Playing Pretend Is Fun... Until It Isn't – CMN Women
Playing Pretend Is Fun... Until It Isn't
By Christan Causey
As a child, I loved to create stories in my mind. I was typically the heroine, and the story always ended in my favor. They say pretend play is one of the best ways a child can learn. There is a point, though, when pretend play is no longer appropriate and it’s time to grow up.
We live in a world of pretenders, and we have all been guilty of succumbing to the roles we feel pressured to play. In a world where social media has become a prominent way of communicating and connecting, we tend to edit out what we would rather not allow others to see.
The truth is, we can blame social media, but the desire to wear a mask or live a divided life of pretense started at The Fall when this broken world was created. We have been battling the lure of division since the beginning of time.
As leaders, we are terribly susceptible to the desire to be viewed as better than we are and to hide our weaknesses.
We talk a lot about integrity in leadership. I often hear it referenced or defined in relation to external behavior or honorable actions. However, I think we often miss the mark when we talk about integrity as leaders.
I have adopted and begun studying this concept of integrity as defined by Peter Scazzero:
“Integrity is when who I am on-stage is the same as who I am backstage. It is when there is no separation between what is going on inside of me and what I am expressing outside of me. There is no separation of my inner and outer life.”
Ouch. That is much easier said than done. Integrity goes much farther than behavior modification or external action. It goes farther than simply how we act or perform on stage, in relationships with others, and in ministry.
You and I both know that even when there is a war going on in our souls, a fight for survival, we will continue along with smiles on our faces, preaching joy all the while. And, if that is the case, is what’s happening on the outside congruent with what’s inside?
Parker Palmer says it like this:
“As we become more obsessed with succeeding, or at least surviving, in that world, we lose touch with our souls and disappear into our roles.”
We may be losing our souls in the process of focusing on the external appearances of our personal and leadership lives.
We might be losing our souls if we are:
Harboring unforgiveness and resentment
Angry and scared
Wrestling with doubt and confusion
Continuing to believe the end justifies the means
Harming others through manipulation and passive aggressive behaviors because we don’t want to face what is hard and uncomfortable
Avoiding and ignoring
Talking about Jesus more than spending time with him
Preaching things that don’t even align with our own beliefs or expression of faith
And the list goes on…
When we refuse to share even a bit of the vulnerability of experiencing struggles in mental or physical health, grief, loss, or pain of any kind, we lose a beautiful moment where our community can see us as human and in need of grace and love- just as they are. When they see us as we are, Jesus moves beautifully to bind community together.
Our efforts to pretend, whether intentional or unintentional, not only disrupt Christ’s work in us, they inevitably harm others who are under our leadership.
Leaders (pastors included) were never meant to be the total authority in a person’s life, and we were never meant to save. When we don’t allow others to see our humanity, we set up an environment of pretense for the communities we lead in.
Living with intentional Christ-like vulnerability becomes so important as a leader and in community. Yes, it takes risk and intentionality, but it is vital for healthy leadership and communities.
Living a whole life, undivided, real and authentic is countercultural in many ways due to the risks present. I believe this is what Jesus calls us to as leaders, and this is what creates a healthy and safe community.
Living an undivided life as a leader creates accountability. It tells others this is a safe place, one where you can true to who you are and I will true to who I am and we will experience Christ’s transformation together. It encourages truth and honesty, which build community. Living with authenticity and integrity is one of the best representations and expressions of Christ’s vulnerable and sacrificial love.
It takes work, risk, effort, and sacrifice. Are we willing as leaders? And, if so, what steps will we take to intentionally seek an undivided life?
Christan Causey is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God and is the Network Women's Director for the Southern New England Ministry Network. She and her husband, Brad, have three beautiful, young children. They have been ministering in New England for over 9 years, and recently launched Essence Place in Connecticut! Learn more about Christan at her blog: christancausey.com