This post is part of a series from leaders who spoke at our Women’s Leadership Forum in 2013. Kathy Ferguson Litton spoke to ministry wives on the topic of being authentic. This post relates to ALL women!
“Inexperienced in the art of acting”, the words grabbed me.
Why? This is the meaning of the word “sincere” found in 2 Timothy 1: 5 “Clearly recalling your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice, and that I am convinced is in you also.” Paul describes these women’s faith as a faith “without a mask.” Which meant NO ACTING.
For most of the past 38 years I have been a pastor’s wife. A culture in which there is great temptation to wear a mask.
Ministry life can be a playground for faking it spiritually. In fact some have been taught to fake it and disconnect from true spiritual community. If we believe as leaders we must keep people distanced from our spiritual lives we may fail to understand the powerful work of the gospel.
The process of the gospel is the work of sanctification. Sanctification is God’s way of conforming us in thought, motive, word, and deed to the image or likeness of His Son, Jesus. And it’s messy.
Sanctification happens in biblically driven climate with these features: confession, repentance, true community, relationships, vulnerability and transparency. All which are impossible to pull off while wearing a mask. Jesus had brutal things to say about people who worried about the outside of the cup more than the inside.
Image management is not compatible to the work of the gospel. Becoming the image of Jesus is.
Blaise Pascal helped me see this is AGE-OLD issue:
“We are not satisfied with the life we have in ourselves and our own being. We want to lead an imaginary life in others so we try to make an impression. We strive constantly to embellish and preserve our imaginary being and neglect the real one.” -Blaise Pascal
Think about it. Preserving our image WILL cause us to neglect our spiritual realities.
Even if we sit on the front row we are not exempt from this:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence, but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
Can we share a sin struggle? Confess an honest doubt? Off load an inner pain? Discuss our failures? Live in interdependence in the body of Christ? We MUST. It’s called “working it out.”
All without a mask.
And P.S.: Slaying the image will be freeing.
Kathy Ferguson Litton understands how life contains the unexpected. Her own journey as a pastor’s wife, mother of three and life in the suburbs of Denver was interrupted when she became a widow. Her life became instantly painful and unfamiliar. Yet God emerged an unexpected journey through corporate life, vocational ministry and then another season of being a pastor’s wife. She is married to Dr. Ed Litton who is pastor at First Baptist North Mobile in Alabama. She presently serves at the North American Mission Board as National Director of Ministry to Pastor’s Wives. www.flourish.me // @flourish_me