb 21, 8:02AM EST1

To love others, love ourselves, and embrace the Mystery and ultimate goodness of God. What do you think?

Feb 21, 8:06AM EST0

Tens of thousands of adults, teens and even children (even some belonging to evangelical/pentecostal churches)  are reporting their becoming targets of America's latest crime wave - 'gangstalking.'  How would you (or a fellow pastor/elder) counsel such believers who are experiencing modern-day persecution such as this? Many are labeled as 'crazy' or 'schizo' even as they have their careers, finances and families destroyed. - by design.

Feb 20, 9:33PM EST0

What is the best approach for talking to someone with a mental illness who refuses help?

Feb 20, 5:55PM EST1

Let them know you're available. Make a list of resources for them. That's all you can do. The sad truth is this: you can't save someone who doesn't want saving.

Feb 20, 6:06PM EST0

What do people come to you for most often? What do you coach about?

Feb 20, 4:25PM EST1

Because most people put me in either two boxes: 1) an ex-pastor, or 2) the guy who recovered from a suicide attempt - I get lots of calls from folks looking for ways to start over. They've done the hard work in short-term recovery via therapy/counseling - and now they want to know how to move forward and recreate their lives. It is my JOY to work with these folks as a recovery expert and/or self-care consultant.

Feb 20, 4:39PM EST1

In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about faith?

Feb 20, 2:53PM EST1

The biggest mistake we make in Western culture (Christianity) is expecting certainty and got-it-togetherness from people of faith. The funny thing is that certainty goes in direct opposition to faith. We've failed to embrace mystery and grace.

Feb 20, 2:58PM EST0

What are your thoughts about blind faith?

Feb 20, 9:50AM EST1

I think the person who believes they have it all figured out may be the most blind of all. 

Feb 20, 10:42AM EST0

Good answer.

Feb 24, 1:33AM EST0

What, in your opinion, is the connection between physical symptoms and our emotional health?

Feb 20, 5:19AM EST1

I know this - I store my stress in my gallbladder. The two are definitely connected. 

Feb 20, 10:43AM EST0

What was the worst day of your life and why?

Feb 19, 4:33AM EST1

The day I chose to die. 

Feb 19, 8:28AM EST0

What are the lessons people most often learn too late in life?

Feb 19, 12:27AM EST1

That they are truly loved. And that they have permission to live their truth. 

Have you watched Queer Eye on Netflix? Go. Watch it. Hurry. 

Feb 19, 12:45AM EST1

How do you define faith and is it, as a methodology, good or bad?

Feb 18, 8:53PM EST1

I'm a simple guy. I think faith is the believe in goodness. I think it is hope in better days and a power greater than anything I can grasp. I think it's a trust in a Love that sees beyond my worst mistakes to the core of my being. 

And yes - that is good. 

Feb 18, 9:04PM EST1

How can we "mainline" denomination Christians have better conversations with the Evangelical/Fundamentalist brethren??   Some years ago, I lost my childcare provider because I didn't seem to pray the same way she did.  She told me I was a "nice person."  I loved that she loved and prayed with my children while I was the breadwinner in our family and my husband was out of work.     I asked my pastor "How can we dialog?"  He said "There is no such thing as a fundamenalist dialog.  There is only fundamentalist diatribe."   OUCH.

Feb 18, 7:19PM EST1

Rev. Ed Bacon (author of "8 Habits of Love") and Paul Young (author of "The Shack") talked about this in detail on Episode 50 of the #AskSteveAustin Podcast ( The title of that episode is, "The Journey Toward Wholeness in a Time of Polarization".

I hear you. We're polarized. Period.

Those on the left are going farther to the left; those on the right are moving farther to the right. It doesn't matter if we're talking about politics or religion - we're all moving further away and it feels like no one is coming to the middle.

We need bridge builders who are more determined to notice the value and humanity of the person in front of them and be hell-bent that NOTHING matters more than humanity. There is no issue that matters more than the person we're talking to at that moment.

Not every issue is a hill to die on.

We talk about it all in Episode 50. And Ed and Paul and much better at helping with this than I am. Check it out!

Feb 18, 7:23PM EST0

Thanks!  I've been receiving your updates for a while.  Even your titles give me value---so I haven't listened to them all yet!  

Feb 18, 7:31PM EST1

Tech Question:  is there audio?

Feb 18, 7:07PM EST1

Just text.

Feb 18, 7:08PM EST0

Okay.  This gives me time to think!

Feb 18, 7:16PM EST1

You have a new book coming out this year, can you summarize what it is about? 

Feb 18, 6:58PM EST1

Thanks for asking. A dear friend of mine has read the book cover-to-cover. And she does a much better job than I could ever do at describing this book.

Here's what she said:

"Occasionally in life, you come across something, or someone, who just gets it. You, yourself may not know what that elusive “it” is, yet just knowing that you aren’t experiencing it, or feeling it, alone, changes the game. And it changes the game, big time. This book does that. Steve Austin, author and life coach, does exactly that. Through recalling of his own personal experiences of varying nature, with anecdotes of getting “nekkid” or “criticalizing”, the reader is taken on a journey from the chaos life brings and that we create, to the calm of life and how to quell the storm inside. To begin to appreciate the finer things in life, breathing and seeing a truer you. If you are overcome with the daily happenings of life, if you are overwhelmed by your past, the ever-changing present, and the unknown future, then this book is for you. If life feels too much and not enough all at the same time, and you are merely treading water, unsure how much longer you can keep going in what is a never-ending sea, then I implore you to pick up this book. Allow yourself to be lost and found in the words that have been delicately and wisely crafted.

This book will do two vital things.

  1. Without even opening your mouth and uttering a word, you will be heard.  You will be heard, you will be seen, and you will be valued.  
  2. It hands you the tools, to slowly, at your own pace, unburden yourself of the daily struggles, to find yourself and have some all-important breathing room.

Do not be fooled that this book fits snuggly into the cliché self-help bookshelf, where it simply takes a problem and tells you how to ‘fix’ it. This book is different, and stands out, because in its devotion to helping you find that important peace, that we are all secretly craving, it takes you by the hand. Steve Austin, through these words, takes you by the hand and says “You do not have to do this alone. Let’s do it together”. It’s time to embark on the Sacred journey from chaos to calm.  It’s time to start Catching your Breath."

Feb 18, 7:08PM EST1

When life is completely overwhelming, and it's difficult to see a way out of the troublesome time...what are your first 3 'go-to' ways to help you try to restore order?

Feb 18, 6:56PM EST1

Life is often overwhelming, especially in the midst of recovery.

I've been in recovery from childhood sexual abuse for 30 years. And I've been in recovery from a suicide attempt for five years.

What do I do?

1) Slow down. 

2) Take a deep breath. Literally, shut your mouth and close your eyes and stop what you're doing and inhale. 

3) Tell someone. Either call a trusted friend or family member, or the crisis line, or your counselor, or at the very least (if you aren't in crisis mode) write it down. Journaling is free therapy.

4) Sorry - I never follow the rules. Remind yourself that hard days don't last forever. You've survived hard days before and you will survive them again.

Feb 18, 7:05PM EST1
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