Tag Archives: Authenticity

A Resolution for 2017: Be Yourself!

I’ve seen the meme’s all over the internet. 2016 was the year from hell! I get it… a lot of bad stuff happened (mainly Trump became President) and a lot of cool people passed away. In all honesty, for me 2016 was a pretty awesome year. First of all, my beautiful baby daughter, Shiloh Grace Woznicki, was born! My wife was a champ! Second, I started my PhD program at Fuller. That was such a blessing, and I really enjoy it. I get to study with and work alongside of some awesome people. Ministry was great too, I transitioned out of a leadership role and have successfully passed it on to someone else. And finally, I really started Spartan racing. I’ve been getting better and better. My goals for next year are to finish in the top 5% of at least one race. If you want to see some highlights from my 2017 check out my Top Nine from Instagram.


Having said all that, I know many of you are looking forward to the new year, it’s a chance, essentially to hit the reset button. I commend your optimism! And to you I would recommend you make one resolution:

BE YOURSELF! You know, “do you baby boo!” Be true to who you are and no one else. Follow your heart’s desires! Let your inner-self come out of that cacoon! Most of all, BE AUTHENTIC! 

But before you dismiss me and think I’ve gone off the rails with some new agey, self-help, self-fulfillment pseudo-evangelical Christian style gobbledy gook. Here me out. Or better yet, hear out what Pastor Kevin DeYoung has to say…

If I had to summarize New Testament ethics in one sentence, here’s how I would put it: be who you are. That may sound strange, almost heretical, given our culture’s emphasis on being true to yourself. But like so many of the worst errors in the world, this one represents a truth powerfully perverted. When people say, “Relax, you were born that way.” Or “Quit trying to be something you’re not and just be the real you,” they are stumbling upon something very biblical. God does want you to be the real you. He does want you to be true to yourself. But the “you” he’s talking about is the “you” that you are by grace, not by nature. You may want to read through that last sentence again because the difference between living in sin and living in righteousness depends on getting that sentence right. God doesn’t say, “Relax, you were born this way.” But he does say “Good news, you were reborn another way.” (The Hole in our Holiness, 100)

He’s right….

In 2017 dare to be yourself. Dare to be the true you. The one who was reborn by God’s grace. Cuz if you are in Christ. That is the real you. That is who you are being made to be.


The Vulnerable Pastor

Vulnerable. Not the first word that comes to mind when you think about strong leaders. Yet, this word, “Vulnerable,” is what Mandy Smith, lead pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, suggests should characterize strong Christian leaders.

In The Vulnerable Pastor: How Human Limitations Empower Our Ministry Smith attempts to debunk current leadership wisdom as not only being harmful, but impossible. The image51s4het-oll-_sy344_bo1204203200_ of somebody who is always strong, always has their stuff together, is never wrong, never wavers, and is extremely self-confident is the exact opposite of what Smith suggest Christian leaders should be like. Instead a Christian leader should be marked by vulnerability. Specifically, this vulnerability should recognize and understand our human constraints. Recognizing these constraints makes our ministry more sustainable “and guards us against disillusionment and burnout.”

As the former director of a college ministry in a large church in the LA area I knew I could benefit from reading Smith’s book. I sort of live in the “mega-church” world, which is mostly characterized by the leadership images Smith decries. I constantly struggled, despite pressing on in ministry, with the notion that I didn’t fit the “pastor-mold.” I still struggle with it! Even though its never expressed, it is implicitly there. I’m just not one of those pastors. I’m shy, introverted, intellectual, liturgical. Again, not your typical mega-church type leader. Throughout the book Smith shares her struggles with not fitting the mold. Told mostly in story form, she expresses how difficult it was to be herself as leader, when the world (i.e. CHURCH WORLD) told her that wasn’t enough. It was only when she was bold enough to admit that she didn’t have what the world asked of her, and she didn’t need to have it, that she began to find joy in her ministry.

