Wednesday, January 30, 2008

No Perfect People Allowed - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 "Losing My Need to Pretend: Creating a Culture of Authenticity"

"It's acceptable if kids pretend because they are still forming their identities. But the goal is to learn to be yourself by the time you are an adult."

"Can we be this kind of a church? The kind where people don't have to pretend? Where we can be ourselves and stop pretending we're more or less than what we are right now? That's the way we can help each other grow to be all God intended us to be. If we can't do this, we're just playing church!"

"The longer I walk with Christ, the more I see the Pharisee in me. I'm convinced the most important work of spiritual leadership is leading a spiritually authentic life. But to do this, I must break through the deception that I am somehow better than others. That I am somehow a little less in head of God's mercy and grace."

"I can be deceived if I'm not ruthlessly taking inventory before God. And I must always remember that if I am deceived, I'll be the last one to know about it.... This opens for others a view into an authentic spiritual life of a real human - not a religious salesperson."

"But it's a very real struggle to be vulnerable. It's much more powerful and immediately gratifying to play the Pharisee."

"As a leader, I need to be transparent not just with God but with others as well." I think this was probably the best quote of the chapter. The only way we'll be able to connect with people who have really struggled in life is to be honest about our own struggles and shortcomings. I could possibly summarize this chapter in saying the culture of honesty will only be created if the leader is first modeling this type of honesty and vulnerability. I don't need to divulge every single mistake or anything, but am I letting people know I'm an average guy with your typical struggles or am I putting up the persona of a "pharisee" who lives in a spiritual place above the rest of you commoners? I'm trying to communicate that I'm your average dude who's serious about following Jesus, wants you to do the same, but still has a long way to go.

Pastor Andy and I are trying to model this within the framework of our ministry team. Today we talked about our growth and weaknesses as leaders. As we practice this together we can then model it before those we lead.

I try to be intentional about this in my preaching, too. A couple weeks ago, I asked the congregation to "take me off any pedestal you've created." But I also admitted that if you've known me for longer than 5 minutes, that pedestal has already disappeared!

I got an email today from one of the most influential people in my life; a lady who's been a mentor and a second mom. I'm not exaggerating when I say she's probably the most incredible person I know. She's a ministry partner with her pastor-husband, a professor and an incredible leader. Also a strong judge of character. So I've either got her fooled or I am making some head-way in living an honest and vulnerable life.

Keep in touch. We love you guys! I am soooo proud of your honesty, your transparency and your willingness to share. Your vulnerability is likely one reason your church is growing. The unchurched see a pastor - a spiritual leader who is supposed to "have it all together" and not have problems - struggling with life...yet not buckling, not self-medicating, not giving up and losing hope. You have a vibrant enthusiasm for Christ...even in the midst of your pain. Hang in there.

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