Getting Real

It's good to be transparent. Just make sure what's inside is worth showing.

James H. Gilmore might not be the first person you'd turn to for pastoral wisdom. The business consultant and co-author of Authenticity and The Experience Economy (Harvard Business School Press) is better known for overturning conventional ideas in business and marketing. But Gilmore also has a deep love for the church. In addition to lecturing at a business school and architecture program, he teaches at a seminary. Skye Jethani talked to Gilmore about cultural understandings of authenticity and about how transparent pastors should be with their congregations.

Does a pastor have to be transparent with congregants in order to be authentic?

If people are going to see you as being real, there must be some degree of transparency, sure. But be wary of revealing everything. Pastors who are too quick to divulge their innermost struggles can actually do harm. At times, Jesus was silent. Why? Because Jesus was not always transparent, but he was always honest. He said things only to benefit ...

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