Being authentic is not about always getting everything right. It is about always seeking to be real.
Being real is not merely talking about being real. It is being real.
At times the more we talk about being authentic the less authentic we become.
If we are authentic, we do not need to keep telling people about it, they will notice!
Authenticity requires three vital ingredients
Knowing and being known by God,
What does that mean in practice?
Be secure in God,
Know yourself, and
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
These are qualities that are especially important in every Christian but they are essential for the preacher.
Jack Miller in his book The In-Grown Church says that one of the features of such a church is an insecure pastor. A pastor who is not standing firmly in God’s grace and moment by moment relying on God’s gracious strength is in trouble, and so is the church they serve.
Too many preachers serve the idol of approval. It is the oxygen they crave but instead it is a poisonous gas that suffocates them.
Too many preachers are trying to justify themselves by their pastoral work and the costly sacrifices they make to serve the master. Yet preachers, more than anyone, should know that we cannot rescue ourselves. We carry others with the knowledge that we are carried. We give, knowing that we have been given everything.
Paul had an unshakable confidence in the power of the gospel to change people’s lives combined with an awareness of his total dependence on God to preach and live out that message.
“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1: 28–29)
“Paul, how do you accomplish all you do for Jesus?”
“It’s simple, I give my all for Jesus but every atom of energy I expend in his service has been supplied by Jesus.”
Humble dependence on Jesus is a beautiful quality in a preacher.
If our lives are lived under the gracious scrutiny of God and with a healthy sense of self-awareness, we have the freedom to be humble.
Humble people do not lie about their accomplishments.They merely do not draw attention to them.
What does a humble person look like? CS Lewis suggests that:
“He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”
This is what Eugene Peterson captures in the following statement:
“To be a pastor requires immense humility and self-awareness, clinging to mercy like a drowning man grasps for a buoy. The strongest sign of authenticity in what you and I are doing is the inadequacy we feel most of the time.”
I like that. Feeling inadequate is not a disqualification for useful ministry. It is perhaps one of its most vital requirements.
There is a lovely story about Eugene Peterson in retirement. Someone visited the church where the Peterson worshipped. He said to the pastor,
“I thought Eugene Peterson went to church here.”
“He does”, said the pastor, adding, “Eugene and Jan were your ushers.”
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash