Everybody wants community. We were created to be in community. Isolation is one of the worst forms of punishment that can ever be executed upon a human being. Solitary confinement is torture. There is beauty and health and healing found in community. If community is a beautiful treasure and a prize behind a locked door, the key to get into that treasure-filled room is vulnerability.
Now vulnerability is a very hard thing for any of us to do. To be vulnerable means that you are putting yourself in a position of defenselessness and putting yourself in a position to be hurt. You are opening yourself up to being hurt by being honest and transparent about your failings, your flaws, and your fears. Vulnerability is the key to community.
I have sat under leaders who had such a fear of transparency and such a fear of vulnerability that they created elaborate hoaxes and elaborate structures around them that ensured that the gimmick of perfection and gimmick of polish was always in place. Even when it was quite clear that a mistake had been made, the quick facade and wall of perfection and self-protection rose sky high. Everyone in the room and everyone under this leader’s authority knew that a mistake had been made. Our trust in that leader would have gone through the roof if they had simply admitted that they are human, that they made a mistake, and they need grace. I would have been very willing to extend grace and I would have seen this individual as more human.
Shifting now to our role as leaders in Children’s Ministry and beyond, what a gift it would be to those that you serve with and those that you lead if you could be vulnerable. If you could articulate your failings, your flaws, and your fears. Express those. People would see your humanity and they would hunger to follow a true broken and vulnerable leader. Is there a risk? Guaranteed. Could someone exploit and seek to do damage when you are now at your most vulnerable and defenseless position? Well, the answer is yes. However, I want to seek to love as if there is no risk of being hurt. The key to community is vulnerability.
Josh Denhart is a children’s ministry curriculum writer and children’s ministry performer. He has a BA in chemistry education, an MA in effective instruction, and earned National Board Certification in young adult and adolescent science. Read more: KidMinScience.com