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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

08 Jan '13

Pretense, the enemy of authenticity


The enemy of authenticity is pretense, pretending to be what we are not! It is nothing less than dishonesty which compromises our personal integrity and causes us to live with personal dissonance. 

This was the problem with the Pharisees in Jesus' day. They worked hard to "look and play the part," but that is exactly what they were, actors, playing the part, rather than authentic people of God. It is interesting to me that the only people Jesus was "hard on" were the Pharisees. He hated their hypocrisy.

There are many practices that believers are "supposed" to follow. The "rules" that govern how we live, act, talk and behave. Often we are no different from the Pharisees. We play the part even though it does not reflect the real us. And many of the rules have nothing to do with God but are as man made as those of the Pharisees.

Authenticity is one of the greatest gifts that leaders can give their teams. Authentic men and women have problems, experience spiritual highs and lows, make mistakes, need to ask forgiveness, and don't need to pretend that something is not what it really is. What you see is what you get. People can relate to that because that is real life. People cannot relate to perfection (and of course that is a lie anyway).

Authentic people don't do appearances for appearance sake. Jesus certainly didn't. In fact, he went out of his way to tweak the minds of the Pharisees by breaking stupid man made rules. Authenticity is not about legalism or "keeping the rules." It is about being serious about our followership of Christ in a real way, caring about the important matters of the heart and living in the transformational power of the Holy Spirit - the opposite of trying to keep up appearances.

Authenticity is about living honestly. Being honest with ourselves about our followership and where we come up short and honest with others. If there is one thing that turns off non-Christ followers, I think it is the lack of transparency and honesty among those who tell them that they ought to follow as well. People see through pretense.

Pretense actually breeds legalism and more pretense  After all, if my role model is someone who pretends to have it all together, I may well decide that I need to pretend to have it all together as well. And keep the silly rules that accompany such pretense.  Pretense is a prison because it is not real, cannot be sustained and requires way too much effort to keep up the pretense.

Authenticity on the other hand is freedom. What you see is what you get and I don't need to spend energy trying to look like something I am not. Funny thing is that the only people who get ticked off with authenticity are those who are putting up a pretense themselves. Authenticity puts a lie to their lack of authenticity, hiding behind legalism and false spirituality. Jesus was the greatest threat to the Pharisees - and they knew it which is why they had it in for Him.

Here is an interesting question: where in my life do I feel a need to pretend I am something I am not? Why do I have that need? Something to ponder as we live out our faith.