The Power of Authenticity: How Honest Should I Be?

How honest should I be?

That’s the question I hadn’t realized I’d been asking myself lately:

… when a friend checked in to see how I was doing.
… when I shared an alternative viewpoint at work.
… when feedback was requested for an event that hadn’t been all I’d hoped it would be.

I do consider myself an honest person.

But sometimes I wonder if the whole truth is just a bit . . . too much? Should I couch it a little? Hold back entirely?

Recently, as I crafted that event feedback, I debated whether I had too much to say. Would I be burning bridges by sharing how I truly felt?

I decided to ask a friend.

“How honest should I be…” my text began.

But as soon as I saw the words I’d typed, I backspaced them and deleted the message. Because I knew the answer in my soul.

How honest should I be?

It almost sounded like an innocent question. Until I turned it around.

How much dishonesty is acceptable to me in this situation? In any situation?



And if I could determine the “right” amount of dishonesty, how would I know when I’d reached it?

* * *

It’s sometimes incredibly easy for me to walk back my words (or not even put them out there in the first place) when it feels like everyone else disagrees with me. (And it’s remarkably empowering when just one person concurs).

But here’s the thing: regardless of who agrees or disagrees, they’re my words, my beliefs, my thoughts.

If I want the world to be like the one I envision in my heart, I must voice the words that express that truth.

100% of the time.

And so must you.

Not the words you’ve heard someone else say. Not the tidied-up version that meets others’ approval. But the words you actually believe to be true.

I know this sounds extreme. Your words may burn bridges. Some people may dislike you for your total honesty.* The truth may even destroy important relationships.

But you are the one who has to live with the consequences of the words you say — and of the words you don’t say.

Because holding back the truth has just as many consequences as telling the full truth does. In fact, it usually has more.

  • If my friends don’t know how I’m really doing, how can they offer support, encouragement, and prayer?
  • If I don’t share my perspective on the job, my coworkers may assume there’s only one valid viewpoint.
  • If I withhold feedback that’s been requested, event planners won’t be empowered to make the changes that might take their event to the next level.

Sure, people may dislike me because of my honesty. (Actually, people will dislike you because of your honesty.) And yes, bridges may be burned.

If so, perhaps that’s what’s supposed to happen.

Too often, we hold back what we’re really thinking in favor of some outcome we’re hoping to achieve.

Most often, we silence ourselves to keep the peace or to make people like us. (Or both.)

  • As if being even a little bit dishonest will ever cause long-term peace or build healthy, trusting relationships.
  • As if anyone can really like you if you’ve hidden the truth about yourself with your words.

The prophet Zechariah recorded Jehovah’s words as He spoke of Jerusalem’s restoration: “These are the things you must do: Speak truth to one another, render true and sound judgments in your gates, do not plot evil in your hearts against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely, for I hate all these things,” declares the LORD. . . . Therefore you are to love both truth and peace.” (Zechariah 8:16-19, BSB)

Hmmm… Love truth and peace. Not peace above truth.

The apostle Paul echoed this command in his letter to the Ephesians: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25, BSB)

* * *

So, what does speaking truthfully have to do with conquering our negative thoughts?

Almost everything.

Because lies come back to bite us. And we often regret leaving truth unspoken— a tiny grain of unfinished business in our soul that festers, constantly reminding us of the moments when we lacked integrity.

Sadly, truth holds little value in our society today. But God’s word is everlasting (Psalm 119:89, BSB).

So, how honest should I be?

From a spiritual perspective and from a psychological perspective, the answer is clear: as close to 100% as possible.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Or that there won’t be negative consequences. Or that we’ll be perfect at it.

But no problem has ever been adequately solved without first acknowledging reality — the full truth of the situation as each person sees it.

May you be empowered by God and by the Holy Spirit to “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbors.” Then you’ll find that the truth will set you free.

* * *

For more insights about telling the truth, check out:

* To be clear, total honesty is not the same as brutal honesty (that is, being mean for mean’s sake). We need to choose our words (and our timing) carefully.


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Hi, I’m Kendra

I help bright, successful over-thinkers change their negative thoughts using Scripture and the science of how God made you.

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