When someone mentions removing our masks, we may immediately think of the conflict surrounding wearing masks in schools, churches, and other public places to protect us from disease. However, the masks that I’m referencing are the ones we wear to shield us from self-exposure before others. The effort expended to maintain a façade throughout our ministry life can be much more exhausting and conflicting than wearing a mask to protect us from a virus!
I read about a minister who was dying, and a young man offered to read the Bible to him during his closing days. After hearing his requested reading of 1 Chronicles, chapter one, with 250 unfamiliar names, the elderly gentleman whispered, “Thank you, my son; that was so comforting.”
The puzzled young man responded, “Please tell me; what is so comforting about this chapter?”
“Ah,” said the minister, “just to think that God knew them all by name!”
Unlike what others typically see and know about us as pastors’ wives or ministers, God not only calls us by name, but He knows the most intimate details of our lives. As members of the body of Christ, He longs for us to care enough to want to know and love one another, especially when we share common struggles and challenges that accompany a life in ministry.
Paul described the way God’s people should live in a relationship with one another after having experienced Christ’s unfathomable love and forgiveness. He told the Ephesian believers, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). The sad truth is that as good “church folks,” we may often find it easier to speak about someone else’s “truth” than to share our own!
We feel that maintaining an image of ourselves as a nice, good person, who never deals with any struggles, is the life to which we are relegated as a leader. If we are not careful, we can begin to accept the “masks” we wear until they become a normal part of our mental, emotional, and spiritual landscapes. In other words, we become so comfortable behind our façade that God may have to use some challenging circumstances in our lives to bring us to a point of genuineness and vulnerability. He then gently uses His Word to pour in the oil of His grace to heal our wounds and bind up our brokenness!
In the words of Dick Keyes, “True self-acceptance is in stark contrast to this self-delusion. Self-acceptance does not survive honesty. It rests on it. If you are a Christian, your final environment is a world whose Creator forgives, accepts, and loves you in all your uniqueness.”