It’s been said that what we know matters but who we are matters more. We’ve all experienced the increased trust and connection that is created when someone has been open and honest with us about their joys and struggles in life. Especially if that person was some kind of leader or superior.
However, when it comes to homilies, talks, and ministries, many parish leaders do the exact opposite. They put immense focus on knowledge of the faith while spending very little time or energy sharing how the Lord is working in their own lives. Why is this?
Many pastors have shared with us that seminary years and ongoing formation have taught them that vulnerability is dangerous in presentations. Usually it’s based in a few fears:
- Fear of making it all about the preacher and not all about Jesus
- Fear of discouraging parishioners and losing credibility by sharing areas of struggle
- Fear of being truly seen. It’s safer to put up a facade than allow people to see who you truly are.
While it’s very important to use prudence when deciding what to share with others, living out of these fears often prevents a leader from giving their most memorable and influential homilies and presentations. When we back away from speaking the truth of who we are in courage, we deny people what they are truly hungry for.
Many parishioners are starving to know that they are not the only ones struggling, that following Jesus is both joyful and deeply challenging, and that it’s safe to be honest about areas of struggle and need. This message starts with the example of the pastor and key leaders. If you want your people to feel safe to express their own challenges and find belonging in your pews, you need to be the first ones to present the truth of who you are in Jesus even more than what you know about Him.
- As you prepare for your homily or presentations this week, pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you moments from your own life that you can share honestly to encourage your parishioners. If you’re unsure of its effectiveness, ask a trusted friend or coworker.
- Take some time in prayer to speak with the Lord about the fears you have of being truly seen by others. Are you striving to present a facade of perfection or false strength? If so, why? What message do you think this is sending to those around you?