A transparent leader isn’t pretentious. With discretion, a transparent leader can share personal stories from his/her spiritual pilgrimage and how the truths being taught affect him/her. In the company of trustworthy people, a transparent leader is honest when it comes to disclosing prayer requests.
Consider these potential benefits of self-disclosure:
1. A LEADER’S TRANSPARENCY ENHANCES RELATIONSHIPS
Your transparency will enhance your relationship with listeners or group members and facilitate more one-on-one ministry with them.
Through your transparency as a leader, small group members will see you as more approachable. As the experiences you share resonate with them, they’ll feel safer talking to you too, trusting that you understand and will be less judgmental.
2. A LEADER’S TRANSPARENCY ENCOURAGES DEEPER SHARING
Your transparency as a leader will encourage a deeper level of sharing among group members.
Small group members will be less superficial, because you have set the pace in demonstrating authenticity.
3. A LEADER’S TRANSPARENCY FOSTERS MORE AUTHENTIC FELLOWSHIP
Your self-disclosure will foster deeper, more authentic fellowship among group members.
Experiencing the relational commands in the New Testament requires a level of openness that few Christians experience in friendship or small group participation. Without a willingness to be transparent, we can’t bear one anther’s burdens Galatians 6:2; comfort one another 2 Corinthians 1:4-7; encourage each other 1 Thessalonians 5:11; forgive one another Ephesians 4:32; care for each other 1 Corinthians 12:25, or weep/rejoice with one another Romans. 12:15.
4. A LEADER’S TRANSPARENCY BRINGS HOPE TO THE DISCOURAGED
Your self-revelation will instill hope in those who are discouraged by their struggles.
Through a leader’s transparency, your group will see you pressing on in faith in spite of your troubles. They’ll also see the Lord using you in spite of (or perhaps because of) the difficulties, discovering that victorious Christian living isn’t pain-free, but involves a growing trust in God.
5. A LEADER’S TRANSPARENCY HELPS OTHERS MEET HIS/HER NEEDS
Because of your transparency as a leader, your own need for prayer and support will be met.
Ministry with your small group will be mutual rather than flowing in just one direction – from you to others. You won’t suffer alone when facing medical setbacks, dealing with a troubled teen, or wrestling with a personal decision.
6. A LEADER’S TRANSPARENCY OFTEN ENHANCES GOD’S GLORY
Your openness can enhance God’s glory among group members.
When God gets an opportunity to do what only He can, He receives all the glory. When God answers prayer, when He sustains and stabilizes us during adversity, or transforms irritating circumstances, He receives all the glory.
In Psalm 50:15, the Lord says, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor me.” Allow others to hear your heartfelt cries to God, to see how He meets your needs, and to witness how He is honored as He does.
God gets more glory when we are needy and He acts on our behalf than when we’re strong and have it all together. A leader’s transparency also shows their weakness. Then, when others see our weakness—they also see God’s strength.
What benefit of a leader’s transparency would you add?
What words of qualification (“Yes, but—“) do you have concerning the benefits cited?
Dr. Terry Powell
Author and Professor
Terry is Faculty Emeritus and now adjunct professor in Church Ministries at Columbia International University. Married 50 years, he has two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a grandson. Terry writes about faith and depression at Penetrating the Darkness. His latest book, Oh God, I’m Dying! How God Redeems Pain for Our Good and for His Glory tells of God's sustaining grace in the life of co-author, Dr. Mark Smith, who is an effective Christian university president despite suffering daily pain from a near-fatal accident.