Summary of Sharing during Fourth SAF Meeting on 2 April 2017 at NLBPC by Elder Yap
Authentic Relationships and Bonding
God’s Word tells us that we can have an authentic relationship with fellow believers when we walk in the light because God is in the light (1 John 1:6-7). Our heavenly Father also wants us to have an authentic relationship when we are renewed as after the image of God as we put off the old man.
Before we can have an authentic relationship with others, we need to have a good self-image and self-esteem. This is possible and God is mindful of our weakness [Psalms 8:4] and creates in us a new creature [2 Cor 5:17].
While no one likes a fake, too many take a simplistic view, thinking it is blurting the first thing that comes to mind. It’s not attacking, blaming or judging, and it most certainly isn’t any type of self-denigration, such as lack of confidence or self-respect. True authenticity means realizing that others are also created like us in the image of God and that we are to treat them as we like them to treat us.(Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31 aka Golden Rule).
In Christian fellowship people should experience authenticity. This is not superficial, surface-level chit-chat. It’s genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level, sharing. It happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives. They share their hurts, reveal their feelings, confess their failures, disclose their doubts, admit their fears, acknowledge their weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer. An authentic relationship would be one that exhibits transparency, care and concern, commitment, and open communication. This would lead to bonding.
The sharing was concluded with a quote from Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She wrote “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
Question 1 – What is holding us back to be more authentic?
1) The fear of being judged, criticised, rejected, condemned, hurted, embarrassed, subject of gossip, misunderstood, betrayed, appearing stupid, etc., are major factors and concerns of the discussion groups.
2) The Church’s environment, rules and regulations; general expectation of formalities and conservativeness, and the need to exhibit proper or acceptable behaviour. The environment is not encouraging, such as receiving COLD response from church members when our behaviour does not conform to majority. Past unpleasant experience such as once bitten twice shy.
3) The need to maintain good impeccable image and not to appear as an hypocrite. Our own insecurity causing us to clamp up and not willing to expose our weaknesses. Such as say lack of knowledge on Bible. Dare not ask questions. Don’t want to make a fool of oneself.
4) The perception of being safe at home (private) versus critical scrutiny in Church (public) settings, caused unwillingness to remove our “mask” thinking that others may not be ready to accept the truth. Do not want to attack or offend someone inadvertently, and may so choose to tell a white lie. Church members do not exhibit agape love and still short of graciousness in handling small things or issues. Perceived lack of empathy and forgiving spirit.
5) Introvert by nature; demure and shy personality. There are still individuals in the church, who cannot clique or does not know each other well enough with strong mutual relationship and bonding.
Question 2 – What are the steps I can take personally to become more authentic or encourage others to be more authentic?
1) Keep smiling and be more approachable and friendly to others. Take initiative to start a conversation & build relationship in seeking out more friends. Seek to ” build bridges & not walls”. Learn to speak up and master the art of communication. Develop boldness with a gung-ho spirit.
2) Show sincere care and concern, exhibit transparency, and needs commitment to support and accept each other’s limitation and spiritual maturity. Just be our true self, open and truthful. Share honestly and be approachable. Know our own weaknesses and vulnerability, and accept criticism when others share them out to us. Be a little more thick skin and always be prepared to be put down. Do not be too sensitive. Give others the benefit of doubt. Make effort to know each other better, widen social circle, build trust and respect for others
3) It will be great to let others know you are by nature a quiet and private person. Also communicate that you are more than willing to share when need be.
4) Make an effort to be present and participate in church events, so that others have an opportunity to approach you and know you better. Serve and support by attendance and active engagement is the key success factor for building relationship.
5) Be reminded to approach all things in love and be less judgemental. Even offensive criticism could still communicate positively, truthfully and even gently (e.g. food is too oily to our taste, we can still feedback that it’s a little too oily for our health). No need to tell-all to everyone for sensitive matters, and it may be wise to just to a few close friends for emotional and prayer support.
6) Be willing to be authentic. Be patient. Know one will be vulnerable & may be subjected to hurt and pain, if one chose to be authentic. Be prepared. Pray for strength to be your real self. Tell yourself making mistake is normal.
7) Be prayerful and have a right relationship with God first. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance to lead us to the right party to minister or to be ministered. If there is offence taken, seek reconciliation. Get third party help if necessary. Pray & commit to God. Be ready to forgive. Do not bear grudges and resentment. Developed a forgiving and gracious spirit with the help of God.