Last month, my friend Shane Baumgardner gave a speech on success at Nationals to a group of debate competitors who had qualified to the championship tournament. The speech was challenging—we’re glad we recorded it (listen to the whole thing here: http://monumentpublishing.com/2011/06/success-at-nationals/). He spoke about being honest with yourself, and being honest with God.
“Can you look at yourself in the mirror after a hard week of competition and honestly say that you’ve left it all on the line, that you’ve done your best, and that you’re satisfied with the results? And, more importantly, can you turn to God and know that you’ve given Him your all, and be able to say, ‘I did everything that I could with the ability that You have given me; I’ve run the race with excellence, I ran it in a manner worthy of victory, I did everything that I could with the talent and the opportunity that You have provided me’?”
Shane is coaching at Training Minds Ministry, but he has experienced this kind of situation firsthand. He has taken top awards in debate, extemporaneous speaking and impromptu (national titles in the former two). He knows what he’s talking about.
When I am truthful with myself about my motives, my intentions, and my performance, I’m humbled. I haven’t done well, but I know that I can do better. With this realization, it’s no wonder it’s so easy to lie to myself.
Today I was reading a book by Mark Mittelberg, and he mentioned that hypocrisy is one of the leading problems people have with Christianity. It’s statistically proven—something about the way we conduct ourselves delivers the message that we don’t really believe what we say we believe.
In other words, if speaking the truth in love and loving our neighbors is a command, why don’t we do it more?
The image of looking myself in the eye and being honest with myself and with God has come to mind every single day since Shane brought it up. I know that I can’t always say to God and myself that I did my best each day. In fact, I usually can’t do so. That’s why being honest is so crucial: if my own shortcoming is a blind spot for me, I’m stuck at a standstill.
Honesty leads to clarity. Only when I’m being truthful with myself am I able to see my situation for what it is, and, with God’s help, change for the better.