1. For a long time, it has been very important to me to live a transparent life. I first realized the importance of this years ago when I experienced disappointment in some people whom I had admired. I was very young and began to hear disturbing stories about some sports figures, politicians, and Hollywood figures. These were people I had admired only to learn that they were not who I thought they were.
Later I would learn the same truth about some ministers. Yes, that was disappointing. Yet, again and again, I have been so encouraged by seeing the integrity and transparency of many ministers.
One question that many people have about their minister is “Are you for real?” I don’t think most people are asking if the minister is perfect or not. Yes, I am disturbed by the way we often place ministers on a pedestal that is far above where most human beings live. At the same time, those of us who are ministers talk about God and urge people to take the ways of God seriously. I think it is fair and realistic for one to wonder:
- Is this minister sincere?
- Does this minister really want to be Christlike?
- Can one trust this minister?
- How large is the gap between his public self and his private life?
- Is this person the real deal or should one look somewhere else?
Think for a moment about preaching. A preacher is allowed to take the story of God in Christ and enter someone’s heart. That person is trusting that that preacher. In fact, the person is trusting that the message will bless and help. When a preacher is allowed to enter someone’s heart, it is a great privilege. After all, the heart is a deeply personal place that contains my own story, including my fears,hurts, and vulnerabilities. This is one reason why it is so damaging when it is revealed that a minister is living a double life or is involved in immorality. This is about trust. It is about being able to trust the person who is speaking the word of God into my heart. Can this person be trusted with my pain and my story?
2. My mentoring group met with Grady King on Tuesday. Grady (now in Mansfield, Texas, just outside of Fort Worth) is a good friend, encourager, and preacher. One of his discussion points involved the subject of being a minister and building trust. He said: “You can’t preach your way to trust. Trust comes through day-to-day ministry.” He then emphasized that building trust takes time. He stressed the importance of being available for coffee or lunch with people for conversation. In short, a minister has to be available to people.