We are called to be authentic. What are some of its manifestations? It includes showing our true self to others, not hiding our weaknesses, struggles or failures just to maintain our good image.
We are often told, 丑事不可外扬。In English, don’t ever air our dirty laundry as it is shameful. We are told we will lose the respect of others if we do so. It’s even more important for those who are serving in prominent roles in church to only reveal one’s good side and hide those that will tarnish one’s image. But let’s see what really happen when we choose to hide our weaknesses, struggles and failures.
Firstly, by purposely hiding our weaknesses, struggles and failures from others, we are unconsciously creating an image that is based on self-deceit. When we choose to put up a carefully crafted image to safeguard our reputation, automatically, we are creating a well-oiled self-affirming machine that is based on deceit. The only thing we hear from others is how good we are. As a result, we believe that! This in turn causes us to deny the criticism that comes from those who are close to us who actually see our weaknesses.
The self-affirming machine that we create will make us blind to our own character flaws. Someone has said, “be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think of you.” And wouldn’t we say that God will judge us by our true character rather than our reputation?
Secondly, when we choose to hide our weaknesses, struggles, or failures which often includes our shameful stories, we are actually depriving others from seeing God’s grace. We deprive them of seeing His mercies, His redeeming and transforming power that is at work in us. In fact, the uglier our story, the more hope we give to others. But when we choose to hide all these instead of being authentic, essentially we are putting our own reputation before God’s redeeming grace and the glory that He deserves. Instead of allowing our story to become a powerful tool that will encourage others to repent, we put our reputation first!
None of us are perfect. The status of being “a wretch like me” is not only when we first receive Christ as Saviour and Lord. We are still full of our sinful nature that needs to be transformed. Unless we share with our fellow brothers and sisters-in-Christ God’s redeeming and transforming powers, which involves sharing and airing our dirty laundry, His Kingdom does not benefit from our struggles. Moreover what the lost needs is not more information from us but rather our transformation and redemption stories that give them hope!
I am truly encouraged that our pastors have modeled authenticity in their pulpit ministry. None of them are caught by Satan’s lie that airing one’s own dirty laundry would tarnish their reputation. We have seen them modeling authenticity for us. And we have benefitted from their true stories. Now it’s our turn. May God use us and our stories for His glory!
By Suzanna Harjadi (YCKC Bulletin 17 November 2019)