Honesty, Transparency and Other Things Christians Shouldn’t Do (Nehemiah 4)

February 7, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership, Teaching

I heard from a handful of people yesterday that they appreciated me being honest and transparent during my sermon yesterday.  Yesterday, we talked about dealing with discouragement.  During that sermon, I admitted some particular struggles that I was having in that regard last week.  I had a high level of anxiety and frustration about the old house won’t sell thing.  I openly talked about it.

Apparently, honesty about struggles and being transparent while teaching is a rare thing.  It is rare enough that when it happens, we notice it. Unfortunately, it is quite rare.  Way too often, Pastors feel the need to put up a front that says, “While you people may struggle with this, I’m living ‘in victory.’” (Great churchy phrase, that one is)  Pastors should stop.  You’re not fooling many people, and those that you are, you are discouraging because they feel all alone.

I digress, because cloften.com is not blog for pastors.  Seriously, what pastor in his right mind would read this blog?  “Hmmm, where can I get some 2nd class jokes, inane ramblings and pointless pop-culture references to use in my sermon.  I know…”

The problem is that when pastors and leaders pretend to have it all together, we take our cues from them whether we know it or not.  We don’t think that they’re perfect (we are smarter than that).  However, we do mimic the behavior of pretending.  “If he pretends, so should I.”

Then what happens is that we don’t admit to anyone when we are discouraged, anxious or fearful.  We won’t admit it to people who can help us.  We won’t admit it to ourselves.  We won’t admit it to God, who would gladly give us peace, if we were to ask.

The first step toward dealing with trials and discouragement in our lives is to admit that they are happening.  Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?  However, if we never do that, we will never take the other steps we need to take–focusing on God, prayer, enlisting friends, etc.

If we fail to admit it, we could end up like this guy.  Come on.  Click it. You know you want to.

Embracing the Fishbowl

June 3, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Well, my older daughter has a FB page now.  We had a deal worked out, in part because of the move and also as a reward for good grades.  You might would think that this is about to turn into a sappy blog post where I lament how old she is getting.  I’m going to save that one for when she asks to get her driver’s permit.  I know that some people are hesitant to allow there kids access to the social media.  However, the overwhelming number of people in her class already had one, so it can’t be too widespread.

Most people’s concerns come down to privacy issues.  People don’t want their children’s info or pictures “out there.”  The world is a scary place and there are a good number of Mervy McChestersons out there on the internets.  However we have some good controls in place that we feel good about.

But really, she is already “out there.”  If you don’t believe me, look at the banner on the top of this page.  There they are.   Click on the tag “parenting” or “daughters” at the bottom of this post.  Her pictures are out there, stories are out there.  Our life is the proverbial fish bowl.

Often I have heard pastors and their families complain about the fishbowl.  Why is everybody watching our every move?  Why do they scrutinize us so?  People get frustrated and discouraged by people watching them and feel like it is undeserved and unwanted pressure.

We say, “Bring it on.”  I don’t say that because I’m perfect.  I’m not.  We’re not.  If you look (and not very hard) you will see a man full of flaws with a family that is working on stuff the way that all families are.  However, I’m going to tell you about them, perhaps even before you see them.  You are going to know me and who I am, what I’m good at and what I’m not.  The same for my family.  We are out there for the world to see.

This calls us up.  We know that the world and the church need leaders and examples to follow.  However, no one needs someone who is pretending to be something that they are not, pretending to be perfect, pretending to have it all together.  The problem with living in a fishbowl is not that people can see, it is when you have things to hide.  Mind you, I go to lengths to protect my girls’ privacy.  They are never the villains in my stories.  If it is embarassing to them, you won’t hear about it from me.

But we as a family have been called by God to lead people and a local church.  Our lives are public lives.  Here’s the kicker.  So is yours.  Jesus said that you are the light of the world.  People are looking to you to find answers.  What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?  Can Jesus in your life really make a difference?  People are watching.  What are they seeing?

What I hope they see in us is a family that is not perfect, but is honest.  A family that loves God and loves each other.  A family that wants to honor God and be the people that he has called us to be.  We can’t fight the fishbowl, because that is where we live.  That’s where you live too.

Embrace the fishbowl.  Be transparent.   Be real.  Be somebody that people want to be.