The goal of the Women’s Leadership Workshop Podcast is to bring practical insight and relevant leadership lessons to women. We want to help ladies everywhere learn to lead better. You can listen to all the latest podcasts now by clicking HERE. If a blog format is more your style, we’ve got you covered. Below you will find the transcript to Episode 4. You can read now!
The Real Me
“Jess…you’re good at what you do…but, you are crippling your ministry. No one wants to be friends with a “perfect person.” And no one you lead expects you to be faultless. If you only show people the person you pretend to be, how can anyone connect with the real you? And if they can’t connect with you it won’t be long before they move on.”
When my desk phone rang that early afternoon in May, I expected it to be a fellow staffer or maybe even a church inquiring about a system or strategy we employed. I was not expecting my pastor’s project manager. She requested that I report directly to Pastor’s office. I have to admit…it felt a little like grade school when I stole Amanda Baker’s Hello Kitty Markers and then got called to the principle’s office.
A few moments later, when I walked in his office, my mind was put to ease. I wasn’t the only one (whew…sigh of relief). In fact, there were about 6-8 other staffers, mostly women sitting and chatting with Pastor.
“Hey Jess (Pastor called)…as you know Mother’s Day is next week and I wanted to get a few moms together with a couple members from our creative team and bounce around some ideas. You up for that?”
For the next hour I listened as woman after woman shared about the difficulties of being a mom in ministry. When it came my turn to share I pretty much nodded and alluded to everything that had already been said.
I could see the curious look on my Pastor’s face. He wasn’t buying my answer. “Why don’t you want to share your personal struggle? Is it difficult.”
I sat stunned. Not only, was I not expecting such a blunt inquiry, but for goodness sake…did he really have to hit the nail on the head with such precision?
I sighed and took a deep breath before I replied, “I’m a preacher’s kid. Growing up if I did something wrong, everyone knew about it and everyone had an opinion on how to right my wrong. I just learned that it was better to smile and pretend.”
I watched as my pastor’s face softened in sadness. Almost like he was heartbroken for me.
“Jess, you’re good at what you do, but you are crippling your ministry. No one wants to be friends with a “perfect person.” And no one you lead expects you to be faultless. If you only show people the person you pretend to be, how can anyone connect with the real you? And if they can’t connect with you it won’t be long before they move on.”
I’ve struggled throughout my life with vulnerability and transparency. I want those I lead to believe in me and have confidence in the decisions I make. Up until this point in my life I had always assumed that meant I must appear put-together, in control, and perfect. I mean…how could I lead someone if they knew I was just as messed up as they were?
That day…that moment in my pastor’s office was eye opening for me. My flawless impression was actually impairing my ministry.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22…
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
Paul was a complicated man. He had many roles, one of which was the role of Pastor to the Church at Corinth. It’s clear in the way he writes lovingly and passionately to the people there. In Chapter 8, just before he writes the passage we just read, and again later in Chapter 10, Paul addresses an issue with meat. Essentially, he tells those early Christians that they are FREE. Because they know the truth and have put their faith in the Son of God, they are no longer bound by arbitrary laws. However, in Chapter 9, Paul begins to issue a challenge. Just because the Church at Corinth has freedom does not mean they should neglect their ministry. Instead, they must become all things to all men.
The line that hits home for me is in verse 22, “to the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak.”
Ministry is messy. God is in the business of saving broken and hurting people. I was once one of them and in many ways still am. When shared, my mistakes become my ministry. My vulnerability has value.
As my pastor said, “People can’t connect with the person I pretend to be.” And even if they could, it would be founded in mistruth and deception. The relationships God has positioned you in are purposeful. Whether they are family members, friends, co-workers or those with whom you’ve been charged to lead, there is a reason God has brought you together. He has positioned you for impact.
So here’s your challenge today: Be real. Don’t pretend. When someone shares a struggle or frustration take the time to empathize and share your story. God has done great things in you. Maybe it’s time for you to share them.
Your vulnerability has value and the dividends are incalculable.
I hope you’ll join me again next week on the Women’s Leadership Workshop for Part 2 of The Real Me, in which we’ll be discussing the difference between vulnerability and transparency.