Tuesday evening, November 23, 9:30 PM. I listen intently on the couch to the most vulnerable conversation ‘on record’ I have ever had. A few weeks earlier I was a guest in the ‘4 Meter Sessions’ podcast by Jaap de Graaf and Ewout van de Groep. Immediately after recording the conversation I already felt the nerves. Not a conversation about what I do, but about who I am. About my fears, dreams, struggles, upbringing and even my guilty pleasures. The people who know me know that I am an open book and therefore a perfect victim for a podcast like this. Jaap and Ewout are two special men (both 2 meters tall) from Bunschoten-Spakenburg. Every month in their podcast they sit down with a man who, for whatever reason, is in the Christian spotlight and is therefore a familiar face to many people. They are mainly looking for the man behind the face. Who is he when no one is looking? What quirks, vulnerabilities, special habits and perhaps guilty pleasures can surprise and amaze you as a listener? They ask/saw questions and that leads to wonderful conversations. I knew it…
But Robbie, why are you even doing this?!
You can honestly tell me that I have no interest in such a podcast at all. I prefer to present myself as the inspiring hero of faith who is always full of fire, has a third heaven experience every day in his quiet time, never doubts, never struggles with temptations and who is certainly never afraid. However, this is not realistic at all and unconsciously sets an impossible bar in life with Jesus. For myself and the people who follow me.
“ It’s also a reality check for me. How people who are known as pastors or speakers are the same as me. Having the same doubts and questions as I do. It gives me air to breathe that it doesn’t all have to be so tight .” This was one of the responses to this podcast. This response brings tears to my eyes. This is why Jaap and Ewout make this podcast and this is why I expose myself.
Bob George mentions the phenomenon of the ghost Christian in his book ‘Real Christianity’. A ghost Christian is an imaginary person whom we constantly mirror. He is an exceptionally spiritual person, who gets up every day at 4:00 am to pray for two hours and who also reads his Bible for two hours. He goes to work, where he naturally excels and tells colleagues about Christ with great results. He leads several Bible study groups, goes to every meeting there is and serves wherever he can. He is also a wonderful spiritual leader at home, the prototype of a loving husband and caring father, who enjoys quiet time every day with his ‘Proverbs 31 wife’ and his perfect children. No one can meet such a standard. Rationally, we know that the image conjured up by such a ghost Christian is utopian. You will never meet him. It is a phantom that sits on our shoulders and whispers feelings of failure and guilt that many Christians live with all the time. If you think that ghost Christian sets the standard for being acceptable to God, you will feel like He is sitting a million miles away, arms folded, looking disapprovingly at you from His throne.
Hooray, I’m human!
The bar I set for myself is unprecedentedly high. This is why, at the time of my burnout, my therapist introduced me to the statement: hurray, I am human! The shame and discouragement we often experience about ourselves is almost always tied to our humanity. God is not looking for perfect Christians. He enjoys you. He’s crazy about you. Not because of what you do, not because of what you feel, not because of what you think, but because of who you are. You are human and our Dad enjoys that, you are his child. Hooray, I am human and a hero of faith. Not because I am perfect but because I trust Jesus, stay in conversation with my Dad and live like a child in relationship with the Holy Spirit. Right through all my failures, fears and doubts.
I believe in the power of vulnerability. That’s why, as exciting as I find it, I’d like to share this podcast with you: Click here for the Podcast . I pray that the conversation encourages & builds you up. Enjoy it and be human!