Authenticity – what is it and why is it important?

Anything authentic remains true to its own personality, spirit or character, and the very nature of authenticity ensures that it cannot be fabricated. Authenticity, then, is primarily revealed through interaction with the external world. Actions serve to either deny or certify credibility. The music industry is saturated with copycats, posers and pretenders – and the Christian industry has its own specific subset of idiosyncrasies related to spiritual issues. In a four-part series, I’ll be discussing authenticity and how it applies to music and ministry.

Let’s face it – no one likes a fake. We all know people who are inherently disingenuous in the way they deal with others and, often, themselves. They’re usually easy to spot. They talk the talk but never quite seem to walk the walk. They find it difficult to be honest toward others, and often refuse to address their own faults and shortcomings. Honestly, we all exhibit this attribute to one degree or another. So how and why do people choose to be less than authentic?

Behaviorally, we often choose to portray someone other than our true self because we feel pressure to conform to a predetermined standard. Spiritually, we often choose not to walk a righteous, authentic path because it’s either too difficult or we’re not willing to surrender completely to Jesus Christ. And, musically, artists often seek to write music they think will serve a specific purpose in the hearts and minds of others at the expense of their own unique musical identity. These transgressions typically arise from a desire to either obtain approval from others or please our own selfish desires. The only way to become authentic is to strive against these natural tendencies. And the only way to be content is to be authentic.

The fundamental question we need to ask ourselves is – WHO AM I? Once we have honestly addressed that question we have taken a first step toward becoming authentic. Of course, there is no easy answer. Philosophers have pondered this mystery for millennia. The answer lies deep within a complex equation based on the various intangibles formulating the human soul – faith, purpose, values, ethics, memories, and so on. The resulting answer, in many ways, defines our moral character (or lack thereof).

Another foundational question is – what makes me unique? This is a much easier question to answer and is primarily (but not solely) determined by our temporal, earthly being. Uniqueness can be defined by anything from our hairstyle or clothing to our musical taste, political philosophy or athletic ability. Similarly, uniqueness can also be exemplified in our willingness to stand apart from the crowd and follow our own values, instinct or sense of direction.

One of the most difficult challenges in life is to find peace in our personal identity – to be truly authentic. We are defined by the answers to the aforementioned essential questions “who am I?” and “what makes me unique?” Thus, it’s important for us to first understand the nature of authenticity before we can learn how to apply it in our lives. So you’re asking, “What does this have to do with music and ministry?” Join me for part two and find out!

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