Rethinking: “Fake It Til You Make It”

In a sermon last month I mentioned my concern for the phrase “Fake it til you make it.”  Ok that’s an understatement, I voiced my great displeasure with this maxim. If there was a way for me to remove this and “There’s a reason for everything” from our maxim, we’d have a better world ;)

Perhaps I’m over-stating but i also can’t help but think how this statement is over-used. It’s a phrase we hear all the time. From my observation it’s a bit of self-coaching, confidence-booster. I think it’s trying to say, “I know I don’t got it but I’m gong to act like I do until I do (because I’m really hoping I will eventually).” It’s not so bad right?

“Fake it til you make it” sounds cute until you hear a surgeon say it. Or imagine the anxious moments of stepping onto an airplane, the crew stands at the door, and as you peak into the cockpit, there’s a sticker taped above the cockpit windshield “Fake it til you make it.” I’d get off the plane.

While this also reminds us of the need to be well-trained and the importance of certifications (and to do our diligence in training others), we all know there’s a learning curve, a need for experience and the realization that we have never really arrived. So do we fake til we make it til then? Which brings up another concern, just how long do we keep faking it? Until we “make it”, right? If we never really “arrive” in life, when do we stop faking then? Or is that the great reveal to our existence – we never stop faking because we never really make it?

I’m hoping for something more.

Since mentioning this in my sermon, a few friends have teased me about it, someone taped the phrase to my door and a good friend sent me this TED Talk video with a woman named Amy Cuddy. Oh great, now I’m disagreeing with a TED Talk speaker – even if you have a case, it’s hard to win one of those. “It’s on TED’s, it must be right.”

I watched it, it’s very compelling, beautiful and powerful- grateful to my friend for sharing this message of overcoming with me. It’s about confidence, body, language, how body affects our mind and how our mind affects our body and it’s about moving forward in life. There is so much that I appreciate and agree with what Amy is saying. That said, I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing.

Faking and pretending alone never helps us grow. In fact, they diminish our ability because they give us a false-sense of confidence and security. Here’s why I think it’s concerning – merely imitating or acting like your objective is not going to lead to the progress that we hope to achieve. What’s happening in the stories of my friends who like this phrase and (like Amy) is that they’re learning in the experience over time. At some level they know this. Frankly, it would more truthful to walk around saying, “Experience it so you can be better at it” but of course, that’s not very catchy.

Even as Christians when are told to imitate Jesus and I know no one is implying that we do so inauthentically. But how does this actually work then? For example, it’s hard to really love others so “fake it til you make it?”  No one is going to say they are pretending to love others. What we are saying is even though we will inevitably fall short, let’s keep trying to grow in this way. We’ll fail, we’ll try again, through the process we’ll grow.

Further, for the Christian, relying on the leading of the Holy Spirit is the only way to actually imitate Jesus. This is what we see happening in the lives of the disciples in the book of Acts. The difference with Peter is not that he suddenly becomes a better orator and this is why he preaches so effectively on the day of Pentecost; rather, it was the power of the Holy Spirit working though him. To me, none of this is faking, all of this is trying and relying on the strengthening and leading of God to grow inwardly and care more outwardly. Again, “fake til you make it” falls short for me.

As it relates to my vocation, I’d rather have myself and my fellow pastors offer real prayers of inadequacy, and asking God to use us in spite of ourselves than to mutter this catch phrase before grabbing the mic or sitting down to offer counseling.

So what should we say instead?

I don’t know, that’s up to you. As a postmodernist, I’ve embraced enough subjectivity to allow you to define your own terms and use your own words. So I can see why it works for some of my friends and for how Amy Cuddy unpacks it. 

My concern is rooted in the believing there will be growth in the faking. Because a lot more is happening and as the growth emerges, faking is an unhelpful word. So, this was more a public service announcement that the common understandings of faking/pretending are not going to deepen your skill on their own. The faking isn’t what makes you grow, it’s the hustle, failure, regrouping, trying again, growing and prayer that’s helping us to make it.

So what works for you? As always, feel free to add your push-backs and insights below and if you have 20 mins, watch Amy Cuddy’s talk (thanks to my friend who shared it with me).

 

 

Mark Driscoll’s Resignation is the Best Possible Outcome Until …

image from Paul Wilkinson’s blog

This will likely be my last post on Mark Driscoll for a while. As one who has critiqued him, called to stop making fun of him, and in a recent post, called him a cautionary tale, this feels like an appropriate time to close this loop for a while.

