Emily 2

This evening I had dinner with about 30 other pastors at a Continuing Education event.
The speaker shared his "Top 7 Leadership Tips."

My favorite tip was: "Good leaders are authentic.  And humble."

The group discussed a variety of thoughts on authenticity throughout the conversation that followed.  I like to think I'm authentic, but I struggle sometimes.

I always get a little nervous in groups like that, but I did speak up.  I said, "It's interesting.  You think it would be the easiest thing in the world....to be authentic.  To be oneself.  But actually, as I wrap up my third year of being a pastor, I think being authentic is probably the hardest thing of all."

I'm not sure where that came from.  Usually I think (and over-think) things through about 1.5 million times before I say them out loud.  But the words just came out before I had time to think.

All too often I find myself second guessing my decisions, worrying if I've upset people unintentionally, and struggling to stand up for what I know to be right.  All too often I spend my days doing what I think other people want me to do as a pastor, and too little time doing the work I know deep in my heart God wants me to be doing.

All too often I...
Swallow my true sense of humor.
Fret about irrational fears.
Walk through the motions of what I presume a pastor "should" be like.
Say what I think other people want to hear.
Choose to be quiet & "polite" instead of bold & honest.

I imagine we all live within different variations of this theme.
Tell me I'm not the only one, right?
Sometimes we shine with our truest sense of self.
Sometimes we don't.

As much as I want to be authentic, sometimes I'm not.
I want to work on that.
And I am working on that.

After dinner wrapped up, I walked around outside.
I followed the sidewalk for awhile,
and then looked over at a little patch of sand and grass.
Buried in the midst was a little sticker-like object.  It was blackened around the edges.
I couldn't tell what it was at first.

I looked closer.

It was a name.


I have no idea where it came from.  But there it was.
A few inches off of a sidewalk in the middle of Minneapolis.

I think it was God, reminding me that I'm loved, just as I am.
I think it was God, inviting me to remember to be ME.

Emily.  Loved and forgiven child of God.

Thank you, Holy Spirit,
for reminding me of my most important identity of all.


  1. This made me smile...

    You are awesomesauce. To the brim.

    1. Thank you, Dan. And YOU, my friend, are totally awesomesauce!

  2. Beautiful post, Emily! Soaked in truth and raw honesty. I like awesomsauce! I would definitely concur!

    1. Thank you, Barb. Truth and honesty - thank you for using those words. Two things I'm definitely aspiring toward.

  3. I love this Emily and I share so many of your struggles-- especially thinking through what to say out-loud to a group 15 million times while my heart races at the idea of saying it--even if "it" is just my name. Sometimes I have to remind myself I was knit together in the womb to be just who I am. Thanks for sharing this--it gave me chills.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Tara. And for your kind words. May we both remember that we are loved and chosen - just as we are! :)

  4. I love this post. I've come back to it three or four times, because it's totally, delightfully you and your life. Thanks for capturing the moment and weaving in the bigger message.

    1. Thank you, Mike! Writing is becoming a more and more powerful tool in my life. I'm so thankful for words!

  5. Jordan Miller-StubbendickJune 28, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    Emily, I love your brave honesty and willingness to tell your story. I am in awe of you for doing that...every time I read your blog, actually. You remind me of this: "And the day came when the risk [it took] to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom" (Anais Nin)." Blessings on the blossoming process, and thanks for your words that help me with mine!

    1. Hey there, Jordan! Thanks for your comment, my friend. I love the Nin quote you mentioned. I am going to have to devote a whole post to that quote sometime. Thanks again for your affirming, thoughtful words. Sending love from Minnesota to you!!!!