Saturday, May 19, 2018

A naked pastor’s honest truth

Photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash

I’ve had people say to me that they appreciate my vulnerability and that is nice. Some people think it’s too much, even a sign of insecurity in me. That’s fine too. But the honest truth is I’m nowhere near vulnerable enough yet. I’m nowhere near comfortable calling my sin for what it is. And, amazingly, due to God’s astonishing favour, that’s mine undeserved, that’s okay too!
God is calling us to be self-aware and courageous enough to know who we are from what we think, say and do.
This is not about identity in Christ,
even though we may identify as His.
This is about knowing and accepting
my identity as a sinner,
before God and all His creation.
This is about dying to self,
tearing the veil of secrecy down the middle,
leaving shames exposed,
so that the Lord might work.
Here below, in the tradition of Step 4 of AA’s Twelve Step Program, is a healthy look at the sin I can disclose about me:
I sometimes feel I don’t get enough and want more attention. I hate being misunderstood. I loathe being disrespected. I’m prone to feeling insecure. I’m quietly critical of others at times. I only sometimes enjoy imagining others thinking they’re ‘one up’ on me. I abhor the misuse of power so much that I can attempt to overpower people through advocacy, in turn disrespecting boundaries. Occasionally, based in pride, I overvalue and overestimate my abilities. Sometimes I wonder why God chooses to use others more powerfully than He presently uses me. Many times over the years I’ve prayed like the psalmist (Ps. 13), ‘How long, O Lord, will you hide your face from me?’ I have the propensity to completely negate how God is already using me powerfully in His Kingdom, not being grateful for what He’s given me. I often fall into the trap of wanting to do things for God rather than be with God. I’m a different person at home as I am out in public, and some people I know may think more highly of me than is true. I have the capacity to talk harshly to my loved ones. I’m not as good as some think I am, but at times I’m also haunted by how bad some others may think I am. There is a litany of sin within me. I prioritise comfort, privilege and pleasure. I often procrastinate when it would be wiser to do what God has called me to do. I worry too much about the state of my body, but do not do enough to maintain my body. I’m often tempted to get out of doing what I discern to be God’s will. Though I believe I’m regenerate of spiritual nature, there seems so much of the unregenerate nature still within me. I have a covetous way about me that I cannot seem to escape from. Time is often a god to me; an idol that controls too much of my life. I realise that I’m sometimes manipulative in my listening as I’m often formulating responses in my mind before I’ve truly understood what the other person is saying. Sometimes I linger on inappropriate things and rationalise them as ‘not being too bad’, the sorts of things ‘many people do’. I often feel I have much more head knowledge about God than a fire for God shut up in my bones.
With such a cacophony of sin you could be mistaken to think I were not Christian. Certainly, I’m comfortable that God has already transformed me so very much over the years.
Do I publish this with any sense of safety? No, it’s a risk. Do I feel vulnerable? Yes, now I do. It’s a different and deeper kind of vulnerability.
But these are the kinds of truths that will be known about me when I meet God in heaven. It does me no good to pretend I can keep them to myself. I must look within, get beyond the shame, and allow God to sanctify me afresh, knowing I enjoy His full acceptance.
Lord, help me not pretend I have this life all together.
Help me not propagate that kind of self-deceit.
Help me to be honest and stay honest.
Help me lead out of humility.
Help me see you!
Part of me imagines that there are leaders and followers of Christ who are ready to reject me and my ministry because I declare how specifically rotten of heart and mind I am. I do fear that — another sin. But I give it to God! Whatever. So be it. I just want to be better.
I do hope you’re comfortable with my public confessions. I hope they help you in your frail humanness.
I hope you can also identify some of your own sins within the descriptions of mine. We are not that much different. We all need God.
I hope as you read this list, that some of your sin would come into view, but that you wouldn’t feel judged by it, but empowered to turn, again and again, with momentary passion, to the Lord.

To admit our sin and feel convicted of heart and to draw near to God is a desire that meets with God’s will.

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