In exploring the notion of “becoming” that many of the mystics speak about, or what you might call divinization, sanctification, Christosis, etc., one is confronted almost immediately with defining what it means to be authentic.
The dictionary says that something or someone who is authentic is genuine or real. The real deal. Seems simple, yes? Yet, I have heard many people claim to be authentic, myself included, who were not even close to being so. And when I see others as being inauthentic, there is then a piece of inauthenticity in me. Authenticity is an inner work. For me to work on being authentic, to become real, I have to come to some practical way of understanding the process.
I have recently preached the following definition in a sermon and will continue to refine it as time goes on: Being authentic is when I am consciously unconcerned with projecting onto you how I want you to see me (how I look, how I sound, how I seem). Additionally, inauthenticity is not only what I am trying to ‘show’ you, but also what I choose to hide from you because I want you to think well of me.
I stumbled onto a leadership book soon after I wrote the above words that said, “Authenticity means being oneself, being fully congruent, and not playing a role. It is a real challenge to be authentic and congruent in the workplace. Most people feel that if they are truly themselves and if they say what they are really thinking, it will be the end of their careers. But I believe that if we don’t do this, we sell a little bit of our souls every time we are inauthentic…” (Lussier & Achua, 2004: 463).
The cultural scope of authenticity is not simply a workplace affair (though many adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work); it is a holistic pursuit. We seek authenticity in all our relationships, whether at home, work, recreation, worship, etc. Authenticity is the fruit of bearing the image of Christ.
Lussier, Robert N. & Achua Christopher F. (2004). Leadership: Theory, Application, Skill Development (2nd ed). Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western.
© Paul Dordal, 2016