state of being transparent: the quality or state of being transparent
see-through photograph or picture: a positive photographic image on a transparent material, especially film or a slide, that can be viewed when light is shone through it. Transparencies are generally viewed using a projector, a light table, or a handheld viewer.
I try to be real. I really do. With the personal victories and defeats….I try to be transparent. I don’t always do a great job with that, though. It can be a terribly difficult (and REALLY humbling) task to be open about mountaintops that I am experiencing because I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve “arrived“, that I’ve got it all together. When airing out milestones that I am reaching, I’m moved with fear that people (especially the people that God has entrusted to me) will view me as something more than I am and they could be riddled with guilt because they haven’t reached that particular milestone themselves.
I’m equally hesitant about openly sharing those areas in which I struggle. I know that as a Pastor, I am viewed (and rightly so) as an example that could be followed, as a mentor to many. The gravity of that responsibility is weighty as I recall another leader, the Apostle Pauls and his words, “Follow me as I follow Him“. This task can haunt me at times because I don’t serve as the greatest “living Epistle” to follow. This fact keeps me from being as “real” as I probably should be when it comes to my weaknesses because there are some areas of my life that…well, I don’t want people to follow in. I don’t want my failures to become a license to fail for someone who looks to me for guidance.
At the same time, as a leader, I have found that being open and honest about strengths and weaknesses that I’m currently experiencing can be a catalyst for the spiritual and personal growth of the flock in my care. The victories that I share can serve as a glimmer of hope to someone struggling in that particular area as they can look at my life and say “Look what God has done! It IS possible! there is hope for me yet!” and the failures that I open up about have led to some great conversations about the fact that conforming to the image of Christ is a marathon, not a sprint….and how we ALL have some growing to do.
For me, transparency is kind of a “Danged if ya do, danged if ya don’t” proposition.
This morning, I’ll risk the whole “Danged if ya do” thing because I feel as though God is leading me to share some struggles that I am walking through RIGHT NOW. Though I don’t get why God is leading me in this direction…and to be real with you (see, transparent even in the introduction d;)...I don’t really like it, I do pray that something someone reads here may be a help.
I Have A Hard Time Praying- I know that prayer is one of the greatest gifts God has given the body and I realize that it is among the most proficient weapons in the arsenal of the Christian Soldier, but it just doesn’t come easy for me. I say often, “It’s easier for me to preach than pray“. I mean that. It really is. I wish this weren’t true. I wish that my “prayer closet” was a place I looked forward to visiting all of the time but it isn’t. This truth leaves me pretty defeated. Most of the time I feel like a “bad Christian” for not having a super prayerlife.
I Hate It When Someone Is Upset With Me– inevitably, when in ministry of any form….people are going to be angry with you at some point. Sometimes that anger is indicative of a problem they have themselves and sometimes it’s justifiable. Either way, it keeps me up at night. I literally hate it. I’ve had it said to me (and I’ve said before myself) that when it comes to people being upset with you, “It comes with the territory and you just have to get used to it”. There may be truth in that but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I often will put up a front and make it look like I’ve let the disappointment someone has in me just slide off of my back, that I just roll with the punches but truthfully, at my core, I really want to please people and if that isn’t happening, It hurts deeply.
Take for instance, someone is offended with me (rightly or wrongly) and leaves the church or simply pulls away from faithfulness. Now I know that sometimes, God uses “Blessed subtraction” in His Gospel math and moves people out (which leads to better Church HEALTH in the long run) and I am aware that when some one begins to exhibit unfaithfulness it’s usually more of a personal spiritual problem than a “issue with the Pastor” problem but it eats at my soul. Every time, without exception I wonder why I couldn’t be “good enough” for them for them to like me.
I’m Not A Very Confident Guy– this has always been the case though it may come as a surprise to those who don’t know me REALLY well. Over the years, I’ve learned to put on a wardrobe of false confidence to the point of being viewed as, and I quote, “A cocky little sun-of-a-gun”. Is that wrong? Yes. Do I find myself doing it anyway? Again, yes. Yes I do.
The cold, hard fact is that I often feel pretty inadequate about nearly everything I do (or everything I am, for that matter). When it comes to my leadership responsibilities, I see others doing a better job and I should try harder. When it comes to my preaching ministry, I work hard at it yet at the end of a sermon I always feel that it was lacking (no matter the response, mind you). If attendance is down, in my mind, it’s because of the poor job I am doing preaching the Word. As a husband, I dearly love my wife but most of the time I feel she deserves better. As a dad, my kiddos are the apple of my eye but I wonder if they see a strong, Gospel led man of God or do they just look up to me because they are “supposed to”. I can lack patience with them and be selfish in my parental role. As a friend, I wonder if people really enjoy my company or just tolerate me because I am the Pastor. Are we really close or is it a dog and pony show? Heck, I even work out all the time and the reason isn’t always because I want to be a good steward over the physical body God has given me but really derives from a bit of vanity that has crept into me spirit because I’m not really to pleased with the way I look. In my mind, I should look better and a surefire way to gain acceptance in our culture is appearance, hence the killing myself in the gym and pounding the pavement! In every area of my life, at times I feel inadequate. I could do better if I just…tried a little harder…
Do you see a trend here?
I certainly do. “If I loved better…If I were just this or that…if only I tried harder?!”
A glaring weakness I have is that I view my worth as a Christian, as a person, as a Pastor, husband, dad, friend….well, I connect my worth to my level of performance.
Now this fact is not new to me. I’ve always done this. My seemingly insatiable desire to be the BEST son, make the BEST grade, have the BEST batting average….to NEVER lose in ANYTHING I do is really fueled by me passion to perform in a manner that would grant acceptance.
spiritually I know I shouldn’t but I keep score. If I’m putting up points and the fans are cheering then all is well. If my performance isn’t up to par, then God doesn’t love me as much. Thats the way I find myself thinking (Hey, I said I was going to be real, right?)
To be straightforward, this ideology proved beneficial on the ballfield but hasn’t panned out that well for me in life.
It has led me to the impossible task of earning the love of God by my performance for Him. Measuring self worth by way of acceptance of others. It has led to a life of doing, and doing and doing some more rather than a life exemplified by a simplistic BEING more like Jesus as He molds me.
As passage of scripture that is helping me to overcome my erroneous “performance based theology” comes from Matthew 11:28
“Come to Me, all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”- Jesus
That passage massages my soul because the pressure that living a performance based life brings allows for little rest. It ministers to me because of who its speaking to, “all you who are weary and burdened…” THATS ME! THATS ME!. It encourages me because of the command toward those who desperately need to hear it, “Come unto ME”! Not “come unto yourselves” or “come unto a little more effort”. No, Jesus is giving an open invitation to the downtrodden, beckoning us to “come unto ME”! This passage refreshes my spirit because of its end result, “…and I will give you REST”. For me, the consummate performer, who wears his self out with acceptance driven effort…that is a breath of fresh air.
Though I struggle with all that I mentioned above, I am slowly but surely hearing and heeding Gods Word to rest in who HE is and what HE has done instead of who I am and how well I perform.
Really hope this ministers to someone because it sure wasn’t easy to write. (BTW- spell check has a glitch today, so…uh, forgive the errors!)
Love you All and Soli Deo Gloria!- Pastor Kyle