This week, I was informed by two women that a loved one had passed away due to cancer. I was in shock because it is still just the beginning of a brand new year, and to hear such news as this was disheartening. To me, I just felt the need to encourage and support these women as it is a hard situation. I allowed myself to be me in the process and to let them know that they are not alone, and that they have all the support they need. Sometimes one of the hardest things Christians face is being ‘real’. It can be embarrassing to some, yet intimidating because when you are surrounded with unbelievers, it feels that you need to be exactly like them just to fit in. But we are reminded to always stand out. Although we are in the world, we are not of the world.
So what is transparency? Transparency is based on your individual character and how you portray it towards other people. In other words, it’s about being the real you regardless of what comes your way. You could be in a position where you find it difficult to share the Gospel to a friend, because you are afraid of what they will think of you. You may be afraid to let others know who you are. I remember someone telling me that you don’t always need to shout ‘I am a Christian’, because your attitude and lifestyle should be evident to those you are helping. Most people should know that you are a Christian through the way you speak, the things you do, and the way you relate to people.
Don’t deny your feelings – Feelings on the other hand can result to us not being transparent because they tend to have a strong grip on us if we are not careful. It can lead to self-pity, condemnation or anxiety. However, there is nothing wrong with feelings per se. Feelings are simply our emotional reactions to certain events or thoughts. Feelings can either be pleasant or unpleasant. Emotions filled the Psalms. For example, when Jesus wept in John 11:35-36. Ephesians 4:26 acknowledges anger as a valid emotion; it doesn’t say, “Don’t be angry because anger is a sin.” The issue is what we do when we are angry. We can be human and Christian at the same time. My question to you is, can you truly be transparent as a Christian and still be angry? It would be a challenge for some because if you are led by your emotions, you may say some things that should have not been said at all.
Another example was when Jesus was praying to God in Luke 22:42 it says “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me, yet not My will, but always Yours be done”. Jesus Himself was being transparent because He acknowledged His feelings and portrayed an honest request not to go through the Crucifixion. Jesus knew that He was facing not only the agony of crucifixion but also the trauma of taking on the sins of the world upon His sinless self, and being separated from the Father. At the same time, Jesus did not deny the Father. He said, “Let your will be done” in Matthew 26:42. So we can see here that not only did He deny His feelings, He was open to the fact that He knew what was ahead of Him, and the suffering that He would have to endure, however the statement in Matthew 26:42 clearly states that the decision is given to God Himself. Whatever God tells Him to do, that is what He will do. This is what we as believers should remember. When God is speaking to us, we should not harden our hearts, but we should willingly and openly obey the Father to whatever He desires us to do.
Through transparency, we can build close relationships with other people, and be honest. I believe everyone deserves honesty not only in a relationship, but in friendships, at work, at social events etc. For example, if your manager was to give you a task, you would you want to work effectively to boost your performance. However, it would be highly appreciated if you received some feedback based on your performance, to see what you can do to improve for next time. If we do not take the time to adhere to the necessary feedback given to us, how can we excel in our lives? We can’t expect to be better than yesterday if we don’t comply with feedback.
I believe that transparency with God is the foundation for inter-personal transparency. If we cannot tell God what is on our minds and hearts then how can we do the same with another people? God knows all about us and yet accepts us just as we are (Romans 5:8). It us very vital that we are being honest with the Father, and telling Him what is really on our minds. We must also be able to understand other people without being judgmental. Being able to tell a friend the truth about what you are really going through will make that person respect you the more because you have made a decision not to cover it up, but reveal it. A really good way to start opening up to people is by having small group chats with people you know you can trust, or even with family members. Should a leader publicize every secret she’s ever shared with God? No. Should she divulge every private sin that has ever entangled her? Of course not! Be discreet in what you say. Do not feel you have to show all your failings to the group.
- When we are honest in our prayer requests, others feel safer revealing their burdens.
- When we tell stories about something that happened in our life, that truth is more likely to penetrate their hearts, not just their heads.
- When our disclosures suggest that we are not self-sufficient and that we need to lean on Christ and other believers, people are less likely to live independently and more likely to seek the help that they need.
The Benefits of Being a Transparent Leader
- Your transparency will enhance your relationship with group members and facilitate more one-on-one ministry with them. Your group members will view you as approachable and feel safer talking to you about needs they might not want to reveal to the entire group.
- Your transparency will develop a deeper level of sharing among group members. They will be less superficial because you have set the pace. They will not feel alone or like a second-class Christian because their leader has already demonstrated authenticity.
So as a result, we can see that transparency is vital not just for ourselves, but for other people who are surrounded by us. It is critical that we know when to speak, and when not to speak, but the main focus is to be real and take off the mask that is covering the truth. Being transparent requires a level of openness to comfort and bear one another’s burdens, to forgive one another, and to care for one another. Remember that TRANSPARENCY IS THE KEY TO INTIMACY WITH GOD. Transparency is the new truth and is removing the mask to reveal who you really are. It is getting beyond the surface to what is really going on in your heart. A lack of transparency on the other hand results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.