When people get to know you are you the person they met, or someone far different… maybe even less?

When people come to your church after checking in with your website, reading your mission statement and looking at all the pretty pictures, what do they find? A resonance between the way you describe reality and the reality itself? Or a cardboard facade propped up by shiny technology?

It’s tricky, managing our self image and the public version of it. People’s perception of reality is not under our control. Some folks put me up on a pastor pedestal, for example. Not much I can do about that, though I have resolved not to help them build it. And to tell self-depreciating stories from the pulpit from time to time.

You know, to reset expectations.

It’s easy to describe ourselves in terms of our goals, our hopes, our dreams, our aspirations. This isn’t lying, per se—our dreams are a part of who we are and really can set the direction we travel. But it’s far more difficult to be transparent with our weaknesses, our pitfalls, our struggles and stuckness—which are every bit a part of us as our dreams are. Here it’s good to remember that we are not the dream version of ourselves, but we’re not merely the sum total of our sin, either.

We’re somewhere in between. Somewhere mysterious, perched and precarious—sometimes sliding down one slope, sometimes down the other. I think maybe the best guesses about me take some junk in one hand, some gold in the other, and plant a flag somewhere in between. I know I’m not Whopper #1, but neither am I Whopper #2. The Bible helps me find that middle ground.

It’s called reality.

What about you? How do you find an accurate picture of yourself?