According to research by Brene Brown from her book “I Thought It Was Just Me”:
The unspoken rule states the greater the credentials and status, the more you’re allowed to know about others and the less you have to reveal about yourself.
In other words, what this research reveals is that as we achieve higher status, whether it is positional or educational, then the expectation of vulnerability is no longer reciprocal. The person of more import has unspoken permission to not, or the expectation that they will not, reveal themselves to the other.
In the context of our churches, that means when we are a group leader, deacon, elder, ministry director or pastor our natural inclination will be to close ourselves up and put on a mask.
How true this unspoken rule is about the church, and how tragic for all that we serve.
I recall several years ago as a pastor leading a small group of people I knew very well. Even in this group of friends, I would never share the difficulties that I was feeling in my own marriage. Part of this was my pride, but equal part is that in our culture, the people we serve in the church want their leaders to be ‘fixed’. A visible example of the effectiveness of following Christ.
Instead of inviting others into my circumstances, they were met by my false identity. Rather than pushing back, because I was the leader, it was easy to accept that things were OK.
Looking back, I would have benefitted so much from inviting them to walk along with me. And how their own protective walls would have come down in response to my own vulnerability. All of us are equals in our sinful nature.
Change does not happen by looking to a perfect model of behavior. Change happens by revealing our weakness and brokenness, and inviting Christ and his body to be our strength.
That is the hallmark of the incarnation: vulnerability. Putting on weakness and giving the other the opportunity to hurt you or draw close to you. That is love and it was demonstrated by Christ himself.
In what relationship would it be wise for you to practice more vulnerability?