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Book Review: TrueFaced by Thrall, McNicol & Lynch

TrueFaced, by Thrall, McNicol and Lynch is one of the most compelling and convicting books I have read in a long time. I plow through books. I devour words. Few books make me want to slow down and carefully reflect the way that TrueFaced did.

God, in his incredible majesty, created us in his image. Unfortunately, instead of reflecting his grace, we hide ourselves. We put on a mask. We try to be someone else, or, at the least, invisible. And we are not even just hiding from others. We are hiding ourselves from ourselves. Sounds silly when we write it on paper. But, for many of us, it captures our everyday.

In TrueFaced, the authors invite us all to the room of grace where we can find love, repentance and forgiveness. No more hiding. No more masks. Instead, there, in that room, we find a gracious God who knows the depth of our sin, and loves us still.

If you are tired of performing, tired of faking it and tired of pretending you are something that you are not, read TrueFaced. It will show you the path of trusting God and lead you to the door where you can enter the room of grace.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


When failure is the path of successful leadership

One of us met recently with the new CEO of a large company who was profiling his team of direct reports. As the CEO talked with us, he focused on the skills and background of each direct report. Impressed with the diversity of the group, we asked “Is there anything that everyone on your team has in common?”

He nodded. “At one point or another, each one of us has been fired.”

The CEO said this proudly. To him, being fired was a badge of merit (Dotlich, Noel & Walker – Learning for Leadership: Failure as a Second Chance in Business Leadership – p. 478).

I read this essay by Dotlich, Noel and Walker some time back as part of my doctoral studies in leadership. I have never been able to forget this quote. Did you notice that last sentence? To this CEO, he bragged about the fact that he and all of his senior execs had been fired somewhere along the line?

When I was fired from a job years in college, I wanted to stick my head in the sand and pretend it never happened. I tried to forget that experience, not make it a talking point.

Instead of denying it happened, lying about it or pointing fingers at others (cause, obviously it was someone else’s fault!), the successful leader finds a way to grow through it. What flaws of mine did this reveal? What could I have done differently? What part did I play in getting myself to this point?

As a leader, you are going to fail sometimes. You may even be terminated. Are you going to play the blame game, or are you going to look inward with a goal of growing personally and professionally? To this CEO, “being fired was a badge of merit” because each member of his executive team had grown through that experience. Their leadership since had been shaped and reshaped by experiencing failure. How will you respond when it happens to you?

Interact: How have you grown as a leader through a past failure?

Hypocritical: Part 5 – Get Real

“Hey, how are you doing?” – “I’m fine.”

How often does that conversation replay itself in your life? How often is the “I’m fine” reply, coming either from you or from the person with whom you are speaking, a lie? Consider this conversation from The Italian Job and how it defines “F-I-N-E.”

John Bridger: How do you feel?
Charlie Croker: I’m fine.
John: Fine? You know what “fine” stands for?
Charlie: Yeah, unfortunately.
John: “Freaked-out,” “Insecure,” “Neurotic” —
Charlie: And “Emotional.”

We ask someone how they are doing, but rarely stop to listen to the answer. We are trained to say, “I’m fine” and keep walking. What would happen if someone stopped and said, “You know what, I’m really struggling today. Thanks for asking. Can we talk? I need some encouragement”??? Instead, we put up our defenses, putting up this wall of impenetrability when inside we are dying for someone to walk through our hurt and pain with us. We are freaked-out, insecure, neurotic and emotional, but good Christians aren’t supposed to struggle like that, so we hide it.

I said in a recent post that “I believe in total depravity, but I don’t want my co-workers to know I am a sinner.” Sure, all of us are sinners. I can say that theologically and practically. But God-forbid I let someone around me know when I’m struggling.

Unfortunately, it is just that attitude that fosters the claims of hypocrisy that we battle. We keep the dark things dark. There are two problems with doing so:

  • Sin dies in the light. Sin loves the dark. Until we bring it into the light, it will not die. Some of my deepest sin patterns that I have overcome (through God’s grace) have been directly tied into public confession of that sin. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:15). Those are the Bible’s words, not mine.
  • The world notices that level of honesty and vulnerability. In fact, letting customers have an inside look is really the trend (and aren’t you glad after all the layers of corporate scandal that have been revealed in the last decade?). The April 2007 cover story of Wired magazine said this, “Smart companies are sharing secrets with rivals, blogging about products in their pipeline, even admitting to their failures. The name of this new game is Radical Transparency, and it’s sweeping boardrooms across the nation.

Wow! Shouldn’t Christians be on the leading edge of this? Shouldn’t we model “Radical Transparency”? Shouldn’t I be willing to admit my failures, clinging to the promise that God is still working on me? Shouldn’t I be willing to say that “yeah, I’m a hypocrite. I really do believe that, but my life doesn’t quite reflect that yet”?

The real danger of hypocrisy comes when we stand in judgment of others for failing to live up to a standard to which we also fall miserably short. In that case, we need to the get the plank out of our own eyes before we worry about the speck in someone else’s eye. Instead, may we become men and women of grace: beggars showing beggars where to find some bread.

Radical greatness in the kingdom requires us to be surprisingly full of grace. We will be accused of being hypocrites – that’s the nature of the already and not yet – until Christ returns and makes us perfect. But the way to avoid giving traction to that accusation is to be marked by humility and vulnerability, letting the grace that we have received flow through us. Then, just maybe, when someone asks us how we are doing, we will be willing to share what’s really going on and how God’s grace enables you to carry on.

Interact: What other ways can Christians offset the accusations of being hypocrites?