Archive for August, 2011

5 Steps to Dealing With Failure

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Failure

My life is a testimony of God being able to take a failure–apply his grace and mercy–and make something useful for His glory. God loves to use people that have fallen short because He gets the credit! Here are a few key points to remember when you’ve blown it:

1. Own. Before you can confess your sin, you must take responsibility for your failure with God and others. Sincere confession can only come out of true ownership of our mistake. No blame shifting…..own it and confess it. (1 John 1:9)

2. Receive. Honor God’s grace and mercy by receiving His forgiveness. Your mistake is not the one sin that is the exception to the cross. Your “sin has been thrown as far as the east is to the west.” (Ps. 103:12) To not forgive yourself is not noble, it’s pride. Your standard is not higher than God’s.

3. Evaluate. Some mistakes are a no-brainer and need little evaluation. It’s clear what broke down. Other instances need our evaluation to see how we can grow in wisdom and not make the same mistake. Many people have experiences but do not grow in wisdom because they do not reflect.

4. Release: Stop collecting your failures like trophies. Stop revisiting them. You’ve been forgiven. There is no probation period with God’s grace. Your failure is not final unless you choose to stay there. Let go of your past and fixate on Jesus.

5. Press On: Not just forward in life, but press on toward Jesus, becoming the man or woman God’s called you to be! (Phil 3:13-14)

Take a moment to share below what God’s taught you in regards to walking out of failure.


The Last 10%…..2.0

Posted: August 24, 2011 in leadership

Many authors have written about the need for leaders to create an environment where the last 10% (saying the difficult truth) is said by them and those around them. A couple of years ago I wrote about sharing and hearing the last 10% here.  I’ve continually pushed this with my core leadership team here at RCC. Healthy leaders’ welcome honest–objective feedback—they don’t hide from it.

I’ve noticed however for many the last 10% seems to be just criticism. It can vary from being constructive to destructive.  However, the last 10% principle should not be characterized as just sharing the negative; it should be defined as sharing what is most valuable.

Sometimes it’s a hard truth that the other person doesn’t want to hear. At other times the last 10% could be an emotionally difficult thought that needs to be said, but feels impossible to convey. I don’t know how many people I’ve heard share the last 10% about a loved one at a funeral only to regret they had not shared this with them while they were still alive.

What Makes the Last 10% Principal effective?

Answer: Truly valuing the person you’re sharing the last 10% with. When you go into a last 10% conversation with someone with a genuine love for the person–that’s going to come through in how you communicate with them. Most people can hear the last 10% when given in love. It’s not enough to be right, leaders need to be effective. 

What about you? Any tips to offer when sharing the last 10%? Share the last 10% below.

The 5 Levels of Leadership

Posted: August 24, 2011 in leadership

Have you ever asked yourself what makes someone follow a leader? In fact, let’s try something. Ask yourself why you follow the people in your life that are leaders? It could be your manager, parent, teacher, pastor…..anyone you consider a leader? What makes you follow them? In John Maxwell’s soon to be released book, The 5 Levels of Leadership  Maxwell shares the five motivations for followers:

If you’re a leader ask yourself why those that are following you follow you? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Open Letter to Self

Posted: August 23, 2011 in change, criticism, Failure, Humility

This last weekend I shared a message regarding God’s call for us to love difficult people. I ended the message by sharing a letter that was written to me. Only after I had finished reading the letter did most realize that I myself had written it.  I shared with our church that I’m the most difficult person I know. As you read my letter below, think about what would you write if you were going to be gut level honest with yourself about areas Christ wants to grow you.

Dear Nathan,

No one ever likes to sit down and write a letter like this, but I thought I would be doing a bigger disservice to you by not being honest and just acting like everything was fine. So here goes:

You are one of the most difficult people I know…..and I know a lot of people. On a regular basis you seem to push your opinion onto others and can come off somewhat arrogant. This makes you come across as manipulative and as trying to push your own agenda onto others. It’s incredibly frustrating when I see you leverage your people skills to get things done.

Your insecurities seem to shine brightest when you are critical of others and how they go about doing things. You always seem to think you are all knowing and know exactly what should be done. Did you ever realize that God has gifted others in the church besides you? What’s worse is that you mask your critical comments by saying, “you only want to further the work of the church”, when really you only mask your own insecurities.

You can really be a needy leech at times. You can be borderline narcissistic in your need for approval from others. Fishing for compliments is not my idea of walking in humility. Your constant need to please other people not for their sake but your own is really contrary to the “Man of God” that you desire to be.

So before you go running off to complain about someone else’s difficult behavior and before you begin to change other people, take a good long uncomfortable look inside yourself. Confess to the Lord your sin, Ask him to forgive you, and make better choices in how you treat people. I say all this in such a brutally honest fashion because I know that you know yourself better than anyone…….other than Christ. Christ knows you for who you are and who you long to be. With God’s Love, grace and mercy I believe you’ll get there.

