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Why You Need to Push for Radical Vulnerability

Updated: Apr 4

Adjectives are important in life. Don’t believe me? There’s a big difference between a meal and a “delicious” meal. The former is what you need to survive (or what your new spouse cooks you), while the latter is something truly enjoyable. Adjectives make a difference. 



The adjective I’m using today is even more important. It’s the difference between a regular groups ministry, and a life-transforming groups ministry. I know, that’s a big promise. But it’s one I’m willing to make.


So what is the important adjective? It’s “radical” – specifically, it’s “radical vulnerability."

I recently published an article on my Substack titled, “4 Steps to Find Freedom from Anything” (another bold promise, I know). These are the steps anyone can take in their life to break free from something that’s holding them back, especially a sin or weakness. I should know, I used them recently myself. Step 3 in that process is “radical vulnerability,” and I want to explain to you why it’s so important.


Let’s start here. There’s no doubt that you, especially as someone who deals with groups, have heard that vulnerability is important. Our sins, our struggles, breed in darkness, right? The devil loves it when we keep them hidden, because they fester and infect us. Vulnerability, though, brings them into the light, it opens the wound and lets healing begin. It helps break the power of whatever we’re struggling with. 


But “regular vulnerability” has been en vogue for the last 10 years. I’m sure you’ve read books on it or heard speakers talk about it. And you know what? That creates a problem. It means we’ve become used to vulnerability and, I contend, learned how to get around it. I think the people in your groups have, at least. And it’s lost a lot of its power. Think of it as an over-prescribed antibiotic that isn’t really effective anymore. 


Put simply, your groups are made up of sinners, and our sinful natures have learned how to skirt around “regular vulnerability.” They know how to fake it. They know how to outsmart it. That’s why we need not just regular vulnerability, but radical vulnerability. 


Let me give you a practical example involving groups. 


I’ve sat in a lot of mens groups where we go around the circle and every guy talks about their “struggle with lust.” In the last 20 years, nearly every man I’ve met has struggled with it — and the rest are lying. 


But in these mens groups, the guy who I know is watching porn several times a week (or even every day) describes his problem as simply “a struggle with lust.” He confesses to a lesser sin to hide the bigger issue. In other words, he hides behind regular vulnerability, and appeases his conscience by saying, “See, I admitted it. They’re praying for me. They know.” And then he goes on doing what he’s been doing for years. 


If that man were radically vulnerable, he would describe exactly what’s going on: how many times he’s doing it, the tricks he’s used to hide it, and the lies he’s told to defend it. Why doesn’t he? Because that type of vulnerability truly brings his issue to the light where it can be killed. But he doesn’t want that. He wants to assuage his conscience while still holding on to his sin. 


Friend, just because you’re preaching vulnerability in and for your groups doesn’t mean it’s working. Are you seeing life transformation? Are you seeing sins being dragged into the light kicking and screaming? Are you hearing stories that blow you away? If not, I think you need to be encouraging radical vulnerability.


Where do you start? Encourage those in your groups to go one degree more vulnerable than they think they should. Just one degree. Start there. It’s going to be uncomfortable. But it’s going to help.


By the way, do you know another name for radical vulnerability? True confession. By encouraging radical vulnerability in your groups, you are really encouraging true confession. Of course, all the caveats apply here: it’s not just about divulging salacious details for the sake of shock. True confession must be accompanied by true repentance and acting on that. 


But don’t denigrate radical vulnerability (and true confession) because you’re afraid someone might not follow through. Instead, welcome it. Encourage it. Foster it. 


And then watch what God does with it. 



 

AUTHOR


Jonathon M. Seidl


Jonathon M. Seidl is a writer, consultant, and speaker. He’s the author of the bestselling book on faith and mental health, “Finding Rest,” and also runs the popular Substack blog, “Dear Jon,” where he shares daily insights, faith, and encouragement. Sign up for free at readdearjon.com






 

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