McManus on “Story”

I played this at the end today – some of you had to leave early.  All of us need to hear it again…

“As I have traveled around the word speaking I’ve noticed that when I tell stories of our great success or great opportunities or incredible victories, no one really resonates.  They get inspired – a little bit – but it quickly dissipates.  But when I start telling people that two years ago, I lost my company, lost several million dollars and everything I had and that I had to fly home and tell my wife I’d lost everything and had moved into a fetal position and wanted to die, amazingly people just light up.  They said “the same thing happened to me too”.  Although theirs wasn’t the same – I lost my company and millions of dollars, theirs was that their girlfriend broke up with them (!).  It’s not the same thing.  But maybe it is.

You see what I found is that when I open up the story of my pain, wounds and failures, suddenly we have a shared history together.  It’s like when you show someone a wound and they say, “I have a wound too” and they show you theirs.  What I love about the Tribe of Jesus is that you can’t get into it as long as you try to make the story look better than it really is.  (if you pose)  You can only get in when you own your own story and say, “yeah, I’ve got wounds, I’ve got scars and there’s an emptiness inside of me I can’t seem to fill.  There’s a brokenness I can’t fix and there’s a place so deep inside my soul with a pain I  can’t seem to access.  And that’s why I turned to God because no one or no thing could get that deep inside of me to heal that wound.”

The Truth is, you can only get into this Tribe when you own the story of being human and the Truth that you need God.  That’s our shared history.  It empowers us because we can sit together and say, “remember when?”  You see, I remember when I lost everything and God showed me that with “nothing” He could do more than I could do with “everything”.  I remember when I felt the world had come to an end and God showed me He was just starting a new future I couldn’t even imagine.” 

We tell the story of us in our Tribe as our shared history.  Tribesmen that no longer need to pose.  Who can be real and authentic and can begin to live life in search of what God thinks of us and in search of what God wants for us instead of this broken façade and mask of the poser out there doing life all alone.  There is great power in Tribe.  Great power in your story.  Great power in being free to share it and get it out of the darkness of shame.

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Your personality

(From Craig McConnell’s talk at the Advanced Boot Camp on the Poser)

Our hiding, our fig leaf goes deep.  It includes our relational style and personality.  Your personality reflects the uniqueness of God’s crafting of you.  We each have a bit of Glory … the image of God in us.  Personalities are meant to reflect that glory and the beauty and the strength and compassion of God.  Our various personalities are meant to come together as community (Tribe?) and work together for the mission we have to rescue the hearts of men and women(That’s what Manschool is all about – rescuing the hearts of men)

The danger is that we settle into our style and stay put i.e. “I am a negotiator” – or – “I am a peacemaker” and the problem is, God is about the process of changing us, sanctifying us and He doesn’t want us staying put in a persona we create that works for us.  He has so much more for us.  Staying in trait causes us to stall and stay in poor relational styles and in our sin.

Our personality is probably, day to day, the clearest expression of our sin and the issues God wants to deal with and change in us.  It is a well-constructed approach to living that reflects our holiness, our growth and our sin.

Allow me to interject here – I shared a story about my father.  He is a man of deep, deep integrity and truth.  He loves truth.  He balances his checkbook to the penny.  He expects accountability, integrity and folks to do the “right thing”.  There is nothing wrong with that.  That, in fact, is holy.  That is a little bit of the image of God in him.  But…his sin takes over and he settled into that role.  It became his persona, his mask that he hid behind and could not be challenged on.  He was “right” all the time and expected others to be.  And there were many times that his black and white approach to life and insistence that he must speak the truth regardless how it impacted the other’s feelings did great collateral damage.  Remember, behind every posing man is a wounded little boy.  My father was never told he was loved by his father.  As a young man he “learned” that in order to gain favor, he must be “perfect”.  Straight A’s, clean cut, above reproach.  And you see later in life, what God wanted to do is pierce that façade, crack the pose and dig out the hurts hidden beneath that rigid truth exterior.  God will disrupt your life to break these poses.  He did in my father and He’s done so (and is doing so) in me.  The pose works … but only for so long.  Please read on…

We don’t look at our personality or our style of relating with much scrutiny – but we should.  How we live, our personality, much of it is a deep construct of our woundedness, our sin, the deep disappointments, some of the glory and our absolute commitment to self-protect.  The shame and contempt goes deeper to our core issue that I will self-protect profoundly and in a way that hopefully won’t be outed or discovered or confronted.  (That is the best definition of posing I’ve seen)  Over the years, we play with different options and we land on one style and say, “this is how I’m going to approach my life to get a little bit of validation or applause to protect myself from exposure as the man I truly am.”

