Ok, so I am a HUGE fan of transparency, but in all honesty… only after the battle of squeezing the last drop out of self-preservation have I realized that I NEED IT to LIVE.
For years I was a huge fan of authenticity (a great first step to transparency) with the wrong argument of keeping the “mystery of my life” in order to “keep the authority” of my position intact. In fact I would teach on familiarity rules with the whole intent of keeping my “deepest” battles hidden from the public eye. You know, that “I’m ok” appearance that truly fools everyone into thinking something about you that you can never live up to (even with the grace of God).
With this new sense of being an transparent leader, I have found a new hope in Christ that I THOUGHT I already understood.
This even runs the risk of those who read this – dismissing the true battle that is alive in all of us – it was handed down…
In the garden, fear was introduced into our lives through the introduction shame to Adam and Eve. After living a life of transparency, authority, and harmony, they made a foolish decision to follow after satan’s request to deny their trust in God. It was at that moment that Adam and Eve felt naked for the first time of their lives. Shame entered their relationship with God because they moved away from the Tree of Life to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They choose authenticity over transparency, and with that decision they lost their authority and their harmony.
I believe the enemy of our spirit stands in victory every time we create fig leaf undergarments in order to cover up our mistakes and our imperfections.
We have traded a life of “LIFE” for the knowledge of whether or not we measure up, or are good enough. Now, I would have never said that – but looking back — my intentions where noble from my spirit, and my flesh was all the while silently benefiting and feeling “comforted” with the protection of some fig leaves.
- If they know – I am weaker in their eyes
- What they don’t know in ignorance, doesn’t make it untrue in our lives.
- If they know – I may not be acceptable (hiding in the bushes)
- Our acceptance is not a requirement for being a follower of Christ
- In fact, not being acceptable is kind of a common mark of a follower of Christ
- I will lose my influence
- Influence established on our shoulders will crush us in the weight of it
- I have seen this physically in my own body as my desire to please my bosses or my wife created such a turmoil in my soul that my body started shutting down….
See – when faced with a mistake
- I was really good at having the right verbal responses.
- I was really good at having a great INITIAL response
- I was really good at having the right action plan
- I was even really good at making them teaching moments for the TEAM by keeping it exposed
On the outside people would think I was running around naked (proverbially), but in my soul I was covering myself up and hiding in a corner. I would feel like such a poor example of a leader and a failure at keeping my own self truly broken in the presence of God.
See – i was conforming my flesh and mind to the word of God, but for the honesty of the moment – my heart was struggling.
Soo – What happened?
I started having heart palpitations, started having chest pains, but instead of facing them head on – I would stand strong but live in fear
This same God that has miraculously saved me from so many other situations…
And I am playing games with myself that I was changing because I was “handling” it with such integrity of action and response.
But my heart was breaking…
What if I say I can’t handle it?
What if I say that I am not strong enough?
I’ve never admitted that before
What will people think?
Soon – I thought it was over…
Here I was preparing to go to a staff meeting and I was shopping at walmart to have some pries and games to celebrate with the team… then it happened. Chest got tight, started feeling dizzy – concerned and feeling fear consume me I did what every self-preserving person would do (or maybe just me). I took my buggy to the back corner of the store, prayed for my family because I was thinking… this might be the end.
Get over it Ben
It wasn’t a heart attack, it wasn’t even a heart issue as far as I know
Now, for those who think like me – people who deal with anxiety are people who are weak. They are the people who either don’t know how to control their emotions, or they don’t how to control their mind.
- Wait – I am smart – like blessed to be stupid smart. Even took two IQ tests in a quest for joining Mensa (scored 178 on one of them and a 185 on the other). Im too smart to deal with anxiety – apparently not!
- Wait – I am not an emotional mess. I don’t even like showing emotion…
Don’t tell me that the epitome of my self worth is hinging on my honesty that I am struggling with the very thing that I have judged as week (disclaimer – as a pastor you never THINK that someone is week) is identifying my current condition.
I was facing anxiety
I had allowed the weight of my jobs to rest on my shoulders (not designed for that)
I had allowed the weight of my failures to keep me on a “cross” in my heat (I can’t pay that price)
I had allowed my performance record to become my motivation for never failing (I’ll never learn like that)
I had allowed my heart to fall into the same trap of eating from the wrong tree.
When their eyes were opened, they could see like God, but they didn’t have the grace and love that God has. They could see good and evil, but only under justice and restriction. So, looking at their own imperfections the only solution is to cover it up. To provide a way for the seemingly less perfected areas of our lives to be kept only to our private lives, REQUIRING us to live a life of shame in perspective to the capacitive nature of our imperfections to the seemingly perfect attributes of those around us.
The law entered and grace was being stored up for restoration through Christ.
You see, while I strive to be authentic, I now realize that it requires me to take the fig leaves off and be transparent before those I lead.
And to be honest, because of that I can lead with grace and love without fear
No more need for justice and shame.
I do not desire mere authenticity
I believe that whom God has set free, is truly free.
Welcome to my confession!
Go live out lout!