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.)

Know Thyself

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.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    33 replies to "On Losing Followers Due to My Last Blog"

    • Ethan

      These last two blog posts have been uncomfortable and difficult to read–and for that I thank you. No one is this honest and open anymore, and it has done the church a great disservice to hide behind the “blessed and highly favored” responses to any inquiries to how we are doing. It’s refreshing in a “solidarity” way to read of someone else’s honesty about their struggles with things that many think Christians shouldn’t ever have problems with. They don’t realize Christians come from every corner of humanity, and that includes struggling with the ENTIRE gamut of human struggles, not just some of them.

      I’m sorry for what you’re going through. I have only just begun to put on excess weight for the first time in my life (in my early 30s) after being the skinny guy all my life, so I cannot possibly understand your struggle or feelings on this issue. I do relate a little bit though to the “everyone feels the right to comment on my weight gain and I have to pretend like it doesn’t bother me,” so I can understand what you mean about avoiding situations where that will become a likelihood of occurring.

      Thank you for your honesty, bud. We serve a God who is well-established as the Great Deliverer. However this journey must go, He hasn’t abandoned you and never will. It’s easy for Christians who aren’t going through hard times to talk about how much joy there is in following God; most have no idea how to handle the long stretches of life where the heavens seem silent and the woes of this world seem to gain new strength. They’ll talk about Joseph’s triumphs but skip quickly over the YEARS of slavery and imprisonment.

      We visit mountaintops; we don’t live there.

      Praying for you, man.

    • Jay

      Dear God, how shallow and disingenuous some are. We are all sinners. Our nature is sin our lust is sin even when we think we do good our goal is sin for it is impossible to please God. Sadly, those who left are the unskilled who are still living on milk since they are still children. Unskilled in the word of righteousness.

      Stand fast Michael, fight the good fight, finish the race, honor God in everything you do .

    • Scott

      I commend you for your honesty and open dialogue. Very few can be so open. In my humble opinion, this strengthens you and all who follow and learn from your path. God bless you Michael.

    • Jason

      Your previous blog required great courage and integrity. Anyone who feels justified to walk away because of these confessions, greatly misunderstands grace and walking together toward Jesus. This is the time to support and to encourage. You have wrestled with these issues alone for too long. Now that you are willing to seek fellowship, prayer, and guidance in this, this it the time to come alongside you and see you through this journey. Too often we short are wounded instead of applying the healing power of grace and understanding. We all have fears and insecurities that we allow to rule us. Do not let the next person suffering with sin and doubt hide for fear of abandonment. Love them, rejoice in the power of the Holy Spirit moving them to confession and repentance.

    • Danielle

      You have flaws, pain, regrets, shame, and continual struggles, yet still seek the Lord??
      Are not all of us living under the SAME curse??
      Who are these people that cannot see glimpses of themselves within your struggles? We all have “things” that we must wrestle…. crosses to bear. You are honest and transparent and it is so necessary and helpful for us mere mortals who still battle our sinful nature. My crosses do not fade away simply because I love Jesus…
      Maybe I am a minority, but I need constant reminders that I must always pursue Jesus…no matter how big my mess becomes…

    • Gene Van Horne

      I came across Credo House when you guys still had the coffee house. In fact, one of the things I had wanted to was visit it at some point and hopefully sit it on one of your teaching sessions while sipping some coffee; but alas, that was not meant to be. But – one of the things I have always appreciated about you was your honesty and openness and if anything, that post about your struggles (along with others you’ve done over the years) only strengthens my desire to continue with you. Keep up the good fight! Your day will come!

      None of us are perfect my brother. Those of us that expect that of you are looking in all the wrong places.

    • David Lovejoy

      Obesity sucks. My story isn’t greatly different than yours. I worked in performance enhancement in my 20s. Ran marathons till my 40s. And then got hit by some of the things that test resolve (wife with cancer, job that didn’t understand, kids struggling with being kids, injuries). While I still haven’t passed the 250, it’s enough that has exacerbated the sense that I am not me, I don’t like pictures of me, and it makes it more difficult to engage in the habits that kept depression and anxiety at bay when I was younger.

