Why so many Christians are pretending to have it all together?

Why so many Christians (Famous preachers included) pretend that they have it all together? What is it that stops them becoming Real and authentic? Why cant they freely admit their shortcomings, losses and failures as in their Christian walk?
I’ve been asked these questions many times and I would like to know how would you answer these questions.

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@roze4jesus Here are some thoughts I hope are helpful :slight_smile:

  • not all Christians do claim to have it together - plenty do admit their struggles - even speakers
  • people may not feel safe sharing their failures with just anyone - that requires trusting relationships that have been built over time
  • people may not find it beneficial to always be talking about their past - especially if they have since moved on and are now walking in wholeness
  • speaker is attempting to share truth from God’s Word with you - if their struggles are not relevant to their message, it may not be appropriate for them to share them at that time

I’ve been to plenty of Churches where Pastors emphasize that we are all broken and on the journey of healing. So I think it is simply not true that Christians all pretend to have it together.

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@SeanO, I do think @roze4jesus meant “many” but not “all”, which I do see where she may be coming from regarding the people around in churches, or at least based on her circle. I personally think that it is relatively common action taken by Christians, but that the causes that lead up to it can be more complex than we think.

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To just list some of them:

<< Pride >>

I think the most common reason why we hold on to our facade is because of pride - the idea that I can do it myself, or I can solve it myself. I will have to admit that this is something I am guilty of frequently. If there is a problem, and I can deal with it personally, why even need to involve God in the picture? I don’t even need to pray to God about it, despite deep down knowing that without Jesus, we can do nothing.

<< Fear / Lack of Safety >>

Another reasons may be due to fear of others judging them. To be honest, I do sometimes feel that Christians are more judgemental than non-Christians, haha, which might be due to an “equity model” where they feel they receive lesser (grace) despite doing more good, but the one who failed seem to have received more (grace), even when doing bad. But nonetheless, regardless of belief, people judge you based on your actions. Therefore, some may be more hesitant to be real because they fear for their safety. Sharing something private like a guy having pornography problems, or a girl being lesbian needs to be in a safe setting.

<< Culture / System >>

As commonly shared in these forums, context is very important. There will be certain cultures / systems where the leader is not allowed to have any flaw. It is possible that the church has elevated the perception of leadership to reach a point where it is similar to being divine, or “he can do no wrong”. However, we fail to always remind ourselves that leaders are humans too. They will still fall at times. Furthermore, it may be at a stage where the leader makes just one mistake, leading to a large portion of the congregation being stumbled, and leaving church (or some leaving God even).

<< Self Condemnation >>

This is a little of a derivative from the previous 2 points. I shared in another post elsewhere that condemnation is a slippery slope. What happens is that when you sin, if you feel that you have lost your fellowship with God, a common thought comes to your mind, “Since I have already lost fellowship, why not just sin more? What difference does it make?” They will be thinking that, I already need to “pay back the debt” for my sin, so I might as well just pay everything back altogether later, and just do whatever I want now.

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I do agree that it is so much easier to just be real and own up to our flaws, so that healing and ministering can come in. However, some of these processes take time. This is also why God first gave the 10 commandments when the Israelites claim that “whatever God wants us to do, we will do”. He could’ve just sent Jesus and gave us Grace. However, He wanted the Israelites to know that they are sick and need a doctor - that we cannot save ourselves based on our actions, and only a Saviour can do that.

There will be times when the individual do not know that they have a facade or need help. It is up to us to love them regardless, and make ourselves available so that when the day comes and they recognise the need to own up, there will be a relationship forged to enable ministering to come from us, to them. :slight_smile:

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Thank you Kyrie for your response. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. I am guilty of some of the things myself too. My biggest fear was of being judged or judged wrongly but the more I tried to admit to my flaws the more I feel free. It is so liberating to know that you actually have nothing to hide.

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I would like to inject, that when we are in fellowship with one another, there is a sense and discernment, when things are not right. As workmen who are compelled to study to show ourselves approved, after some time there is an awareness when imbalance evades a life. An awareness of when the fruits of the SPIRIT are not evident in that life. I always contend that when a Christian lapses there was someone close by who knew what they were seeing. Perhaps from love or fear they said or did nothing. But they knew. Sin is one of the most compelling calls for us to pray for one another.