My personality, in many ways, is a godless expression that I am committed to live life on my own terms.

We are born into a world where death and evil reign and it doesn’t take a young boy long to figure out the world is unkind and unloving and doesn’t care to validate him or nurture him.  Over time, the wounds, the disappointments and the realities of life all cause him to construct some way to live – some way to get by.

You saw that in Clint Eastwood’s character in Gran Torino – much pain, loneliness, heartache, the death of his wife and war wounds and from that, this iron mask of a persona developed and he destroyed people.  And in Bruce Willis’ character in Disney’s The Kid – he was a professional image consultant and he hated people.  Acidic, harsh, critical, driven, mean-spirited, running over people – it was formed from his childhood wounds.

I hope this deep dive into the poser, this grand disruption of your world has been valuable.  God has so much more than the mask of the poser will allow for.  It’s time to drop the pose, admit you don’t know everything, admit you cannot do life alone, admit you need Tribe and invite the Father in with “What do you think of me God?  What do I mean to you?”  Ask and ask and ask again and then listen.

Break free of the poser

The slides from today are here –> manschool excavating 2

What lies beneath the surface?  What are you covering up?  What do you fear?  What is it that makes you believe you truly don’t have what it takes?  How are you posing?  Why?

Two Questions every man faces…

  1. Who am I ?
  2. Do I have what it takes ?

Our persona – our pose – is designed to help us avoid pain.  Then, it is there to answer the deep questions of our heart, our identity and our validation – the questions at our core… “Who am I?” –> goes to my identity – and — “Do I have what it takes?” –> is my validation.

Through brothers, school, the neighborhood, sports, fathers, coaches, bosses, ex-girlfriends, broken relationships, etc. – life teaches us.

Brene Brown tells the story of a man she spoke with.  When he was a freshman in high school, he tried out and made the football team.  On the first day of practice, his coach told the boys to line up on the line of scrimmage.  This was his first experience in full pads across the line from boys who wanted to flatten him.  He said, “I was suddenly afraid. I was thinking about how much it was going to hurt, and I guess that fear showed up on my face.”  His coach saw his fear, yelled his last name and said, “Don’t be a pansy, get on the line.”  He said he immediately felt shame coursing through his body.  “In that very moment, it became very clear how the world works and what it means to be a man:

“I’m not allowed to be afraid.”

“I’m not allowed to show fear.”

“I am not allowed to be vulnerable.”

“Shame is being afraid, showing fear, or being vulnerable.”

When I asked him what he did next, he looked me in the eye and said, “I turned my fear into rage and steamrolled over the guy in front of me. It worked so well that I spent the next twenty years turning my fear and vulnerability into rage and steamrolling anyone who was across from me. My wife.  My children.  My employees.  There was no other way out from underneath the fear and shame.”

Thus … the birth of a posing man.  “Behind every posing man is a wounded boy.”  Back to the iceberg.  What lies beneath a man?

Over time, this false self becomes less and less efficient at answering these questions.  Those questions should never be answered by self in the first place – they are intended to be answered by God and that’s where man got off track after the fall.  We will search anywhere to get those two questions answered.  We must come to grips with who we’ve become in our elaborate fig leafs.  It becomes very mature and sophisticated in order to work for you.  Thank God some disruptions come and some gaskets start to pop when life doesn’t work.  That exposes the poser and gives you a chance to break it.

For all of us, the poser is rooted in shame and fear “naked, so I hid”.  Shame tells me I am notFear tells me I can’t.  These are the results of the fall.  Behind every posing man is a wounded little boy.

