Catalyst: The Funhouse Mirror

6 02 2008

fun-house-mirror.jpgImage: The Funhouse Mirror
Carnivals often have mirrors that distort how we really look. Poor leaders do this, pretending or posing to be better than they really are. Our character is the true reflection of who we are. Good leaders tend to integrity before image; they are genuine and authentic. Leaders must lead themselves, feed themselves and read themselves before they lead, feed and read others.

Verse: Matthew 23:25

Learning: God is indeed involved in writing the story at Epic Church. We are starting the “My Secret” Series this Sunday and our lesson this week is on getting real and authentic with yourself. It’s easy to pretend to be someone that we are not. It’s easy to move from “I lie occasionally” to “I lie often” to “I’m living a lie.”  There is an interesting duality in our image saturated society – we spend our days working hard to project a positive image of our self to others – highlighting our achievements and hiding our faults (all the things that are on the outside), but we long for relationships that are authentic and real, without pretense (all the things that are on the inside).

Each of us carries four images of ourselves…

  1. Image others have of us
  2. Image we project to others
  3. Image we have of ourselves
  4. Image that is true

Personally I struggle with thinking about what others think about my image. I find myself at times worrying about what other people think of me. I find that I can easily take up residence in Image Management Mode. I find this comes out in the small additions to my comments…

  • I don’t really watch a lot TV, but last night did you see…”
  • I not much of a complainer, but I am so upset that…”
  • “Can you believe what they did? I would never.”

Assignment: In all these statements, we are trying to manage our image in the eyes of others. We want to be seen as someone with a life, that doesn’t complain and has their act together. How do you see Image Management Mode at work in your life? Maybe it’s things (car, clothes, finances), career (achievement and success), people (our kids achievements), looking good (physically, internally having your spiritual life together)…or maybe something else. Be authentic and share your thoughts.

May we as Catalyst Leaders begin revolution of authenticity.

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7 responses

8 02 2008
eric

Recently in my life this issue of image has been a difficult one. I probably think about it everyday because at some point it gets complicated. Most people usually learn that lying about one’s self accomplishes nothing but hurt–like the stories in the Funhouse Mirror section. So I think many folks just avoid those situations where lying would be a temptation or where the truth would be undesirable. Is it possible that we know this feeling so well that we do not even ask for truth from others because we don’t want to share in the pain and embarrassment? Right now I’m not thinking about this in any complicated or contemporary fashion and I think the issue of image is really the issue of shame. It is that feeling of not being good enough or that feeling that makes you hide your face. Is this not the thing that Adam and Eve struggle with once they’ve sinned? Oh crap, we better put some clothes on because I don’t want anyone to see me like this and yet deep down we all want to be naked. So, usually we walk around well-clothed–that is physically clothed, emotionally clothed, psychologically clothed, etc, and we don’t like it but we cannot abandon it. One might say that we’re cursed. Granted, scripture is rather encouraging with that yes be yes and no be no bit, and then that wonderful tradition of confession. Jesus’ words imply that the inside can be cleansed (Matt. 23:25 among others) and it is the refusal to clean the inside that produces hypocrisy. For me the emphasis is on language, words, and speaking, not that image and shame exist only in language, but scripture suggests that speaking can do wonderful work for cleaning out the inside. Thus, if I may add emphasis to the assignment about Image Management Mode, it is important to have the courage to enter into those situations and circumstances where one can speak (undress or confess) and maybe we need to seek out these moments. I know that they don’t always come to me and I, usually with great reluctance, must go to them. (Disclaimer: let it be known that I am not a nudist, though perhaps I can appreciate the sentiment)

13 02 2008
Kim

I don’t really think I have a good handle on my image in any context. I am very resistent to the idea that I even have an image although I know that it is a reality that people see me in a certain way, and that I project myself in a certain way. I have been really hurt in the past because I tried very hard to earn the image that I thought was acceptable to my previous church, the problem was that image was cookie cutter, production line Christian Woman, and I could never measure up. I really felt like a loser. I don’t want to feel that kind of rejection again, in fact that experience has probably left me a little on the rebelious side in terms of testing the waters to see what kind of reaction I get when I am really being authentic. I am maturing to the point that I recognize my God given gifts, but I also struggle in a lot of areas. I am far from all together in fact I’m struggling now.

15 02 2008
Denise Hillbom

A few weeks ago I received a compliment from a friend as to how I have been a major influence in her spiritual journey. WOW! It was nice to hear. Sometimes, you never know how God is using you and the image others have of you to influence them towards Christ. But O’ how the tide can turn. Last week I was in Florida with my family, and I got angry at my Daughter over something I should have let go. (Especially after hearing Tim’s sermon on Anger) The image I was putting out was not that of Christ. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I found a $100 gift card on the beach. My first reaction was to keep it. This was a sad moment for my image as I was expressing my excitement verbally. Than saw the signature on the back and realized I need to turn this in. It reminds me of the seminar, when Dan Webster was teaching us about Authentic Leadership and asking us if we have knee-jerk-reactions to serve others. It should be something we don’t have to think about, we just do. We need to get to a place where serving, loveing, not getting angry over silly things, returning things that don’t belong to you, and anything else that showes the world the image of Christ, becomes a knee-jerk-reaction. When we do, our image is that of Christ and the truth of who we are in Him.

15 02 2008
Tim Kade

Knee jerk servants…I like that. May Jesus increase in us.

15 02 2008
Brandon

Sometimes I feel almost like several different people, depending on the groups that I associate with. At times, it’s hard for me to even know my true self. I see glimpses of who I am, but the only time that I am “100% me” is with God. Maybe it’s because there’s no reason to try and hide anything (he already knows). I wish I could be that authentic in everything I do.

It’s not that I’m ashamed of who I am, I actually consider myself a pretty honest, loving and overall good guy. Sometimes it’s just easier to sort of adapt to your surroundings and “fit in.”

One major Image Management Mode area that I struggle with is projecting happiness. I always try to look like I’m in really good spirits and keep smiling, even though there are times that I bury pain and sadness deep down inside. The “My Secret” series has helped me realize that everyone has struggles and we don’t always have to project an outward image of happiness. It’s okay to be vulnerable and weak at times, because we have God and a loving community around us for support.

28 02 2008
Amy

I consider myself an honest person so when I first read this chapter I didn’t think it applied much to me. But then of course when I really started to think about it, I remembered that I have lied in the past to keep a leadership role. At Epic I am learning how to be much more authentic. Being authentic is very important to me but it is a struggle. I don’t believe I would ever lie for a leadership position now becuase I’ve learned how dangerous it can be to hide what you are stuggling with from others, but I know there is an image I like to portray. I like people to think I have it all together. My image management mode is simply not sharing with others without being asked personally. I’ve always followed the policy, if people don’t ask they don’t want to know. I am learning that the people at Epic do want to know and are there for me if I need them.

28 02 2008
Tim Kade

Amy, That was a challenging statement…”simply not sharing with others without being asked personally.” I know that I’ve caught myself in moments where I want to “be there” for others. I’ll ask a lot of questions to help them, but in effect all this an effort to control the situation, so that I can hide the fact that I don’t really want to discuss the “real deal” going on inside of me.

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