Telling Ourselves the Truth


…is one of the hardest things to do. Yet, every successful pastor or church is able to do this. To say, “I didn’t try very hard,” “I let them get to me,” or, on the positive side, to tell ourselves, “I did a good job on that by God’s strength,” requires the ability to tell oneself the truth.

It’s hard enough to tell others the truth. It’s at least twice as hard to tell ourselves the truth about reality. Yet, the decision to tell ourselves the truth about the state of our church, leadership team, or personal life is the first step in opening ourselves up to God’s transforming power and new possibilities for whatever leadership endeavor we’re engaged with.

There are some times in life we really have no choice. Nearly all of the time, we do. It’s those choices that shape what happens to our churches and who we become over time. So, it’s vital not only to make good decisions, but to recognize when we don’t. The humility-inducing pain of failure is the nectar of better leadership.

Seth Godin writes:

“I had no choice, I just couldn’t get out of bed.”

“I had no choice, it was the best program I could get into.”

“I had no choice, he told me to do it…”


It’s probably more accurate to say, “the short-term benefit/satisfaction/risk avoidance was a lot higher than anything else, so I chose to do what I did.”

Remarkable work often comes from making choices when everyone else feels as though there is no choice. Difficult choices involve painful sacrifices, advance planning or just plain guts.

Saying you have no choice cuts off all options, absolves responsibility and is the dream killer. 


In the movie, Liar, Liar (a GREAT movie), Jim Carrey can’t tell a lie based on his son’s birthday wish. Before his son’s wish, he’s a slick lawyer who can talk or manipulate his way out of nearly everything. As long as he is able to be so, he is a great lawyer and a terrible person. When he has to speak the truth, he changes. The pivotal point in his character’s life is when he, without being able to restrain himself, says, “I’m a bad father.” Hearing himself say it out loud was transformational.

We don’t need to say bad things about ourselves all the time. We need to say what’s true. Sometimes, we need to acknowledge the good God is doing through us. Over time, it’ll be some good and some bad–it’s who most of us are. Reflection on both is true and necessary in order for us to become better leaders.

This truth remains: “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” I’m so thankful that’s always there–when I need humbling…or lifting up. I hope you are, too.

What do you need to be honest with yourself about today?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Pastor of New Vintage Church in Escondido, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on numerous websites, including:, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.