The picture of your True self comes through the new name – the name God calls you, what God sees in you. The basis of this new name is Sonship – it is knowing I am God’s son.  It is the unique expression of who God meant you to be.

Morgan is a high intensity person.  It used to lead to exhaustion in him.  He finally learned his intensity is the image of God in him.  The problem was, he’d let his intensity become completely in service of his false self.  If intensity, always coming through, laser-focus, being called “driven” – it worked for him, stroked his ego, then that became his “persona”.  He used his intensity to answer his question of do I have what it takes? Of course he did – his false self “always” came through.  But in reality, it is never enough.  You can never “come through” enough for the world.  There are always more things you can do.  It wore him out.  Complete exhaustion.  The result?  He begin to resent his gifting.  God wanted to restore his intensity but He had to teach him the rhythms of life – there is a time to be intense, God has a use for that, but we also need to know how to play and to rest.  There is a rhythm of life – you can’t always be intense.

He has a high level of spiritual awareness – he didn’t chose that, it is part of God in him.  He walks into a room and he feels the warfare.  He senses who is struggling.  In his false self, it led to exhaustion because he found himself being overwhelmed by people, warfare, needs, etc.  The false self gets fed by that – “Morgan, this man needs you. He’s under attack.  You must come through and rescue him”.  He got his validation from this … for a while.  It fed his “you have what it takes” until it wore him out.  Morgan, as he has matured, has learned to say “no” or to discern, “Maybe I’m not the one who has to jump in here and fix this”.

The greatest enemy you face isn’t Satan – it is self.  God wants to crucify this false self in you.  Remember the false self is rooted in our shame and fear. It develops from shame and fear to answer the question, “Do I have what it takes?”  Fearing the answer to that, we hide.

“You’re only as sick as your secrets”

There is a pioneering study from University of Texas on what happened when trauma survivors – specifically rape and incest survivors – kept their experiences secret.  They concluded that the act of not discussing or confiding it could actually be more damaging than the actual event itself.  When they told their story, their physical health improved.  The number of doctor’s visits dropped and they had a significant decrease in stress hormones.

Remember Hank Fortener in the shame talk said, I’ve done stupid things in my life, things I’d give anything to erase from my past but … I’ve never done anything that was as damaging to my soul as the shame I’ve carried for it.”

Brene said, “Shame is tough to talk about – but the conversation isn’t nearly as dangerous as what we’re creating with our silence! We all experience shame. We’re all afraid to talk about it. The less we talk about it, the more we have it.”

Lastly, remember, what you leave in the dark will eat you up. Satan thrives in the darkness.  Take the courageous step and bring these things into the light.  By dropping the pose and coming clean, you are brining shame out of darkness into the light.  It cannot thrive in the light.  Once in the light, it holds no power over you.

There may be some dreadful things in your shame. Bring it.  It may be the abuse of a father.  A girlfriend who crushed your heart.  A betrayal and now you cannot trust.  It may also be just healthy fear – like, “I have teenage kids and I am scared to death.”

The poser cannot admit these and face them. The authentic man canThis takes great courage but it brings great freedom!

 

Excavation – the process of breaking the poser

here are the slides from today —> manschool excavating

We had a lot this morning – it was fast and hard to follow, I know but rest assured, we will unpack all this next week.  Please stay in this.  I am hearing very encouraging things coming from you and the small group discussions.  I do believe God is moving and exposing things in all of us that need to be disrupted.  The poser in you works … for a time … until the gaskets of life start popping, until the disruptions come.  Thank God for these disruptions.  They expose us like digging up dirt that covers a fruit tree bearing no fruit.  We scrape back that dirt and expose those roots and it doesn’t feel good.  It feels raw.  But in so doing, we are removing the compacted, stagnant soil and will be replacing it with nutrient rich soil so the tree can thrive, bear much fruit and be able to withstand the future storms.  Remember, early on in this process, we showed the picture of vibrant, healthy vine that is producing much fruit…