I say often to my family, I am as human as you are. Why do you need a visual reminder of that simple truth. I am committed to a life that repents and turns away from any sin that I allow to beset my way, but I don’t apologize for being human. To err is human, but sin needs divine intervention.

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I like the question but I can help but ask what is meant by “having it all together”? Is it possible that this question is based on the idea that everyone has flaws and because we are flawed we should live a in a glass house? I don’t think this is a good idea. Reading some of the great responses I can’t help but wonder what is wrong with keeping a stiff upper lip and doing what is required. I think there is a bit of stoicism baked into the Gospel and is nuanced in the Epistles.
I have been taught to load the wagon and don’t worry about the mule going blind that is not my worry.

To be clear I am not suggesting that this should be the answer given to folks who think that Christians are living a “together life” on the surface and are having struggles internally but there are many believers who are loading the wagon without a lot of fanfare. I think this an important distinction.

My thoughts.

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Hi @roze4jesus,

I really appreciate you starting this conversation. I think many, many others have the same question and will find this discussion helpful. Thank you.

I recently saw someone post a quote that read something like, “When I wore a mask, I didn’t realize that people would love the mask, and not me.” Now, I don’t think that statement is entirely accurate. When people love us, even when we are wearing a mask, they really do love us. However, our own hearts may be less able to experience their love because of all that we are hiding in the relationship.

I think the quote points to the yearning of our hearts to be fully known and fully loved.

In an interview with Christianity Today, Erwin McManus shares this incident:

And then right after that, my company was stolen from me. I lost millions of dollars in one day. I had to fly home and tell my wife that we lost everything. I felt like I was going to die. Everything had felt so affirming. So clear. Like God was moving. Then the bottom fell out.

When everything collapsed, it coincided with Mosaic’s leadership retreat—we had all our leaders come together all day. I just took the day to share what had just happened. I walked through my disorientation, pain, loss, sense of betrayal, hope, my aspirations. At one point I said, “I’m telling you all this because I want you to watch God restore and rebuild my life.” You see, a lot of people had only seen me in success. Now was my chance to let them see me in absolute, utter failure. I was going to be proof of whether God was good or not.

I’ll say it this way—it took failure to convince me that real tribe of Jesus would follow me naked and unashamed. When I came to Jesus, I was willing to be naked and unashamed, but there was something missing. You know, when you’re naked, everybody sees all the wounds. They see all the scars. I wasn’t at the point to lead others into that yet. I don’t know if I was willing to say to everyone this is the life you need to live as well. Just take off the clothes and run with me. I’ve seen a lot of people live out what I try to live out and their lives have been full of pain and failure. And I want to live that out? I want to call people into that?

I really appreciate his incredible honesty in sharing about his vulnerabilities and struggles. It is, in a word, authentic.

At the same time, I think part of what gave Erwin the courage to be real is that his life is also transformed.

As a leader, it is hard to be vulnerable with other disciples of Jesus if you are not seeing Jesus at work in your life. That isn’t to say we are perfect.

It is to say that in the midst of our many imperfections, we are experiencing grace and new life in Jesus. Otherwise, what are we leading people into?

The destination isn’t authenticity, but maturity.

As leaders, if we are not growing in Jesus, then we can start to hide behind a mask and pretend that we have it all together. This keeps others from growing to maturity because it teaches them that the way to spiritual status in the church is to hide your flaws and pretend to be perfect.

Alternatively, if we simply share our struggles, but there is no transformation, then very few people will follow that example either.

We are all struggling - we want the encouragement from seeing other imperfect disciples becoming like Jesus. I hope that in RZIM Connect we can be real with one another about our imperfections, but we can also see that God is at work in one another’s lives, helping us to be like Jesus.

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Thank you Carson. I can relate to Erwin McManus. At one point, I was scared to be vulnerable. Then when I decided to let everyone know the real me allowing God to work in my life, most of my church people accepted me with all my failures and losses, some left but many remained. I can say that admitting some of the hidden things/failures/sins has freed me in the way I was never free before. Now more people are openly coming and asking me to pray for & with them for what they are battling with. Last night we started our summer “Reality Check Cafe”. I was surprised how everyone was openly and freely talking about their failures and fears & asking God’s guidance in our broken life. I sensed the real thirst and hunger to know the Lord more and follow Him.

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Rose, this is an interesting question. It reminded me of a Vital Signs podcast a while back. I appreciate how Cameron McAllister related the role of spiritual disciplines in our private and public lives. The spiritual disciplines remind us how we our attempts to save ourselves are flawed, and as we die to ourselves, we can also encourage others to do the same.

