Transparency…Making Ministry Believable
A leadership reproducing ministry is attractional and attractional ministry is believable.
Demonstrating the positive side of ministry is vital in an attractional ministry. Transparency is a safeguard from projecting an image potential young leaders may see as unobtainable or unbelievable. Young leaders can be detoured from stepping up to the next level by unrealistic ministry expectations created by people who lack transparency.
We find a pattern for leadership transparency in many leaders throughout scripture. The Apostle Peter speaks of the leader’s role in tender terms in 1 Peter 5. He is obviously a changed leader from the man we saw in the Gospels. The Apostle John could have been arrogant after reminding the people he had walked with Christ (1 John 1), but goes on to say that everyone has sinned, including himself.
I call attention to another leader: The Apostle Paul. Numerous passages highlight Paul’s willingness to be transparent. An overview of just a couple of these will reveal this pattern in his life.
Acts 20, records Paul’s goodbye to the Ephesian elders before sailing to Jerusalem where, as far as they all knew, he would potentially die. Paul begins his exhortation in verse seventeen using his very life as the foundation for ministry. It is easy to see why Paul’s ministry was so believable.
Transparency is the theme of verse eighteen and is an obvious characteristic of his ministry to the Elders. Paul basically says, I lived as an open book from the first day we began doing life together. Attractional ministries are led by men and women who are “real people.” All the things he says in the next few verses would not have been nearly as powerful or effective if this characteristic were not real.
We see this again in 1 Corinthians 1:1-11. Particularly in verses eight through eleven, Paul opens up his life. He becomes vulnerable and shares the hardships he has faced. He is not airing his dirty laundry, just simply communicating his heart – being transparent. Remember, this is a letter of rebuke but it is also a letter to friends to whom he has ministered.
Let me hasten to say, I am not advocating going “reality TV,” or using your ministry as a therapy session. What I am saying, is that being a real person is vital in ministering to people. It is important in recruiting young leaders to ministry.
There is a balance between being the strong, in charge, person who is leading a younger believer or leader to the next step and being vulnerable and transparent. Where is that balance? Well, if I knew the answer to that question, I could probably write a book and go on a world tour; but I will leave that for someone else. I am still trying to figure it out!