President Franklin Roosevelt was weary of the mindless small talk of the White House receptions. Wondering if anyone was engaging in any real conversation, he conducted an experiment at a White House gathering. As he shook a hand and flashed that big smile he would say, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” With but one exception, the people would smile back and say something like, “How lovely,” or “You are doing a great job.” The exception was a foreign diplomat who responded quietly, “I am sure she had it coming to her”
I’m not sure how ‘real’ this story is, but it makes me ponder this important idea: Be real. We spend a lot of time trying to save face rather than save our character.
I feel the struggle and pull of trying to act or be something I am not. You can ask my wife. She met me when I was 19 and reminds me to this day of how mature I was trying to act. I was part-time staff at a church hoping that the older generation would accept me and think of me as more than I was. Yes, “set an example in life, love, speech, purity, and faith.” You can be real while doing that. I was more concerned with showing my ‘right-ness’ than presenting a ‘real-ness.’
There is a passage in 1 Samuel 18 that says, “One day Saul said to David, “I am ready to give you my older daughter, Merab, as your wife. But first you must prove yourself to be a real warrior by fighting the Lord’s battles.”
Understanding that Saul’s motive was to get David killed, I like the process behind it. Sure, you killed a giant. One giant. We will never take that away from David. But, what if it was just one. What if it was a moment of luck or happenstance. Can you maintain the thing that got you to place you are. Talent may get you to the top, but only character and integrity will keep you there.
I talk often on my blogs about self-assessment. This thought comes from David. “Search me O God. See if there is any wicked way in me.” Are we willing to see ourselves for what we are and make changes if necessary? I know in my life, it is the small everyday choices that will keep and sustain me. Neglecting those things are detrimental. Ask any spiritual leader, or any leader for that matter, who has had a ‘moral failure.’
Our top priority is to ‘be.’ To be in Christ. To be ourselves. To be real. We cannot be real with others until we have learned to be real with ourselves. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with everything. The second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Do you ever wonder that perhaps the reason you struggle with your neighbor is because you struggle with yourself? If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, you are not alone. And, you don’t have to stay that way. Make small changes. Ask God
to help. Go back to what you did when you were slaying giants!
And for those that want to be more real with others...Look at people when they talk to you. Engage in real conversation. Listen to every word intently. Be all in wherever you are.
Let me finish by sharing how Craig Groeschel ends every leadership podcast. “People would rather follow a leader who is always real, than one who is always right.”