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The Danger in Telling Everyone our Business

There I was, sitting in a circle of a dozen Christian men who had come together for the express purpose of being vulnerable with each other. It felt awkward.

It was the group’s second meeting, and many of us didn’t know each other because we went to different churches. Naturally, guys were being cautious, trying to gauge whether they were in a safe place. I decided to fast-forward the process.

“I’d like to share,” I said, after which I spilled some deeply personal details of my life, hoping to inspire a little movement in the conversation.

It worked. Some of the other men began to open up, and the dynamic of the group quickly changed. I felt like I had done everyone a favor.

Later I told the group leader that I was glad I had joined the group because “my vulnerability will help the others drop their guard.” He pushed back.

“That’s not how it works. You don’t use vulnerability to make other people act a certain way or do something you want.”

His response seemed a little unfair, and maybe it was — I really was trying to be helpful — but when I thought back over it, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why was I being vulnerable? What was my true motive?

I pushed the questions away. They made me uncomfortable, and no wonder: I was in my late 20s and it was the first time I had ever questioned whether vulnerability could be inappropriate.

Verbal Exhibitionism

Vulnerability is such a celebrated virtue these days. Where our grandparents’ and even our parents’ generations valued keeping things under wraps, we’ve overcorrected by letting it all hang out. There is no topic too sacred for a blog post, no story too personal for Facebook, no detail too intimate for our church small group. When people drop their emotional drawers and expose the world to things it may not want or need to know, there’s only one thing we’re all supposed to do: applaud them for their courage and authenticity.

To read the rest, go to Boundless.org, where it is this week’s feature article.