A millennial-aged co-worker recently interviewed me as part of her PhD research. Her topic was “authenticity”; she was gathering data regarding how different generations view this subject. Her working definition of this term was “being real or true.”
Her very good questions caused me to ponder the matter; it was two or three days later that I landed upon the concept of three dimensions of authenticity.
- Inward – Do we have a set of values, and do we consistently live by them or up to them? When one espouses personal values but fails to manage their lives in alignment to them, it creates stress and, often, guilt. We feel like a phony, a hypocrite, and one result is insecurity. We do not like who we are.
- Outward – A second dimension is authenticity in our interactions with others. Is what we say, the values we proclaim, consistent with what they see from us? Or, are we like a chameleon, blending to the environment? An authentic life requires an alignment between our values and behaviors as seen from others’ perspective. Many years ago, I heard the idiom, “we need words to back up our life, and a life to back up our words.”
- Upward – Finally, are we honest and an open book before the Lord? Do our values, life, and lifestyle demonstrate His lordship? Do we expose every aspect of our life to His scrutiny? Do we seek His guidance and direction in all that we say and do? An authentic life lives out a Biblical worldview.
As an engineer by training, charts and grafts are kind of my thing. If we were to chart time versus level of authenticity, what would that curve look like? As time goes by, is the level of our authenticity increasing? Are we making progress in our inward, outward, and upward dimensions of authenticity? It’s something to think about.