When I agreed to take on the responsibility of being the USMB national director back in 2016, I made a commitment to our constituency and to myself that I would seek to be as transparent as possible. I remain committed to that, although I have found it frustrating at times because circumstances don’t always allow for as much transparency as I would like to provide. There are many times that I would like to say something about something only to realize that if I do, I’ll be breaking a confidence or will be speaking harmfully about someone or what they have done. So, it’s a challenge and a dance to know how much to reveal at times.
But after evaluating the openness that I’ve committed myself to, I realized I can do a better job of being more open. When I look at Jesus’ ministry, I see transparency. Although he spoke in parables that weren’t always easy to understand, he was using that as a novel method of teaching. It got people thinking and asking deep questions. But when Jesus interacted with those closest to him, he was crystal clear, to the point and sometimes pretty intense in saying what was what. So, as I look at that model, I need to be more like Jesus.
That doesn’t mean being brutally opinionated or making hurtful comments just because I think something is true. It means revealing pertinent and useful information whenever possible. It means exposing my own feelings and thoughts about things but doing so as a sound leader and not as a complainer, gossip, busy-body or dripping faucet.
Being transparent also means admitting that I have made a lot of mistakes over the past five years while in this role. Many mistakes. It’s amazing that God not only forgives me for those but oftentimes also mitigates the ramifications of my blunders. He’s good at that. Yet for the many times that I have not done this well—being appropriately transparent—I apologize to you. I pray to be able to do better in the future.
I’ll be honest—sometimes I’m quite drained by the tough issues that come to me on almost a daily basis. Yet, I feel that God has placed me in this role for a purpose. Obviously, I don’t enjoy many of the demanding problems that come my way, but God gives grace and just enough strength to deal with them. I think it’s through the prayers of many people that God graciously acts and supplies what’s needed.
A huge part of this is also knowing that I certainly don’t have all the answers about matters. So, I invite and will listen to feedback provided in a Christ-like way. When solutions aren’t clear, it helps to have more opinions and good interactive conversations. It’s quite apparent to me that others have sound insights and opinions that can improve future decisions—and this is a core benefit of being transparent. So, write to me, call me, share with me.
You may be thinking that declaring to be more transparent is just being pretentious and self-serving. That’s not at all what I’m after. Communicating in a clear, open manner hopefully also exposes my inner motives. I want to be “seen straight through”—so that no one suspects of any posing or pretending.
Don Morris is the USMB national director. He and his wife, Janna, live in Edmond, Oklahoma, where they attend Cross Timbers Church.