If you haven’t heard, earlier this week Mark willfully resigned from being the lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. It’s been a big deal for some of us for a while and you can read up on the details here and elsewhere but there’s been a significant abuse of power, a series of inappropriate actions and years of inappropriate conduct.

While it’s always awful to hear this type of news, I’m grateful for Mark choosing to resign and see this as a best possible outcome to this scene for at least three reasons:

[Read more...]

Thinking About Ebola and the Various Threats of Life

Ebola – the newest of the scariest words we have today. We regularly get new ones to add to the lexicon: Isis, recession, Obama, Republicans, drones, identity theft, and many more. These words mean different things to us in different times. Their power fluctuates from harmless to seemingly all-encompassing to “I hope it doesn’t affect me or those near me.”

It’s customary to blame the media. “They’re always trying to get the public riled up about something!” Despite the hype (and there will always be hype), there is often good reason for the concern.

The Ebola outbreak is real. The World Health Organization reports there have been 4,493 deaths while others estimate the number to be closer to 12,000. Today’s reports are filled with the two nurses’ travel and current care as they treated the Dallas man who died after his trip to West Africa. And like all disease, this is tragic and worth grieving. 

It’s normal after every plane crash, terrorist attack, school shooting, even after hearing of a drunk driving accident to wonder if it could happen to me. We know that we are not exempt from tragedy. While we should never panic, it’s perfectly normal and fairly wise to [Read more...]

I Have a Chapter in a New Book Called Father Factor

 

Father_Factor_Cover_200dpiI’m so grateful to announce that I have a chapter in a book that will be released next       week: Father Factor: American Christian Men on Fatherhood and Faith published by White Cloud Press. It’s Book 5 of the amazing I Speak For Myself Series. 

Here’s how we’re describing the project:

Father Factor explores the intersection between faith and fatherhood, probing the resonance and dissonance created when men examine fatherhood in all its permutations, and how it is informed by and informs their faith.

There are a wide variety of Christian faith perspectives represented in the book and many ethnicities. The contributors include ministers, professors, a real estate agent, an actor, nonprofit leaders, stay-at-home dads, and a call center representative, from locations as far apart as Honolulu, HI, to Paris and all points in between. They each have a compelling story about faith and fatherhood.

Fatherhood is quite the complicated subject for all of us. For obvious reasons it transcends culture, generation, social class, and more. Biologically, we all have a father, but the relationship we have with that man differs for each of us. And so it took  quite a number of voices to speak into such an important, complicated and potentially painful/beautiful subject.

I’m in a season of life where many of the people I have known and loved throughout my life have gone from talking about the realities concerning their fathers to actually now being a father. I find it really interesting to contrast the conversations we had at 15 about our dads and now about being one (and now what we think about our dads). Interesting times.

From what I’ve been able to access, our idea of fatherhood is changing constantly. Among other sentiments, we may feel unprepared but when we see our children, we wouldn’t pass this opportunity to father for anything. I’ve been seeing from my fellow contributors that we’re all trying to find some clarity on the amazing calling of fatherhood.

My chapter is entitled, “Fatherhood Has Changed You” which is a comment one of my friends from seminary said to me. I was a bit surprised by her observation and found myself spending most of my two hour drive thinking about how the last two years had changed me. Infertility and long unanswered nights filled with hurt, angst and what felt like futile prayers were quickly replaced by two healthy, happy, crying boys that got us up in the middle of the night and got us out of bed early in the morning. Only fatherhood (and motherhood) can understand the incredible beauty of this.

One of my favorite aspects of the project is being included with some pretty amazing writers/bloggers/thinkers like main author and project editor, Anderson Campbell, Christian Piatt who wrote the foreword, a new book called Post Christian and writes one of the most provocative blogs you can read), Jason Boyett (Author of many titles including O Me of Little Faith), Andrew Marin (Love Is an Orientation), Micah Murray of Redemption Pictures, Steve Knight and friends of mine like Daniel Haugh and Drew Hart. Here’s the full list of contributors and the short bios.

