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Putting your Worst Foot Forward

Kurt Johnston —  October 31, 2012 — 4 Comments

This past weekend, Kurt & I were at Mark Oestreicher’s Middle School Campference.  I was asked to talk for a few minutes on something that I wish every Jr. High leader would either start or stop.   It seemed to get some good traction with the people there — so I thought I’d post it here, too.

Lots of us work pretty hard creating places to “PUT OUR BEST FOOT FORWARD”.
- to “Manage our Brand”
- to get a bunch of “followers” …. by tweeting clever things
- to have a bunch of Facebook “friends” … or Instagram “likes”

And I’m definitely one of these people, too!   Just this week, I posted a few Instagram photos.

-One that might make me seem witty.

- One that might make me seem like a really good youth pastor.

- One that might make me seem like a romantic husband. (boy, those kind of posts always get a lot of response, don’t they?)
And I wouldn’t want you to know how many times I checked back to see how many people “LIKED” what I put out there. Every time someone did … it gave me a little jolt.

BUT … LEST YOU THINK I’m HERE TO RANT AGAINST SOCIAL MEDIA …
I’m not.

Here’s what I am here to ask:
In addition to us being so preoccupied with having places to “put our best foot forward”…
What if we all worked just as hard to find places to PUT OUR WORST FOOT FORWARD?

But when I say “places”, I don’t mean virtual places.
I mean “Safe People”.
People who can KNOW THE WORST PARTS OF US.
People who can KNOW WHERE WE FAIL,
WHERE WE’RE VULNERABLE
WHERE WE MOST NEED HELP.
And they love us anyway.

Who knows the crud that you struggle with?
 Can you name names?
It takes decision … and effort.
If a struggle is pretty easy for you to talk with someone about – that’s probably not the kind of struggle I’m referring to.  I’m talking about the kind that you’re REALLY rather keep to yourself.

This one of those subjects that we’re quick to tell students that they need…
But that’s one of the TOUGHEST for us to actually do ourselves.

Maybe you’ve even taught students this verse before:
JAMES 5:16  ”Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
And we “believe it” … we really do.

BUT IT’S ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS I KNOW TO PUT INTO PRACTICE.

We work HARD to get a LOT of people to know us A LITTLE BIT.
We might be better served if we worked as hard to get a COUPLE people to know us ENTIRELY.     Embarrassingly entirely.

Who KNOWS you?   REALLY knows you?     Can you name names?

Not your facebook profile, or just the cleverness that we saturate Twitter with.  “that guy’s so funny! ”  ”that girl has the wisest comments!”

Who knows the last time you spoke to someone you love in a way that would HUMBLE you if it got shown on a screen at your church?

Who knows the last time you saw a pornographic image on your computer?
(Not just that “porn is a challenge for me”…  but specifically, when the last time you saw a naked image?)

Who knows the last time you did that thing that you never want to do again?

NOT so that you can feel shamed. But so that you can “be healed”.

It’s tough. It really is.
And not everyone is ready to hear this kind of confession from you.
I’ve tried it … and had people run away.
People who I love. And they listened. But then they never brought it up again.
Maybe because they have their own struggles, too, and they’re scared?
Maybe because they wanted an image of me that was more perfect?
I’m not sure. But it stung.
And yet still – I know I need this.

Here’s what we know is true … but often refuse to acknowledge:
Not getting 100 more twitter followers by Christmas isn’t going to disqualify you from ministry.
BUT …
Not having someone who knows your secret world could bring your ministry – and life – to a grinding halt one day.

There are people I know who are Out Of The Game because they kept secrets…
You probably know some, too.

I HATE THIS.
I hate telling someone where I’m weak.
I hate telling someone where I’ve failed.
I hate telling someone I’m tempted, or vulnerable.

I imagine what they’ll think.

But then someone confesses something to me, of their own free choice.
And you know what? I respect them more.
I want to root for them. I want to pray for them. I want to help them heal.

I love to have places to put my best foot forward.
But also I wish everyone would decide to find a place to put their worst foot forward, too.

Kurt Johnston

Kurt Johnston

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Kurt Johnston leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4% of his time.

4 responses to Putting your Worst Foot Forward

  1. Good words Scott.
    “We work HARD to get a LOT of people to know us A LITTLE BIT.
    We might be better served if we worked as hard to get a COUPLE people to know us ENTIRELY. Embarrassingly entirely.”
    So many times I run from this because “I’m not sure I can trust someone at my church because of fear of my position working there.” But, how long will I be working anywhere if I can’t enter into the kind of accountability you remind us we’re called to that protects us and our ministries.

  2. Scott,
    I appreciated your rant so much at the Campference. I would love to share this with my volunteers and even repost this if you don’t mind. I believe God is moving in Youth Ministry, and we in this ministry are going to help lead the church to a place of health. This will start with putting our worst foot forward.

    • Hi Terry! Sorry didn’t see this sooner — we had our small groups Retreat last weekend, and life has been a whirlwind! So glad that this was helpful; I’m with you in the journey of growth. Feel free to repost or share however you might wish…
      See you at the next Campference, or similar gathering!
      -Scott

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. campference rants - November 1, 2012

    [...] challenging us to think about where we “put our worst foot forward.” scott (who blogged the notes from his rant here), unpacked the reality that in an age of facebook and twitter, we’re constantly thinking [...]

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