Creative Leadership

Leaders who Confuse Being Transparent with Being Qualified

This post occurred to me when I was reading Tim Challies review of the book “Accidental Saints” by Nadia Bolz-Weber (and it’s a excellent review). He was describing his perspective on reading about her life and ministry when he said, “Somehow she equates transparency with suitability, as if her abundance of flaws, foibles, and outright sin serve as a résumé, as if they are evidence of godliness.” The line “she equates transparency with suitability” stopped me in my tracks – especially in light of how trendy the concept of “transparency” has become in the church today.

Don’t get me wrong. Even beyond the Biblical mandates of integrity, I’ve written on how important transparency is in light of this digital culture.  That DUI you got in college you thought everyone had forgotten about? Guess what – it will show up in a Google search. The river of information that flows into Google tells us that as leaders, we need to be more transparent than ever because in a digital age we simply can’t hide anymore.

But the flip side is that too many pastors and ministry leaders believe that as long as I’m fully “transparent” then I’m qualified to be a leader.  They blurt out their divorce, then assume they don’t have to take time away from the pulpit for counseling or restoration. They drop F bombs to prove they’re “real.” They abusively treat their staff with contempt because “I’m just speaking the truth.” They disrespect other people’s time or miss appointments completely because “that’s just the way I am.”

Transparency matters, but it alone doesn’t qualify anyone for leadership.

The greatest leaders take their role seriously, and know it’s not about them, it’s about the people they lead. The rest are simply pretenders. They’re people as Tim describes who’s “schtick is not cool. It’s not funny. It’s not shocking or edgy. It’s stupid, it’s bland, it’s old, it’s boring, it has already been tried and found wanting.”

Well said.

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  1. Arguably, much of the so-called transparency trend is just a “trans-gimmicky” trick and not authentic in the least. A true “Transparent” understands the truth of his own depravity without Christ, but will discreetly embrace vulnerability only as a means to empower and inspire someone else to overcome. Boasting of one’s carnal weaknesses like a badge of honor is an awkward way of saying, “I’m not religious, I’m actually pretty cool… see me sin?” It requires no courage or consideration. Sort of like serving up a fresh steamy platter of “horse manure” with a sprig of rosemary at the King’s table while his honored guests unfold their napkins… (inhaling deeply) Awww… the aroma!

    1. For me, there is a fine line between the meanings of being discreet and going unnoticed.
      For I live wisely for the Glory of God, tactfully and carefully, tastefully, modestly and humbly. Yet,I will not live an unnoticeable life, by remaining unassertive in the ministry of
      Post Abortion Healing.

      1. Agreed, Michelle… my use of the word “discretion” was pointed more toward wisdom of the heart (or discernment) of personal motive…. and much less about the method. Live boldly, and shine brightly my friend… looks like you’re doing it quite well! 🙂

  2. This really convicted me to look at how hard I am or am not trying to live the life I think exemplifies Jesus. Thank you.

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