“The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.” — Brennan Manning
Over the past year, we have witnessed key Christian leaders and pastors’ moral failures get exposed. It happens every year, but it feels like the Church has taken a huge hit more recently. Leaders who have personally impacted me through their teachings and writings are no longer in ministry. Every time I learn about what was happening behind the scenes, my heart breaks for the leader, their family, their organization and for the body of Christ. We all suffer when someone falls.
I’ll never forget a moment that happened while I was having lunch with a donor. A close Christian business partner had betrayed him. Putting his finger to his chest to show his heartfelt statement, he said, “If you ever screw up, I’m leaving the faith! You’re the only real Christian I know.” It sent chills down my spine. He was so discouraged with Christians not being real. He longed for genuine followers of Christ in his life.
I love FCA’s Values (Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence). They’re all incredible, and we order them for a reason. We start with Integrity because it is our cornerstone value. I love the way Alan K. Simpson puts it, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” For me, integrity has become my foundation. It guides me to be the leader God has called me to be every day. The world is longing for real Christians full of integrity. This takes moving from duplicity to authenticity. When we do, integrity wins every single time.
Unfortunately, we can all fall into the trap of living by the “look without being” principle. This occurs when we value behavior over being. Performance-based living drives us to look good without being good. We want the appearance, and we don’t care about the reality. The goal is to impress others from a distance, but if they get up close, they will see no transformation in our lives. Looking without being is plain old hypocrisy. Jesus used strong language about this:
"You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it's all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you're saints, but beneath the skin you're total frauds.” — Matthew 23:26-28 (The Message)
We all have “looking without being” gaps in different areas of our lives:
- I want to look healthy without being healthy.
- I want to look committed without being committed.
- I want to look intelligent without being intelligent.
- I want to look friendly without being friendly.
- I want to look holy without being holy.
After playing over 45 years of competitive sports at every level, I never had a coach instruct me on how to not be good at something. Instead, my coaches always accentuated the positive, they helped me “get good” at my position by doing the right things. In our culture today, nobody wants to confess that they aren’t good at something. However, there is wisdom in creating a “never-get-good-at” list. It brings clarity to what we should focus on. When I look at significant principles through a different filter, God can reveal His truth.
I have developed a list of 10 things I never want to get good at. If I get good at these things, I will fail at living in Christ. These things will make me a fake, a fraud. They serve as a constant reminder to passionately pursue Jesus daily.
10 Things I Never Want To Get Good At …
- Learning without Transformation
- Repenting without Brokenness
- Leading without Humility
- Giving without Sacrifice
- Speaking without Blessing
- Praying without Listening
- Worship without Passion
- Loving without Commitment
- Dreaming without Action
- Living without Jesus
This entire list fits perfectly into one simple thing: Stop Faking It. As believers of Christ, we should aim to impact others through a life that shines from the inside out, a life full of integrity. Others are watching and wanting to know if Christians who pursue Jesus are the real deal. No more looking without being!
“Being” beats “appearing” every single time. We impact from up close, not from distance. Someone once said, “Your theology is what you are when the talking stops and the action starts.” As Christians, we should commit to being walking, talking, living examples of what God Almighty can do in and through us.
“Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian.” ― D.L. Moody
Dan Britton is the Chief Field Officer for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has served FCA since 1990, and since 2013, has led FCA’s international efforts, traveling extensively around the world, as FCA works in 92 countries, training thousands of sports leaders, coaches and athletes.