As I push through my doctoral reading regarding biblical concepts and approaches in pastoral leadership I find one conversation very interesting. Several of my readings have alluded to an idea found within the study of organizational structures called Dramaturgical Theory (Boleman and Deal, 2008).
According to the theory, people in organizations (secular or religious), “…perform” at their jobs. Like the theater, success depends on a “recognition that performances play with reality in such a way as to turn the taken-for-granted into a plausible appearance” (Boleman and Deal, Reframing Organizations, p.293).
This concept is not new. It was developed back in the 1960′s by psychologist, Erving Goffman who proposed that “instead of looking inwards at where our behavior comes from, we should look outwards, at what our behavior is trying to achieve” (Simon P. Walker, Leading out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership, p.24). In other words, a successful “performance” should persuade others to a point of believability. Let’s just say it should be “authentic”.
The problem arises when authenticity is only acted out on the front stage and not the back stage of our lives. How many people do you know like that? They will do anything to get applause. They will perform their dance with all the right props, lighting, and sound effects in order to make their lives plausible. Yet when they retreat backstage they find their lives are a mess. This is reality for them. What causes that? Can it be confusion about their fundamental approaches to spiritual formation? Their lack of understanding between the mind and the heart?
What does it mean to be “transformed” into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18)? Is this merely one approach, or are there more. What does Paul mean when he says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”(Rom.12:2)? How do you do spiritual formation? What spiritual disciplines do you exercise to ensure the authentic performance of your faith?