As a teacher or Bible study leader, she shares anecdotes from her pilgrimage as a Christ-follower. She explains how Bible truths she’s covering sustain or challenge her.
Yes, teachers and preachers must exercise discretion. They shouldn’t convey publicly every single failure or area of struggle. Sermons and Bible studies must keep the spotlight on the text, not the communicator. But when utilized carefully and intentionally, there is power in the personal.
Before choosing what personal things to weave into my lesson or message, I mull over these seven guidelines:
1. Will my personal anecdote accelerate Bible learning by clarifying a truth?
2. Will sharing the truth’s impact on me increase the likelihood that others will see the relevance of the text to their lives?
3. Will my personal story show the benefits of obeying a principle, or the painful consequences of neglecting it?
4. Will my self-revelation cause others to feel safer about disclosing needs or prayer requests?
5. Will my self-disclosure meet a genuine need in my life for emotional or prayer support?
6. Will my illustration portray a friend or family member in a negative light?
7. Have I received permission to tell the story from anyone who could be embarrassed by it?
What guideline for a speaker’s transparency would you add?
For a more thorough treatment of transparency in the life of a Christian—and how it can actually expand your ministry influence—see chapter 14 in my book, Serve Strong: Biblical Encouragement To Sustain God’s Servants. The chapter title is, “The Power of Owning Up.”
Next time, I’ll post benefits of a leader’s openness. What positive effects can transparency have on a group or congregation?