A letter to my Dad about honesty in leadership...

This is a letter I wrote to my dad a couple years back after sharing with "brutally honestly" (being 'fearfully human' as one author put it) with my extended family as a "family sharing time".  My raw thoughts were met with some mixed reviews, shall I say.

Dad, wrote me and simply said, "I'm praying for you...how are you doing?"  This was my letter back to him...I just felt compelled to share it.

thanks Dad.
I'm doing much better,thought the battle still rages.  My spirit is buoyed.
I would refer to myself as a "Peter" personality as it relates to th disciples.  I am passionate, I am emotional, I am die-hard, I am vulnerable, I am easily tempted, I am honest sometimes to a fault, I am "all or nothing"...these are good qualities, but they also lead to my demise.
They are my bread and butter and cause people to be drawn to me.  But they also torture my soul in the secret places and are only shared with those who can handle the raw data and drama of my life.  For the most part, I lead with strength and passion in front of people, but there are few who can shoulder my burdens with me and really understand. I don't want to alarm anyone...but that's what happens when I open up with people (even family).  I sometimes sense that people don't really want to know what's
really going on and what you're really struggling with and what you're really feeling, they just want the product you produce...the feeling you give them, the security of your stabilizing leadership presence...but this can be fabricated without the outlet of truth.
I sense that sometimes when I share...people just sit, listen, and absorb the shock, not knowing how to respond.  Rarely do I hear,"I hear you.  I feel what you're saying.  What you are experiencing is normal and natural for a leader.  I'm with you.  You're going to be ok." More or less it's "Oh no! Jason's going down!  I fear for his soul!  And if Jason can't survive we're all screwed!"  It is this response that makes it hard for me to share my true self with people...family included.  It's like people don't know me enough to know of my inner strength mixed with my inner fragility.  They just see my fragility and respond accordingly. Maybe this is the life of a pastor.  Or maybe this is just the kind of thing that keeps leaders
in dark of the "unshared life" and people in the dark as to who their leaders really are under the cloak of ministry.
This I know, we as leaders do ourselves no favors, nor do we do our followers any favors, by feigning faith in the midst of honest questions and confusion.  I would rather alarm people with my brash and truthful thoughts than edit reality in order to comfort the hearers. I am fully aware that the time, place and people where this sort of unadulterated truth can come forth is a small arena.  Family and close friends. (and sometimes not even
them if they can't handle it...I hope my family can handle the weight of my heart without pigeonholing me in some unstable category.)
I wonder sometimes if you had a real place to share your true heart and feelings early on in ministry if you would have found the freedom of accountability and friendship and honesty.  We grew up in a Christianity that unknowingly promoted "Don't ask, don't tell" modes of operation and everyone feared excommunication or at least emotional, relational "ostracization"
(not a word) in the faith community. That fear of risking loss of spiritual reputation due to "over-sharing" kept a great many hidden under a shroud of guilt, fear and loneliness.
Dad, I share this with you so that you can know of my heart.  I love you heart of faithfulness and care.  I love you desire to live for the glory of God and to serve people with every fiber of your being.  I think sometimes I just wish you had an outlet to just be real, I mean completely and embarrassingly real.  I think your story may have played out a bit differently. 

We'll never know though will we.  We can only lean into the future.
Thanks for you prayer.  I love you, Dad.  I pray for you and your ministry often.  You are doing a great job.  You're a leader whether you think you are or not.


Jim A. said…
Hey Jason, If you need some support maybe you can stop by BIG on Monday.

Jim A.
Anonymous said…
Having the courage to be real, whether it is in joy, or pain and sorrow...that is real courage. It is human to have all of what you described. When you have the courage and faith to share the entirety of your being with someone, the only 'pigeon-hole' that fits is 'human'.
I appreciate your honesty of all of your existence. Thank you.

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