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. Your transparency will enhance your relationship with listeners or group members and facilitate more one-on-one ministry with them.
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. Your transparency 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. 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 (Gal. 6:2); comfort one another (2 Cor. 1:4-7); encourage each other (1 Thess. 5:11); forgive one another (Eph. 4:32); care for each other (1 Cor. 12:25), or weep/rejoice with one another (Rom. 12:15).
4. Your self-revelation will instill hope in those who are discouraged by their struggles.
As they 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. 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. 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. When others see our weakness—they also see God’s strength.
What benefit of transparency would you add?
What words of qualification (“Yes, but—“) do you have concerning the benefits cited?
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Dr. Terry Powell
Author and Professor
Terry is Faculty Emeritus at Columbia International University, in S. C., where he is now an Adjunct Professor in Church Ministries. Terry has a bride of 49 years, two grown sons, one daughter-in-law, and 9-year old grandson. He writes a blog on faith and depression: penetratingthedarkness.com. His latest book is Oh God, I’m Dying! How God Redeems Pain for Our Good and for His Glory, scheduled for release in the fall of 2020. The book tells the story of Dr. Mark Smith (co-author), an effective Christian university president despite suffering daily pain from a near-fatal car accident in 1996. The book illustrates the means of God’s grace that have sustained Mark and his wife Debbie.
Serve the Lord long enough and discouragement or some form of opposition is inevitable. Joy-sapping workloads, feelings of inadequacy, lack of fruitfulness, or battle fatigue from spiritual warfare often spurs God's servants to quit or sabotages their passion. The purpose of this book is to infuse them with biblical perspectives that buoy flagging spirits, boost motivation, and cultivate endurance.
Henri J.M. Nouwen
For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Nouwen offers a counter definition that is witnessed by a “communal and mutual experience.” For Nouwen, leadership cannot function apart from the community. His wisdom is grounded in the foundation that we are a people “called.” This beautiful guide to Christian Leadership is the rich fruit of Henri Nouwen’s own journey.
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