Transparency Among Men

In his book “The Purpose Driven Life, Day #19”, Rick Warren writes about “Cultivating Community”.  He calls for transparency where in Small Groups people are expecting to be transparent with one another.  Whether a person reveals spiritual failures in their lives or if someone else points out the spiritual failures of someone else, the Group is to come alongside and encourage them to tackle their issues after they have identified the source of their spiritual weakness.

My first thought was “Really?

How do you expect anyone to do this?  Looks like a guaranteed formula for destroying Small Groups.”  Rick Warren writes “Many Church Fellowships and Small Groups remain superficial because they are afraid of conflict.”  That is what I would expect.  The average church attender is there for peace and assurance.  But real Spiritual growth and maturity take deliberate efforts, thoughtfulness, and commitment to do the hard work sculpting a new person who is accountable to God and his church community to be a strong, loving, and effective Christian who attracts non-believers.

Men confiding in and praying for each other.

This process is called sanctification.  It is the result of discipleship.  It is said that every Christian man needs a Paul and Timothy in their life.  No matter how far we have come in our Christian walk we can still benefit from having an accountability partner who is older and wiser than we are.  And we can be that older and wiser accountability partner to someone younger in the faith than we are.

Three Examples

PK Experience

My first Promise Keeper’s Conference (PK) introduced me to the concept of accountability.  It was a concept that I felt was not scriptural.  But there were two examples that stuck in my mind after that.

One example was two men who had issues in their lives and agreed to come together for mutual support.  But they were afraid someone would see their “unmanly” behavior and embarrass them.  So they hid behind a planter.  David and Jonathon experienced Saul’s ire because of their affection for one another.

Another example was four men who had been to a previous PK Conference and a new believer who had come with them.  The new believer looked up to the other four.  And the four appeared solid in their faith to one another.  But in their minds each one of the four had serious sin issues in their life.

Urban-Suburban Partnership (USP)

Years ago PK had a prayer group in town.  It was made up of white and black Christian men who just prayed with no agenda before us.  There was also another group of one large suburban predominantly white church and two black urban churches.

The two groups merged and took the name of USP.  We prayed and planned city-wide events.  We also as a group visited different churches in the area.  A group of black and white Christian brothers embracing and genuinely enjoying each other’s presence so well was unique.  We even made the local news a few times.

We developed complete trust with one another.  So much so that we were transparent with one another.  Several confessions were made.  And lots of scriptures and support were given in return. 

CR Experience

Celebrate Recovery (CR) is a twelve-step program based on Christian faith and full disclosure.  It exists to combat hurts, habits, hang-ups, and addictions.  No one is fixing someone else.  Each person is responsible for their own progress.  And each person is limited to five minutes of discussion so that everyone has a chance to speak.  It was an excellent example of personal accountability with a shared group of men that encouraged but did not judge or gossip about one another.

wayocross’s Walk

My most persistent sin is temper.  There’s been physical abuse towards my older son and some against my wife.  There’s been much more verbal abuse (and vengeance) against my family, co-workers, store clerks, and even strangers.

Two things helped me get inside my head and see where my pent-up anger was coming from.

  • a Professional Christian Counselor, and
  • CR

Haven’t we all heard that two pairs of eyes can see better than one?  A group of listening non-judgmental men create an environment where men can safely share the most intimate details of their issues and know they are in a safe nurturing group of men.

Is confession required of us?

(Proverbs 28:13 WEB) He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but he who confesseth and forsaketh [them] shall have mercy.

(James 5:16 WEB) Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much.

These two scriptures illustrate that confession is a normal part of a Christian’s life.  And when a man does this he receives mercy, prayer, and non-judgmental support.

A key passage in scripture about confession is in 1 John 1.

(1 John 1:5-7 WEB) 5This then is the message which we have heard from him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

This scripture speaks of light and darkness.  It might imply a black and white comparison.  But note the word “fellowship”.  Fellowship can be viewed as a relative term.  It does not mean we lose everything over a sin.  But if we freely ignore our fellowship with God and present ourselves as Christian, we are walking up the edge of a cliff.  A very hazardous gamble. 

Better to admit our sin within our fellowship and be restored by the fellowship.

(1 John 1:8-10 WEB) 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

We know that every human being sins.  But outside of this single acknowledgement, we behave as if it’s not a problem.  Is there anyone who sins infrequently enough to not be counted as a sinner?  Are there sins that God is not concerned with?  Does God, as some people say, look at us as not being sinners?

Better to admit our sin within our fellowship and be restored by the fellowship.

(John 17:22-26 WEB) 22 And the glory which thou gavest to me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one. 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me. 24Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given to me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given to me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 25O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26And I have declared to them thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love with which thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.

The purpose of transparency is to be the sacrificial lovers of the brotherhood.  What cause can any man have that is greater than this?

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