One of my mentors in ministry is in his mid 50′s and he shared something about leadership and the various generations that has messed with my head a wee bit. He was taught in seminary by the generation above him that he should never get too personal in a sermon. If he needed to use an analogy, then he should quote a poem or some Shakespeare. This friend is a baby boomer and his generation made a shift and started to allow the congregation to hear some personal stories and a bit about their personal life. The following generations ( Gen X and Millennial) not only want to know their pastor, but they want to know how they have failed and messed up.
The Silent Generation: No transparency
Baby Boomer: Not afraid to open up a bit.
Generation X: Tell us more, let us in
Millennial: Tell us how you’ve messed up
Pretty interesting to see this change over the past 80 years or so. It appears that transparency seems to be on the rise, yet I do not believe it is the goal of Christian leadership. Laying all my cards on the table, I am a sucker for a transparent, vulnerable and authentic leaders in the church. Folks like Brennan Manning, Anne Lamotte, Mike Yaconelli and Henri Nouwen have always grabbed my attention for their brutal honesty and lack of spiritual posturing. Each of these authors simply appear as train wrecks in need of a savior. I kinda feel that way too.
Having said this, a pastor or Christian leader who simply spills their guts doesn’t necessarily qualify as a great spiritual leader. My generation (Gen X) and the one younger than me (Millennial) have almost worshipped transparency to a fault, as if it is the end and not a means to an end.
If a Christian leader lacks transparency , I question their leadership.
If a Christian leader who is transparent
fails to continually lead beyond themselves and to Christ,
well I question their leadership as well.
The Gospel of John is my favorite book in the Bible and for one main reason. John is a strong leader who talks little of himself, is deeply authentic and continually points his audience to Christ and the coming Kingdom of God. He moves beyond transparency.
Christians leaders lead to Christ, transparently.