Click the button & turn up your speakers to hear the interview with Jill Phillips and Founder & Executive Director, Kathy A. Weckwerth
Our greatest example of what it looks like to be real and authentic is Jesus Christ
1. In Matthew 14:14, Jesus isn’t afraid to heal others. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
2. In John 11 Jesus isn’t afraid to cry in front of others. “Jesus wept…once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance” (Lazarus his friend is dead)
3. In Matthew 8, Jesus isn’t afraid to show people his power. “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.”
4. In John 17, Jesus isn’t afraid to pray for others. ” My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you”
5. In Matthew 23, Jesus isn’t afraid to confront others. ” The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses.3 So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.”
6. In Matthew 15, Jesus isn’t afraid to help the needy. “Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people.”
He was real and authentic even to the end when in some of His last words He stated, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
What are you like in your daily life? I ask myself this often. Is the person who I am behind my own walls on the farm the same as the person who speaks in front of others? Am I afraid to let others see the real me? Does it matter what they think? Ask yourself these same questions.
As a little child, sitting in English class was the last thing I wanted to do. Get me to the music … that’s all I wanted.
But as the years went by, I felt grateful when I’d hear my teachers say, “It’s time for you to write an essay.” Or, “Pick a topic and write a story.” The more that I was able to write, the more fulfilled I would feel.
Creative interpretation, creative writing, English, poetry, and speech classes all seemed to call to me and embrace me with a connection that helped me write my music.
Years passed and I would write an article for our church newspaper, or a sermon to deliver on a Sunday morning.
But when Farmer Dean and I moved the little church and I began to believe we needed Bible studies there, it became apparent that I might need to write my own. I’d been struggling to finish a book on developing a strong worship ministry and the thought of moving forward without finishing something seemed unsettling.
I sought God in prayer, set up a pattern of what I thought my people needed, and dug in to write my first 10 week Bible study book, be.attitudes. The next two books would follow as each year I needed another study. The Story of My Life: Joseph and Blaze Your Trail followed.
My pattern consisted of making Bible study exciting, comprehensive, and relatable through personal stories, Bible scripture, looking up scripture, questions, a prayer and even worship suggestions for your time together. The books were created for a group to use or to use on your own.
You can purchase them right here on this site.
Wouldn’t those teachers be excited today?! I know, I sure am!
So many times during long Minnesota winters, I find my friends discouraged and down, and even walk through depression myself. Here’s the truth, whether you live in the dark days of Minnesota, Michigan or Wisconsin, or you’re walking in the sunshine of California or Arizona, every single one of us faces depression at one time or another.
My daddy used to put life’s struggles into three different columns. He’d say the first column is for everything that is circumstantial. What’s happening in your world? Are you sick? Did your spouse lose their job? Do you have a lot of bills piling up? That creates stress and depression.
Then he’d say that we live in Minnesota and so that was column 2. Was it because the winter was long and dark and you weren’t getting enough sunshine? It’s a proven fact that up to 90% of our vitamin D comes from sunlight. Vitamin D is required to help prevent bone diseases, muscle weakness, and some internal cancers. It can speed the healing process. If we had colds in the summer, Dad would say, “Get outside with a book and sit in the sun and read.” We need sun and light. Plus it makes us feel more motivated and energetic.
Column 3? Well, that’s the one where it’s a chemical imbalance. Something isn’t right within your system and it’s creating the depression. You need to see a medical doctor for treatment and at times, get into a counselor for sessions.
Mostly, for me, it was column 1-circumstances. I’d get discouraged over some big car break down that wasn’t planned. I’d feel mopey over a friend moving. I’d get depressed when things weren’t going right with the kids, or I had ministry issues with clients or staff.
Once and awhile, I would become depressed in the winter, and as I’ve gotten older, I really dread Januarys in Minnesota. Dark and dreary days tend to get me down.
Although I have never experience column 3, I have had friends and relatives walk through the dark days of depression. I have listened. I have learned.
I remember a time in my life where I felt headed from column 1 to column 3 and tried everything in my power to stay out of that column.