2009_05_10_vine-1

This is what we’re after.  Digging up the poser, dismantling it, disengaging from it and going to the True self – the self that is a son of God and knows he has what it takes in God.  The True self knows he “is enough” because none of it is about him, it’s all about God.  A true self, an authentic man can rest in that.  He doesn’t have to pose.  He doesn’t have to present that he has life all figured out.  He can be transparent and honest and real.  He has mistakes in his past.  He has shame.  But he recognizes the wound (behind every posing man is a wounded boy) and he’s learned how to give that over to God and instead of posing as the solution, he has embraced his sonship in God.  THAT is what we’re after in all this.  Much more to come on this.  Here are the notes from today…

excavation

“Every man you meet is fighting a great battle.”    Ian Maclaren

God is reconstructing us but He has to dig deep and remove a lot of debris the false self has created so He can get to the good soil upon which He will start building anew.  That new construction, built on solid soil will be able to withstand the storms that come.

Your false self is going to resist this.  It feels like death to open all this up and drop the pose but it actually is the way to life.

We have all developed an elaborate construction of this persona we present to the world.  Persona is a Greek term for “stage mask”.  Did you know that?  Your “persona” is in truth, the mask you wear to go out on the stage of life.

Brene Brown says – “Our “masks” and “armor” are perfect metaphors for how we protect ourselves from the discomfort of vulnerability. Masks make us feel safer even when they become suffocating. Armor makes us feel stronger even when we grow weary from dragging all that extra weight around.  The irony is that when we’re standing across from someone who is hidden or shielded by masks and armor (the Poser), we feel frustrated and disconnected.  That’s the paradox here: Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you.”

Our persona – our pose – is designed to help us avoid pain.  Wrongly, we use it to answer the deep questions of our heart, our identity and our validation – the questions at our core… “Who am I?” –> goes to my identity – and — “Do I have what it takes?” –> is my validation.

Over time, this false self becomes less and less efficient at answering these questions.  Those questions should never be answered by self in the first place – they are intended to be answered by God and that’s where man got off track after the fall.  We will search anywhere to get those two questions answered.  We should be taking those questions to God.

We must come to grips with who we’ve become in our elaborate fig leafs.  It becomes very mature and sophisticated in order to work for you.  The false self, the poser boots up like an operating system on a computer.  You don’t even know it is there running in the background.  Thank God some disruptions come and some gaskets start to pop when life doesn’t work.  That exposes the poser and gives you a chance to break it.

For all of us, the poser is rooted in shame and fear “naked, so I hid”.  Shame tells me I am notFear tells me I can’t.  These are the results of the fall.  Behind every posing man is a wounded little boy.

The story of God’s restoration of our hearts as men is to come against the lies and to heal the woundedness.  We are excavating!

We want to use the poser when we find him, dig him out and discover the wounded places behind the mask.  How aware are you of the operation of the poser in your life?  The process of uncovering it entails…

  1. Awareness – of how the poser operates to avoid pain and shame to contend with fear and the “I can’t”.
  2. Disentangling – separate the poser from the True.
  3. Dismantling the fig leaf – death of the false self. The “no more, I’m not going to pose any more”
  4. Restoring the True self – that “I am enough”, that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and that God has a great purpose for my life, just as I am.

The picture of your True self comes through the new name – the name God calls you, what God sees in you.  The basis of this new name is Sonship – it is knowing I am God’s son.  It is the unique expression of who God meant you to be.

The greatest enemy you face isn’t Satan – it is self.  God wants to crucify this false self in you.

Remember the false self is rooted in our shame and fear. It develops from shame and fear to answer the question, “Do I have what it takes?”  Fearing the answer to that, we hide.

Where are you posing?  Where have you taken this question of Do I have what it takes? to get your validation?  Porn?  Other women?  Fantasy?  Self-deception, lies, covering up and denial of the deep wounds of your past?  Where are you posing?

more next week…

The Warrior

One of my favorite movies and books of all time is The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe by CS Lewis.  Aslan is the Christ figure in the story and is this magnificent, powerful, exceedingly kind, fiercely terrifying yet always loving figure in the story.  When Aslan is on the move, the kingdom shakes with anticipation.  And so it is today.

