The Transparency Factor

In a world where we have been conditioned to always be careful of what we say for the sake of not offending someone the value of transparency in leadership is so easily lost.  We spin things just enough to make it sound better than it really is.  Most of the time it starts out very small, but then it grows into a behavior of self preservation and then even self promotion.  We don’t want people to know what is really going on for fear it could damage our reputation.  So, we end up promoting all the really good things while neglecting the areas that need improvement or completely changed.  We use statistics to back up our idea that we have healthy organisations or churches.  We cover it up in the guise of being a good leader or a good communicator.  You really don’t need to look too far to see how bad things are.  Just look at the current politics.  Its become part of the culture and it’s worked it’s way into the church.

In the church it may come out in any one of these situations: low offerings, staff members leaving, attendance, number of members, success of events, reaching the lost, small groups, discipleship, etc.  In your organisation it could be about your product, program, recruiting, profits(for non profits where the money is going), ROI, etc.  Really the lists go on.  Pick any one of these and ask how transparent are you?

Do we spin it just enough to make it look a little better or not that bad?  And then we pound the vision to death and share stories around it, because we all know that “without vision the people will parish!”(insert sarcasm).  From the outside everything looks pretty good, but on the inside people are tired and burning out.  So what is the harm in being completely transparent here?  Why not just say what is really going on?  FEAR!!!  More people will leave, investors will back out ,and more people will need to get laid off.  I’ve seen it happen over and over.

There could be multiple reasons why these things are happening, but what happened to the value of transparency?  I believe people long for it.  It’s refreshing.  A leader that is transparent is a leader that is vulnerable.  Usually vulnerability and leadership are not two words that seem to go together.  But neither is servant and leader.  A lack of transparency erodes trust.  A lack of trust looses your ability to have influence.  If you have no influence you cannot lead.

When we cover things up or smooth things over under the guise of leadership and good communication we are not leading.  We are being dishonest.  If you are a transparent leader, then yes, you are vulnerable. And that is pretty risky because people may not like you.  People may not think you are strong enough.  And you could loose your job.  But when you are vulnerable people see you as human and one of them.  You communicate with authenticity and people will trust you.  And it is when you are one of them, that is when you can lead them. The older I get the more I’ve come to believe that the culture you create speaks louder than the vision you communicate.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve done it.  I’ve smoothed things over and made things look better than they are.  It works for a little while but then it falls apart.  I’m on a journey to lean hard into transparency.  I believe the transparency factor is a game changer.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Loneliness or Solitude?

Loneliness and Solitude are two completely different things.  You might be reading this and thinking, “No Duh!”  However, most people fear the practice of solitude because they fear being alone and we attach being alone to loneliness.  I have not done many studies on this, nor do I suffer from depression (or at least not that I know of).  However, I have learned from my own experience that the feelings of loneliness I feel are usually a result of my circumstances.  For example, right now I have that feeling of loneliness.  For many years I worked in teams with people as a part of a church staff.  Planning. Dreaming. Strategising. Praying together.  Now I am half way around the world planting a youth missions movement.  Yes I have support from my organisation, yes I have my family here, yes I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  But, I am mostly working by myself.  I have been here four months.  Its tough to make all new friends. My feelings of loneliness derive from my circumstance.  I don’t have a team I regularly work with.  I miss my friends and family. I miss the camaraderie of shared vision with a team.

All that to say I had a thought yesterday.  How could I turn my loneliness into solitude?  You see solitude is a choice.  It’s a disciple to quiet your soul, turn off the noise and learn to hear the voice of God. So what if I can take those moments when loneliness sets in and turn it into solitude?  I don’t need to fear being alone because solitude is about pushing myself into the presence of my heavenly Father. My friend Kyle told me that its in solitude we wrestle with the aching question, “Is God really enough?”

So I wonder if it is as easy as changing my perspective.  A shift from loneliness to solitude.  Pushing through all the noise and being able to quiet our souls allows us the opportunity to hear the one who calls us beloved child.  He is the one who speaks life into our living. But I suppose easy isn’t the word I would use to describe the difficult transition that needs to take place from loneliness to solitude.

Solitude is a choice however.  You see I could choose to try and numb my loneliness by reading the news and checking Facebook to see what everyone else is doing in an attempt to feel a part of peoples lives.  In the end that actually feeds the feelings of loneliness. I can try to ignore it by filling it with all kinds of activity whether it be work or play.  At the end of the day when I put my head on the pillow it is still there.  I can try to replace the loneliness with what the world has to offer but that leads to destruction.  Instead I’ll try to choose solitude.  I’ll ask for guidance.  I’ll ask him what he thinks of me. I’ll be reminded he is a jealous God.  His love endures forever. He is close to the broken hearted.  Slow to anger and abounding in love.  And… to be reminded that the greatest blessing in this life is his presence.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.

Matthew 5:3-9 (NIV)


It’s an elusive thing. Tricky little word.  Some freely give it. Others seem to never be graced by it.  I’ve been on a journey for quite sometime trying to understand it.  Trying to trust God more freely.  Completely.  No strings attached.

The hard part about trust is it is a feeling.  Feelings are fleeting.  They change frequently.  One moment it is there the next it is not. I’ve seen God provide in ways I’ve never imagined.  It’s funny though as I watch incredible things unfold before me I find myself trying to take control again and again not trusting Him.  Whether it be His timing, His provision, or His ways, I find myself thinking about my timing, how will I provide, or what is the way I should do things.  Let’s face it.  Trust is elusive.  We can have it one moment and it’s gone the next.  I wonder if it is because we keep thinking about the next thing on the list to check off.  What if our list isn’t His list?
In a desert a long time ago a group of people had the same problem.  They watched God provide everyday exactly what they needed.  He was trying to teach them to trust him daily yet they tried to store things up and they began to complain.  Even I sit here and write this I keep thinking about all the things I need to do and check off my list.  I find it ironic that I can’t get on the internet at a Starbucks.  It just won’t work.  The login screen keeps saying bad syntax error.  So I’ll post this whenever it starts working.  For now, I feel as though I’m being forced to let go of my list.  As I sit here new things come to mind.  I let you finish them if you know them.  If not look them up.  It’s Good stuff.
Seek first His Kingdom…
Come to me all who are weary…
Apart from me you can do nothing…
Be still and know…
I must remind myself to TRUST
Refuge in His unfailing love
Understanding His
Sovereignty for