Do You Care too much what others think?
Is Secrecy Healthy?
Secrecy sounds negative, right? It sounds like an unhealthy impulse. After all, isn’t sin more dangerous when we keep it a secret? Well, yeah. But the spiritual practice of secrecy isn’t that kind of secrecy.
Secrecy is a healthy spiritual practice for everyone, but it’s particularly important for people who fall into one of two categories:
Those who suffer from low self-esteem.
If you care too much about what others think of you, if you look to other for validation, secrecy could be a powerful practice for you.
Those who struggle with a big ego.
If you’re all about self-promotion, if you love to broadcast how extraordinary you are and how great your life is, secrecy could be an essential tool for learning to embrace a healthy level of humility.
That’s because, at its core, secrecy is about reprogramming your heart and mind toward pleasing God. It’s about discovering that you don’t need the approval of other people when you embrace the truth that you’re loved by your heavenly Father. It’s about accepting that who you are and what you do isn’t as important as who God is and what he does. Your value comes from the One who created you and loves you, not from what you achieve or what others think of you.
Jesus most famously advocated secrecy when he told his disciples how they should go about praying:
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standingin the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
His point isn’t that there’s something wrong with praying publicly. You should do that at times—especially in small group. Jesus’ point is that when the motivation behind your prayer is to look holy or religious to other people instead of to connect with God, it’s time to practice secrecy.
We can all use the regular practice of secrecy to focus on God as the source of meaning in our lives and dial down the hypocrisy that can so easily creep into our spiritual lives.
Ready to Try Secrecy?
If you think you’re ready to give secrecy a try, download this guide. It will give you a little more background on the practice, as well as some questions you can discuss in a group or reflect on by yourself, and some tips for beginning a regular practice of fasting.
Secrecy: Simple But Not Easy
As you begin to practice secrecy, you’ll find it’s pretty simple. That’s because it’s just a new spin on other practices you’re already engaged in. Secrecy offers a new approach to prayer, reading the Bible, serving others, being generous, worshipping God, and just about any other spiritual practice. It’s not so much doing a new thing as doing old things in new ways.
But just because secrecy is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. At its core, secrecy is about building discipline in your life. And that’s never easy. Along the way, you’ll probably catch yourself sharing details with others that you meant to keep between you and God. That’s okay. Be patient. Treat yourself with grace. Forming a new habit is never straight-forward. It usually involves taking a couple steps in the right direction, and then a step back.
In time, secrecy will become more natural. And when it does, you’ll find it really can make you closer to God