Here are some helpful quotes from her book:

When we’re at our desks preparing our sermons and something snags our hearts, can we set aside our work long enough to be worked upon? Can we trust that the teaching of our congregations is not primarily our work but God’s work, which he wants to being with us? (92)

What if we began with our human limitations and shaped a ministry from that? Like a child pouring pennies on a candy store counter, asking, “How much candy can I get with that?” we can look at the time, gifts, energy, and ideas we have and ask, “How much church can we get with that?” (105)

If it’s right for me to be here (and I beliee it its) and it’s alright for me to be limited (and I believe it its), I have to trust that there’s a way to do this job without it destroying me. If he gave the church to humans, he must have a way for humans to do church. (105) 

One way I equip my leaders is to remind them it’s their job to equip others. We’re not soloists; we’re choirmasters. Its not our job to do the work but to give the direction: to pick the note, choose when to start and wait for the community to shape the fullness of the song. (108)

All in all, I found this book quite helpful. There were so many positive messages in it that I needed to hear once again. Being a pastor, or any kind of Christian leader, is not about being enough…. Its about being willing to revel in our own weakness and in God’s strength.

Note: I received this book from IVP in exchange for an impartial review.

Scary Close

Perhaps more than any other book Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz helped define a generation of evangelicals like myself. The 2000’s were a turning point for many evangelicals – many of us were looking for an identity. We had grown up in the church but somehow stuff felt too “churchy” to be real – we were craving authenticity we were craving reality. We loved Jesus but the “churchiness” of the church felt ineffective in reaching the world for Christ, we were trying to be missional but didn’t even know it. So a lot of us dabbled with the emergent church – there was a point in which everyone wanted to be emergent! Others of us planted our feet firmly in traditional evangelicalism. Well that phase passed and the emergent movement slowly died; however what emerged was something way better than that. What emerged was a more missional, more orthodox, form of evangelicalism. Donald Miller had a part to play in that – he showed us it was okay to be Christian, love Jesus, love the church, without being “churchy.” He showed us it was okay to be a Christian and not have our lives all figured out. Now, 12 years later Donald has written another book – this time it seems like Donald is finally getting some sort of resolution…. Donald is getting married!

Scary Close is a very personal look at intimacy and relationships through the lens of Donald’s engagement process. In it Donald reveals his tendency to perform or to play a role in order to get people to validate him. This of course took a toll on his relationships. As he put on this façade he found it harder and harder to find meaningful relationships – especially when it came to romantic relationships.

Using his signature conversational, snarky, and imaginative style Donald shows us the important truth that you can only be as loved as you are known. He shows us that we don’t need to control every aspect of our lives – in fact when we try to do that we tend to destroy relationships. He shows us that being vulnerable can be scary but that its essential to being in loving relationships.

Basically this book is a way for Donald to say to the reader that in order to experience love – you have to get scary close – but that its completely worth it.

I enjoyed reading this book. I enjoyed his stories, adventures, and conversation with random people along the way. It’s a quick read, its light and refreshing.

(Note: I received this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an impartial review.)

Exposed – Remember the Cross

Yesterday in our Masks mini-series we talked about “Masks” and how we put them on to hide from ourselves, from God, and especially from other people.  I offered you the second step to taking off your mask – today I offer you last and most important step…

Remember the Cross

Chances are that when you take of your mask people won’t actually reject you. Because everybody deals with crap, and they probably assume that you do to. But even if they do reject you – who cares! Who cares if they reject you. Who cares if they are disappointed. Who cares if they don’t want to be in community with you!

You are probably thinking:

What do you mean who cares?!?!? I care!!!

Well Jesus doesn’t care. Jesus paid for those sins that you are afraid to expose and his opinion is the only opinion in the entire universe that matters. At the end of the day – everybody might reject you, abandon you, hate you, ridicule you, but Jesus won’t. You might disappoint others but Jesus won’t be disappointed. There is something very freeing about living in that truth – of knowing that you are secure in Jesus because of the cross… of knowing that there is nothing you can do or be that will separate you from the love of God. If you really believe that – if you really believe the cross – if you really believe the gospel, then you can be free to walk around and think – I don’t care what you think about me! I know how the king and creator of the universe feels about me – And that is good enough for me!