      But if I were to find out that people I thought supported me were withholding that support in some kind of moral judgment over my weight struggles or depression? Well, once I was done hurting personally, then I think that disappointment, and maybe even some of that judgment would start to swing the other way.

      Either way, I’ve been following you to one extent or another for 20 years, I subscribed to the YouTube channel so please let’s see some updates there, and I will look to start supporting you directly in a way that offsets some of your recent losses.

      Let’s both get this middle aged thing figured out yeah?

    • John

      I appreciate your honesty and transparency.

      Self-knowledge is vital, as evidenced through the general revelation.

      “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
      ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    • Mark Allen

      The Pharisees of today would have stoned the woman caught in adultery.

    • Don Winters

      Thanks for sharing and being brave.

    • Evan

      Hi Michael, I just wanted to let you know that I think your striving to be authentic is desperately needed in the evangelical community. There’s far too much focus on personality (and we’ve seen how badly this can go in the past few years), and this causes leaders and public figures to feel entirely averse to confessing weakness.

      Even if it is hard for you to do this, I think it’s a virtue that those with wisdom will discern. Revealing ugly things about your life keeps not just you but ALL of us humble.

      I am thankful to God for you for helping me throughout the years and staying faithful to your vision.

    • Apostle Dr. C.N. Turrell

      I would guess those that you lost Bro. Patton must be perfect, and never do a thing wrong. No one is perfect.
      Having been in the Ministry since 1976, I am not perfect, and never will be until He returns.
      Just remember Bro. Patton, keeping on doing what you know to do, and do it the best you can. And if you slip remember the Messiah is there too pick you up and you can keep on going.
      Take Care

    • Maverick Sterling Smith

      Authenticity breeds authenticity and causes the weak in the faith, the timid in their confession due to their anguish and self loathing brought about by “the greats” these fearful ones fail to see that – though they wish to be spoken of as such – those same ones failed to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with YHWH.

      Id rather walk one hundred miles with a man of God who struggled with ANYTHING, EVERYTHING, AND ALL THE ABOVE and was honest enough to say he still didn’t have it all together, than with someone who was so dishonest about any sin, they feared losing the vocation at the Church. Once upon a time when I was nineteen, I loved God and fell in love with Jesus but persued ministry. Then eventually I switched to choosing a ministerial vocation. Then I persued a degree in theology. Then I persued academics. And in many ways over the decades the goal was about “me” reaching or doing this, that, and the other. Now mind you, I’ll ALWAYS love and have a passion for some sense of Xian theology in academia but more in the field of NTTC. However, over the past six years or so, I persue God and I persue people who need God. People are hurting… I digress.

      Michael, you never stop bro. Please never stop. In fact, become like Luther. Confess all of it! Make the haters so annoyed with the sins that they become trivial in the ears of the readers lol. I kid. Keep of the God work brother!

      Tommy (Nelson obviously 😁) said many, many times, “If you know what I did, you wouldn’t allow me in the pulpit, if we knew what you’ve done, we’d have stopped you at the doors.”

    • Dave Z

      Your honesty and openness regarding your personal life – the struggles and challenges you’ve faced – is a valuable part of your ministry. I think I got this from Mark Clark and/or Carey Nieuwhof – “people will respect your strengths, but they’ll resonate with your weaknesses.” That’s a good thing. It helps form community, even electronically.

      Feeling overwhelmed spiritually? I get that, but God’s strength is shown when we press on anyway. Probably just need a short break. Go listen to some U2.

    • Eric Quek

      Your thoughtful reflections resonate deeply with the core teachings of Scripture. Throughout the Bible, we see that honesty, vulnerability, and authenticity before God and others can lead to a profound spiritual growth and community building.