“As a human being, all of us are recovering sin addicts. We cannot do it on our own, but with Christ there is help. We are called to work together for the sake of the Gospel and to complete the mission that Jesus began on earth. It’s an amazing, amazing quest, one that we cannot do on our own.”

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Hi Brittany, thank you for this wonderful podcast. This is exactly how I feel about the church.

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Greetings Rose, a friend on here, Lakshmi, sent me a link to this discussion and I appreciate your candor and should like to encourage you to continue to ask these insightful, revealing and thought provoking questions.

What moves my heart is how you state that you have been asked these questions by others which shows that it is significant enough to your heart to ask the body of Christ for their insight. That is how the body should interact.

When we wrestle with an issue like this, it becomes passionate to our being, Existentially applying the word of God to a real world situation. Quite honestly, many colleagues who are atheist, agnostic or believers in other religions ask me the same question.

Kyrie does a good job of listing some of the problem, as sinful people (as stated by cer7), our human nature often is at the forefront of our interaction.

I do believe the stoicism as mention by Jimmy is more often found in the secular, professional world. An interesting note here is that what the accomplished in the professions have learned is that failure (weaknesses) is/are not something to be a shamed of, nay, rather it is to be sought as one learns more from their failures than their successes.

As Christians we realize that, it is when we are beyond our own capacity, when God’s grace can shine on us, that we grow the most and as we meditate on this, we are more apt to yield and be the first to admit, that we are weak. This is what mature Christians should do.

I have explained this to my professional colleagues who are not Christians and there is an awakening that takes place, they can identify with that answer because to them, they do not want anyone to see their weaknesses and they were actually surprised to know that I have many, many faults, (sins). I just laugh as say, oh my goodness, I often wonder what God ever sees in me, for surely even after all theses years I am still failing on my face and putting my foot in my mouth. I joked that I am in the dog house so much that I thought about building a portable dog house to keep on my back so that it is easier and faster to get into! Of course I am being facetious but I think you get the idea, ha ha :slight_smile:

In closing Rose, I shall leave you with this thought: perhaps, just perhaps, God is using this dilemma to use you for salt and light to bring about a change with those you meet. By explaining to them that none of us are worthy and that it is our trust in Him and our own humility that keeps us close to God, not our actions, not our accomplishments nor our bravado.

For me, knowing my own sin, I am in no position to judge anyone, for I have enough of my own sins to keep me at the back of the line as far as worthiness.

With lowliness comes much peace, something that I do so appreciate these daze. Together let us pray for each other that God’s mercy, grace and peace be poured out to all of us so that the world may know God is Amazing, for how indeed can he transform a wretch like me? I am still in amazement!

Blessings…

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Hi. I agree 100% with Sean’s reply. However I understand your point. I have been a Christian over 30 years and in the beginning I think I could have mistakenly strived for perfection and the glorious aspect of the gospel. Running the race for the prize, receiving the crown, being perfect as my heavenly father is perfect, etc. All of which is scriptural. As I made more mistakes, recognized my short comings, sinned and repeated sins; I became in touch with my humanity, with the grace and mercy of God. Then my salvation and relationship with God took on a whole new meaning. My love for Jesus grew even deeper. I went from not recognizing my sins to seeing them readily. You see, knowing Jesus from childhood makes it harder to see sins to admit because the usual worldly lifestyle doesn’t apply. Another aspect for me and could apply to other people, Christian or non Christian, is that if you grew up with criticism or parents that expected perfection , a person could feel they have to show people they have it all together. This is usually a learned behavior and part of their way to survive or cope. I think you can remind anyone who criticizes Christians that they are just people too and are learning and growing. They don’t have to be Christ, for someone to choose Jesus. Salvation is a work of the holy spirit. I know a lot of unbelievers want to blame Christians for the reason they don’t choose Christ. But it really comes down to their own heart with God. I would encourage them to do their own seeking instead of judging Christians without knowing their whole story. Don’t let them use their interpretations as an excuse not to investigate for themselves because people are not perfect. Steer them to look at the life of Jesus and just read the bible for themselves. And my last thought is that human nature is to talk about our mountain top experiences over our valleys. Both are ok. We are all at different stages and ages Christian and pre-Christian. Hope this helps. God bless.

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