Yours Truly,


Here is a leadership lesson I learned recently: 

There are times when leading that you’ll feel like someone on your team is not on the same page and is not in full support of your leadership. A good leader’s first inclination should be to go to the person and in a loving way approach them and see how they’re doing with your leadership. I did this recently, and the person responded that they were fine. A few weeks went by and I continued to feel the person was still in limbo with their support. I again, approached them to see if there was anything that was bothering them, again, I was assured they were in full support.

Here’s what I took from this:

1. People have different personalities. People show and communicate their support in different ways.

2. Take someone’s word at face value unless their actions speak otherwise.

3. Other issues in the team member’s life might be contributing to their demeanor.

4. Don’t let your personal insecurities cause mistrust of your team. Continuing to approach someone about the status of their support comes off as desperate and is demoralizing to them.

What leadership insecurities do you battle with?

3 Personal Obstacles in Worship

Posted: August 20, 2011 in worship

Have you ever been so exhausted when driving that at some point you’ve arrived at your destination without even the slightest memory of the drive. It can be a little scary and a wake up call that you were on autopilot and not really engaged.

In the same way we can be on autopilot in our worship to God.  Here are a few modes we can fall into that I’ve found to be obstacles to focused worship:

1. Concert Mode: This is when you go into observer mode and are letting worship be done “at you” like someone watching a concert instead of engaging with the content that’s directed toward Jesus. This can be especially difficult for musicians who begin to analyze every musical nuance.

2. People Watching Mode: Here we begin to watch other’s response in worship and we begin to move into judging them: “Why don’t they ever get into worship?” “That person always gets so emotional and over the top with their worship.” “I don’t think that person up there is really genuine.”

3. Let’s Get This Over With Mode: This is when we have a high value for the preaching of God’s Word and a low value for corporate acts of worship like singing together. People in this mindset can’t wait for corporate worship to be over so they can sit down and get to doing “real” church.

At one time or another we’ve all found ourselves in one of these modes. We’re all in desperate need of God’s grace and the direction of the Holy Spirit to focus us on making much of God in our worship instead of being distracted. Part of the sacrifice of praise we bring to Him with our lives is one that goes into worship with diligence to not let anything distract you.

What tends to distract you in worship?

Last week while upstairs ironing a shirt I heard a pop downstairs followed by yelling and crying. My oldest son had hit my youngest son in the face out of anger. I sent him to my room to wait for me. He knew what was coming. I took my time. (I never spank my kids while angry.) Once in the room I shared with him my deep love for him and why he was being spanked. My 7yr old understood clearly that I loved him and because I loved him I needed to correct his behavior.

No one likes to be corrected. I know I don’t. Even if I know I’m wrong I can feel my pride invading every fiber of my being when someone points out a  mistake (even a small one) to correct me. Why is that my 7yr old can understand the idea of sowing and reaping, poor judgement and correction, but as adults we many times don’t have the ability to receive correction well?

Obviously, pride is the main issue and hardly needs explanation. A secondary issue that I believe is not addressed is motivation. Many of us cannot receive correction from others because we don’t honestly believe that the person bringing the correction truly loves us. Our insecurity shines through as we tell ourselves, “They’re just on a power trip”, “Who do they think they are?”, “They don’t have the right to….”, “Why don’t you come talk to me when you’re perfect!”

But what if they really love you? What if they truly want God’s best for you? What if God is speaking through them?

Hebrews 12:5–7  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?   (ESV)

Proverbs 12:1  Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,but he who hates reproof is stupid.   (ESV)

Experiencing dysfunctional correction by others in the past doesn’t make correction in the present bad. God many times uses people in our lives to bring loving correction to us: spouses, friends, pastors, co-workers and even strangers.

It’s such a beautiful thing to witness someone receive correction with humility and truly own it. God help me stay in that place.

What about you? How has God brought correction to you through others? Would you mind sharing below?

Even at 35 I still find myself constantly learning about myself.  Here is what I wanted to share with you:

I need alone time.  

I’m not talking about just my daily prayer and Bible study in the morning at my office. I need an extended time of solitude and prayer that happens on a regular basis where I make time for solitude in my life. You’d think that wouldn’t be a shocker to me as a pastor, but it was. After sharing this with me wife, she said, “Umm, I knew that.”  Apparently, I didn’t.

I thought because my pastoral role was so “people” centered that I wasn’t the type that needed to be alone much. I was wrong.  Here are some of the signs that I notice when I haven’t had that alone time: physically stressed, short with Erin and the boys, frustrated about inconsequential issues, easily annoyed by people and directed apathy toward things I usually value.

You might be thinking, “Nathan, who doesn’t feel that way sometimes?”. I agree, people have bad days, but am I feeling that way on a consistent basis? Those signs are merely symptoms of the real issue: I’m trying to carry life on my own. When I spend an extended time in prayer and meditation on scripture I come away from that time with my heart aligned with Christ’s heart. My circumstances might not be any different, but my perspective is.

Maybe like me you’ve told yourself,”My schedule can’t afford that kind of time away.”  The truth is that you and I can’t afford not to make the time. Pull out the calendar and make an appointment with yourself and God. Get creative on when and where you can have this time. Do it.


He’s Waiting,