Exposed – Fear of Man

Yesterday in our Masks mini-series we talked about “Masks” and how we put them on to hide from ourselves, from God, and especially from other people.  I offered you the first step to taking off your mask – today I offer you the second step:

Recognize Fear of Man


We protect ourselves from rejection because we are sure we will be rejected if others really see what’s inside.

So we fake it.

Think about it this way do you have a room that is an absolute mess? If you do, you would not want people to walk into your room unannounced right?

When you hear somebody is coming over unexpectedly, you probably start hiding things – you throw all of your junk into drawers, you hide the dirty socks on the floor, you put all of your junk into a pile in the closet or hide it under the bed. By doing that you make sure that nobody thinks “EWW! This person is an absolute pig.” And you have kept your dignity, but really the mess is still there – its just that nobody can see it.

By keeping up the appearance of being clean – you save yourself from judgment and rejection. By doing this you avoid the fear of being rejected, which make sense – because being rejected sucks.

However I’m talking about an all consuming fear that keeps us from being real. We tend to fake it because we see people as bigger than God and we fear the consequences of people knowing what we are really like. We are afraid that we will be humiliated, laughted at, rejected, ridiculed, or even despised. We are afraid that we will lose those friendships or relationships.

So in that moment when you are about to be real you stop and consider the consequences – and you decide that instead of risking rejection you are going to play it safe and keep it hidden…

We need to realize that the biggest reason we hide is because we fear people more than we fear God….

So if you are going to take off your Mask you need to realize that the reason you even put on a mask in the first place is your fear of man…

Next time we will look at the last and most important thing you need to do before you can take off your mask.

Exposed – We Are All Messed Up!

Yesterday we talked about “Masks” and how we put them on to hide from ourselves, from God, and especially from other people. In a sense Everyday is Halloween. So over the next few days I am going to offer you three things you need to do to get past the fear of taking off your mask. Today I offer you the first step to taking off your mask…

Realize Everyone Else is a Mess Too!

Put on that Happy Mask and pretend its all OK!
Put on that Happy Mask and pretend its all OK! You are guaranteed to feel happy or your money back guaranteed!


I’m a mess – you are a mess – we are all messes okay? We all struggle with stuff – we all battle sin. That is why Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.

If you are struggling with something – chances are somebody else you know is struggling too. Here is a silly example: The other day somebody came to me and said that they always feel bad during worship and I asked them why?

“It really looks like you are into worship everytime… It seems like you are really enjoying yourself.”

 And they replied –

Yeah sometimes…. When I worship I don’t feel as mature as everyone else.

I feel like everyone is so spiritual and focused on God during worship.

But every time we worship I can’t stop thinking about things I really shouldn’t be thinking about.

 And I ask – “So what are you thinking about…”

Cheesburgers – they reply

And I’m like NO WAY – Me too!

That’s silly – but its real – chances are somebody is struggling with the same thing you are; whether that is some addiction or thoughts of burgers – there is somebody out there, probably somebody you know that is trying to hide the same exact things you are trying to hide.

So you need to realize that everyone has something they are hiding – everyone is a mess.

Exposed – What’s Under Your Mask?

“Do you not know that there comes a midnight hour when everyone has thrown off his mask? Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked? Do you think you can slip away a little before midnight to avoid this? Or are you not terrified by it? – Soren Kierkegaard

What’s Under Your Mask?

Masks - Famous Movies

Today I’m kicking off a mini-series called “Masks” – The Things We Hide Behind. With Halloween coming many of us will be wearing masks or costumes – and for most people it’s a ton of fun. For one night – you get to pretend to be something your really aren’t.

However – for many people Halloween isn’t the only day we put on masks. For many people putting on a mask is a regular part of your morning ritual…

Eat breakfast – Brush your teeth

Do your hair – Grab your backpack

But before you walk out that door…

You put on that mask and head to school or work or wherever you go.

And all day long – you will wear a mask to cover up certain parts of you that you don’t want anybody to see. We do that to hide from ourselves, from God, and especially from other people. In a sense Everyday is Halloween. So over the next few days I am going to offer you three things you need to do to get past the fear of taking off your mask.