Four years ago God started me on what seemed to be a lonely journey. He was calling me to push off from the safe river bank of portraying myself in my preaching as one that had it all together and was leading me out to the deep waters of authenticity. God wanted to move me toward communicating the gospel from a place of vulnerability.
God wanted me to be open and honest about my life in the very areas I was preaching. Some might say, “As long as the gospel is being preached what does it matter how “real” I am about my own life? It’s not about me any way.” I agree, I am merely the mail man, not the main event. However, Jesus scolded religious leaders who put “burdens on men” by portraying themselves as being something they were not.
Behind the Curtain
When pastors portray themselves as having “arrived” they create a false facade that they aren’t in the process of growing; that they’re already there. If, however, a pastor allows their congregation to peek behind the curtain to see what God is doing in them, it gives hope to those that are on that same journey. As it is, most congregants look at their pastor and think, “I could never get to that spiritual level.” Pastors that are open tear this false wall down. A church will only be as real as their pastor.
This type of authenticity isn’t without its price tag. It’s scary. Especially when being real means at times sharing your biggest failures: blowing it as a husband and father, openly disobeying God, dropping major opportunities for Jesus….the list goes on. It’s then compounded by sharing those failures from a platform with people who look up to you. If left to my own thinking it can be absolutely paralyzing.
Immediately, I can hear objections from those that say pastors shouldn’t share every mistake they make from the pulpit. I agree, wisdom and discernment is needed. They should be balanced in sharing their victories as well as their failures. Yet, the apostle Paul boasted in his weakness so that he could point to the grace of God. For pastors the temptation to always make ourselves out in the best possible light must be crucified daily.
When you decide to open up be prepared for people to treat you as a mortal and not the super hero of faith that you once portrayed. I’ve found people become much more casual as you make yourself more approachable in your teaching. It’s worth it. Let me end with a quote from author and Pastor Peter Scazzario, “It’s much more healthy to lead out of your brokeness than pretending to be whole.”
Let’s get real.
Your turn. What obstacles have you run into in regards to sharing the gospel and your testimony (wins and losses) with others?