Jump directly to the content
The Danger of Authenticity

The Danger of Authenticity

Why being "real" with others isn't always the best choice

Recently, while checking into a hotel, I was making small talk with the person behind the counter. While she was finding my reservation, I casually asked her, "How's your day going?"

She responded with, "Well, I really don't want to be here!" and then muttered something under her breath.

I asked the question, but certainly wasn't expecting that answer. I guess she was just being authentic.

The brutal cost of undiscerning honesty

What would your life look like if you were absolutely honest with everyone? How would you respond when your friend asks you if you think she's fat (and she has put on a few pounds)? Or what would be your honest words the moment your husband finds out he got passed over for a promotion? Or your children asked if you had a favorite child?

Being truthful is different than being brutally honest.

In today's culture, there is a lot of emphasis on "being authentic"—just saying it like it is. I understand why we feel so strongly about the quality of being forthright. Our parents' and grandparents' generations, at times, harbored family secrets, made "polite" comments that compromised truth, and shied away from discussing anything unpleasant. Sometimes we Christians are guilty of backing away from truths that desperately need to be spoken. But just as often, we speak the "authentic" truth without the discernment and love that should distinguish us as Jesus' disciples. Being truthful is different than being brutally honest. There are a lot of hurtful and destructive things said in the guise of authenticity.

The qualification that we are being honest or authentic doesn't give us license to say whatever comes to mind. After all, Jesus didn't run around blurting out everything that was true. While he was never deceitful, Jesus sometimes intentionally withheld truth because he knew that the audience wasn't ready to hear it. He knew when to speak a harsh rebuke and when to be silent.

Evaluate your "authenticity"

Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that the tongue—our words—wields the power of both life and death. Let me ask you a few tough but discerning questions to help you determine how you are using the power of your tongue:

  • Do you listen more than you talk? All the emphasis on authenticity seems to be focused on what we say. However, the most intimate conversations are usually prompted by someone choosing to authentically listen. I have found that many people seek counseling simply because they are desperate for someone to listen and validate their experience. If you long for deeper intimacy, start by becoming a great listener—someone who truly cares about the heart of other people.

No First PageNo Previous PagePage 1 of 2Next PageLast Page

Juli Slattery

Juli Slattery is a widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional. She co-founded Authentic Intimacy (www.authenticintimacy.com) and is the co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?

Subscribe to TCW at this link, and sign up for our free e-newsletter to become part of a community of women striving to love God and live fearlessly in the grit of everyday life.

not a subscriber?

Subscribe for only $9.95 yearly!
Start here for complete access to Today's Christian Woman—a mentor to help you love God more deeply and live fearlessly.

Next Steps

Downloadable resources to go deeper
Connecting Women

Connecting Women

The success of many of our church ministries depends on the depth of friendships women make.

Witness to Your Family

Share your faith with the ones you love the most.