How Do You Build Authentic Relationships?
And Why They’re Important.
What does it mean to be truly authentic, build authentic relationships, and have a genuine relationship with God? Living an authentic life—striving to align one’s actions with one’s core values and beliefs, with the hope of discovering and then acting in sync with one’s “true self”—has recently become a popular topic.
Authentic Leadership was a term coined in the 1990s and embraces the principle that leaders can prove their legitimacy by nurturing sincere relationships with those they work with and encouraging them to share their input. The roots of the concept date back to early Greek philosophers, such as Socrates and Aristotle, who advocated seeking alignment of inner values to outward manifestations.
Neurological evidence suggests that humans are hardwired to connect, which begs the question: Can that need be fulfilled without authentic relationships?
What the Bible Says About Authenticity
Being honest is frequently mistaken for authenticity, but it’s more than simply being honest. Being authentic requires courage and humility. It means facing our fear of exposing ourselves as flawed, which may lead to rejection and hurt. But it’s the only way to grow spiritually and emotionally healthy.
“But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:7-8 NCV)
Moving Beyond the Superficial Into Authentic Relationships
Authentic fellowship is not superficial. It’s genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-wrenching vulnerability.
The church should be a place where people from all different walks of life can come together without feeling the need to hide their imperfections. Unfortunately, many people think that they have to display the most polished version of themselves in church. They fear being judged. How many parishioners sit in your church every week thinking everyone around them seems to have it all figured out, that their walk with Jesus will never be “enough” compared to others.
Authenticity happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives; when they share their pain, reveal their feelings, admit their fears, acknowledge their weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer.
Only when we become open about our lives can we experience an authentic relationship with God and fellowship with each other.
How Can We Learn to Be Authentic?
Although it seems that being authentic should come naturally to us, society urges people to cover up, to wear a mask that hides their real thoughts and feelings, and present an image they hope will prove their worth. Over time, the mask becomes more comfortable, and people move farther from their authentic self. But healthy relationships are not possible unless you remove the masks and show others who you are.
The Role of Christian Leadership in the Journey to Authenticity
As church leaders, you are called to minister to your congregation and your community. One aspect of that ministry is helping your congregants on their path to developing an authentic and meaningful relationship with God and one another. How can you ensure that your efforts are effective?
The Relational Discipleship Network believes it all begins by following Jesus’ method and model. What started in 2007, as an opportunity for Real Life Ministries to share how it started with the method used by Jesus, has blossomed into a network of ministry leaders who provide events, training, and coaching to help other leaders to do the same.
This collaboration of churches and church leaders worldwide is an excellent step to strengthening your relationship with God and guiding your community to true, authentic relationships with God and others.