By: Kevin Seguin
I was recently accused, by two different people of two similar things. One told me that my skin had become thin and that I needed to “get a thicker skin back” and the other told me I’ll need to “take off my rose-coloured glasses one day.”
Both of these people were good friends whom I love and trust (one of them was my wife), so I wanted to take their comments seriously and give them due consideration. I took a couple days to think and pray about it, and I’m more resolute now in my response than ever.
They’re both wrong.
I still love them, but on this they’re wrong. Here’s why:
There are Benefits To Having Thin Skin
It’s often said that “pastors need to have a thick skin,” and I respectfully disagree. I believe that the thicker your skin, the LESS effective you will be in ministry. It’s important to be clear here, I’m not talking only about pastors. As Christians it is critical to know that we are all ministers of the Gospel. One of the original definitions of a minister is simply “One who conveys something.” Without getting too far down the rabbit hole of etymology and word history, “minister” comes from the Latin word of the same spelling that simply means “servant.” I like this definition the best. A minister is a servant of the Gospel. Pastors are ministers, Elders are ministers, Deacons are ministers, volunteers are ministers, Christians are ministers. You are a minister.
So about that skin of ours:
At 4 millimeters, the skin on our heel is the thickest on our body, and many of us have calluses on our heels too. Try running a fork or something pointy over your heel. Generally speaking, unless you’re incredibly ticklish, there’s not a lot of sensation there. Conversely, the skin on our eyelids is eight times thinner! Try the same experiment—on second thought, don’t—and see the difference in sensation. The thinner our skin is, the more we feel. The implication of having a thicker skin is that we feel less: We are unfazed by injustice, desensitized to pain, and indifferent to despair. My friends, these things make us less sensitive to the suffering of the world around us, of the world that desperately needs Jesus and His Gospel.
Keep your skin thin. Jesus wept, laughed, and got angry. This ability to empathise with and feel what others are feeling helped him accomplish his mission because He empathises with us. Knowing how others feel and feeling it with them enables us to identify with people in a way that is authentic and loving.
The Eyes Have It
But let’s get to those rose-coloured glasses. As a culture, we see the idea of rose-coloured glasses as a naive, temporary thing. A new, young, couple gets along well “until the rose-coloured glasses come off.” Newlyweds have a honeymoon period where they see everything through rose-coloured glasses. Eventually though, they come off. Your new beau has flaws; your spouse isn’t the same as when you got married and first came home together. When we wear these glasses, we see the best in everything and in everyone.
What’s so wrong with that?
I want to see the best in people. I want to default to the best of intentions. Not naively, of course, let us not forget the words of Jesus in Matthew 10. “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Be smart, be shrewd, of course, but let me encourage you to default to those rose-coloured glasses. Most people aren’t trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Getting burned by a disingenuous person for the sake of the Gospel is far better than only looking out for yourself or assuming that everyone is out there to get you.
Jesus was willing to “get burned” for the sake of his mission. In fact, not only was He willing, it was the whole reason He came. Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him. He knew it at the table during Passover, he knew it when he gave Judas the money bag to take care of, he knew it when he told Judas to: “Follow me,” he knew it before his incarnation, he knew it in eternity past. Yet he still came for us and to save us.
Having a thick skin is often seen as a good thing, it’s a strong value to stand in the face of disagreement or antagonism unfazed. Cynicism is good nowadays, after all,you can’t trust anyone anymore. I disagree, and I think Jesus would too. The thinner our skin the better we feel and understand the feelings and needs of those around us; the rosier our glasses, the more we’ll see the small glimpses of good around us. Will we be opening ourselves up to a greater possibility of pain and hurt? Yes. Will we be likelier to be taken advantage of? Most likely.
Will we grow in Christ-likeness? Most definitely.
It hurt to be Jesus, it hurts to act like Jesus, and yet that is why we are still here.
Be like Jesus, keep those rose-coloured glasses on.
As a Biblical conservative, a cultural Liberal, a husband, a dad, and a pastor, I want to see the church act differently in the world. My big passion in ministry is to see how believers can bring the Gospel into the world around them while pursuing the lost art of winsomeness. It is what fuels me and drives me to write. Engaging culture with the truth of the Gospel in a way that is winsome, wise, and as Colossians 4:6 directs us: “seasoned with salt.” It’s my hope that what I say here helps you not only in your own faith, but helps you share it more effectively and fruitfully.
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