I was having lunch with another pastor’s wife the other day and she put words to a struggle that all pastors’ wives have at some point. Or, if you are like me, come around to over and over again, as I walk along this path.

She said, “I really value vulnerability and authenticity. When I walk in vulnerability, others see the power of Jesus in me and are moved to trust Him themselves. But how can I be vulnerable and really real with hundreds of people, with stuff that it isn’t good for them to know? When I feel like crying, when is it good to let them see me cry and when do I need to just cry before the Lord?”

Especially in a season when the struggles go deeper, whether it is because of what our world is going through or because of what you, your marriage or your family is going through – the path of knowing what to share and what to keep to ourselves is even harder to navigate.

A few years ago, Craig and I were wrestling with this together and God gave us some clarity that made all the difference in the world.

There is a difference between authenticity and transparency. Authenticity means that what you see of me is real. There is nothing fake. 100% of what I show you is true. Transparency is a little different. Transparency means that you get to see everything. It means that I allow you into all the details and allow you to see 100% of what is going on.

Authenticity is about honesty – and honesty is always good. Even when I am hurting, I will be honest. Honesty is hard because it is vulnerable. But I’m committed to honesty because it is a reflection of the Father, but also because it helps those who are watching learn to walk in faith, even when it is hard.

However… I won’t always be 100% transparent. When I am brokenhearted, I will let those who ask know that I’m hurting and that I’m in a hard season, because that is being honest. When I’m feeling betrayed, I will let those who ask know that sometimes ministry is hard, and that this is one of those times. But I usually won’t give them the details. I’m not 100% transparent because the details might cause someone to be seen in a bad light or because God has not called the person listening to bear this burden, it is often heavier than they can bear.

But keep reading….

There have got to be people in our lives where we can wipe the grime away and let them see in – those that we can be more transparent with than we do with the multitudes. But they have got to be called by God to fill that role. And still, there are confidences that we cannot share – things our husbands share with us, things that others that are hurting might share, that we need to hold sacred. But our call to be transparent is not the same as our call to be authentic. Transparency needs to slide and adapt, according to who we are with, the circumstances, informed by wisdom and led by the Spirit. Authenticity is who we are called to be – all the time.

So let’s walk this path of vulnerability with courage, this path that let’s others see us struggle. But let’s do it in a way that doesn’t create obstacles for them or place a weight on them, but rather draws them into a deeper trust in Our Jesus. To Him be the Glory.