I entered the process of going through a divorce. Dark days enveloped me. And the circumstances were overwhelming. I didn’t have enough of me to help my children much, and they plummeted into all 3 columns quickly. I fought hard to stay above water, but quite often, there is nothing you can do.
After sitting in front of a counselor, I remember he said, there are things that can help you to slow down the emotions …. get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, eat 3 times a day healthy foods, avoid sugar, except eat dark chocolate as that helps provide serotonin to the brain, an important chemical in our system that relays happiness to the brain.
Although I felt like I was at the bottom of the pits of despair, I eventually was pulled out and life became more balanced. That doesn’t happen for everyone.
Whether you are feeling the discouragement of something sad happening, or dark winter days, or you’ve plummeted into the depths of despair, there is hope. God is near and He loves you more than you’ll ever understand. There is hope.
Start looking at your life. Put things into columns and see where it all works out. Bad things pass. Trials are endured. Clinical depression needs medication and a great doctor. But in the end, we’re never … ever … alone. God walks with us.
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
This topic takes me back to 6th grade. A girl who had been in my same classes year after year, just didn’t like me. walked home with her from school and said, “I’m so sorry we haven’t gotten along very well. I’d really like to try to be friends.”
If that wasn’t real and authentic, I don’t know what was. I remember feeling like I’d poured everything from my heart right out onto the sidewalk.
Without missing a beat she looked straight at me and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Boom. That was it. I recoiled inside myself and thought I’m never pouring my heart out again. Oh, but I did. So much so, that Dad told me one day, Kathleen if you have any character flaws it’s this one for sure … you wear your heart on your sleeve.
Open and honest. That’s how I like to be. Vulnerable …. well that’s scary. But genuine, that’s more my speed. What about you? When we’re thinking about being authentic and not being fake but really truly being real in our everyday life … what people see is what they get, how are you doing?
That’s authenticity to the core. Real … believable. No shame. No hiding. No embarrassment. Just real.
And what about that vulnerability factor? Well, if you’re anything like me and you’ve had the trust kicked right out of you, vulnerable isn’t something you want to be. But in order to truly reach people at a deep level, you have to allow yourself to display these things: authenticity, realness and vulnerability.
The down side … people can hurt us. They can look you smack in the eyes and say “Huh? I don’t get it.” Because guess what … they’re not being real. Or you can risk being vulnerable and have people make fun of you, laugh at you, or be unkind to you. That’s painful. I know.
I think about some serious times in my life when I was really hurt, but sometimes it’s the funny ones that stick in the forefront of your brain.
I remember getting up in front of 400 people at one of my church services and saying my usual, “Good morning, and welcome.” I’d start out with something emotional or funny, or something to connect them to the sermon topic. Mostly, it would be about scripture, sometimes about Farmer Dean.
One day I told the congregation about how I mistook the back field of soybeans for corn. I was new to the farm, saw the short crop and thought something was terribly wrong with the corn. Until Farmer Dean told me, “those are soybeans.”
The crowd roared. In my vulnerability, I was proving a point. That I made mistakes just like the next guy. And you know what the vulnerability did? It made me closer to everyone of those people. We laughed together at my silliness and I let them in to my soul. They didn’t ransack. They didn’t ridicule. They just embraced me for my authenticity. I told them the truth. I make silly mistakes.
Here’s what I know about Being Authentic and Real …
- It takes maturity to do this.
- You have to be comfortable with who you are.
- You have to trust others
- It makes you stronger
- It opens you up to criticism, jealousy, and the pickers … people who are going to pick you apart because your heart is open and on the table.
- It can make people mad (because they’re not real)
- It can get you in trouble because sometimes closed people resent authenticity.
- It’s the best choice to be your best.
Scripture tells us in Proverbs 12:22 “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight.”
Are we dealing truthfully with one another? With ourselves? Just try it this week. Try being your real self. Just real.
Who knows, maybe people will laugh right alongside of you, and become even closer to you because you were truly authentic and real. Maybe you’ll think that corn is soybeans, and life will still continue … just maybe.