Have you ever complimented someone because you wanted something in return? That’s flattery, which is outside God’s design for a Christ-follower. Paul clearly expressed to the church in Thessalonica: “You know we never used flattery” (2 Thessalonians 2:5). Instead, he and his team led with authenticity: “You are our witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed” (1 Thessalonians 2:10). Fully surrendered leaders embrace authenticity over flattery.
Flattery is a keenly crafted collection of words designed for the deliverer’s advantage at the recipient’s expense (Jude 16). It is disingenuous, misleading, and untrustworthy. Our culture leverages flattery today just as the Roman population did because our sinful nature still believes that flattery expedites us getting what we want. Paul warned believers in Rome against being gullible to flattery: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people” (Romans 16:17-18 TNIV). Solomon revealed: “Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet” (Proverbs 29:5 TNIV). Flattery is a trap set for the target audience, resembling a tool of Satan the father of lies (John 8:44).
Contrastingly, Paul defined authenticity as holy, righteous, and blameless; three characteristics of our Heavenly Father. David knew Him as the God of Truth (Psalm 31:5). Holy is to be set aside, signified, and purified. These three hallmarks of holiness embody God’s desire for every leader. Righteous represents what is right in God’s sight. When we trust in God’s grid of right and wrong, rather than our own clouded perspective, we make wise choices that benefit our teams. Blameless connotes innocent motives, placing others’ interests above our own.
Authenticity reveals the design of our Designer. It is the highest value in our postmodern culture because we deconstruct. We peel away the layers of every person we encounter. The more each layer is the same as the previous one, the more we are drawn to that person’s genuineness.
Would those closest to you describe you as authentic: holy, righteous, and blameless? Ask a close confidant if your leadership exemplifies the authentic heart of Christ. Be intentional about confessing your shortcomings to those around you and commit to the next steps on your continued journey toward authenticity.