Archive for the ‘authenticity’ Category



How I Became a Safe Person

I don’t know when it started, but one day I became a safe person to those around me. Perhaps it’s been part of my own internal make up or perhaps I developed the skills and the temperament it takes to be the kind of a person people around me find “safe.” It’s not unusual for someone I barely know to share something deeply personal and important with me. While I’m honored and humbled, I remember the days where the opposite was true. People would tell me I came across unapproachable and intimidating. So what changed? Obviously I did, and while I might not have enough self awareness to understand the complete metamorphosis process, here’s part of my personal journey that changed me. I embraced grace for myself and for those around me. In my early twenties my life was a series of black and white pictures. Grace helped me soften…

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My Loss of Entitlement Saved My Future

I know entitlement first hand. My Brazilian mindset had prepared me for a privileged life where I expected my parents to pay for college, find me a high-paying job, pay for my wedding and set me and my future bride in a new house they would build for us. Nice, isn’t. But that’s not the way it all happened, and for that, I’m most thankful. On my 19th birthday I got a call from Brazil letting me know that the government had frozen any money transfers going outside the country. And even without that restriction in place, my parents could no longer afford to pay for my college education. Therefore goodbye, free college education wedding, first house. easy job. I was crushed. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. I have thanked God for that disappointing news many times over the years. In a conversation, my…

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Authenticity and Your Brand Promise

“We are good at copying but not good at being authentic.” Those were difficult words for a pastor to say, but both he and I knew they were true. As we talked, he told me he had visited enough congregations to know how churches freely “borrowed” others’ identity.  I ran into that problem early on in my marketing career as I was asked to create something that looked exactly like someone else’s work . Even today, my company gets calls from churches that want to use one of our client’s  logo, brand identity and promises as their own. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. I believe that’s a problem way beyond churches and businesses.  We often want to copy the style of something or someone without possession any of the substance.  I know church leaders go to great lengths to look and act like  prominent Christian leaders without spending the…

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Authenticity and the Deceptive Allure of Perfection

Authenticity. It’s a big word and it’s everywhere today. We want an authentic life with authentic friends, even down to attending church with an authentic preacher. But sadly, we, myself included, are often guilty of measuring ourselves against the impossible: the manufactured image of perfection we hear, watch, and read about. These works of populist fiction become our target in real life. I must congratulate my fellow marketers in succeeding selling us plastic perfection but derailing us in our pursuit of an authentic self. But no matter how philosophical I get, I find myself going back to the old adage, “beauty is skin deep, but ugliness is to the bone.” So I try harder, run longer, hit the gym at 5 a.m. and pass up on the chocolate cake that beckons for me every time I walk into the kitchen. My insecurity demons emboldened by the latest picture of the…

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The Authenticity Trap

Authenticity is the new oratory device of the day for Christians. Self disclosure and complete openness have never been so popular among evangelicals. The days of leaders who spoke from a strong tower of knowledge, holiness, and utter discipline seem to be numbered. Over the past decade I have seen a communication shift that takes speakers and authors from a place of strength and knowledge alone and puts them in a more honest, imperfectly human dialogue context with their audience. I have personally enjoyed this shift. It resonates with my fallen nature and helps me to know that even those whom I admire struggle like I do. Lately I have been concerned with the inevitable abuse of the authenticity device. As the pendulum swings from the bully pulpit of years past into the self-disclosing conversational approach of our social-media rich environment, it continues past center into what I call the…

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My New Stranger Strategy

What would it happen if I made a habit of walking up to a complete strangers and introducing myself? In the past few months I have tried to be intentional about doing just that.  I have done it in airports, at the gym, and restaurants. I had no idea of what to expect. Would people be annoyed? Would they look at me with the you-are-creeping-me-out stare? Would they dismiss or ignore me? Not really. People’s reactions have surprised me.  The great majority of people seem genuinely glad to have a brief personal dialogue with a perfect stranger. I believe human beings are created to be part of a shared existence, part of community. It’s easy to be in the middle of a room filled with people and to be alone, go to work everyday and not connect with anyone, walk around a large gym, see the same people for months…

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Confessions of a Hypocrite

Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s quite descriptive of my feelings. I’ve felt that way since my early professional days as a pastor. Those who work in ministry might be able to identify with the sentiment. After all, pastors and church staff, just by virtue of their positions, are expected to be holier and wiser than the rest of the congregation. Their struggles are beyond the mundane issues of the rest of the non-professional Christians deal with.  Therein lies my problem. While I’m not  lowering the standards for those in ministry, I know the toll those expectations can take on those whose lives are supposed to be a living example of God’s promises, blessings and teachings. Every single day. All the time. With a smile. Life under the microscope of unrealistic expectations is painful. The days you question your career path, your spouse…

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Judging the Struggle

I haven’t met anyone perfect yet. There are few people who want me to believe they have it all figured out, but I’m not buying it. Some struggles are easier to hide, others play out in the public eye,  and some are devastating. But part of the human condition means that we are fallen creatures and that we often sweat the small things, wrestle with  big questions, doubt was supposed to be certain. Some refer to these struggles as baggage. I don’t agree. Baggage is something you choose to carry around. Our struggles are too often tied in to the very core of who we are, to the human condition. As a Christian, I find myself wanting to judge people whose battle is different than mine more harshly and empathize with those whose struggles mirror my own. That’s very hypocritical. Today as I run into hurting people whose struggles are…

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The Problem with Fakes

Last time I was in Hong kong I bought a couple of Rolexes. Instead of costing thousands of dollars each, they cost less than 100 dollars for both watches. These are great-looking replicas of the original. From the heavy weight of the watch to  the smooth second hand movement, these watches look and feel like the real thing. After I bought them, I reasoned with myself, “why did I ever by a real one?” There’s only one problem with my imitation watches: they can’t keep time. Every time I wear one of my Falsex watches, I’m reminded why I love my real Rolex. In life, much like my watches, the fake seldom deliver on their promises. In the business world we deal with salespeople and companies that promise us a product or services just as good as the high-quality, more expensive version, but for less than half of the price.…

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How Gracious Are you Really?

I had to be taught to be gracious. That’s a quality that doesn’t come by naturally to me as I suspect to most guys. After all, our male instinct is to win, get “there” first, hold on tight to what’s ours, fight our way to the top and not to take grief from anyone. Early in life I saw my mother model grace as she gave so much of herself, and of her amazing cooking skills, to family and friends. I have my wife, Gwen, to thank for modeling grace in her relationships and how she deals with people. Interestingly, graciousness has as much to do with giving as it does with receiving. Are you a gracious person? Answer the following questions honestly. Do you have to win every argument? Are you able to receive gifts and compliments well? Do you give expecting something in return? Even gratitude? How often…

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