I am naturally drawn to transparent people. I appreciate those who are honest about who they are and refuse to attempt being someone else or something they’re not. You know the kind? They aren’t afraid to admit their weaknesses and struggles, and they are really good at making you feel comfortable being you.
I see this in the Samaritan woman of John 4. She meets Jesus at Jacob’s well and after a lengthy conversation turns to Christ in faith. Her experience of grace drives her to return to the city exclaiming,
“Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did.” John 4:29
Don’t you love this? She tells them everything. She doesn’t pretend her life was perfectly fine as if she had it all together. No, she goes back to town and declares, “I met this man and He told me how wicked I was.” She acknowledged that her life was messed up and she had a multitude of problems, but Jesus changed everything.
By the way, it was this transparency that led nearly an entire city to come to Christ in faith.
“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” John 4:39
Keep It Real
I suppose my desire for transparency comes from watching my father as a pastor for all my life. One thing you can say about my dad is that he is real. He is authentic in the pulpit, and he is authentic at home. What you see is what you get. I’ve asked the Lord to help me have this same focus in life and ministry. I want people to relate to me.
Sometimes ministry leaders present themselves in such a high manner that people cannot relate to them. Maybe I’m too transparent, but I want the people who hear me preach and teach to know that I have the same struggles they do, that I, too, have weaknesses, and that all of our lives are messed up without the grace of God. I want that same reality to be true in my day-to-day relationships. We must be careful not to give off the impression that we are invincible and untouchable. Give me a leader who will keep it real, and I’ll follow him as we grow in grace.
Acknowledge Your Failures
Why is it that we are so cautious about sharing our problems and weaknesses with others? We are embarrassed, no doubt, and often worried about people judging and condemning us. I think ultimately, however, we don’t want to admit we have our own set of problems. When we do mess up we say things like “Well, that wasn’t really me.”
Just a few weeks ago Oklahoma State basketball star, Marcus Smart, went into the stands and shoved a fan after he allegedly was the vicim of a racial slur. For days after the event players and coaches kept saying, “I know what you saw Marcus do, but that wasn’t really him.” Well, tell me, please, who was it? Did one of Marcus’ teammates vicariously, through his body, shove that fan? Of course not!
We have got to quit pretending as if we don’t have problems. The Samaritan woman wasn’t afraid to tell others her life was messed up, but Jesus changed everything.
James reminds us of the importance of being transparent with one another. It brings maturity, encouragement, and ultimately healing.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” James 5:16
I appreciate those who are transparent in their lives as well as their ministries. It’s through transparency that I can relate and realize that I am not alone in this world. It gives me hope.
I wonder how many parents are struggling with their children today yet so many of us act as if we never had those same struggles as parents? What hope it would give to be a source of comfort to that family by saying, “Hey, I know how you feel. I, too, had a wayward child and there’s hope.” Instead we often look with a critical eye at those who’s lives may be considered a mess, instead of giving them hope that we, too, have our own messes that God has brought us through.
When we pretend to have it all together, we fail to give people the example of hope that God can bring them through anything. The Samaritan woman – this brand new, born-again Christian – runs right into that city and tells everyone that she’s been a terrible person, her life was messed up, and she has a multitude of problems, but Jesus Christ gave her grace and changed her life.
Being transparent prevents hypocrisy and it provides hope. I don’t want to pretend that I have it all together. I want to keep it real. I want to acknowledge my failures. I want to provide hope to others through my mistakes and experiences. I want to be a transparent person. And prayerfully, through my transparency, others will come to receive the grace of Jesus of which I am so undeserving.