Jeremy Gant: 5 Lessons I Learned from Pastor Craig Jutila

Sometimes you never really know how much one person has impacted your life until you actually take the time to reflect on it. Craig Jutila’s sudden recent passing caused just that kind of reflection for me. While on a post Christmas snowboarding trip with his family last month, Craig Jutila (53) had a fatal heart attack that took him home to the Lord. Craig served for over 13 years as the children’s pastor at Saddleback Church and was a leader and pioneer in the children’s ministry space.

You see, Craig Jutila was not only a leader, and influencer, but he was also a man that profoundly impacted the trajectory of my life and ministry career. Craig hired me to work at Saddleback Church when I was fresh out of college – BIOLA as he was sure to point out. I had a calling on my life to work in ministry and video production but was really unsure what that path would look like.

It was through those three short years of working under his leadership – filming and editing curriculum, going on PEACE mission trips around the world, and even those annual visits to Mac World that I was able to formulate an understanding of media ministry within the church and how it could be used to further God’s kingdom. Not to mention, that he would hire my eventual wife to lead the children’s discipleship at Saddleback (and she continues to this day). So, as I reflect on Craig and the impact that he had on my life, I thought I would share five lessons that he taught me, and what better way than to use than one of his favorite teaching tools – the acronym.

So, here it is, five lessons I learned from Craig Jutila, using CRAIG.


By nature, people in ministry serve because they have a burden to care for others in one form or another. Craig, being the “go big or go home” kind of guy was no different. He drove himself hard in ministry- and produced amazing results. Unfortunately for him, his family, and those of us serving with him, he eventually hit total burnout and had to step down from his position at Saddleback. Craig took that pain and devoted the final chapter of his ministry career to helping other ministry leaders build healthy habits to avoid burnout ( Craig’s lesson of self-care and family care has hit home with me on just about every day of my life since. Yes- I CAN do more. But at what cost? My wife and my family are my number one priority and investment. If I don’t take care of myself and them first, how can be of any good to any one else in ministry?


Craig had one word that summed up his ministry- Empowering. He started Empowering Kids and eventually spread that brand into other areas of life and ministry. Empowering is the apt word for his ministry. He reached out and empowered through podcasts, videos, books, speaking engagements, and the like. I don’t think anyone was ever too big to learn from him or too small for him to care to help. As a young upstart in ministry, he and I had our share of conversations about growing and learning in ministry. His advice has stuck with me to this day.

As I have founded and run One Ten Pictures, I truly don’t treat anything that we do or learn as proprietary. It is all a gift that we can use to help others in their journey through media ministry.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jeremy Gant