A couple months back my good friend Adam McLane posted these profoundly truthful words on feeling like a hypocrite. When I read it I quickly remembered a series of conversations I’ve recently had. Before I get into those let me tell you this, even if some may disagree:
I am intentionally, and with a humble spirit, trying my best to live as faithful of a life to God and to others as I possibly can for as long as I am here on earth.
But just because that is my goal doesn’t mean it’s always (or even sometimes) a reality. Therefore because I cannot live up to my standard of life, by default, at a baseline level I am a walking hypocrite. Let’s be honest though; “by default” is only the starting point of my hypocrisies that daily occur. Back to the recent conversations…
In the past eight days I have had three different Christian people ask me in private at separate times if I ever feel like a hypocrite. They asked because they are all leaders in their churches and have recently been feeling like their good intentions to live a successful life is wearing on them. They have to lead each day and preach each week, and each said they felt some type of unknown burden or oppression about having to set some type of ”successful” life for their congregations to look-up to. These pastors are struggling with shame and guilt and doubt like the rest of us. But because of who they are they feel like they can’t keep it real all of the time – especially in front of their churches.
That is the problem with church culture today.
We’re setting up believers in Jesus to fail.
From my personal life, I talk in public so much that many people from all over the place call/email/Facebook/tweet/look up to me; asking me for advice and help and a new way forward. Like I have all the answers? I don’t. I try as best as I can to faithful keep moving forward whether sprinting forward or hanging on by the skin of my teeth. And the way I try to live my life and therefore, answer all of those questions, is to keep it real.
Because let’s be honest again … I’m a walking hypocrite.
I prayerfully wish I had the strength and courage to always practice what I preach. I don’t. I prayerfully wish I had some supernatural power to not get so pissed when I feel stabbed in the back. I don’t have that either. I prayerfully wish I always thought the “right” thoughts – pure and holy on a number of different topics. As much as I seem to try, it never quite works out. I prayerfully wish I had the drive to read the Bible and pray for hours on end everyday (let’s throw physical exercise in that category too). Not so much. I prayerfully wish I had to the ability to take-back a bunch of situations where I’ve deeply hurt people, whether intentionally or not. But that’s not going to happen. I prayerfully wish I could have a Jamba-Juice-style-brain-memory-boost to remember things better and more rightly, so that I would never be embarrassed or ashamed or nervous to speak about my memories. Well, nothing points to that happening either.
I carry a bunch of guilt and shame and doubt everyday of my life. And it scares me to death that I’m leading folks in the wrong direction. It’s been really hard for me to ‘get up’ to teach recently (not normal for me!) because all I want to do is honor God through my actions and my words while simultaneously honoring all of humanity in the same breath; which I know I’m trying to do, but in a God-fearing way not sure I actually ever accomplish.
But the more I think about it the more I am coming to a new conclusion I’ve never thought about before:
You will never feel like a hypocrite if you’re not intentionally, boldly and sustainably living a countercultural faith in real-time in the public. (and by “public” I’m not referring to media or blogs, I’m referring to your own life, family, friends, co-workers and community)
Here’s the kicker: That’s why it’s so easy for the critics and gatekeepers out there to point a finger at those of us who are. It’s because they legitimately don’t feel like a hypocrite because they’re not living a distinct life that puts them in situations where the real-time juxtaposition of life, faith, action and reason all come together in one big cluster-f&%*. And it’s in that moment that the humbly faithful feel like a hypocrite.
Yet it’s in that same moment that you know you’re living the right way. Even if you, or especially I, might not believe it.
Call me a hypocrite then. I’m going to now claim it anyway.
Are there times, and what are they, when you feel like a walking hypocrite?
Andrew Marin (@Andrew_Marin and www.facebook.com/Marin.Andrew) is the President and Founder of The Marin Foundation which works to build bridges between the LGBT community and the Church. Andrew is the author of the award winning book, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (InterVarsity Press, 2009), which has won more awards than any other individual book in the long-standing history of InterVarsity Press. He and his wife, Brenda, live in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago.