I'm sick. Do I pretend to be healthy? I'm sad. Do I pretend to be happy? I'm scared. Do I pretend to be brave? I'm exhausted. Do I pretend to be rested?
Somewhere along the line someone told me not to share my burdens with the people I'm serving. Don't trouble them with your junk, you're their pastor, their staffworker, their mentor. So, I asked for authenticity, transparency and vulnerability but failed to model it in my own life.
I try not to do that anymore.
One of the core "rules" of our ministry is that we don't ask students to do anything we're not doing ourselves. So, if we want to ask them to share their lives with us, to share their stories with us, we must share our lives with them.
And this gets awkward. People aren't used to people in ministry sharing their lives. It's just not done. The Staffworker is supposed to have it all together. He's supposed to be wise, to be strong, to be mature. And sometimes I am. Actually, often I am. But not always.
Today was a "lean-on-my-community" kinda day. Zach led Small Group. John Calvin, Abigail and Sam listened to and counseled me for part of our time together today. It was great.
But it's tough to receive that kind of care from the folks you're called to lead. There's a subtle power associated with being the "giver" in a relationship and I get easily attached to that power.
Dependency is difficult. It feels uncomfortable to ask for help. Although I really appreciate the care I receive, I'd rather not make myself vulnerable.
How far I am from Paul's vulnerable posture toward the Thessalonian Christians:
We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. - 1 Thes 2:8
He shared "not only the gospel of God," but his life as well. Wasn't the gospel enough? What can Paul's life possible add to the gospel of God? Wouldn't it be better to avoid going into the details of our lives and just focus on the gospel?
For Paul, I think his love for the people he served forced him to share both the gospel and his life. His life echoed this gospel, lived it out. He could be open, authentic, transparent and, yes, maybe even vulnerable because his gospel was the gospel of God, the only gospel that mattered, the best news.
I want to be able to say that I shared the gospel and that I shared my life. I love the people I serve and want them to see the gospel lived out, a story and an adventure, not just an idea.
We must pursue vulnerability.