The Courage to Be Vulnerable

From the time I was fifteen years old until I began full-time ministry at age twenty-seven, I had jobs in a grocery store, a clothing store, a trophy shop, a bookstore, a gift shop, a patio furniture store, a large retailer and an insurance company. Finding a boss or supervisor in those jobs that I would describe as vulnerable was a rarity. They tended to create or accentuate existing barriers between themselves and their employees. It seemed as if they would view vulnerability as a weakness. Sure, there were exceptions to the rule, but the norm was more separation and less openness.
In the church, vulnerability is an asset. The people who make up the church that is described in the New Testament are involved in the lives of one another and allow others into theirs lives. They are not a group of people who catch up on quick, meaningless trivia every now and then. They even choose leaders from among themselves who are every bit as involved in the daily life of the group. Christians need that same quality today, but too often we tend to replace it with walls of privacy and self-sufficiency. We may even fear being vulnerable.
Brené Brown, a professor and researcher, once asked a group of special forces soldiers if they knew of a time when they had seen an act of courage from another soldier that did not include vulnerability. After moments of silence, one soldier answered, “No, ma’am. Three tours. I can’t think of a single act of courage that doesn’t require managing massive vulnerability.” And there it is. There are so many amazing stories of the courage of people in the military throughout history. We would never describe those as weakness. They are stories of bravery and strength. Vulnerability is something to be sought out and valued, not avoided at all costs. And if we are truly to follow the command to love one another, we cannot do that without being vulnerable.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. – 1 John 4:11-12

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