Authenticity and Humility: The Binds of Leadership, Part 3

This week on The Allender Center Podcast, Dan Allender concludes a conversation with his friend and colleague Rachael Clinton about the common binds faced by pastors and other Christian leaders, who are often expected to live without any complexities or flaws. Rachael is a pastor, teacher, therapeutic practitioner, and member of the Allender Center Teaching Staff. She also works as the Assistant Director of Admissions for Theology Programs for The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, where she graduated with a Master of Divinity.

Dan and Rachael discuss the necessity of authenticity in leadership, first by addressing the common conceptions of authenticity and how, in the age of Donald Trump, “authenticity” has become a buzzword that more accurately describes shamelessness and brazenness. Instead, Dan and Rachael connect authenticity to humility, in the sense of being close to the ground, following Jesus as “the perfect example of what it means to be authentically human,” says Rachael.

“The pedestal is pretense. The escape from pretense is to fall into the dirt.”

In leadership, a lack of authenticity so often develops when leaders are not allowed to be in process. Many of us prefer to pretend that our leaders do not mature in the same gradual way that we do, or that they do not face the same challenges we do. That is why it is so devastating for me people to learn about a respected leader being involved in a scandal. The longer a leader is idealized and not allowed to mature in a gradual way, the more devastating it will be when his or her brokenness is revealed. “We have to become people who are mature enough to handle processes,” says Rachael.

“If you’re not able in one sense to acknowledge process,” says Dan,“if you’re not able to have boundaries, you’re living in an evil world that is demanding pretense on one hand and a kind of ubiquity on the other. Nobody but God can live in those domains.”

Are you able to name the fact that you, as a leader, are not yet who you hope to become? This is a big, weighty conversation, leading Dan and Rachael briefly into the categories of boundaries, sabbath, and more. They conclude by discussing the idea that when leaders are able to establish boundaries and authentically acknowledge their own humanity, the rest of the community or organization is invited to greater presence and involvement—which is, in a way, what community is all about.

At the end of the day, we can trust that God is at work in our lives, has been from the beginning, and will continue to be. Where are the places where we need to be released from this belief that we can carry burdens in a way that saves the world?