coffee talk: authenticity & faith

coffee talk 3As I wrestle with the risk of being more authentic, I'm struggling to find the line between authenticity and faith. I grew up in churches filled with happy, plastic Christians.

They answer "How are you?" with "I'm blessed!"

They don't admit to being sick even when they are, saying instead that they are "healed in Jesus' Name!"

And though I can't judge their hearts, it always seems more fake than faith.

It seems like denial.

And hypocrisy.

The implication is that if things aren't going well with you, it's because your faith just isn't strong enough.

And that's crap.

But things can get out of balance the other way as well.

Under the banner of authenticity, a lot of people are just plain negative.

They complain. A lot.

They're always responding to "How are you?" with far too much information. They let it all hang out, even at times when they "shouldn't".

And they just chalk it up to being real.

So how do we balance faith and authenticity?

When is it time to be honest about where you're at and when is it time to speak words of faith?

Talk amongst yourselves.

first time for everything

I didn't grow up celebrating Lent. I don't even know if celebrating is the right word to use. Honoring Lent? Observing Lent? Hmph. All of the above. I decided to celebrate/honor/observe Lent this year.

I wrestled with it a bit because I wanted to be sure I chose to do it for the right reasons. I didn't want to do it simply because I'm attending a church that honors Lent. Or because I have friends who do. I wanted to do it with my heart.

To be honest, my initial response when I started contemplating it was to scoff.  I've lost a lot in recent months; I've given up a lot. So when I felt the inner tug to "sacrifice" something for Lent, I raised an eyebrow at God as if to say, "What?! You still want me to give You more?!"

Yeah. Self-righteousness can be blinding.

So I've given something up for forty days. It's not really a big deal. But for me, the significance of this small sacrifice is a huge deal.

And it gives me far better perspective on everything else I've given up as of late.

And it reminds me it's all His anyway.

price tag

Last night we wrapped up debriefing with a time of worship and prayer. I really have no words that can capture my heart, except for these: The sweetness of that moment as we shared hearts, prayed over the interns, and worshiped together for probably the last time this side of heaven... You simply can't put a price tag on that.

love/hate relationship

I have a love/hate relationship with asking boomerang questions. You know the kind: questions that invoke open criticism of yourself. We just finished up the debriefing session that is always the hardest for me. We gave the interns time to share any suggestions they have for improving the program.  We told them we wouldn't defend ourselves or even explain why things were done the way they were (unless we felt it was absolutely imperative ). So the interns had full permission to just say what they disliked about their year.

I love it and I hate it all at the same time.

I love it because I always want to get better at what we do. I want next year's interns to have an even greater experience than this year's. I want to learn from our mistakes and make things more effective as we go forward. I also just love giving someone the "ok", and making them feel comfortable enough, to share this level of honest feedback.

I hate it because it's hard to hear that sort of honesty about how I've failed. It's difficult to not defend or explain myself, but to simply listen for the issue that underlies what's actually being said. I hate it because I find it so hard not to take this kind of criticism personally.

In the long-run, I know that this morning's challenging conversation will lead to an improved internship program. This is the sort of thing that makes me a better leader. Even if I hate it while I love it.

What do you have a love/hate relationship with?