Fake news is everywhere! I don’t know how many times I have gone on social media and saw a “Rest in Peace” picture for an actor I like only to find out it is fake news. The actor ends up being very much alive and the fake news was just that, fake. I started to think about this concept of “fake news” and couldn’t help but think how many times my character was fake news to the people around me. They thought they knew me quite well and assumed that because I was a pastor, because I was a Christian, and because I held a title that my character was flawless, and upright. Well… that was fake news. I wish I was all those things people thought about me but in reality, I have had moments where I wasn’t even striving to be the person they thought I was. I did the bare minimum for it to seem like it was true news when it was fake news. The thing about fake news is that it eventually gets called out for what it is……. FAKE! And when it does it can be hard, humbling, and painful. It is only a matter of time before the truth comes out and that can hurt you and those around you. Character is who you are behind closed doors, when the lights are out, and no one is there to see you. That can mean different things so the best way to sum it up is: if people can’t know about it, it’s probably not something you should be doing.
We live in a world where we often hear people say, “Keep it 100%.” We are all about being real but the truth is a lot of times we are so fake! For me personally it did seem a little Dr. Jekle and Mr. Hide. I feel like I had two groups of people in my life. Those I had to wear my pastor hat with, and those where I felt the freedom to throw that hat out the window and wear whatever hat I wanted to. And you know what? It was all wrong! Being a pastor is not a hat that you wear but rather it is one of the highest callings a person can have. It was something I had started to take for granted. You see part of the Dr. Jekle and Mr. Hide was that one part of me wanted the ministry because I knew that is where I thrived and that is what God called me to do. The other side didn’t want the responsibility, didn’t want to live by the higher standers, and did not want to strive to be above reproach. I was the very definition of “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”. But that in itself is fake news if you think that can happen. Darkness and light have no place together. You can’t be fake news forever. The truth will come out and you will have to choose what side you want to be on.
You have to choose what life you want to live because you just can’t live both for very long.
I have often thought about just not being a pastor any more. How easy would it be to just take all the eyes, standards, and judgment away from me? How easy it would be to take away the responsibility and accountability of being a pastor! I had thoughts of just letting go of my calling all together. I think that I had times where the pull was so strong to walk away, but the pull of the Father was just so much stronger. Even in my darkest moments my God never stopped calling me and pursuing me. Never did my God say you are too far gone to be used for my glory. I could not and I cannot deny this calling that I have in my life. I feel alive when I am walking fully in who God called me to be and who Jesus died on a cross for me to be. I am called to be a pastor, I am called to care for the sheep, and I am called to live a life that is not mine but for the one who gave his life for me. BUT to do this, I had to stop making my character into fake news. I had to stop playing the fence and just choose Jesus. Nothing in this world satisfies like Jesus. You will not be happy if you give up your ministry. I know you won’t. Nothing is worth walking away from what you were designed to do. So how do you stop being fake news? Here are a few things that I did.
Rat yourself out!
Confession is a powerful thing when done in a trusted environment because it brings freedom. Since you are a leader or pastor, please be careful who you confide in. Don’t trust just anyone. I found a fellow pastor that I was able to confide in and ask for help. Another thing to keep in mind is not everyone needs to know what you did or what you are struggling with. Tell the people you need to tell- then give it to Jesus! Grace greater than titles is here to be a safe place for you as a pastor or leader. I would love to chat with you if you would like to talk and/or pray.
Therapy was my saving grace.
There are these amazing people in this world known as therapists and they are a blessing from God. I can’t begin to tell you how healing this was for me. I met and continued to meet with a therapist once a week. To have someone you can put everything on the table with is one of the most liberating feelings in the world. It gets harder before it gets better when you are talking things out but in the end, it is so worth it. I can’t recommend this more. If you are a pastor or a leader, once again use cation with who you talk to, there are people you can trust. If you are a pastor in the area and need to talk to a professional therapist please let me know and I will try and find you some help.
Build up your devotional life!
Learn to fall in love with God and his word all over again! Having moments of worship, devotion, and prayer is really what brought my spirit back to life and helped me find my identity in Christ once again. If you want to be like Jesus you got to talk to him, read his word, and worship him. Many times when we feel far from God it’s not because He distanced himself from us but we distanced ourselves from him. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you!
Be mindful of who you spend your time with.
You may have hurt people and no matter how sorry you are, you both probably need some time. Some people will be quick to forgive you and others not so much. It isn’t wrong for people to need some space and that can be hard at first. The truth is you need the space too. You need time to heal, be restored, and be around people who can speak new life into you.
Change for you and give yourself time to heal.
Any time fake news is found out; the source often loses its credibility. Chances are you lost your credibility with some people. Don’t change to prove them wrong, change because you want to live the life God set out for you. It takes a lifetime to build our testimony and seconds to destroy it. You are not destroyed, but it may take some time for some people to see the rebuilding that is taking place. Just remember you are not doing it for them but for you. The hope is they will come around in time and know how truly sorry you really are. Your credibility will eventually be restored for some but don’t be discouraged if that isn’t the case for everyone. At the end of the day you and God will see the change.
Live a transparent life.
A good rule of thumb is before doing something asking yourself if you would be ok with it being public knowledge. If it is something you have to hide then run away from it! It may seem easy but for someone striving to not be fake news, living a transparent life is something to be very intentional with. The more you can be transparent, the more freedom you will find in your life and calling.
I don’t think anyone gets up in the morning and says “I can’t wait to live a double life or fool people into thinking I am something I am not!” Having your life be fake news is not something any of us would want for our life, but we would be lying if we didn’t say it happens. No one wants to be fake news. It is dark, it is lonely, and it is destructive. I urge you start living in truth and transparency. I know it is scary to give things up but it’s a matter of giving up those things or giving up your calling. You can’t have both and be a healthy minister. Trust me when I say freedom is waiting! Let’s end fake news once and for all and live in the truth that was destined for each of us!