Yes, this world is terrible.  Yes, we face a long laundry list of things to worry about.  Yes, our nation has turned away from God.  There is much to fear about our future.  However…we know how this story ends.  We know the warrior God is coming and He will make all things right.  So men, take heart!  Rise up.  Don’t shrink back.  Be a man of God.  Be bold and fierce and strong yet tender, loving and compassionate.  Be true.  Stand tall.  Fight for your family.  Fight for your wife.  Fight for your kids.  Don’t give up.  Don’t lose heart.

There is a storm coming…

i am the storm

authenticity

poser

We will stay right here on the poser and authenticity.  The material this week was a lot and we all need time to digest this.  I hope this week you have been thinking and praying and seeking God about what was challenged in you by this message.

Many of us – in truth, all of us – stand like this man in the picture … a man very much naked, very exposed, in our boots but hiding in our shame and fear.  It takes no courage to pose.  It takes no courage to put up this false self of a man who has it all together.

It takes radical courage to be authentic.

You know, when God called Moses, He told Moses to tell the people that “I am” sent him … “I AM WHO I AM”.  And perhaps that is where we are going with all this, that all of us men will get to the place of authenticity where we will be able to say, “You know, I just am who I am.  The true me, the real me.  All my faults, all my “I don’t know how to do this”, all my insecurities – they make me who I am.  But I KNOW who I AM in God’s eyes.”

keep pushing into this…

The Poser – one thing that separates you from God

iceberg

Do I have what it takes??  That is an essential, fundamental question every man faces nearly every day of his life.  It haunts us.  We can’t escape it – it is part of masculinity and it has been assaulted with “no, you don’t have what it takes”.  From that question and our doubts about it, we all pose.  Today is a Divine disruption.  Today, God is coming after your pose.

What lies beneath your surface?  What I see – what you’re willing to show me – when you present is about 10% of the real you.  What lies beneath?  What is it that you are covering up?  What do you fear?  What about you nags at you that you truly don’t have what it takes? Why do you pose?  What motives lie beneath this false front you’ve created?  Say that again – what motives lie beneath?

Motives.  Think about that.  What is your motive for presenting this “I’ve got it figured out” false self?  What is your motive for snapping like a rattlesnake when your wife questions you?

We all have this false self we present.  It is elaborate, sophisticated and practiced.  It is habit.  It is habituated – like software, it just boots up.  We’ve worked so hard to create this persona, this image that we want to present that our default is that it is automatically going to boot up and run.  We have to work hard to stop it.  We need to disentangle.

The false self becomes less and less efficient at producing life and it doesn’t draw people in.  It pushes people away.  We present this image and in reality, it is a buffer, a shell to keep people away.  We desperately fear letting people in to see the true self.  So we hide and we present.

It is an addiction and like any addiction, it never truly delivers.  Just like booze or drugs or porn or an affair – they all promise an end to the pain and a deliverance but in reality, they snag you deeper into despair and isolation.  So it is with the pose.  It draws you in and – at all cost – you will maintain it lest anyone see you as a failure.  The more you nurture it, the more addicted you become to it and the less and less it works.  And, the more isolated you become.

A friend recently shared with me this – “I’ve got about 10 guys all across the country that I can get on the phone or take a trip with and just be real.  I have no one here locally.  Why is that?  What’s wrong with me?  Why is it I have no one here locally that I can be real with, vulnerable with?  You know I can call up any of these guys around the country and lay it out and confess I’m really struggling with _____ and yet, even with them, right before I hang up, I can toss out this great closing that covers it up and smooths it over and makes it look like life is just great for me.  What’s that all about?”

Why is it that some men always present that “life is great for me”?  They always seem to talk about their money or their success or how their kids are straight-A students?  Or the man who tends to walk around with his shirt unbuttoned showing off his chest hair with a cigar dangling from his mouth saying things like “I should have been a cowboy.”  That guy…does he draw you in?  No, of course not.  That guy, the poser, no, he pushes people away because he is terrified to let anyone see his true self.

We are hiding.  Each and every one of us.

