My last blog caused me to lose some Patron supporters. This was due to the disappointment that I was not everything they thought I was. I don’t want to kid with you: this does sadden and hurt me a great deal. I could just delete that post, sending it into virtual oblivion. But not only does that place not exist, I must choose not to delete it. I would much rather be transparent in my ministry, showing my struggles and sins. I never want anyone to see a veneer of faith that looks the way people are “supposed” to look. I add that post to my list of embarrassing self-revelations I have made known over the years. I add it to my posts about my doubts, drug addiction, and depression. (Just look for those items in this blog’s categories.)
Let me give you a few reasons I feel the need to devote a portion of my ministry to my weaknesses:
1. Authenticity is what I am searching for personally. We all desperately struggle with the dictum, “Know thyself.” It is very difficult to search the depths of our own hearts. We are continually evaluating through self-introspection. I may be overly introspective. It runs in my family. But it keeps me before the throne of God, leaning only on Him to reveal the secrets of my own heart. While I know myself better than others due to the fact that I have access to all the data, ultimately, God is the source. He is the one who knows us better than anyone, even ourselves.
Psalm 90:8 You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.
2. Authenticity is a dialogue with others. We have a certain degree of understanding about our own heart. As we seek God’s guidance to search us and know us, we engage in open dialogue with others. The community you build around you is, other than the Scripture, the most significant resource we have for the voice of God. We must be open with others about our weaknesses if we want to dialogue with God about them. I cannot tell you how much balm this has provided for my pain over the years. Healing does not simply come through an inner dialogue, but that which we have with others.
Psalm 19:12 Who can discern his errors?
3. Authenticity should be displayed in a tempered, yet liberal form to those who are close to you and know you. For those who are in public ministry, this must come at a significant risk and penalty. I am determined, not only to know myself but to shine a light on my own heart. I don’t want to be hiding anything that should be revealed. Tempering your revelation is important. We don’t want to be basket cases that reveal only those things that God has yet to heal, but also those things in our lives where we are truly blessed. The key is that people should get to know the real, wholistic you. I’m not saying I am that good at it, but I do follow a rule of, generally speaking, only devoting ten percent of my public communication to my open wounds.
Luke 12:2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
4. Inauthenticity is a recipe for a spiritually ineffective life. We all know those who won’t come to terms with their own weaknesses. Every chance they get, they present you with a perfect resume, revealing only those things that make them look more attractive. They may have a surface effect on your life for a time, but eventually, they are just difficult people who are hard to be around.
Psalm 32:3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
5. The alternative of hiding my struggles is not only an irreparable time bomb waiting to go off. How much has the church suffered because we found out that someone was hiding a secret sin? We can either reveal our own sin or our sin can find us out. The self-revelation of our sin helps the healing process to begin. Shrouding our sin causes it to fester. This grenade eventually goes off and destroys us and leaves shrapnel in the hearts of many of those to whom we were close.
1 Cor. 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
6 Authenticity is for the comfort of others as well. I don’t know how many times I have seen a leader, preacher, or someone I respect shine a light on their own heart, revealing their innermost troubles. Ironically, this does not push me away from them but leads me toward them. The understanding that you’re not alone is such an important step in a sojourning community of fallen people. The thought that you’re broken all alone is a terrible feeling and leads to isolation, hopelessness, and sometimes a forfeit of the game. I have seen it happen many times. I’ve seen those who feel alone and cannot even begin to get better.
1 Tim.5:24 The sins of some people are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.
The Open Wounds of St. Francis
Saint Francis of Assisi was said to have open wounds that caused him great trouble. As he traveled, these would bother him greatly. His disciples continually attempted to persuade Francis to cover these sores with bandages, but he continually refused. He told them he did not want to hide any of his weaknesses. His goal was to be authentic before all who saw him so that what they saw was always what they got. So the wounds remained open.
The Fig Leaves of the Church
I am not speaking toward Francis’s medical practices (nor toward the idea of a stigmata). And I’m not saying we should literally do the same as him. But he gave us a great analogy for our own lives before others. What a great thing it would be if all of us—the entire church, the entire community of God—were never able to cover ourselves with fig leaves, hiding our shame and our wounds. The hiding of our shame was the first thing we did after we fell. We must do everything we can to reverse that. If we don’t, how can we ever assume that we are in the process of reversing the fall in us?
While the lamp I have on my heart is not as bright as it could be or should be, I am determined to keep it there. Whether I lose or gain followers because of it is not the issue. What is the issue is my determination not to fool myself or others about who I am. I am a fallen, broken person. So, don’t be surprised if a certain percentage of my self-revelation shows the mud I have on my own face. I must do this; otherwise, I will begin to fool myself about who I am. Ultimately, I stand before God who knows all my secrets. Is it hard to show you my festering open wounds? Is it hard to limp before you, showing you my weakness? Of course. Part of my sinful nature drives me into hiding. But I have to do all I can to step out of the darkness. Why? Because that is what the Lord wants.