“Just being real!”

sf_Words_0001_Group 2“Just being real!” seems to be a license allowing people to say whatever they want when they want, regardless of its negative impact on others.

Authenticity involves open, honest, forthright and genuine communication. An authentic person is not counterfeit and is free from pretense (false show of something), affect action (effort to appear to have a quality not actually possessed) or hypocrisy (false showing of a virtuous character or morals that aren’t really possessed). Authenticity is sincerity (free of deceit, hypocrisy or falseness).

So, in the strict and very literal sense of the word, authenticity does allow for a carte blanche approach to saying what you want, when you want, and how you want.

But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

In the past, I used to say pretty much whatever I thought under the guise of sarcasm and joking. At some point, I implemented an 80/20 rule that allowed me to only say 20% of what I thought. Since I had to filter my words, I became more choosy of them. Plus, I just felt uncomfortable with the way I talked to other people.

Also, and more important than my feelings, Scriptures say to encourage one another. They say to be careful with our words and tell us why doing so is important.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. (Matthew 12:36)

Applying the 80/20 Rulesf_Words_0000_Group 2 copy 9

So what does authenticity look like through the filters of love and kindness?

Authenticity guided by love and kindness involves vulnerability and a willingness to risk being hurt. As we bear our honest thoughts to others in love, we risk rejection. We’re no longer trying to control others, and we open ourselves up to the words and thoughts of many who may not apply scripture to authenticity.

Authenticity in what we say includes an availability, which happens through the avenue of Godly conversations and a listening ear. It involve deliberately choosing words that fit the occasion as well as choosing to say nothing when appropriate. In that, authenticity also involves an awareness of what to say and when.

When authenticity revolves around building others up instead of trying to control them with our words, it changes not just what we say but what we want to say. It makes us intentionally filter our words and choose where to allow thoughts to dwell.

Authenticity based on scripture creates an atmosphere of healing and life. Choose the atmosphere you create with you words very carefully.

DISCUSSION: How else do you see authenticity playing out in our words or any other area of life?

18 thoughts on ““Just being real!”

  1. Being real, being honest, and being kind should go hand in hand but don't always. I don't mind people being honest and real with me, but if they must at least be kind.

  2. Truth is not a license to wield it anyway we want. We should not hide behind that something is true as the reason we said it. If we are not building someone up then we should keep our mouth shut. There is great power in our words. People use your words to judge you; what kind of person you are. Your words promote people or demote them. Seldom do our words have no effect. The written word has the potential to be more impactful for it can be read again and again and shared all around. Sometimes hard things need to be said but with proper purpose and delivered with compassion and not with power.

  3. Honesty doesn't mean that you have no filter. It doesn't mean you say everything that comes into your mind. For too many, being real or being honest is just a way of justifying being mean and selfish.
    The Bible doesn't call us to prop up people falsely – but there's so much good, positive, uplifting truth out there. It's pretty easy to really encourage people and do it authentically.

    • You're absolutely right, it doesn't. At least, it shouldn't. But I am experiencing more and more people who feel they can say whatever they want under the guise of being "honest." But it's absolutely selfishness. Authentic encouragement is definitely easy to do. So is being mean and selfish. All depends on your focus.

  4. Great message, Kari. I also have misgivings about the new authenticity movement. Authenticity is valuable when used in a loving way – like you said to build people up and to open up ourselves so we can help others. It think it's also valuable when we share our struggles with friends so they can help us pray and hold us accountable. But authenticity for authenticity's sake, I don't see the value.

    • Thanks, Barb. It definitely troubles me at times, especially when I see it so much in younger people who just don't get the disrespect they are showing. But, maybe I was that way when I was there age and just don't remember. Definitely needs done in love, and we can be the examples of this.

  5. Timely post Kari. Just last weekend we heard a great message from a young missionary. He was trying his best to be transparent about that missionaries are just like anyone, they struggle and have to deal with "stuff" from their past. Their marriage can fall apart, they become too ministry focus and leave all others out. It was very good but in his trying to be real he opened himself up in a way that would make others question some things. Pray for us as we meet with this couple next week, should we say anything, keep silent…what to do. Trusting the Lord for wisdom. Years of experience has taught us to be careful with our words for you cannot take them back and some will come back to bite us and do harm to the furtherance of the gospel. Great post Kari…we all need to be reminded of the power of our words, good and bad.

    • That's a tough one Betty, but I know you are praying and trusting God, and the Holy Spirit will guide your every word. And sometimes, it's the example you set and not the words you say that make the difference. Sometimes it's both. If you think about it, let me know how it goes.

  6. I've heard abut the 80/20 rule before but not in this way (Great respective). Being authentic and honest still requires good judgement. Knowing what and when to say something and when not too. Great post and thoughts.

  7. The Proverbs have a lot to say on this topic. I think from a Biblical perspective our words must be true and honest but they must also be said with love and concern for others. Reading Proverbs there seems to be a general principle that the fool does not limit his words but the wise person does. When we open our mouths it must be done honestly and with purpose.

    • Proverbs definitely offer a lot of wisdom for living an honorable life, and a huge part of that and their advice is control over our words. Both of my boys have read Proverbs, and we refer to them often when addressing character issues. Another aspect of Proverbs that I appreciate is that you can quote a Biblical Proverb and have it be accepted in secular circles because people are open to hearing proverbs of any sort. I get that this all is mixed in with other stuff like Chinese proverbs too, but I just find that people are more open to hearing Proverbs' wisdom than other parts of scripture sometimes.

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