As a pastor, as a seminary professor, as a leader in a variety of positions, I have tried to be transparent and honest about the doubts, questions and uncertainties which are part of my faith. Having spent decades living according to this philosophy of ministry, I am not sure that it is the best approach.
As I was teaching this semester there were three specific issues about which I pointed out the various positions that theologians take and admitted to being uncertain as to which was the correct position. The results were that one student accused me of being uninformed, one of being a postmodernist, and one of denying the sufficiency of Scripture. The truth of the matter is that I was much more informed than the authority quoted by the first student, that I am about as far from being a postmodernist as they come, and I am a champion of the belief in the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.
Those are just three examples of many that I could offer in which I have observed how honesty and transparency has resulted in diminished ability to lead. It seems that parishioners and students want leaders with answers only, NOT QUESTIONS.
In the small booklet What Is Truth, Ravi Zacharias shares the following story;
I was at an airport looking for my departure gate, and I noticed that the flight listed was to another city. So I asked a passenger if that flight was headed to Atlanta or elsewhere. She promptly answered my question and told me the notation was wrong. As I thanked her and turned to find a seat, she said, “Are you Ravi Zacharias?” I answered yes. Then came this utterly surprising response: “I listen to you on the radio regularly. I didn’t know you had questions as well.” I laughed at her compliment and assured her that I had several questions, especially if I want to get to the right destination.
There are so many answers out there and a question to every answer. To ask them is to engage with information. To ask questions about life’s ultimate questions is to be in the pursuit of God.
I would be interested in hearing some of your stories in which you, like Paul, have been honest in presenting yourself as one who has not yet arrived, yet maintained your leadership influence. Anyone?