We are all deeply aware that we are not what we’re meant to be and desperately afraid of exposure, terrified of being seen for what we are (or are not), we run off to the bushes to hide and emerge with a shell around us.  We hide at work.  We hide at the gym.  We hide behind our spirituality or our rigid, rules-based life.  We hide behind our income or our title or our “manliness” of rugged, hard-scrabbled, hunting, country boy-ness.  Most of what you encounter when you meet a man is a façade, an elaborate fig leaf.  A brilliant disguise.

You only see the very tip of the iceberg.

Everything we are after in Manschool – everything is about one thing, being fathered by God.  That’s it.  By knowing, I mean really, truly knowing you are God’s beloved.  That He adores you.  That He’s proud of you and dreams great dreams for you.  To truly feel that – to feel and know God loves you – that’s what we’re after.

Part of our tag line in our logo is “Authentic Manhood” – that comes from dropping the pose and believing what God says about you.  It comes from developing a conversational intimacy with the Father and asking him, repeatedly, “What do you think of me Father?”  It is feeling the Father’s love for you – His creation, fearfully and wonderfully made.  It is believing it.

What God cares about in that iceberg at the top of this page is not the 10% above the surface that you let everyone else see.  No, He wants the 90% below the surface.  In fact, He wants the deepest, most painful parts, those parts buried in the very deepest waters of your soul.  He wants the pain, the shame and the hurt.  Drop the pose and offer up to God your deepest pains and your deepest longings and let Him father you in those.

Freedom, great freedom, lies on other side of dropping the pose and no longer having to present this false front.  It is honesty and transparency and integrity.  Carrying the pose is exhausting.  It will wear you slap out.

Aren’t you tired?  Aren’t you ready to give up the pose and be authentic?  Aren’t you ready to be washed clean and know God adores you?  “Be still and know I am God.” 

To be, to truly be “A man of strength, integrity, who lives with an intentionality and has a movement in his life towards God and others.  A man who rescues others, who lives well, loves well and who is free, strong and loving.”  We all know a few men like this; real, authentic, genuine men.  Men who are transparent and strong.  Men who don’t pose, are humble and yet so strong.  They are very rare but when you find a man like this, aren’t you just drawn to him?

Posing began in the Garden in Genesis 3.  Adam & Eve made this intense effort to hide.  The fig leaf is their pose so their true self could not be seen.  The issue isn’t the fig leaf, the issue is the hiding.  The issue for you is your hiding.  Where do you hide?  Where are you false?

Just about anything can be a layer, a pose.  Posing is a counterfeit life. You’ll never move from the counterfeit to the real thing if the counterfeit is working.  The tragedy is that it can work – for a while.  So you stay with it.  Leaning on the pose creates a dependency on it.  It won’t go away easily.

Christ is genuine, true, deep and real and to get to me to break the pose, Christ will disrupt my life.  He exposes the fake to turn us to the real. As he breaks you, at some point you just get tired of posing and you simply want the real thing.  You crave the authentic – “What would it be like to be an authentic man for a change?”  So many of the disruptions in our lives are God inviting us to another way to live life.

Today is a disruption.  All this talk about the heart, the “who told you that you were naked” and the talk on shame … Perhaps God is using them in you for a divine disruption.  They are chipping away at the false self.  They are challenging the poser.

Have you been living a lie?  Have you been presenting a false-self?  Doesn’t it wear you out?  Aren’t you tired?  Don’t you feel how the false-self separates you from God and others?

It’s time to be authentic.  Real.  Transparent.  The kind of man who knows it is OK to say, “I don’t know”.  To raise his hand and say, “I need help”.  The kind of man that admits that he needs friends.  The man that goes home and tells his wife, “I’ve screwed up.  Life’s been all about me and I’m sorry”.

Moses – he ran and hid.  Shame followed him.  He literally buried his past.  40 years in the wilderness tending sheep.  God comes to him.  Moses argued all the reasons he could not be effective – his failings, his shame and the fact that he stuttered and no one would listen to him.  And all God ultimately said to him was “Go and trust me”.  God took Moses’ misery and made it a ministry.  Moses’ life was filled with broken pieces.  God used all of that for a purpose.  Once Moses quit posing and embraced who he was, God used his misery as a ministry.  And so He will in you.  If you will let Him.