the shape of leadership

Truth and Transparency

Why authenticity must accompany our proclamation of the gospel

Mike Harper on April 25, 2018


Most of our ministerial training revolves around imbedding into our lives a consistent loyalty to biblical truth. A deep loyalty to truth should be in all forms of our communication, both verbal and non-verbal. As such, it is not a coincidence that the first piece of spiritual armor the apostle Paul instructs us to don in Ephesians 6:14 is the belt of truth.

I recall young men walking down the streets of Dallas years ago sporting baggy jeans drooping well below their waistline. It was an awkward pop culture trend. As they walked, they inevitably needed one hand to keep their baggy pants from falling down even further. Perhaps this is precisely the image Paul wants to convey.

Living a baggy life without the support of the belt of truth laced through each belt-loop of ministry exposes us to public and private humiliation. An abiding loyalty to truth is mandatory and foundational in ministry. It protects us and those we love from inevitable embarrassment.

Not only does truth protect us, but truth also empowers our communication. Truth frees the communicator from the tether of personal opinion, the party line and the ever-changing tide of popular sentiments. Loyalty to truth draws a line in the sand against today’s culture of shifting semantics.

If we want to be effective in proclaiming the gospel truth to this generation, we must be transparent enough for them to see Jesus working in us.

Truth rings out with clarity. It cuts through clutter. Truth stands up to scrutiny unscathed. Truth penetrates and divides itself from falsehood. Therefore, truth does not fear to stand alone.

The best gospel communicators of our day acknowledge a shift in culture has occurred. The pathway of receptivity to the hearts and minds of our audience is no longer as straightforward as in previous generations. A new methodology or pattern of communication has emerged that is rooted in transparency.

Transparency is the new doorway to truth. Historically, Protestants have often failed to see that truth and transparency are congruent and complementary. Many view biblical truth only as an arbiter, a judge and a jury.

From the outside looking in, some people see a consistent loyalty to truth as a club to wield. Consequently, truth — and those who speak it — may appear cold, calloused and uncaring.

I firmly believe in truth and its unquestionable value to this generation. In fact, no previous generation in our history needs to embrace truth as a core principle for living more fervently than the current one. But, it is my conviction that to continue to present truth without transparency is not an effective approach to reaching this generation with the message of Christ.

Recently, at Church Multiplication Network’s first National Church Planters Conference, I watched young anointed and Spirit-empowered Assemblies of God leaders model our timeless value of consistent loyalty to the truth as seen throughout Scripture. Truth was not a club to wield but a byproduct of transparent communication that invites us to come close so that it may work within our hearts.

I listened as these spiritual leaders shared deeply moving stories of their struggles, from raising children with autism to wrestling with financial issues, fears, frustrations and failures. Their transparency invited me into their faith walk — a walk that sounded and felt like mine. Such a walk is consistently loyal to the truths of Scripture, yet transparent enough to share seasons of struggles and the harsh realities of life.

I watched as scores of church planters and leaders connected and responded to their transparency. In those moments, truth did not stand over us as a judge and jury — cold, calloused and uncaring. Rather, the truth of healing, provision, hope, faith and love walked beside us, leading us into a deeper revelation of God.

Scripture teaches us in John 16:13, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”

Our younger leaders understand that authentic, transparent relationships will lead this generation into the truths of Scripture.

Again, transparency in and of itself is not truth. Transparency is not the end game. Yet when we use it properly, transparency can be a powerful tool for leading others into biblical truth.

A quote I recently read conveys this idea well: “People with nothing to hide, hide nothing.”

Many share truths without transparency. But if we want to be effective in proclaiming the gospel truth to this generation, we must be transparent enough for them to see Jesus working in us.

Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

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