      Scripturally, while authenticity and vulnerability are esteemed virtues, the Bible also caution to INDISCRIMINATE self-disclosure and emphasizes wisdom in our communication.
      Some potential downsides of revealing all one’s weaknesses,
      1. Stumbling block to others: Paul warned against exercising freedom in a way that might cause a weaker believer to stumble. Possible that one’s testimony about personal struggles, if not shared wisely, could become a stumbling block to others who are weak in faith.
      2. A loss of Respect or Influence: While this may not always be the case, there is a chance that consistently revealing all weaknesses might lead some to question one’s leadership or authority, especially if they are not balanced with testimonies of growth or God’s grace. ?? Loss of some Patron supporters
      3. Misinterpretation. Even with the best intentions, our authenticities and vulnerabilities can be misinterpreted, leading to misunderstandings. Patron supporters?
      4. From a practical viewpoint: Loss of Personal Privacy: Once shared, personal stories and vulnerabilities can’t be taken back .This could lead to a loss of personal privacy, which might be regretted later.
      Take home message: God knows our iniquities and our secret sins. When we choose to reveal them to others, the purpose of highlight His transformative power in our lives. Done judiciously, this act of vulnerability can deepen connections, inspire others, foster a genuine sense of community. .

    • Philip David Papineau

      I think I understand. I’m 72, haven’t walked in twelve years, almost died twice, etc. etc. I can identify with the vast majority of subjects you mentioned. And — some people just t;urn out to be chaff blowing in the wind.

    • Matt Stangl

      Hey Michael,

      There is much to commend with your honesty and your zeal for authenticity. The example of Francis of Assisi you gave is a wonderful illustration of this truth. We (including myself) have indeed put forth a false picture of ourselves as saints who have no real flaws and problems. You give us a good example of self-honesty and authenticity which we sorely need.

      Since I appreciate much of what you are trying to do, let me also some critical pushback. While there is much to commend about what you are doing, I do wonder whether the way you are doing it is wise. Or more specifically, whether the medium you are using to be authentic and self-honest is the wisest. Social media, of which this blog is a part, has dissolved boundaries between our public and private selves. It has contributed to a context collapse, where, instead of presenting ourselves differently (and disclosing different parts of ourselves) to different people, we instead have one, public self-presentation which is the same regardless of whether we are engaging with a complete internet stranger like myself, your parents, coworkers, or old acquaintances. It is good to be self-honest, but is it good to be honest to everyone in the same way? Should you have the same level of transparency with your wife as with your pastor as with your coworker as with your parent as with someone you encounter on the internet? The answer seems to me to be no. But your usage of this blog to express your failings seems to fail to take into account those different contexts.

      As you yourself have recognized in the past, part of wisdom is learning to speak the right words in the right context. And, I would add, that context depends on the medium, not just the timing. It can be helpful to quote Romans 8:28 to someone to encourage them, but if you do it at the wrong time, it can be trite and push people away from God. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” writes Solomon. Yet it is also true that “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.” Specifically, I would ask whether publicly confessing something you had not yet told your wife was a helpful and wise thing to do?

      Perhaps this comment can help articulate some of the reasons why people might be uncomfortable with your last post, without assuming that they are all overly self-righteous, perfect people.

      • C Michael Patton

        Matt, great words and something to think about. Thank you for your encouragement. It is incredibly difficult to know when transparency on certain subjects is to be revealed. There are certain things of course that we hold back no matter what. It’s only proper. Part of the social contract. but there are also things when you are a leader that the revealing of it serves a purpose that goes much beyond a personal one. That’s why I said you have to have it tempered. But you are right, and every circumstance you have to think through what you were saying, very deeply. Often times, the question of why you were afraid to reveal it is the most telling question you can ask yourself.

    • Emilio

      It is good to know the real you from your own words. We are all sinners in need of some kind of help. I will pray for you.

    • Ewan Kerr

      What is it that they say about pleasing all of the people some of the time or some of the people all of the time?

    • MBF

      So sorry to hear that! May the Lord fill your needs with more authentic supporters!

    • Al Cadwell

      Just subscribed to your YouTube. Praying for you. Thanks for your humble honesty. May the LORD strengthen you and give you courage in this difficult season. Life sure can be really hard in this broken world (and we ALL are broken too, in our own unique ways)……..Peace & grace.

    • Al Cadwell

      Don’t know why my comment was deleted. But ok. Best wishes to you. God bless.

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