Transparency

Jason Young, a fellow youth worker in Hong Kong, unexpectedly came by my office today to visit and pray with the youth staff. It was wonderful for three reasons:

  1. He’s an enjoyable fellow
  2. He brought his family, which includes a wonderful wife (Julianna) a very cute baby girl (Izzy)
  3. His presence was confirmation on a thought I was having last night and today.

And what was that thought? I want to be transparent more often.

I recognize there are some things that we shouldn’t tell everyone. Like each time I have to use the toilet. Or if I find someone exceptionally unattractive. Or sharing my opinion that Justin Bieber is the most talented youth in the world’s current history (or at least until March 01). These things could either be found as rude or just might get me killed.

Anyway, transparency.

Adults and leaders tend to be closed off when it comes to sharing mistakes and opening up about struggles. In fact, my wife even called me out on it when she read my blog post about my father. She was wondering if I would’ve opened up more in my reflection if it were private. The answer is yes. And the reason I didn’t share more was because I was afraid of what people might say (even if secretly).

We’re not used to people, especially leaders of any sort, just “airing their dirty laundry in public.” It makes most of us uncomfortable. Unfortunately, if we bury issues and “sweep them under the rug” (okay, I’ve used up my quota of idioms), then growth is stifled and we become stagnant people. No person should live like that. No person can bear the weight of perfection.

'Foot Right x-ray 002 - no info' photo (c) 2006, Eric Schmuttenmaer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/So I want to attempt a little more honesty and transparency. But don’t misread me. I only want to do this if it helps me grow, change, repent, and become a better man. This blog is not for bragging about my sins and mistakes. Rather, I want grantfranke.wordpress.com to be a place to witness my change throughout the year. I want to walk with God and invite anyone that cares to walk beside me. Who knows, maybe we can learn something along the way. Be gentle though, because I’m still “finding my feet.”

3 Ways I Experienced God “Speaking” To Me Today

'Small Talk' photo (c) 2006, Bo Nielsen - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/I’m not sure if God speaks audibly, but He certainly speaks to the heart. He’s probably speaking all the time, but I’m not always listening or aware of His presence. Fortunately, I noticed His presence in three unique ways today.

    1. I was on a simple mission with a colleague today to retrieve some supplies after a large group event called Resound. While we were having trouble connecting with a third-party, we decided to have some lunch. We stopped by a very local, Hong Kong-style restaurant in Wan Chai near The Vine Church and waited. It was simply eating lunch together, and I didn’t really expect anything out of the ordinary. I suppose God surprises us sometimes. We ended up talking about a lot of things, covering a wide range of topics, and I was quite encouraged by the end. The miracle of sorts that actually occurred was the way that God opened up my heart to be free to speak to someone that I don’t normally open up to so freely.
    2. While hanging out with some youth leaders at Starbucks, one asked me to have an end-of-the-day pint together at a local pub. After we purchased our drinks, he asked me about my job and how things were going. He’s a rather observant fellow, so I couldn’t easily hide any struggles or concerns. Instead, in his genuineness, he allowed an open window for me to share, vent, and honestly talk about my ups in downs in youth ministry. He wasn’t trying to pry, but rather provided an avenue for me to open up rather than bottle up. It was quite nice.

'Pints of Beer' photo (c) 2010, Simon Cocks - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

  • 3. About twice a month I meet with a friend to practice spiritual accountability. We also share prayer requests and lift one another up in prayer to God. It’s absolutely refreshing! During our time together at another local pub, I noticed a girl drinking by herself and crying at a nearby table. I brought the situation to my friends’ attention, and we tried to figure out what to do about it. Ignoring it seemed like the easiest option, but clearly the most selfish and unhelpful. We talked about praying for her, but that seemed to passive and similar to a scripture passage in 1 John 3 that reads,

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

With that verse in mind, we couldn’t ignore her. We decided that once we finished our drinks and cigars that we would invite her over to our table and invite her to talk if she felt like it. We had no idea what we would say or how we could comfort her without feeling creepy, but we just felt like we should put ourselves aside and give her the option to talk to us. Then the best part happens. Once we settled our hearts on helping her, a friend of hers arrived, sat at the table, and gave her a shoulder to lean on.

I was reminded how God doesn’t always use us, but sometimes is wondering if were willing to be his servants. I suppose I felt a little like Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, but much less extreme! For a refresher on the story, check out Genesis 22.

Though today was a bit draining, it was a good, honest, and relationship-driven day. I am thankful that God has put so many good people in my life. Hopefully I can be a blessing to others as well.