As we settled into our seats, five years ago, on Easter Sunday, I wondered where Pastor Rich Nathan would take us. I’ve been taught by him long enough to know that we were not likely to hear your typical Easter message. I would not be disappointed, he would leave me feeling challenged in a funny kinda way.
Rich taught from John 21:1-17. He told the story of Jesus surprise visit to the disciples after His resurrection. I’ve read this text numerous times. Five years ago, Sunday, it came alive. You see, days prior to the surprise visit, Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus. Never seen him, he said. He didn’t do this one time, he denied him 3. And, Jesus had predicted this. Peter, full of pride, promised that he would stand strong. He didn’t. He crumbled. The passage in John is all about how Jesus restored him. Jesus didn’t brow beat Peter about his failure, He simply asked him if he loved him. Jesus asked him 3 times. Each time Rich pictured Jesus moving toward Peter and comforting him as he allowed him to release his shame. FM, baby.
Here is what sealed the deal for me. Rich referenced the movie, Good Will Hunting, and told the story of how Will was released from his shame by his counselor Sean. Sean kept moving closer to Will, who had been badly abused by his family, and simply kept repeating a stirring phrase,”It’s not your fault.” “It’s not your fault.” “It’s not your fault.” Will gives Sean the heisman the first few times and then slowly lets those words sink in. Suddenly the torrent lets loose as he fully trusts his counselor and releases his shame and pain in a burst of tears and a lengthy embrace.
Before you challenge your high performers, make sure they trust you. Remember, connect before you correct. Understand their struggle and failures. Help them release themselves from whatever is weighing them down. Countless high performers, just like Peter and Will, are stuck simply because they don’t have a leader that believes, first. Leaders, remember, are masters not just at the challenge but also the connect. Take a look around your team. Where could you restore a Peter or a Will?
God, help me connect, comfort and challenge.
God, help me…