Wednesday, 16 September 2015

How to deal with Failure? 4 Responses.

According to Alice Thomson in the Times, we have a problem with failure in British culture. I've been convinced she's right for a few years now.  No failure please, we're British

"So how many times have you failed?" she was asked by a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. "Which was your best one?" Their approach to failure was as a badge of honour, a rite of passage. If you've spent time in other cultures, especially across the pond, you get to see our own culture more clearly. Thomson is right: us Brits are scared silly of failure. The stupid thing is, everything around us was invented and built by people who made loads of failures but kept trying anyway. Everything!

This defeat led to a changed culture for New Zealand
It seems that everywhere I look I find more examples, and every week too. As the Rugby World Cup starts on Friday I was reading about the great supremacy of the current All Blacks side (New Zealand to the uninitiated). It explained that the roots of this team's culture of success came from, wait for it, not a high, but a low: a crushing defeat by South Africa in 2004 which they followed up with an horrendous binge drinking session. From there they bounced to world domination. The road to greatness passed through the valley of despair.

We're no strangers to the fear of failure in church too. If we're to respond significantly to the huge challenge that 92% of our country don't go to church, we're going to have to try a few new ways of doing things, and no doubt get it wrong quite a lot. But the fear of failure holds us back.

So, trying to keep these blogs short, here are 4 things to change your approach to failure:

1. Admit we're totally afraid of failure, but push through anyway.
2. Realise everyone who achieves great things only does so after failing many times.
3. Tell yourself not to be afraid of it but to embrace it.
4. Believe it's the route to getting better.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? Can you talk about your failures?

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Heart of Worship?

So what is worship? How would you define it? Or explain it to someone who's not familiar with the concept as simply as possible? (And understanding too that our while lives can be worship)

Without going into the Hebrew and Greek words, could it be simply, 'showing devotion to someone greater'? There are lots of good definitions out there, but that's mine. For now.

I had a moment in the summer, an a-ha moment, when I suddenly saw things clearer. I was at New Wine in Somerset where I was pastoring a group of children's leaders for a week, as well as solo parenting my kids whilst camping - boy was I stretched. Single parents you have my utmost respect. I did it for a week and was wasted! I'd had a particularly
difficult couple of days and was just hanging on to God to get me through. He did with spades! In the evening I had a 30 minutes gap, and a list of about 10 things that needed doing: showering, shaving, washing up, clearing the tent, and preparing my next talk. All I wanted to do was sleep. But my overwhelming drive was to thank God and that simply saying "thank you" was not enough. I knew I needed to worship him. Give my all. So I wandered down to the big arena, squeezed into the back and poured out my thankyous in worship. It may not sound a big deal but it was to me. I had to DO something that showed my love, my appreciation, my gratitude. I instinctively knew it needed to be costly and deep. I was shattered, and had a long list of jobs but all that had to be put aside to worship the One who deserved my everything.

That was worship. You see worship has to cost us something because in worship we give to the one who deserves our everything. Today in western churches worship is a hot potato that divides opinion: we argue over types of song, music, instrument, volume, how much open prayer, scripted or unscripted; even how long a worship session should be. I'm not saying these things aren't relevant to discuss. I just think we need to change the conversation: what am I bringing to God today? He is the central character of worship not us. It's for him, it's all about him, not us. Mike Pilavachi wrote a book called 'For the audience of One' - can we get back to that mind-set? When we make God the centre we will find all other issues fade away.