I was also thrilled when I saw that some of my favorite thinkers/writers/bloggers like  Sarah Bessey (Jesus Feminist), theologian Richard Mouw (the link is his Wikipedia page), Jamie Wright (The Very Worst Missionary) give kind endorsements. I think Matthew Paul Turner (Our Great Big American God), summed up the project very well when he said,  “The essays in this book will make you laugh, bring you to tears, and at times, cause you to rethink your approach to parenting. But most of all, Father Factor will fill you with hope.”

The Awesome Andy Campbell

A HUGE special thanks to our main author/project editor – Andy Campbell. He brought so much goodness together. And grateful for our publisher Steve Scholl and the good people of White Cloud Press.

To share as candidly as possible –  I’m really grateful and proud to be a part of this. There is so much to be gained in the conversation of fatherhood and I’m honored to contribute to it.  So I hope you consider picking up a copy, liking our Facebook page, and spreading the word. AND if you know you will make a purchase, it would be a huge help to us if you pre-ordered (you also get a 35% discount).

The Father Factor Website

You can order it here.

Should We Still Love/Watch the NFL?

For those who are already disinterested or dislike the NFL, it’s easy to see all the recent events as yet another reason to turn off the NFL. But what do real NFL fans do with what’s happening these days?

Confession: I like(d) Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. “Mighty Mouse” and “All Day” have been great athletes to watch play football. Further, up until now, their off-the-field personalities have been likable. Yeah, Rice has always been cocky but it’s “little-guy in the NFL syndrome” and it works. And though AP preaches a different type of Christian faith than I do, I did appreciate that he trusted Jesus and desired to share his hope with others (Did you see him “preach” at the ESPY’s last year?).

So when news broke out that Rice knocked out his then-fiancé and the images of him dragging out Janay, I was very saddened. Like many, I balked at the two-game suspension Roger Goodell gave and when the video in the elevator was released, wow! I along with everyone could not believe what I saw (I don’t doubt he lives in deep regret of that moment too). Then when the news of Adrian Peterson broke of him beating his four year old in the manner he admits to, my stomach turned again. The pictures and the report are enough, though however unlikely, I hope no video ever emerges of the look of Peterson’s face as he did what he did to his young son.

These high-profile incidents and many others are making us all wonder what is going on, how much is enough and what can actually be done? What does it mean to keep watching/following/cheering? What does it mean to stop?  How does this correlate to every other scandal in the entertainment industry, the political sector, the church world, and all the missteps that my friends and family members make in my own private world? There’s the big picture view of society, the closer ones, and the one in the mirror – what about him/her? And for those of us Christians, how does our faith inform this?

The point is often made that sports is a microcosm for life and I resonate with some of that. I find it to be partially true [Read more...]

My Review of Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure by J.R. Briggs

One of the books I enjoyed reading over the summer was Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure by J.R. Briggs. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book exclusively about failure. I have read leadership books that discuss  aspects of failure and how to overcome it. I’ve read book about discovering success in the midst of various circumstances including failure but again, I’m not sure I’ve read anything exclusively on failure. After all, who would want to voluntarily remember, dissect and process the nature of their many personal failures? Well, it turns out I would. And you might want to also. 

Here’s what I found helpful: 

J.R’s voice. Authentic, raw, bordering on over-sharing, wounded with a hope of over-coming (A nod to the editors for letting him go). He’s bold but not rude. It’s the true North-easterners’ mentality – Honest, mostly-polite, a bit sarcastic and articulate. Is there really any other way to talk?) [Read more...]

On Failing

One of the books I read this summer was called Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure by J.R Briggs. I still need to write my review of how much I enjoyed this book but failure, success and the fears and trappings connected and everything in between is always on my mind – and likely on yours too. It’s safe to make the assumption that everyone has felt the fear of failure at some point. For many of us, it’s a relevant, in and out thing. Maybe right now you are doing exactly what you want to be doing, maybe you’re doing the opposite, whatever and wherever, the fear of failure always lurks.

On good days, we know we will experience failure and success and we’ll live and learn. On the not so great days, we over-fixate, we grieve the loss of something prized, we let it consume and we let it spill-over in other aspects of our lives.

I’m sure you have read countless quotes on failure and have read numerous insights about overcoming it.

“Everything you want is on the other side of failure.” – Jack Canfield

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly.” – Robert Kennedy

and of course, an obligatory Winston Churchill quote:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it’s the courage to continue that counts.”

Sometimes the words make you want to fail so you can experience the joy of triumphing over the failure. But if I’m being honest, if I have to fail, I only want to fail at the things that are inconsequential or reserved in front of an audience of those who will [Read more...]

