When I asked her about it, the denials were prolific and amazingly creative.
I found myself getting annoyed and self-righteous. The truth is, though, that I am just like her. And you are, too. In reality we’re all a mess. We just don’t want anyone else to know about it.
The Tremendous Power Of Confession And Vulnerability
The cost of our cover-up is incredibly high. Like Adam and Eve long ago, when we hide our sin, we become isolated from God, each other, and everything that’s good.
But God has given us some powerful - if painful - alternatives. James 5:16 lays out an important principle for us. ‘Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed’.
Of course, God alone can ultimately heal and forgive. James reminds us, though, that God is at work when we confess our sins to other believers.
But we should also let others in on our weaknesses, not just our sins. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul tells the Corinthians about some sort of physical weakness, a ‘thorn in the flesh’, that God gave him to keep him humble. He hadn’t done anything wrong, but he let them the church in on this challenge.
7 Ways You Can Make It Practical Today
- Admit it when we make a mistake or sin. Instead of hoping others won’t find out, we can go and admit it up front.
- Share a real-time weakness or struggle. It’s easy to talk about something we’ve conquered, but sharing a current struggle shows others you need grace right now.
- Include confession in your prayer times. It’s fine to request prayer for your next exam or your Aunt Matilda’s hangnail. But confessing your failures, then praying about them, lets others in where you really need support.
- Seek out mentors and other resources, then tell others about it. When we find mentors, read books and seek others’ input, we’re quietly admitting we need help. (Bonus: share what you’re learning).
- Invite questions and accountability. We can proactively ask others how we’re doing and invite their feedback and accountability. At a retreat this past week, I was impressed when the center’s president sincerely invited my wife and I to let him know how they can improve.
- Be gracious toward others - and yourself. When we don’t get worked-up about others’ - and our own - failures , we demonstrate we believe God can overcome them. And people will be more honest with us instead of hiding.
- Compliment others. When you sing others’ praises, you show that you’re secure enough to learn from them and build them up. One older friend and mentor I know is incredibly generous in praising others, even those younger and less mature than he is. It always feels great to be on the receiving end and gives me courage to press ahead.
Question: As you reflect on the ideas above, which one would help you the most? What other ways do you cultivate a life of vulnerability and grace?
Bryan Stoudt is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and pastors healthcare students in Philadelphia, where he serves as the Christian Medical & Dental Association's Area Director. He and his wife Sharon have four wonderful children. Bryan blogs about 'following Jesus in a noisy, broken world' at www.bryanstoudt.com.