It was humbling to bring myself to such confession before the kids I teach. It was also a risk.
I was sharing with them a major experience I had in the past week. I had told a friend whose brother was planning a meetup that I was hung up in a meeting, when I was only preparing to go for the meeting at the time she had reached out to me. So, when the Holy Spirit brought it up at my devotion hour, I did not only ask God for forgiveness, I had to go tell my friend I lied. Just because the idea sounded true to me doesn’t make it the truth.
My fear was first about my image. The fact that having built a reputation of honesty and dependability for months among these kids, I was bringing myself to a point where they could leverage my lie for their own mistakes. Oh, if Uncle ‘Seun could have done that; why can’t I? The struggle to be vulnerable, to be open, that moment of truth was too much to bear. But I felt strongly that the Lord wanted me to do it. So, I did.
The conversation changed! It was like a nudge. Many children became restless. Hands were raised. And the teenagers poured on and on and on. I heard issues that astounded me. The level of fraud and hypocrisy, the degree to which they had struggled with certain darkness within. My vulnerability liberated them from their secrets, and their sincerities touched me too.
Two lessons for me:
1) Restitution must respond to conviction.
2) You can impress from a distance, but you must be vulnerable to influence.
It’s a risk. They’ll see your flaws. That’s okay. I think I learnt early that the most essential quality for leadership is not perfection, but credibility. That is still true. People must be able to trust you, or they won’t follow you. How do you build credibility? Not by pretending to be perfect, but by being honest.
Be honest about your sins. First to God; then trusted believers! Your openness will not only liberate you, it might liberate others who look up to you.
Remember, pure hearts are first honest hearts. Purity thrives in an atmosphere of honesty. We cannot insist on a life of purity and stifle every atmosphere that opens people up to be as vulnerable as possible. There is hardly accountability where there is no honesty. There is hardly purity where the walls of accountability have collapsed.
Also, remember that honesty is not a call to be talkative about your life either! For you will also learn, as guided by the Spirit, that some things are better kept than said.
In all, be led by the Spirit. That’s why you are God’s child.
[First posted: February 2016].