While I was away on vacation (and probably while I was reading his interesting book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day) Pastor Mark Batterson did a podcast with Rick Warren on vulnerability.  Batterson followed that up with a very helpful list on his blog of how pastors can become more vulnerable (in the good way) in their ministry.

from The Batterson Blog – Thoughts on Life and Leadership by Mark Batterson

I did a podcast interview with Rick Warren on Friday. Thought I’d post some thoughts on the topic: “How Vulnerability can make your ministry more effective.”

I’ll post the link as soon as the interview goes live.

One of my all-time favorite movie scenes is in Tommy Boy where Chris Farley says: “Let me tell you why I suck.” A good pastor has a little Chris Farley in them. Did I just say that? One of the things that I loved about Farley, besides the fact that he was ridiculously funny, is that he didn’t take himself too seriously! In my experience, people who are more vulnerable are more lovable! I just think that spiritual leaders really struggle in this area. We feel like we have to have this holy persona that is beyond sin. What we really need is the courage to share our failures and foibles!

All of us love a good success story, but pastors need to share their failure stories too. But do it in a redemptive way. Success stories inspire us. But failure stories help us catch our psychological breath. When we hear how someone else has messed up, it helps us feel normal. When I speak at conferences, I often share about our failed church plant attempt before we came to DC. It is amazing how many people come up to me and thank for me sharing that story. When I share a “failure story” it is like people breath a sigh of relief.

Here are 10 Random Thoughts on Vulnerability:

#1 People will only be as vulnerable as their leader!

The leader sets the vulnerability standard. They will only be as open and honest as you are.

#2 Embrace your imperfections!

Part of us wants to hide what’s wrong with us. But our imperfections are connection points! I’m always reminding NCCers that I’m a work in progress. And I have a little mantra I repeat as well: as soon as I’m omniscient I’ll let you know. I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have it all together. And I never will. We each have to deal with our thorns in the flesh!

#3 The happiest and healthiest people laugh at themselves the most!

It might have been Plato who said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” That is so true. I think laughter is one of the purest forms of vulnerability.

#4 The greatest freedom is having nothing to prove!

#5 Cry in public.

Jesus wept. It’s the shortest verse in the New Testament. But I think it speaks volumes about Jesus! Real men cry. Last week I shared a story about an NCCer who shared about her experience with human trafficking. I couldn’t get through it without crying! And a guy came up to me afterwards and said, “You just gave every guy in this place permission to cry.” Crying is a little embarrassing. But it is a form of emotional vulnerability.

#6 The best apologetic is authenticity!

It’s not how much you know. It’s how real you are!

#7 Quit trying to be a pastor and try to be yourself!

One of my most memorable conversations was with a pastor friend about a year ago. He decided to leave his church. His reason? “I just don’t feel like I can be myself.” Life is too short to pastor a church where you can’t be yourself.

#8 Jesus was holy, but he wasn’t holier-than-thou.

#9 Be open to correction!

How you handle criticism will determine how healthy your spirit is. You can’t afford to listen to criticism that doesn’t pass through the filter of Scripture. But you also can’t afford to tune out godly correction. Don’t become a self-validating closed-system. Allow people to speak into your life!

#10 Hang out at wells

Part of vulnerability is accessibility. Jesus didn’t hang out at synagogues. He hung out at wells. Wells were natural gathering places in ancient culture. Coffeehouses are postmodern wells! That is why we built Ebenezers. It is so easy to get quarantined as a pastor. At the end of the day, vulnerability is all about incarnation!

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