1. A church leader can become more concerned about image than reality. This church leader will spend much time and energy projecting a particular persona while the reality of this person’s life is elsewhere. In every generation, there is a temptation to want to appear cool, relevant, successful, sought after, important, etc. (Some words will resonate better than others. Nevertheless, the same principle is at work.) Unfortunately, that same person may be settling for a superficial spirituality instead of rigorous discipleship.
2. A church leader can speak one way in public settings while speaking very differently in private. Years ago, a woman shared with me her disappointment in a preacher who spoke warm words about a former elder at a church banquet. That same evening, he privately mocked and made fun of the same man he had honored in the public setting.
3. A church leader may verbally give the impression of experiencing a deep intimacy with God while the reality is far different. All the right words are used. Yet this can be a false intimacy when a person is more concerned with creating a particular impression than living out that reality.
4. A church leader can learn to “turn it on” in public settings while giving little prayer or thought to what is really being said. Consequently, there might be quite a contradiction between one’s private self and one’s public self.
These temptations can lead to ministry shortcuts that prevent us from being authentic and genuine. What I have found helpful in my own life and ministry is to keep going back to the basic reality of who I am in Christ. Or, to put it another way, keep going back to the reality of what it means to follow Jesus.
These basic questions can be helpful:
*Do I follow Jesus each day and live in obedience to his Lordship?
*Do I nurture my relationship with him by prayer, time with the Scriptures, and the many other spiritual disciplines available?
*Am I attentive to being an authentic Christ-follower in those areas of my life when I am not using a microphone, social media or any other form of public presence?
*Do those who know me best see me as a person who is attempting to lessen the gap between my public and private self?