Monday, July 06, 2015

Day 90: Transparency & Vulnerability

Back after my brief hiatus. It was the right move, a chance to reflect on this blogging venture that started 90 days ago (well, technically 93). Our time on the farm with family was fun.

Now, there is one small reflection I are to share.

Transparency is a buzzword I hear quite a bit. I heard it a lot in my non-profit days and I definitely hear it quite a bit now in the business world. When I was serving in the church, people wanted their pastors, deacons, staff, and leaders to be transparent. In business, people want CEOs, boards, directors, managers, and staff to be transparent.

Transparent about what?

In business, it has to do with financials or pay for C-level peeps. Take, for example, Buffer, who seems to be leading the charge to be as open as possible with their payscale. It also has to do with business process. Most people these days want salespeople who are honest and up front with them as buyers are becoming more savvy each day and can smell BS a mile away, thanks to the massive fan blade known as the Internet. Companies that seem like they have something to hide or aren't so quick to share information when asked can be labeled secretive, not transparent. As a result, they may be considered less trustworthy.

In the church, transparent was also the buzzword, but it meant something different. Sure, there are still issues around pay and finances. It should go without saying, especially in the non-profit space, that transparency with money is top priority. When churches or non-profits who freely receive gifts from others do not readily inform those donors of the finances, that is a red flag you should stop donating (same goes with being a stockholder for a company, so says Benjamin Graham).

But it went beyond this. People in the church were looking for all leaders to show a level of openness about their personal lives, not just their professional leadership. The imagery of a shepherd is powerful in the bible and is applied to church leaders. The key to note, though, is that the bible states there is one Chief Shepherd who leads us all, including the shepherds of churches. So, in a very real sense, pastors are sheep just like everyone in their congregation. The standard to which they call others to from the pulpit needs to be modeled, which means their failures ought to be on display as much as anyone else because that is how they can lead people to understand the grace of God.

Here's the point: This goes beyond the word transparency. A 12-inch thick piece of glass separates a bank teller from customers, keeping them protected, yet allowing them to conduct business. That's transparency. Let the business world keep that word. It's good there.

For those of you in the church, call your leaders beyond transparency to vulnerability. Trust me, the majority of your pastors much prefer transparency; they are happy to preach from behind a plate of glass where they can't be hurt by anyone, especially you. Remind them that as much as they are your leader, when in front of Jesus, our Chief Shepherd, we are all sheep who need his love, care, comfort, and leading. Too many pastors are afraid of this simple, powerful truth.

Don't let them hide in the open behind transparency. That means their just doing business as usual, using church in a transactional way. Fight, fight fight for your leaders to get out in front of the glass and walk with you.

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