Pastors’ Wives (PW) and women in ministry are incredible sources of wisdom and creativity as they use their gifts in leadership and service. I highly value their insight, faithfulness, and diligent labor. That’s why I’m hosting Wednesdays Are for Women. Each week, we’ll hear from a different PW or ministry leader and gain her perspective on God’s activity on her ministry team, her local church, or the issues facing church leaders today.
Today, we’ll hear from Linda Seidler from The Experience in Benwood, West Virginia. Check out what she has to say about drawing a line between being authentic and being transparent with the people you lead.
Authenticity and transparency in ministry. When is it too much? When is it not enough? This was a question I was asking myself when I first entered ministry years ago. And I really did not know the answer since I had seen both sides of the spectrum.
I knew one pastor’s wife who told it all…sharing every detailed moment of despair and trouble about her family and church life. Sometimes it was so much more than I wanted to hear.
On the flip side, another pastor’s wife appeared to be free from all troubles and seemed to have a perfect marriage and even more perfect kids. I was totally in awe of her “no problems, no difficulties” life!
But my biggest hurdle came in trying to decide which of these ways was best for me. From that time until now, I have been asking God to give me wisdom when it comes to being authentic and transparent.
How much should I share publicly?
With whom do I share the details in my personal life?
Should I be authentic, transparent or both?
Authenticity says to others that you are genuine and real without pretending to be someone who you are not. So when I am authentic, the “me” that people see at church is the same “me” that people will see at Wal-Mart, a restaurant, or my child’s ballgame. It is our obligation as church leaders to be authentic with those around us. When our church sees true authenticity played out in our lives, it will give them confidence in knowing that it’s okay for them to be authentic in their lives as well.
Transparency on the other hand, gives an opportunity for people to gaze into the personal details of your life. It can divulge intimate struggles and troubles in such as your marriage, your children, and your ministry. To be transparent with someone says that you trust them with the details. You have given them entrance into areas that may be deeply guarded and protected and can make you vulnerable or susceptible to being hurt. Transparency is mainly reserved for those people who you can trust deeply.
Take a look at these examples of being authentic vs. being transparent…
Authentic: “Our marriage is not perfect, and we have many challenges.”
Transparent: “We were arguing last night, and I threw a dish over his head through the window.”
Authentic: “It has not always been easy raising our children.”
Transparent: “My daughter has been struggling for the past year with anorexia and bulimia.”
Authentic: “My morning was a little stressful and hectic today.”
Transparent: “The checking account was overdrawn, and the bills are not getting paid.”
Authentic: “Please pray for me this week.”
Transparent: “My depression is overwhelming, and I can’t get out of bed.”
As you decide how you will share your life, also choose those who you can entrust with the details. I see this in the life of Jesus. While He ministered to thousands of people, Jesus had 12 men whom He chose to know Him intimately behind the scenes. Only a chosen few were permitted to be with Him in the garden when He agonized in prayer before His crucifixion.
Being transparent with only a few people does not indicate that you are not authentic. It just means that you are protecting a part of your life that you wish to remain more private, and that is perfectly okay. And the amounts of authenticity and transparency in your life will depend on how you want your life to be displayed to others.
And coming in February, the most wonderful opportunity exists for you to be both authentic and transparent with other women in ministry from across the country! I had the awesome opportunity to connect with Tricia Lovejoy through Leading & Loving It, and I want you to know that she will inspire and motivate you to be all that you can be as a woman in ministry. So Join Shawn and Tricia Lovejoy for Velocity 2011 as they encourage pastors and their wives along their ministry journeys!
Linda serves alongside her husband, Tim, in leading The Experience, a growing ministry making people fully devoted followers of Jesus. For over 10 years, Linda has been leading and inspiring women to value their strengths and unleash their giftings to make a positive difference. Linda has been married to her first love for 22 years, is a mom to 3 daughters, and craves (unapologetically) coffee and chocolate. Connect with Linda on Facebook (Linda Seidler) and Twitter (@LindaSeidler).