November 17, 2011

Authentic Living

As a child, I worked hard to please my parents and my teachers.  As an adult, I find that I am still working hard to please others.  And as a pastor, I often feel that the way to do that is to make sure I live within the expectations of how a pastor is supposed to think and live.

On the one hand, living to please others and meet their expectations can have social benefits.  I'm currently reading the biography of Steve Jobs, a man who, despite his greatness, didn't give a shit (to use his language) about what other people thought.  Thus, he was often rude, tactless, and offensive.

On the other hand, always living to please others and meet their expectations can be incredibly confining.  It can lead one to feel trapped, captive.

A few weeks ago, I sat down and wrote a few paragraphs that reflected the real me - not the me that I feel compelled to present to the world.  I found it to be a liberating experience.  I was able to be authentic and real.  Here is some of what I wrote:

I eat, sleep, fart, feel lazy, dream, stare too long in the mirror, relieve myself, have sex.  I have questions regarding God that I doubt will ever be answered; questions about eternity, questions about sex and sexuality, questions about meaning and purpose and good and evil.  I have questions about the existence and nature of God.

I find exploring these questions to be fascinating.  The questions always lead to more questions, and yet I feel that simply by asking them, I learn more about God and more about myself.

Pastors are supposed to be better, holier, and more spiritual, but I do not feel that I am a better person than anyone else.  I am happily married, but I'd be lying if I told you that beautiful women don't cause my head to turn; or even, sometimes, beautiful men.

I'm not sure what is good or moral 100% of the time.  I sometimes recognize that both sides of an ethical debate are valid.  However, most of the time, I think I do have a pretty good idea what is good or moral.  Faith helps.  Scripture helps.  But even when I do know what is good and moral, there are times when I'm not sure I want to be good and moral....

If these words strike a chord with you, then welcome to the conversation.  Together, let us continue asking questions and exploring what it means to be human.

If what I've written here offends you or disturbs you, then I invite you to take some time to explore who you really are, deep down, and to ask some questions that you probably have never dared to ask yourself before.  And why haven't you?  Are you afraid of the answers?  Are you afraid of discovering who you really are? 

Join the journey.  It may be risky.  But that's what living is all about.


Stefanie said...

Dear Danny,

Thank you for writing this!!! I went to a new church yesterday and the guest speaker mentioned that we needed to dig deep to our our visions beyond the gates we have put up aroundn us from our past. I feel like I have to people please a lot myself...I even recall that I was five when it all first began. Sounds a little disturbing...but as I was clicking through blogs to read...I was really happy to see that Im not the only one who feels that way. SO thank you for sharing a real inisghtful message..the truth means a lot!

Dennis Sanders said...

Thanks for this post, Danny.