The Need for Transparency

CC BY-NC, Rossell_j, Flickr
CC BY-NC, Rossell_j, Flickr

Many years ago my family ate Sunday dinner with a family friend. We all attended the same church, where I was a young minister, and we were accompanied by another young lady also from the church.

The gathering was lighthearted and entertaining. The table roared with laughter at one point when something funny was said; I laughed until I cried. The young lady, seated beside me, turned to see me in stitches and recoiled. “You aren’t supposed to laugh like that! You’re a minister!” Her comment sidetracked the moment and became its own topic of conversation.

That scene always comes to mind when I think about being a Christian and living with transparency. I feel that my faith allows me to be a more transparent person in most ways because I live with my heart turned toward God. I don’t say that for points, but I honestly believe this should be the case ideally for Christians.

I’d like to think that Jesus laughed the loudest and grieved deeply because he knew his humanity was undergirded by God’s grace.

I would be remiss, however, to deny that there are times when I am tempted to cover up the real me with the saint I’d like to portray. Yet I’ve been schooled by the Holy Spirit well enough to differentiate between simple and honest living and pretense.

But I get it. I understand the dilemma we Christians—ministers particularly—find ourselves in, right amongst our own kind. Barring our natural impulse to hide flaws, being God-loving, Bible-reading, do-gooders sometimes makes it difficult to let our unglamorous parts show or to reveal our scars.

Sometimes we allow ourselves to let others dress us up in ways that prevent us from being real people in constant need of the grace of God. And this becomes a deadly deception of Satan when we take the bait and float along on the commendation of the masses and accept the “I’m okay” mindset, thinking that our wounds, vices, failings, and deficiencies can be left untended and not harm us. But they do ultimately and often at the expense of our good name or, worse, our livelihood or ministry. Ministers are well acquainted with this pressure.

And speaking of ministers, it shocks us when we hear of one falling to some misdeed. But I wonder if the culture of fakery we’ve created in some of our churches hasn’t backed many of us, ministers and all, into moral corners out of which we dare not step without a bright smile and neat and tidy lives—and so precipitated one’s demise.

I believe we should tell our testimonies about how God saved and delivered us, but why don’t we tell how God is still saving and delivering us? Let’s keep it real. If we did, those who have experienced God’s healing in their lives could certainly help others begin their process of healing; and those who are humble enough to share their struggles could find the compassionate support of people who have walked their path and embolden others to reveal their scars. Many people don’t share their battles for fear that they’re unique and all alone in their situation.

If everyone in the community has it together (and they don’t) and is not sharing (too often the case) then there is a severe lack of discipleship, accountability, and fellowship.

I understand that some things in our lives are better left private and cannot or should not be shared with everybody. But to the extent that we all can simply be the graced of God, let us not be so foolishly concerned about our reputations that we allow any person to be deceived by sin or deprived of restoration.

More on this topic: Leave None Behind