Is Transparency Overrated?

by Ed Ollie, Jr.

One of the exciting things in my line of work is relationships. In fact, it is central to what I do in not only life, but ministry. But, there is an inherent tension in all these amazing relationships. We all live in the world of expectations and nowhere is that pressure felt more than how we use and choose to spend our time. I haven’t figured it out, but I’m getting better. Over the past couple years, I’ve been prioritizing what is most important to me. It looks a little like this:

1. God
2. Me
3. Marcia
4. My Kids
5. My Friends
6. My Career
7. Finances
8. Ministry

Sadly, I haven’t always been consistent in those priorities. But, there are people in my life who consistently ask me about my progress in these areas, because the cost of not doing so is much too high.
There is a paradox I’ve found in my vocational life. The people who talk most about transparency are often the least transparent. Isolation is used as a form of self-protection. Many leaders are exceptional communicators, but don’t like being around people. Many speak about being fully known and fully loved, but there is constant fear in being known. At times, for good reasons. People may ask leaders for transparency, only to use it against those who attempt to do so. Trust can be costly.

God, himself, ran into this dilemma after making a home for Adam and Eve. The instructions seemed quite simple: enjoy it all…except that tree over there. That one is mine. If you eat of that tree…guess what, you’ll die. But, sometimes, transparency isn’t enough. As the story continues, they chose unwisely.  Both ate the fruit of the tree and eternity for them, and for us, was changed forever.

It was during an incredible small group experience years ago, a man name “Tommy” said, “sharing is overrated.” We all laughed and asked for further explanation. He elaborated that while he was called to save the world, he chose to invest in 12 people. However, he confided in only three: Peter, James, and John. Tommy’s point was simple: God didn’t call you to reveal yourself to everyone. But everyone deserves to have someone who will love them unconditionally, challenge them respectfully and exhort them to use their gifts to glorify God in all they do.

But why do we work so hard to avoid true relationships? Self-preservation. It comes naturally. We crave alternative realities. We like control. We shy away from commitments; we tell stories that always make us look better. Our world is filled with people who spin the truth. Because truth, today, is relative. However, there comes a time in our life where we must face the truth.

Jesus said it this way in Matthew 5:37, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” I’m finding there is freedom and power in telling the truth about who you are. Being empowered, through Christ, to live out your true, authentic self. That is something both Christian and pre-Christian friends can agree on.

So, is transparency overrated? I don’t think so. In fact, most find it refreshing. This Easter, try a different approach. Instead of just inviting people to your church, invite them into your life. In a world full of lies, your friends are waiting to experience the TRUTH of who you are.

Schedule a visit to Hermitage Hills Learn More