I’ve come to realize that some of the things that are most characteristic of who I aspire to be and how I aspire to lead may be the very things I’m least likely to blog about. I always miss the things right under my nose, the things that are so embedded that I am not always conscious of them. Yet these are probably the things that are most important for me to say, so I’ll try to start saying them.
Our church is called “a church for people under renovation,” so vulnerability is a core value for us. Not a buzz word. I cling dearly to the idea that there is no such thing as good Christian leadership that doesn’t start from a ground floor of humility and transparency. As the senior leader in our Church, I’m responsible for setting that tone. If there is a way to have real Christian community apart from leadership that demonstrates this from the top, I’m not aware of it.
I think its important to make a distinction between vulnerability and self-deprication. I have no problem with self-depricating wit. It’s why Tina Fey and Conan O’Brien are two of the funniest people on the planet, because they are so ruthless with themselves in front of us. But self-deprication will make you popular at parties, whereas real vulnerability could actually bring the party to a grinding halt. There is a risk involved with actual transparency that simply cannot be completely cleaned up, or else it is no longer transparency and only public relations. That is not to say that are no boundaries to what we share with whom, or that there is nothing in my life that I don’t share from the stage. That would be stupid, completely inconsiderate of what is good for the congregation.
But leading and preaching that is most effective involves pulling that zipper down from your neck to your navel and letting your holiness and your brokenness show in equal measure. And while there are benefits to this that are more or less quantifiable in terms of how it affects the character of a community, I think that’s secondary. Because the fact is, actual vulnerability attracts the Holy Spirit like a moth attracts flame. Our humiliation brings the glory of God and the presence of God. Vulnerability allows the Spirit to crash through the stained glass of piety and manners, bringing divine disruption-even revival. Vulnerable leaders spread the table for a communion feast where healing, intimacy, and even supernatural gifts flow like wine.
There are a thousand reasons why it’s good for those we lead for us to be vulnerable–they desperately need permission to expose their true selves to God and God’s people, and your example can grant that. But more importantly, it pleases God, honors God, exalts God.
PS–Anybody in your church or leadership team that can’t handle you being open and transparent? You don’t need them.