Are you vulnerable? It is not easy, but it makes so much difference. Expressing vulnerability with your team is a sign of strength, not weakness.
I currently have three young teenagers living in my home (I appreciate the prayers). One of them was recently struggling with chemistry homework. I know nothing about chemistry. Seriously, all I can really do is work with spoken and written words, and even that needs honing. I stared at her homework assignment and thought, “How did I ever pass chemistry?” I then remembered—I asked for help from Matt. Matt was my volunteer peer tutor. He explained things in clear ways that allowed me to pass with a C. (Hey, C’s get degrees, too.) I would have failed without Matt’s help.
I told my teen, “Honey, I honestly cannot help you. Have you asked for help from your teacher?”
“No,” she said. “I can’t. She’ll think I don’t know what I’m doing.”
I’m working really hard on patience and compassion, but my sinful nature took over as I bluntly said, “But…you…don’t know what you’re doing,” I said, trying to hide my smirk. I was mildly successful. “You need to ask for help,” I continued with fatherly wisdom. “Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”
Your stinkin’ sin nature fills you with pride. Your pride leads you on the crazy cycle of believing two insidious lies: One, you can figure everything out on your own. You inevitably struggle because, well, you can’t do everything on your own. None of us can. Sorry to break it to ya. Two, once you realize you can’t do it on your own, you believe the lie that you’re no good. You are a failure. Shame keeps you in fear.
Enter Jesus. Praise God for Jesus. He takes your pride and shame and nails it to the cross. You don’t have to carry it. You can’t. It’s too heavy for you.
It’s remarkable to me how all of life hinges on confession and absolution. We’ve made confession and absolution into “churchy” words. That is a shame. Daily confession of sin is not weakness, even though the world may say it is. Confession is strength.
It’s unfortunate that many leaders fully embrace and yearn for confessing our need for help to God but miss how confession plays itself out in our relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ. You love your Sunday rituals and hearing the pastor give a word of absolution on account of the finished work of Christ. I love this, too. It is the gospel. It is the best.
Vulnerable confession between leaders within the body of Christ must shape our discourse for our church body (LCMS) to ever become healthy again. Everyone has something to confess. Let me start a list of vulnerable confessions.
I should read the Lutheran Confessions more.
I need help to balance evangelism and discipleship. I am often overzealous to see new people reached with the gospel. Some within the body of Christ may interpret this to mean I don’t care about them.
I am driven and can be impatient. My impatience can spill from my home to the church.
I get overly frustrated that sometimes it appears our church body is playing “doctrinal purity defense” instead of offensively storming the gates of hell by the power of the Spirit and Word. This frustration can lead me to sin in my heart.
I could keep going. That is enough for now. This exercise is actually helpful for my soul. It is reviving to see all the ways I need Jesus…and others.
To close, I’m going to share three “duh” benefits of growing in leadership vulnerability.
1. Vulnerability lets your team know you’re human.
I am so grateful to be a pastor, but I’m just a guy. Sometimes the title “pastor” can set a barrier between me and the team of servant leaders Jesus has placed around me. I have no judgment for pastors still called “pastor.” I am not ashamed of the office. I have simply found significant benefit, especially with my younger team members, to allow them to call me “Tim.” It is not a sign of disrespect. It is actually a sign of increased trust and connection. You and I are on mission together.
Jesus actually warned against having others call the disciples “rabbi” (Matthew 23:8). Jesus knew their penchant for pride. Jesus became vulnerable, stepping into our broken creation, making Himself one with us, and even calling His disciples friends. Ask for help to model Jesus’ vulnerability.
2. Vulnerability sets the foundation for discipleship multiplication.
My goal is that baptized believers look at me and say, “That guy has some gifts, all given by Jesus. And that guy has a lot of gaps. He’s going to need help. I think my gifts can fill some of his gaps, and the gaps in my church. Here I am, pastor, send me!”
I think this was part of the “secret sauce” behind Paul developing so many leaders to start so many churches. Members in the body of Christ looked at Paul and said, “If a former killer of Christians can be used by God, so can I! Here I am, Paul, send me!”
3. Vulnerability saves your leadership soul.
I can occasionally get overwhelmed. I’m a pastor. Some people subconsciously believe I’m somehow closer to God. I’m not. I’m expected to have all the answers. I don’t. It is very clear in my home and at church.
There is so much to get done in the local church. Decision fatigue is a real thing. I’ve made some good decisions, others not so good. Yet at night, I sleep soundly, confessing my sins and receiving the forgiveness of Jesus and others, surrendered to the God who holds my vulnerable frame in His hand. He knows me. Deeply. He loves me. Unconditionally.
You and I need Jesus. You and I need each other. Vulnerably let someone know.
Closing Question: Who, or what team, do you need to be vulnerable with today? What do you want to list as a vulnerable confession? Join the vulnerable discussion!