Being free to be truly authentic is a genuine desire for many people. To be known and still loved. Folks are also looking for authenticity in those who lead them, but this is contrary to many conventional leadership styles. It can be dangerous to be authentic because some see it as a weakness, and, unfortunately, many leaders have seen their sincere desire to be honest, turned and used against them. In the schools of thought I was raise in pastors and leaders were being encouraged to "never let them see you sweat", be "always victorious", the "mighty -man of faith" and the "overcomer" - even when the opposite was true in their lives.
Now, authenticity is popular. It's the hip buzzword and as such leaders are all jumping on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, in many cases authenticity is feigned, put on just because its hip. We can fake an authenticity like an actor plays a part. It gives the appearance of one thing when the opposite is true. The truly perceptive can spot this a mile away!
Authenticity is all about being real – our words and actions flowing from what is really inside. It is genuine, not an imitation and sadly the temptation is put on a veneer of authenticity without ever having to risk being truly vulnerable. If we listen, genuine authenticity has a very distinct ring.
I think we all have a deep desire to be authentic, who we really are. For many of us, we have lost sight of who we really are under years of cultural and social graffiti sprayed across our hearts and minds - with its desire to fit in, to belong and feeling like we need to jettison those parts of us which may be considered outside the lines.
True authenticity is discovering that you are finally at home with God and with yourself, and as such, the clamouring for position, power, status and all the pretending becomes unnecessary. It is no longer striving to compete with others to be better but rather content to be the best you that you can be, for love's sake - this is authenticity.
Consider, from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco:
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'