Who Are You When No One is Looking?

In one of my favourite books on Christian leadership, Leaders Who Last, author Dave Kraft says that godly, effective leadership requires three things: calling, character and competence. Assuming that you are an individual called to leadership in some form (I have in mind right now volunteer youth leaders), the latter two areas always have room for growth.

Typically, when training leaders and volunteers, we often focus on growing in competence. We teach skills that will help them be effective ministers. We give resources, have classes, download podcasts, read books, and do all kinds of stuff to have the tools to be effective workers in God’s Kingdom. To this I say, amen!

But too often we overlook the importance of character. Character has been defined as “who you are when no one is looking”. This is a convicting way of wording it. All of us appear to be more godly than we are. We can put on a show in public, intentionally or unintentionally. We don’t really talk much about our faults or failures or doubts. We hide the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of. We disobey God and try to appease our guilty conscience by filling up our lives with ministry related tasks. At least then we can feel better knowing that we are “doing something for the Lord”!

Let’s not fool ourselves. Capable leaders are of no real use if they do not also have character. I’m not talking about being perfect – I’m talking about pursuing a life of holiness and confessing and repenting when we do screw up.

Let me ask, what is the current state of your character? I’m not asking how it was going a few years ago; I mean right now, today, who are you when no one is looking? The strength of your character is defined by what you would do if you knew you would never get caught. If you knew that no one would ever know, would you pray less? Read your Bible less? Allow a favourite sin to hang around? Dip into the church funds? Serve only when people were looking? Live a double life?

Who you are when no one is looking is who you really are.

No one ever likes to take a good, long, hard look at themselves in the mirror. Every time we do, we are reminded of how ugly our own sin actually is. We are more wicked than we dare ever confess. But guess what? Jesus already knows who you are. He knows about the sin you are hiding. He knows about the doubts you hold. He knows your inappropriate thoughts. He’s aware of your selfish motives. And yet, he loves you and died for you anyway.

Friends, let’s not take this lightly. God can use any messed up sinner he wants to – but his desire is that we be holy.

1 Peter 1:15 For just as he who called you is holy, so you also ought to be holy in all that you do.

We will never be perfectly holy or sinless in this lifetime, but we need to seek to live the way Jesus did. That’s the true measure of a leader. Be honest with God about who you really are and bring it to him in prayer. God forgives, and he restores, and he gives power for change. Let’s not forget just how badly we really need his grace.

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