Imagine for a moment this Sunday morning scene:
Susie is at home preparing for church. The kids are acting up and her husband Jim is not helping her get ready. So as a result, Susie and Jim end up having a fight.
Susie says that she has to do everything on Sunday mornings to get the kids ready for church while Jim argues that Sunday mornings are the only mornings that he can just relax. So Jim thinks Susie is being unfair and unreasonable and vice versa. Because of time they are unable to fully deal with the issue.
They pack up the kids as quickly as they can because they are now running late. Susie walks into the church first and she is visibly looking a little down and as people greet her the first question is: “How are you doing?” And Susie’s automatic response is: Good, fine or something to that nature. Then Susie goes and sits down for church.
The question I have is: was Susie really doing good or fine? No, she was hurting.
I think all of us, if not most of us, would have responded in a very similar way. And I think that is very sad and unfortunate when we do this as Christians. I am not saying that Susie should have spilled her guts and told everyone about the fight she and Jim just had.
What I am saying is that Susie should have at least felt comfortable enough to say: “You know what, I am feeling really frazzled this morning” or “You know what, it has been a tough morning.”
The point is: we need to feel more comfortable being open, vulnerable and transparent with each other
What transparency is not:
1. Transparency is not an excuse to tell a person how you are really feeling or what you really think of them.
You know, in the sense of ripping them to shreds or telling them all the things you don’t like about them. Telling somebody off is not being transparent – it is being brutal and unkind. We are called to be truthful but tender at the same time
2. Transparency is not just unloading everything that is going on in your life to every person you meet.
You know, the dump truck response – my dump truck of life is full and overflowing with stuff and I need to unload it anywhere. This is not true transparency and it can be very unhealthy and dangerous as well.
You may feel a bit better getting it off your chest but you have just left your “mess” in someone else’s lap. Also, unless you are willing to really talk about these things and deal with these things you are not truly being transparent.
What is transparency?
Some biblical examples of transparency
1. Jesus cried at Lazarus’ death.
We all know this as the shortest verse in the bible, John 11:35 “Jesus wept” (my favourite verse to learn as a kid). We know, that Jesus knew and even a had a plan in allowing Lazarus to die. So why does He cry? He cries because He sees the sisters, the other family and friends’ hurt and pain and also because Lazarus was His friend too.
Jesus allows Himself to be vulnerable by allowing the people there to see what was really going on in His heart. He was hurting and He was grieving the loss of His friend. Did Jesus have to do that? I don’t think so – but He chose to and thus He modelled what it means to be transparent.
2. In almost every one of Paul’s letters he reveals something about himself.
In Romans 1:8-17, Paul expresses his longing to visit Rome and his desire to be with the Christians there. Paul is not hiding his feelings here – he is sharing what is really going on in his heart. He is longing to be with these Christians and he wants them to know that.
Also, in Romans 7:7-25, Paul shares some of the struggles in his life with sin. I have always wondered what the original readers thought when they read this. Paul, who these people are looking up to as their spiritual leader, is sharing that he too struggles with sin. Actually, not just struggles with it, but being is even overwhelmed by it at times as well. Wow, that is being transparent!
From the examples we have looked at, we see that: transparency can include sharing our hurts, pains and grief’s, transparency can include sharing those deep longings of our heart with others and transparency can include sharing our struggles (even our deepest) struggles with others.
Where does transparency start?
First of all, being transparent has to start with the people with whom you are closest with. If you are married, that would be your spouse. If you are not married that would be with a close friend. If we can’t be transparent with the person closest to us then we will never be transparent with anybody!
The next “level” or group of people with whom you can begin to be more transparent with is with your small group bible study (if you are part of one) or with a small group of close friends. You are not going to have the same level of transparency with these people as your spouse or close friend but they are a small group people who you can be truly honest and open with.
The final group you can begin to be more transparent with is your church family. Again, you are not going to be as open with your church family as with your small group and your spouse or closest friends. But that does not mean that you can’t be transparent at all!
On a scale of 1-10 (1 being “I am an island unto myself surrounded with a great wall and there are alligators in the water around the island” and 10 being “I am an open book – I am authentic, real, open and truly honest with others about what is going on in my life”) how would you rank yourself in regards to transparency in the three levels?