In today’s culture, people are jaded by image and hype. They expect those who want their attention to be authentic. Your impact as a teacher depends on it.
Seek to live what you’re talking about.
People need to see that you are trying to apply the truth in your own life first. You don’t have to be perfect, but you model being a real person with real faults and needs. You’re learning to follow Jesus just like everyone else. And you are genuinely making progress in that journey.
Be open about your own journey.
When you speak, don’t just tell stories that make you look good. Talk about the times God had to teach you something or correct you. Share incidents where you blew it. Talk about issues where you are trying to apply God’s grace and power to your own life.
Just make sure any stories you tell about yourself actually illustrate or apply the biblical point you are teaching. Also, in your desire to be authentic, don’t tell stories about family members without their permission.
Don’t elevate yourself in the pulpit.
When you stand before God’s people, be yourself. Don’t adopt some kind of special “pulpit-talk” or wear clothing that sets you apart from or above your hearers. You don’t become special or superior just because you get up to speak. Talk conversationally. Dress like you would normally dress. Don’t give people any reason to think you are a fake.
Don’t go too far.
Know the limits of vulnerability. On one hand, you don’t want to appear like you don’t have any problems. That seems phony. But you can go too far in the other direction. It is possible to share problems or struggles too openly. Here are some guidelines:
- Don’t share something about your life that would shock your hearers.
- Don’t share something that puts the attention on you instead of God and his Word.
- Don’t share something so serious that people will no longer trust you.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What kinds of things about a speaker’s life struggles would be appropriate to share publicly?
- What kinds of things would NOT be appropriate to share publicly?
- Have you heard a speaker share something that went too far? What happened?
- What have you seen a speaker do that seemed to elevate him or her above the audience?
- What other factors can undermine a speaker’s sense of authenticity?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.