Tag: success

Missing Jesus

This is a picture of a stadium filled with women waiting for Jen Hatmaker to appear and speak.

This is a picture of me preaching recently at a church near us. (No, I didn’t move in. Those are props).

Looks pretty bleak, eh? There might have been 65 people in the congregation.

The guy doing the slides forgot to start and then kept clicking through trying to find the right one to fit with what I was saying. Just a tad distracting for those listening.

I’ve been a guest preacher here before, and there’s usually a young man with some challenges who burps loudly when I preach.

They had cobbled together my lapel mic which didn’t have a clip to attach, so it fell apart towards the end of my sermon. But hey, it was good practice for my ninja-like reflexes.

Yep, me and Jen…

Then, last Sunday I preached at different church, but it looked pretty much the same. Afterwards I was expecting out-of-town guests for brunch at home, about half an hour away, so I was anxious to bolt out the door at the end of the service.

So anxious that I blew off Jesus in my rush to exit.

After realizing who I missed, this is what I wrote in my journal:

Jesus, You were there yesterday! After worship You came up to me and awkwardly requested “a conference”. 

You looked like a crazy old man…kind of like a mad scientist with wispy white hair growing places where hair shouldn’t grow.

I had talked to You before and in my mind labeled you a little “off”.

Because I didn’t recognize You, and because I had to hurry home to prepare for guests coming for brunch, I said, “I’m so sorry, I have to go…” (READ: I have more important commitments with sane people.)

You handed me an offering envelope and asked if I could send you my sermon transcript. 

Later in the afternoon after my guests were gone, I thought, “What if it had been Bill Hybels who had stopped me?” Would I have rushed off, or would I have made time? What if it had been Jesus?

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40

Oh Lord, have mercy. Please forgive me. Help me to be present to You, to the Imago Dei in each person I encounter today.


3 Lessons I’m Learning About Airplanes That Don’t Get Off the Ground

I have a lot of friends who are “high-capacity achievers”.  I look at them and they are wise and talented, and smart, and “tada!” they have a lot of seemingly easy sucess…kind of like Michelle Obama or Justin Bieber.  That would not be me.

The other day I wrote about what it takes to build an airplane (like my friend, Gayle).  You know, like what it takes to achieve any humongous goal that seems crazy and beyond possibility without divine intervention.

Friday morning as I was walking home through our snowy neighborhood from the coffee shop where I write, I got to thinking back over this past year, 2012 and two “airplanes” that I set out to build.  They didn’t crash and burn.  They never even got off the ground!  I felt tears sting my eyes (hoping they wouldn’t freeze on my cheeks) as I re-lived my deep, deep disappointment at these “failures”.


One was a fund raiser for starving kids in Africa.  I had worked with a team and prayed for 200 contributors.  We got about 15.  The other was a writing submission that was important to me.  It was rejected without feedback. I had a bunch of airplanes that soared in 2012, but, like most of us, it’s easy to obsess about those that didn’t.

I had prayed fervently about both.  I thought both would honor God.  I worked really hard, and did my part as best I could.  I had a team of truth-tellers and consultants for both.  I broke them down into smaller segments.  I thought I followed all the right steps.  But they both failed.  Miserably.

So I, like you (if you’ve failed at anything), have been trying to figure out “What now?” Here are some of the questions I’m asking:

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The Other “F Words”, part 3

I once put 2 CUPS of salt into a recipe of lasagna instead of 2 teaspoons.

Ok, actually I ran out of salt after a cup and a half, but still…  Inconceivable that anyone could be such an idiot?  A failure?  I know, I know it’s hard even for me to believe.  I can only chalk it up to the fact that I was multi-tasking and my mind was elsewhere.

You’ve never made a stupid mistake?  Or failed at something serious you worked hard for?

Did you fail your driver’s test the first time?

Fail to make the varsity tennis, football, or swim team?

Been fired?

Have a failed marriage?

Failed to get a promotion you applied for?

Failure.  Another uncomfortable “F word”.

Even writing the word brings feelings of humiliation and embarrassment.  A sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Experiences, choices, words, I’d really like to forget                    (another f word) :).

I have plenty of failures to reflect on.  I’m a passionate, aim-fire-ready kind of gal.  Leap before you look.  It’s all good.  Enthusiasm wins the day.

As a result I’ve inadvertently stepped on toes, lost money, received rejections for less-than-best work submitted too quickly.

Maybe your pattern is different, but you can still think of failures that make you cringe.

As I’ve been reflecting on failure I’ve read some inspiring stuff.

“Grace means our failures don’t define who we are anymore; they just shape who we’re becoming.”Bob Goff

“If you know you are the Beloved, you can live with an enormous amount of success
and an enormous amount of failure without losing your identity.
Because your identity is that you are the Beloved…” Henri Nouwen

Somebody asked Winston Churchill one time, “What most prepared you to lead Great Britain through World War 2?

This was Churchill’s response: “It was the time I repeated a class in grade school.”

The questioner said, “You mean you flunked a grade?”

Churchill said, “I never flunked in my life.  I was given a second opportunity to get it right.”

What we would like to delete, God wants to complete (I’m sure I heard that pithy little saying somewhere, but I can’t remember where)

But how do we translate all this peppy talk into anything more?  We all are going to fail, but what’s next?  How do we “fail forward” as I think John Maxwell said?

Stop trying (or crying) for a minute and hold your “failure” (whatever it is) before God and say,

Here it is Lord.

Use it.  Redeem it.  Teach me from it.  Show me my next step.  But don’t let it define me, paralyze me, or tempt me to turn from You.  Thank you that I am Your beloved child.  No matter what.”

What have you failed at that God has redeemed?

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