Monday Morning Leadership Devo
(Originally published on April 27, 2009)
“Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
Paul asks this poignant question to the churches of Galatia. Why is it that speaking the truth inflames passions? Why does the truth become a line in the sand, turning friends into enemies? The cliché is that truth hurts. It’s more than a cliché. The truth really does hurt. But the truth can also set us free. Paul, in fact, asks this question right before he launches into a lengthy exposition of biblical freedom in Christ: So if the truth sets us free, why do we resist?
I think it is because the truth always exposes the darkness in our own lives. Nobody wants to think that they harbor darkness in their life, especially Christians. Especially church attending, Bible study going, faithfully giving Christians. To even suggest that there might be impure motives in our religious devotion, or that we are guilty of polluting the body of Christ with our attitudes, to insinuate that darkness is present, will always result in a backlash. This is why it is difficult, and even dangerous, to be a pastor. This is why it is hard to be a leader. Leaders must speak the truth, and in doing so point out error anywhere and in anyone when they see it. And that’s what hurts so bad. To acknowledge truth is to, by default, acknowledge error. And to label it. This is offensive. We live in a world today that despises the truth so much that it claims that there is no truth, or that each person must construct their own truth. Truth is thus relative. This means there is no truth for all people during all times. This means that no one is ever in error. They just have their version of the truth. But when the leader stands up and declares that truth exists, that there are certain things that are true for all people in all times, and when the leader dares to actually name that truth, watch out. Pain and backlash.
But occasionally there will be those who lay aside their hurt, who fight through their pain and who look the truth square in the eyes. They see the measuring stick and they place themselves next to it. In doing so, they find freedom. This makes leading worth it. For me it makes pastoring worth it. I have the unique position of being able to watch the proclaimed truth transform a fellow human being into a new creation. It is humbling and very cool.
So do this sometime this week when you have time. Make a list of truth statements. Statements that are true in all places and in all times. Truth statements that you know draw the line in the sand. Once you have your list then let me ask you: When and how are you going to tell the truth? Yea, I know it’s scary, and exciting, but you can do it. You need to do it. Will it make you an enemy to some? Yes. It will also mark you as a leader.
“Lord, may I have the boldness to tell the truth. Amen.”