A New Ministry Year, “Here We Go Again …”

For us ministry types not following the liturgical church calendar, these are a different type of intense days as the new church ministry year begins. The over-all vision has been worked on and prayed on for months, the supporting themes/ministries need to move from ideation to practice and among the many other pieces to move into motion, there is the volunteer search (Please read last year’s post “There Aren’t Enough Volunteers This Year and There Never Will Be”). In addition to all that, there is still the need and your own personal desire to meet with people in the hopes of listening, counseling and serving. As you know, no one goes into the ministry because they love Excel and calendaring.

It can be easy to lose track of the original reason of serving others during this ramp up as often you hear the phrase “Here we go again” with a sarcastic grin. I’ve heard it and said this countless times over the years and it feels like a statement worth unpacking.

“Here we go again” is likely asked by a broad spectrum of people in a variety of contexts. In the church world, staff, lay-leaders, and volunteers of all kinds.

“Here we go again” can be another of way of asking, “Will any of this matter?” We all have limited time and energy and it’s logical [Read more...]

What We Learned From Mark Driscoll and What We Can Pray For Next

Image from Mars Hill Church

On Sunday Pastor Mark Driscoll announced to his Mars Hill congregation that he will be stepping back for six weeks as the elders examine the charges against Mark and determine the appropriate next steps. It’s hard for me not to see this as a good thing as I’ve discussed him on this blog a few times and he’s come up in countless conversations over the years. Too much has gone on for too long and Mark needs to be held accountable.

Being a pastor and in this space, an amateur blogger, I know how this can look. I’m another kicking a guy when he’s down, another example of the church eating their own and clearly motivated by jealousy, etc. I am also well aware of Jesus’ warning of judging others as you will be judged by the same measure (Matt 7:1-2). May the Lord judge my heart here but I hope to communicate as “Christianly” as possible of where I am coming from.

It’s actually healthy to talk about this in loving and restorative ways. It’s not only ok, it’s actually necessary because this scene in Mark Driscoll’s life is a cautionary tale for all of us. Further, hopefully some goodness can be found in the mess of all this. And lastly, should the day come when my personal behavior has become such a distraction to the Christian mission, I hope my faith community would be courageous enough to ask me to step down. May God give the Church the wisdom to discern between judging, rebuking and enabling.

In the meantime, here are three lessons learned.

Good, acceptable, conservative orthodox doctrine does not give you license to do whatever you want. In so many words, Mark has acted like a jerk. Like many, I had heard of Driscoll more than ten years ago. He was the “cussing pastor” out of Don Miller’s soul-worthy [Read more...]

A Christian Response to the Death of Michael Brown

I echo the words and spirit of John Perkins when he was interviewed by Christianity Today.

“As Christians, we know that our problem always is sin. In the case of the shooting in Ferguson, I don’t know who is right because I don’t know who initiated  this. But I know that the sin of racism, which goes back to the sin of enslavement, is what makes it escalate so quickly.” (I encourage you to read the rest of the piece, remains among the most helpful of the week).

After reading, I too wondered about the Christian response to the death of Michael Brown. After a few days of reflection, here’s where I am today: Lament – Pray – Listen to What the Lord Leads You to Do Next.

Lament

I lament the death of Michael Brown and all that it represents.

I lament what is meant by “… another unarmed black man …”

I lament for Officer Darren Wilson.

I lament for what will get lost in the moment.

I lament the sin of racism.

I lament all the pain that everyone in Ferguson  is  going through.

I lament that so many throughout our country and our world can relate to this scene.

I lament all the stories this connects us to: violence towards minorities, violence towards law enforcement, violence in between, blatant racism, abuses of authority, intentional criminal behavior and the carnage this leaves behind.

I lament that there is so much to lament.

When you start adding up all the laments, you find yourself a bit irrational. I am sure everyone, especially those involved, wish they could go back in time and somehow take action to avoid this tragic scene. Another loss of life, a lot of damage that is either nearly or completely irreparable. Some will say that we can learn from this so it never happens again but unfortunately, that’s part of the irrationality. Part of the pain of these laments goes beyond regret but also found in the mourning of a terrible reality that a similar scene will happen again.

Enter the hopelessness.

For some, this is where they like to insert the line that all hell is breaking loose, society is spiraling further out of control into moral decadence, [Read more...]