Speaking Truth in Love, Fighting the Curse of the Manipulator

I think leaders have a problem. It’s a problem that is very easy to slip into once anyone steps into leadership. It has many names, the most notable being the “toxic boss syndrome,” but it stems from the problem of being a manipulator. We are all at the risk of falling into this type of behavior because it’s one of the biggest ways the enemy tries to get us to fall. I’m continuing this series on leadership, the past few weeks I’ve been looking at what makes a good leader from the bible. This is designed to help you, because I think that everyone has the capacity and capability to be a leader, and being a leader is hard. We are attacked in every direction, people will start to tear you down to see you fail, and we have the danger of being a manipulator. I think we’ve all at one point in time had to work for a boss or volunteer under a boss, notice that I’m not saying leader. A boss is someone with power over another individual, their primary objective is to use what you have to make them look better. A leader is someone that sees the potential in those under them and provides them with opportunity to rise above, even if it means sending them out of your ministry. This seems backwards, but when we equip leaders that are looking up to us, we help change the world. Imagine what would happen if we never pushed people to do more, to stay complacent in their lives. What a sad world that would be! God calls us to be leaders who speak truth in love, not bosses that manipulate for their own gain.

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Removing the Mask

Integrity is one of those words that’s thrown around a lot. We see it as a desirable trait for leaders, and we teach our children its’ value, but what does it really mean to have integrity? I was thinking about his recently in one of my quiet times and through my fourth and fifth grade small group this past Sunday. The definition of integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. So when we were talking about honesty in small group, we dove into the definition of honesty which is, being truthful in whatever you say and do. All of this is important, and more importantly it’s important to our creator. Why then is it hard for us, including me, to take off a mask that we wear each day? I have this yearning to be sold out for Christ, but then I hear whispers from the enemy saying things like, you don’t really need to spend time in prayer, or you don’t need to be different when you’re around that person. Slowly I slip on the mask, the mask is the persona that can changes depending what you surround yourself with. It is a battle, like most disciplines, it takes time to refuse to put on the mask. It took me a long time to get this right, to understand that God wants us to be true in all areas of life, no matter who or what situations we seem to be around. Two verses helped me figure this out, and I would like to spend the next few paragraphs explaining how I learned to take off the mask and how it is a daily process.

John 8:31-32 says, “If you hold true to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The next verse is Matthew 5:37, which says, “Simply let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no;’ anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” These two verses are key in living a life of integrity and honest actions.

Seek truth.

There’s nothing worse than someone who lies right to your face. The hurt runs deep, especially when that person is close to you. So why would we ever want to cause this hurt! We should always run towards what is true and pleasing to God, because in that truth we find life. We should seek this truth not only in what we fill ourselves with but how we act, be true to yourself. God molded you with talents and a personality that will bring him joy, so it’s okay to not fit in all the time. Joy is a fruit of the spirit, so don’t try to be the cool guy or gal, laugh and be goofy sometimes. We should also speak truth, words can be a deadly weapon, use them to bring life rather than death. Always seek truth in everything you do.

Live Freely.  

As we step into the truth we are set free, so live that way! You have a purpose that is meant to change the world forever. Don’t be held back by unreal expectations that the world sets, you are a free child of God, he has given you all that you need. Honor the people around you and be generous with your time. In Christ you can do all things, so go out and change the world around you. Don’t live in fear because it has no power over you. You are free and you were designed with a purpose.

Keep the Covenant.

As you live without the mask and fight against ever putting it on again, your actions must match your words. So when Matthew talks about having you say yes and no, you actually mean it. This is where the integrity part comes in, be honest and mean what you say. This also goes a step further, not only should you mean what you say, don’t be passive in speaking out against what you know is truth. This was the hardest part for me when I would wear the mask, rather than speak out and give truth in a situation I did not agree with, I would stand by and do nothing. What I’ve learned through this verse and others is that God hates passivity, he would rather us be all in or all out than be a neutral party. So when you find yourself in a conversation with friends or co-workers that is not life giving, come back with truth and love. This does not mean hit them with a bible and act all crazy town, it means speak up and show love. If that situation continues and you are not received by the others, it might not be a bad idea to leave. We are called to flee from sin and unrighteous things, so live in truth and love. Keep the covenant that Christ made for you.

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I hope this helps you as you grow and live towards a life build off of integrity and honesty. This has helped me live as the real me, and it is always a battle that must be fought daily. Life is too short to live trying to keep track of the masks we have to keep up with, live your life as the person that God made you to be. My prayer is that you find the power in seeking truth, living freely, and keeping the covenant. Start living with integrity now and remove the mask.

-Joshua Thomas