Categories
Church Leadership

Putting your worst foot forward

Photo by Kevin Trotman via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Which of these introductions garners the most trust to you?

  • Hello, my name is Adam McLane. Thank you for inviting me here today. As an expert in my field, I look forward to sharing with you this morning 7 insights which will revolutionize ________.
  • Hi. I’m Adam. I guess you’ve invited me here this morning because you’ve tried everything and looked around and found the one guy in the world who has tried more ways to _________ than you have. Well, I guess a broken clock is right twice a day. Let’s get started.

Chances are you like the first one a little better. The first introduction would cause you to reach into your bag and fish out a pen and some paper. But the question isn’t who would you like better or who would give you the most stuff to write down, it’s which introduction garners the most trust?

An experts role is to teach 5 things in an outline, collect his check, and move on to the next place. But a teacher creates questions inside which spurs on your own thoughts and solutions to the problems you are facing.

I have a tendency to trust the second introduction a lot more. I might not write down as much stuff… but that second introduction will cause me to lean in. Something about that humility tells me he has something to say.

It tells me that this person isn’t just rolling out their presentation… but they are probably going to take me somewhere I need to go. They are going to help me recognize that while I’ve failed in the past I can keep trying and searching for the answers I need.

And they aren’t going to lie to me and tell me that success is just 5 bullet points away. I already have mountains of notebooks filled with outlines on things that didn’t work. The second person is going to share the truth that the journey to success is paved with many pitfalls and traps along the way.

I can trust that person.

I think this is one subtle way the world has changed.

  • Expert = distrust
  • Humble guru = trust

We laugh at the irrelevance of the person who stands on the street corner proclaiming into a bullhorn that he has all the answers to life. Turn or burn, that’s all you need to do. Stop fornicating and you’ll be fine.

Let’s face it… it’s a stupid way to communicate. But it’s not unlike what we do in our churches. We hide behind our degrees, we point to our bookshelf, we hide from tough questions and real ministry by filling our schedule with meetings, and we gather as a staff to celebrate how awesome we are. But in the quiet moments, sharing coffee with a friend, we are no more faithful or have the answers than the person sitting in the pew behind us.

Trust me, but how?

I think most of us were raised in a time when we were told to always put our best foot forward. So we do that.

But times have changed. We can no go faster and further with people in building trust when we start by putting our worst foot forward.

“My name is ___________. I’m no better than you. I don’t have all the answers.”

Go ahead, repeat it out loud until it feels natural. It just might lead to something unbelievable.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

5 replies on “Putting your worst foot forward”

Great post! This is something that drives me crazy in this digital age that we find our selves in. I guess in a since it has always been around, now we just get to see everyone self proclaim all that time!

Cheers!

Leave a Reply