The idea of transparency/authenticity has recently received significant attention as people search for meaning in life.
The loss of transparency in the church is a loss of vital power in the community. Transparency can be the first step in reviving the effectiveness of the church.
The most serious issue in the Christian circle is the lack of transparency for committed, efficient leaders. As Robert Coleman said it well, “Followers must have leaders, and this means that before much can be done with the church membership, something will have to be done with the church officials.”1
I realize that the longer I am in ministry, the less important sermon prep and sermon content is than the transparency of the person delivering the message.
Someone perhaps may comment, “Well, this Jesus thing is private to me so I keep it to myself. I don’t like sharing.” No, that is not true. Following Jesus may be personal, but it’s never private. 2
Here are three inputs on how to remain authentic with yourself and others.
- Encourages people to be open, honest, and direct in the here and now. Transparency is a Christian virtue, as is honesty about our struggles. You deserve honesty. You deserve transparency. You deserve someone who respects you enough to never lie to your heart. As leaders, we have to first be willing to share things that make us uncomfortable for the gospel to begin to transform our lives. I want to be remembered at the end of the day, as someone who was authentic and transparent. In fact, I would rather be known here on earth as an honest sinner, than a lying hypocrite.
- Build trust and confidence in your relationship with one another. Now, we are not speaking of reputation. For reputation is who other people think you are. Your transparency is who you really are.
People will to pressure you to be something that you’re not. Your congregation will push and expect you to preach your sermon like the John Piper. Fellow colleges will pressure you to stay in the confine of the box of your job title. Friends will try to convince you to be “fun” and “entertaining” in your fellowship. You will feel pressured, and your desire will cave in, but no. Just be you! Figure out how God has gifted you, wired you, and make that the emphasis of your ministry!
“Transparency means that the appearance and the reality are exactly the same.” – Oswald Chambers3
If you want to be trusted, be honest.
If you want to be honest, be true.
If you want to be true, be yourself.
Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway, said Mother Theresa.
- Churches need to remain relevant, realistic, and flexible. One of the main purposes of the church is to serve as a community in which disciples of Jesus can both give and receive support when needed.
The first step in giving or receiving support within the church is honest communication between church members. You can’t offer prayer and practical support the fellow disciples of Jesus if you are unaware of their needs. Similarly, you won’t receive prayer or practical support if you continually hold your struggles and challenges close to the vest.
Jesus: The Counter-Cultural-Model
In a world where everything revolves around working hard and get it done, I’m so glad Jesus was so different than us.
The good news that the Creator of the universe has looked upon guilty, needy, perishing sinners and was moved by compassion the Father sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. (John 1:14) Talk about countercultural!
What if we brought this 1st-century principle in the 21st century of living in honest, transparent lifestyle as Jesus did? A real, authentic, transparent care for one another by a high-grade sense of the gospel.
We need a young generation and others who will be willing to stand in the gap. A generation that will go counter-cultural in loving confrontation with the gospel in which discipleship is an automatic mentality through transparent relationships.4
Isn’t it ironic when one stops to think about it? In an age when facilities for rapid communication of the gospel are available to the church as never before, there are actually more unevangelized people on the earth today than before the invention of the horseless carriage.
If we were left to ourselves with the task of taking the gospel to the world, we would immediately begin planning innovative strategies and plotting elaborate schemes. We would
organize conventions, develop programs, and create foundations… But Jesus is so different from us. With the task of taking the gospel to the world, he wandered through the streets and byways.
Jesus, having called his men, Jesus made a practice of just being with them. This was the essence of his training program—just letting his disciples follow him.
This is the way the Master has set before us. In contrast to the mentality of constant accommodation with the current forms of the world spirit as they surround us today. We are to live in transparency in sharing the gospel so that many will come to know the greatness of our God.
- Robert E. Coleman and Billy Graham, The Master Plan of Evangelism, 2 edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2010). ↩︎
- Lifeway Adults, Disciples Path – Complete Boxed Set, Ldg edition (LifeWay Press, 2015). ↩︎
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, ed. James Reimann, Value Edition edition (Discovery House, 2016). ↩︎
- David Platt, Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.,
Jonathan Hayashi, Ph.D.
Dr. Jonathan Hayashi has a B.A. of Pastoral Ministry, M.A. of Congregational Leadership, and a Doctor of Educational Ministry. He presently serves on the Executive Committee at Southwest Baptist University (Bolivar, MO) and on the Board of Trustees at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jonathan is a contributor for the bi-weekly journal, Pathway (Missouri Baptist Convention), and is the author of Ordinary Radicals: A Return to Christ-Centered Discipleship, as well as Making Lemonade: Turning Past Failures into Gospel Opportunities. Jonathan is a level II-certified biblical counselor with the ACBC. He and his wife, Kennedi, have four children: Kaede, Seiji, Anna, and Ren.