Today’s news was dominated by the resignation of Maria miller from her post as Culture Secretary . It’s not my intention to debate the rights and wrongs of her case, nor pass judgment. But as I watched the news this morning the Sky News reporter made an interesting observation. She commented that the resignation was as much a consequence of Ms Millers reaction and response to the investigation into her expense claims, and the brevity of her apology (when it was found they where in error) as it was to do with any perceived or real wrong doing.
Maria Miller had behaved in a way that annoyed people and made them believe she had something to hide.
She had behaved defensively.
We all do it and yet we are distrustful of others when they do it too. When we are aware we are being defensive we tend to be aware of the wounds and wants we are protecting from pain or manipulation. But we also know that defensive behaviour is associated with having to hide and so when others do it they appear dishonest and shifty.
It’s a pattern that goes back to the beginning. After eating the fruit Adam hears God in the Garden and hides. When God asks “Where are you?” Adam replies honestly by saying “I hid because I was afraid”, but when God probes the root of that fear, “Did you eat the fruit…?” Adam defends himself by pointing at Eve… “It was the Woman!” … Then promotes himself by pointing out God’s mistake, “…that you gave me”.
We avoid blame by self promoting and self protecting.
We all have things we want to hide, whether real sins or simply vulnerabilities that we don’t want others to exploit. So we get into the habit of hiding ourselves, even from our own scrutiny at times.
We put on persona’s and that we think will make us more attractive and trustworthy to others, but in truth they separate us. We where made to want to know and be known by others. So we are willing to follow the authentic and real… position and power can coerce you to follow them but they are no-where near as effective in leadership as the heart connections that come from feeling you know someone and that they know you. The theory is easy but to be authentic and real requires vulnerability and openness. And that takes courage.
So it is easier to adopt behaviour patterns that justify our hiddeness. But today’s events where a clear example of how these behaviour habits can undermine our best intentions and shut doors to us that our skills and abilities should have kept open.
It says of Jesus that he entrusted himself to no one because he knew what was in people, John 2:24. yet at the same time people didn’t feel he was hiding himself from them nor was he defending himself or setting himself over them. So it must be possible to be real and still be private.
I guess authenticity is a quality not a technique, it requires courage and peace in the inner-self, both works of these are works of the Holy Spirit. But the benefits of this confident vulnerability are more than simply personal. Being the real you opens up opportunity, it brings what the Bible calls favour.
It is one of my favourite things to help people encounter Jesus in ways that release this attractive quality of favour in them. Favour allows you to lead others without coercion; it lays the foundations for business; and it attracts promotion and responsibility at work.
Favour comes as the Spirit brings courage to the inner-self. That stops us needing to promote and protect.
By all accounts Maria Miller was competent and her errors where found to genuine not malicious, but her refusal to co-operate nor be candid when questioned over her affairs have prevented her being who she could have been.