Why Not Try This? …Determine Again To Live A Life Of Transparency

Unfortunately, in boarding academy and college I learned a lot of jokes that were somewhat suggestive. If I was careful who was listening I could tell them in the “right” circles and get the laughs I wanted, making sure not to share them with those who might question why a follower of Christ would say something like that.

About a year after college graduation I went through the trauma of watching the home I had grown up in disintegrate. One of the factors was a lack of transparency on the part of a parent. That experience caused me to think through who I was and what kind of ethical standards I wanted to live by. It also helped me determine to eliminate a lot of jokes from my “repertoire” regardless of who was listening and who wasn’t.

A few months later I advertised my aging but sporty Chevy Camaro for sale in the newspaper. When a prospective buyer asked if I had had any major problems with it I was hesitant to tell him. As the Holy Spirit put the squeeze on me, I decided to be transparent with the car history. I knew for sure the sale was off. That’s when he said, “I like to work on cars, and that’s just the kind of thing I won’t have any trouble fixing.” He bought the car.

And yet we’ve all discovered that it is far easier to set ethical standards than to live by them. It’s easy to do what seems politically expedient, or what we think will tilt the advantage in our direction.

Within the past few weeks ten church leaders & pastors in the Lake Region Conference resigned, were terminated, suspended or placed on leave. More info at http://www.adventistreview.org/2005bulletin/bulletin8-news3.html. Instead of saying “I would never do that” I have decided to re-examine my financial and decision-making transparency. Am I open and honest with myself and others?

When I served in the Texas Conference office there were times when I would wonder whether I should make a particular expenditure or act on a piece of advice. I found it very helpful to ask myself two questions-1. Is this pleasing to Jesus? The only way to be sure is to have my mind filled with Bible truth and my heart filled with the Holy Spirit. And, 2. Would I be comfortable explaining this decision to 600 constituents at a constituency meeting? This helped me evaluate if I was really living a life of transparency. Confidentiality is often important in ministry, yet it should never be used as a cloak for personal advantage of any kind.

The times when I want to be secretive are often the times when I think I have to take control of the situation rather than trust fully that God is in charge. These are the times when I am most challenges by this counsel-

Everything that Christians do should be as transparent as the sunlight. Truth is of God; deception, in every one of its myriad forms, is of Satan; and whoever in any way departs from the straight line of truth is betraying himself into the power of the wicked one. Yet it is not a light or an easy thing to speak the exact truth. We cannot speak the truth unless we know the truth; and how often preconceived opinions, mental bias, imperfect knowledge, errors of judgment, prevent a right understanding of matters with which we have to do! We cannot speak the truth unless our minds are continually guided by Him who is truth.” {Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, p. 68.3}

If the following is good counsel for those who work in medical ministry I’m sure it is good counsel for those of us in pastoral ministry as well… “God wants all who are connected with the Sanitarium, whether as physicians, superintendents, or those officiating in any department, to be just what the Bible requires,–exemplary Christians. All their business transactions, whether with believers or unbelievers, should be as transparent as sunlight. The fact that one is not likely to be detected in deception or fraud, or downright murder in malpractise, does not make him less guilty in the sight of God. That which God testifies of us when character is weighed in the golden scales of the sanctuary will stand fast forever, unless the sad decision, “Wanting,” is changed because of soul repentance and transformation of character, and pardon is written, and the promise fulfilled, “A new heart will I give you.” There is need of an entire change in the principles that control many physicians in regard to their example as Christians. They must meet a higher standard, –the Bible standard. {PH066- Health, Philanthropic, and Medical Missionary Work, p. 6.2}

Transparency may seem painful at times. But the alternative is devastating, either here or for eternity or both.

Blessings to you,

Dan Serns

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