Be honest. Don’t hide from the truth. You can handle it. Okay, maybe you can’t. But the living God can. Hope will follow honesty.
God knows your struggles during the past two-plus years.
God knows your sadness over members who left and are not coming back.
God knows you miss preaching and teaching to a full(er) house.
God knows you are exhausted from trying new things without achieving the desired results.
God knows you want to dream big dreams but feel you lack a team to turn them into reality.
God knows your frustrations with an ever increasingly secular and godless America.
God knows you have even considered stepping out of leadership. Throwing in the towel. Calling it a day. You had a nice run, but the race is over.
God knows. Do others?
I often lament the fact that far too many pastors and leaders are isolated. They don’t have other leaders with whom they can honestly share their hopes, dreams, and frustrations. I’ve been to enough circuit meetings to know that few pastors value the practice of high transparency. Or maybe they’ve failed to create the space for high transparency.
We mistakenly think, “Ain’t nobody got time for that. Put on a mostly happy face. Don’t let anyone get too close. God knows. No one else needs to.”
We have normalized dysfunctional behavior. Even Jesus was honest about needing help and human connection. Remember that night in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus said to his disciples, “Stay with me. Keep watch. My soul is heavy, even to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). Do you have friends with whom you can be so honest?
I’m an optimistic guy. I love the positive. I have big dreams for the future. Yet I’ve discovered a type of paradox. The more honest I am about present struggles, the more optimistic I am about the future. The less honest I am about present struggles, the less hopeful I am about the future. Why? It is really quite simple. A struggle that is kept in the darkness of my own mind and soul is solely mine to fix. I may even withhold the struggle from God. A struggle shared with others is ours to fix. I leverage the strength of the body of Christ. We bear one another’s burdens and invite the Holy Spirit to inspire shared solutions.
Robust hope follows robust honesty.
Here is your challenge question: What should you be honest about? Answer honestly. Name just one thing, and share it with someone. Hope will follow honesty.
Let me offer three areas of life where church leaders would benefit from more honesty. I imagine each of you needs help in at least one of these areas.
Self-care: Many of you need help establishing and sustaining healthy rhythms. You know you need to clean up your diet, move your body, dig into the Word for personal (not professional) edification, etc. etc, etc. You know, and God knows. Yet you’ve never asked for help. Email me if you’d like a recommendation for a personal life and wellness coach (firstname.lastname@example.org). Hope will follow honestly asking for help.
Leadership: You know your leadership skills could use a tune-up. Your meetings are boring. Your team is uninspired. Your vision is hazy. This is why the ULC exists (uniteleadership.org). Hope will follow honestly asking for help.
Relationships: You know you should date your spouse, but you’re too busy. You know you
should cultivate more peer relationships of high trust and transparency, but you’re too busy. You know you should take more vacations, shut off your ministry brain, and pursue your kids and grandkids. Yet you lie to yourself and say, “I’m too busy. Besides, what would the church do without me?” This is why your local church exists. Invite your Church to be the Church for you.
What should you be honest about? With whom should you be honest? God knows. Invite others to know, too.
Hope will follow honesty.