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Toothpaste, Holy Confidence & Second Chances: Big Lessons in Tiny Greatness from Mike Foster

Author, Speaker and Chief Chancer Mike Foster of People of the Second Chance speaks during a catalyst lab.

Author, Speaker and Chief Chance Officer Mike Foster of People of the Second Chance speaks during a catalyst lab. /Credit Mary Caroline Russell

Have you ever needed a second chance? How about forgiveness? Have you ever struggled with accepting yourself, or with guilt or shame? Most of us have messed up. Most of us have failed. Most of us at one time or another have found ourselves broken.  Mike Foster, author of People of the Second Chance has a question for anyone “struggling to find meaning and love”.  “What if we all started loving ourselves the way God loves us?”

Foster a pastor from San Diego is also an author, and a speaker. Lately he’s becoming more notable for encouraging others to love themselves and to love others well.

“I think we’ve all experienced toothpaste moments where the toothpaste comes squirting out of the tube and it’s like ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t plan on that’, and we realize the toothpaste is not going back in the tube.” Foster explains, “It’s messy and uncomfortable. We would never have chosen that, but it happens. Those broken things, those messy things, those things that didn’t go right can actually be leveraged for good.”

Affectionately referred to as the “Chief Chance Officer” the Founder of People of the Second Chance, (POTSC), a husband and father of two teenagers, also spends much of his time talking about grace, and second chances, for everyone, including those in leadership positions.  His encouragement for leaders is to regularly examine their own heart.

“The biggest threat to a leader is the leader himself or herself.  Speaking of myself, my number one project is to manage my own heart. I know I do right things and help people but my number one responsibility is to manage what’s going on inside of me, because if what’s inside my heart is unhealthy, or dysfunctional or feels empty or tired, then that has a ripple effect on my marriage, my kids and the things that I do. Sometimes we forget that.”

In addition to his latest book, Foster also authored a faith-based small group series called, “WonderLife” focused on owning your “not-so-perfect” personal story with all of its twists and turns, and learning from that story. And rightly so, Foster points out that leaders need forgiveness too.

“Some leaders may not like to hear this…but God is only interested in a loving relationship with us. Sometimes we forget that and we are doing all this stuff, and we forget that we too are children of God. We too need grace. We too need forgiveness. I see leaders get off course when they forget to manage their own hearts, their own health, and replenish and do self-care.”

Confronted with the notion that many people refer to him as a person of humility, and then coupled with the question, ‘which is more important boldness or humility?’ Foster laughs uncomfortably. He prefers to consider the terms “holy confidence” and “tiny greatness” and he attempts to deflect the compliment.  “I get cocky, and prideful, and arrogant, trust me. Trust me. Ask my wife,” he declares, before offering a piece of leadership wisdom as his wife Jennifer laughs in the background.  “Regarding tiny greatness, I’ve become really interested in the small things, and loving the person that’s right in front of me versus pursuing a platform.”

 

Foster indicates that he finds the trendy, all too common pursuit these days of building platforms and gaining influence or leading movements troubling, or maybe even “ridiculous.”  Instead he prefers a “tiny greatness” approach. “What can we do here at a table at Starbucks? How can I show up for my friends? How can I be a good dad? That’s what I’m pursuing.”  And that’s what he recommends to the leaders he comes in contact with.

One of Mike Foster’s latest projects is gaining steam and attention. Prodigal parties. These parties are events designed to celebrate the second chances that are so important to Foster’s mission in life, and to pour love into broken or hurting people from hurting friends to lonely neighbors, recovering addicts, ex-cons, or anyone being marginalized or overlooked or struggling to fit in.

It’s evident that to Mike Foster, leading people well means loving people well, and he makes a point to be thankful for the privilege of leading even through difficulties.

“I remind myself every day that I’m working in people’s brokenness.” Foster finds it an honor to be working with people and suggests that sometimes leaders fall into the trap of making it harder than it should be. “We get so caught up in the stresses and anxieties that sometimes we over-complexify things, and we take things too personally. Our identity gets too caught up in metrics.”

Finally, he emphasizes that leaders should enjoy the experience because “It’s special to be a leader, to be able to influence people, to be able to create things,” and he stresses that all of it, is “an incredible privilege” and he cautions leaders not to get to the end of a career or a life before they “start living” because he says “living starts to today.”

Mike Foster possesses the tiny greatness he talks about, but is too humble to realize it. His focus on others is contagious. He makes you want to love others and to love them well. He makes you want to lead where leadership is needed and to lead others well. He makes you want to find a prodigal and celebrate them—especially because we’re all prodigals in one way or another.  And hey, everyone needs a second chance sometime. Right?

Follow Mike Foster on Twitter: @MikeFoster

Follow Chester Goad on Twitter: @CGoad09

Check out Mike Foster’s People of the Second Chance

Mike Foster was recently a featured speaker at Catalyst.

*This article also appears at here at Huffington Post.

Dr. Chester Goad is a university administrator, a former K12 principal and teacher, and a former US Congressional staffer. He’s also an author and blogger, and has presented from Appalachia to Africa on topics related to education, disabilities, non-profit advocacy, parenting, access, policy, and leadership. He has a heart for people and for people who help people. In addition to the Huffington Post, Chester is a contributing writer for The Good Men Project and has been quoted in major media outlets like CNBC, Washington Post, Forbes and more. He’s also the author of Purple People Leader and Host of the Leaderbyte Podcast on iTunes. 

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