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Thursday, June 23, 2005

How Much is Too Much?

So how much transparency is too much transparency, especially when you are a pastor, a leader, a parent, or someone else who's supposed to have it all together? Real Live Preacher tackles that question here with an interesting little set of diagrams. His conclusion?
If very good friends show you .9 of X [Where X is 'the real you, in all your sinful wickedness'], let us agree that a reasonably healthy and authentic pastor might show the congregation some lesser part of himself, say .5 or .6 of X. Most congregations don't want to see any more than that. And since many pastors have little time to nurture relationships outside of the congregation, they often have no one to whom they may show .9 of X.

This is why so many ministers feel lonely and isolated. At church they seem cheerful, outgoing, and winsome. At home, they struggle with depression, disillusionment, and despair.

As Real Live Preacher, I try to show you .9 of X.

For this I am both admired and despised.
I think this is an interesting illustration, and I willingly admit that I wrestle with how much of myself to reveal here on this blog. As regular readers know, I generally err on the side of saying too much rather than too little. And that's where RLP's illustration might be helpful.

You see, I think we can actually take it a little further. I would suggest that the goal of "how much of me to show" may vary, depending on the specifics of who you are talking to. The real goal is not "to reveal 100% of me" - it's really more along the lines of "to reveal as much of me as possible which will help people to turn to God and glorify him." In other words, the whole process of "me being really me" is not actually about me, so much as it is about God.

I need to reveal enough of my sin to demonstrate that I am human and imperfect (so people can relate their experiences with mine), but not so much as to cause them to focus completely on me (lest they despise me and write me off, or find themselves enticed by the blatancy of my sins).

Likewise I need to reveal as much of my sanctification as possible (to encourage people that change really is possible, and to set an example for others to follow), but never in a way that would cause them to magnify me rather than God (either to see me as some messiah, or to be incorrectly conclude that I am somehow better than they are).

So I need to be genuine, but in a way that drives people to Christ and causes them to glorify God and follow him, rather than in a way that leads them to focus on me (whether my triumphs or defeats). Just how much is too much will probably vary, but I think this may give us a guideline from which to start.

3 Comments:

At 1:17 PM, June 24, 2005, Anonymous CJC said...

I have wrestled with this question, too. I like your conclusions; it all has to do with the purpose of our hearts, doesn't it? By the way, the pictures you posted on your Photo Blog are great. Hopefully, we'll see some painting soon :~).

 
At 7:49 PM, June 26, 2005, Blogger rs said...

This is definitely something I struggle with. Sometimes I just assume people see me as I really am and not some person I'm trying to portray, but I know that isn't the case. I can often have very high walls sometimes. I've thought about this recently in terms of why I don't live a more open life and I've determined that I'm still afraid that my sin will disqualify me for ministry. Intellectually I don't believe this, but deep down I must. I'm praying that God will continue to convince me that my failures in many ways are what qualify me for ministry!

 
At 2:09 PM, June 27, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

I think that this is a question that we all struggle with in our day to day lives, weather we are a minister or not. But it is of course a lot harder for people like ministers to have that balancing act.

I, a normal guy, have found out that just letting it all out there (or at least .9 of it) is liberating. And people will trust you more and let you into their lives if your life is an open book. Who wants to go through life going out of their way to hide things from people?

 

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