C.S. Lewis said: “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
A group of leaders from the worlds largest churches met recently and one of the celebrated fast-growing leaders shared an important module about the importance of the family. He went on to talk about how every member of his family is blessed and happy and serving God in the ministry. (Did you know that kids in “full-time ministry” is still the metric of a successful parent in ministry? Sounds so 80's to me. As for me, I want kids without lids. I want one Pastor, one Lawyer, and one Entrepreneur… and you can throw in an Artist, so long as they're not living at home at 40).
Anyway, my friend who was attending this session has about 75,000 in his apostolic network but has gone through some tough patches with kids and their marriages and such. He paused after telling me about that session and shook his head. I wasn't sure about his point and asked if he had anything to say to them? He replied, ” I spoke out and said – ‘somebody get me a blade I'm going to stab my arm. I mean, who in the world has perfect kids like that and how is their being in ministry the measure of my success or failure as a parent? It's just so unreal.' ”
To be honest, I was initially shocked at his statement, but after a short silence I broke out in laughter and clapped my hands. After all, he was putting in words what I was thinking, anyway.
I positively love leaders who create the space for you to show up authentically and not like a superstar. In fact, I am getting to an age where I will go beyond that and say that those leaders who are impressed with their success as ministers or parents and desire to impress you, actually make me nauseous. (Well, not quite that bad, but you get the idea.)
One thing about the next generation of millennial youth: they want real people with real-life journeys. The Bible does not cover up Peter's denial of Christ, but neither does it saddle him with baggage from his past. He moves on. You don't hear him talk much about his marriage or children. In fact the one couple who are mentioned in relationship to him dropped dead when they lied. Obviously this is the wrong guy to lead the Couples Fellowship. Point is… religious people (and churches) obsess with looking perfect, having perfect families and branding those ministers who do not rise to their pious standards. Authentic Churches and leaders create a culture of authenticity and growth. If you are playing the game dishonestly – for public image, you might just drop dead. On the other hand if you are a struggling homosexual or whoremonger seeking refuge from your past and freedom in the present…well you've come to the right recovery group.
Anyway, my main point isn't about how believers try to present perfectly shrink-wrapped families as evidence of having it all together, my point is how powerfully I bonded with a brother who was honest about how much the modelling of perfection was turning him off. It was a “what, you too?” moment, and those moments of raw honesty actually strengthen our bonds as a band of believers who seek friends who meet us where we are but see us in our greater self.
Yea, that's it – I want Jesus. I want grace and truth with skin on. I WANT FRIENDS WHO MAKE IT SAFE FOR ME TO SHARE WHERE I AM, WHILE HOLDING ME TO THE MISSION OF BECOMING THE MAN I AM CAPABLE OF BEING IN CHRIST.
HOW ABOUT YOU?