Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart
by Steve Brown
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We like to pretend that hidden agendas are just for self-important bosses or egotistical politicians, but we all have them. Deep down, we all have a secret plan for getting from where we are to where we want to be, even if we refuse to admit it to ourselves.
And if our hidden agendas aren’t enough, we wear masks to obscure the truth even more. We put on these masks—like religion, appearance, power, politics, or protection—to drive our agendas. But all of this leaves us feeling phony, ashamed, guilty, and afraid. It’s killing us and hurting those we love. But for most of us, it will be a cold day in a hot place before we will be fully honest with anyone else.
There is so much more to life than hiding, pretending, and never being loved. In fact, there is already one person who sees behind the masks we wear and the hidden agendas that drive us. It does no good to tell God that you’re sick when you’re drunk, that you love him when you don’t, or that you didn’t steal and eat an apple (with apple juice dripping down your chin). God always recognizes and loves the “you” behind the mask.
So what can we do about the hidden agendas we have and the masks we wear? How can we gather the courage to be real? “Being real” has to start with your relationship with your heavenly Father. God already knows you inside and out. But God doesn’t know you in order to “out” you to your friends. His unconditional love for his own is reason we can pray to our Father without fear of rejection or judgment. Knowing God’s love, knowing that your heavenly Father is for you not against you is the only reason to give up your masks and develop the type of authentic relationships you never thought you could have.
Steve Brown is a radio broadcaster and the founder of Key Life Network. A former pastor, he is also a frequent in-demand speaker and visiting seminary lecturer. He is the author of many books including How to Talk So People Will Listen, Three Free Sins, and Hidden Agendas.
"The most authentic, wise people are the ones most aware of how phony and foolish they can be. Not only is Steve Brown at the top of that heap, but in this book he pulls his readers right up there with him. This book will really and truly help you understand what it means to find the real and true you, the one God knows and loves, despite all."
Eric Metaxas, New York Times Bestselling Author; host of the nationally syndicated Eric Metaxas Show
“Steve Brown is like a heart-palpitating roller coaster ride that disrupts your equilibrium, spins your head in circles, and when you are finished you beg to get back in line to do it again. I love his curmudgeonly humor and his holy honesty, but even more I love his fierce passion for Jesus. This wild and woolly book will call you further into the holy light of what it means to let your struggles and sin throw you into the lap of Jesus. Steve invites you to the banquet of freedom you weren’t sure existed. It does. Taste and see.”
Dan B. Allender, Professor of Counseling Psychology and Founding President, The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology; author of God Loves Sex and Healing the Wounded Heart
“Brokenness, transparency, and authenticity are the buzzwords that make books fly off the shelves. But, alas, the result is often forced authenticity without true intimacy. Steve Brown challenges our public personas with the authenticity that only grows as we rest beside still waters, allowing the Great Shepherd to restore our souls by giving him access to every nook and cranny of our lives and as he illumines us to see every nook and cranny of his love for us.”
Sharon A. Hersh, Professional counselor; adjunct professor; speaker; author of The Last Addiction
“In this book, Steve draws the dark mask of religion away from the glowing face of Christ. Jesus has no truck with masks. We put them on ourselves and on him, but if we read this book (and we all need to), we will find out how to finally turn our unhidden faces to Jesus and see him more clearly than ever before.”
Douglas Gresham, Actor; film producer; executive record producer; author
“Since 1980, I have been turning to the teachings of Steve Brown for encouragement and direction. His words have inspired, encouraged, shocked, and entertained me. He’s never boring, always fresh, and most of all, he loves Jesus. This book is a delight and so is its author.”
Max Lucado, Pastor; bestselling author of Glory Days
“In a society wherein so many of us suffer estrangement from one another because we are prone to be con artists, Steve Brown calls us to become authentic people. With a special gift for saying things that are both profound and punchy, he provides us with a book that will challenge any reader to make a Spirit-filled presentation of self in everyday life that is real. I loved reading this book.”
Tony Campolo, Professor Emeritus, Eastern University
“Anxieties thrive when fear of failure and rejection gain a foothold in our hearts. And so we hide behind masks that prevent us from being known and loved just as we are. Steve Brown—one of the most big-hearted pastors I know—is determined to emancipate us from our masks and, in Hidden Agendas, guides us into the sanctuary and freedom of God’s lavish love and grace. Truly a liberating read!”
Carolyn Custis James, Author of Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World
“Wearing the mask of a serious Christian journalist, I say: Here is a profound, engaging, and lived theology of grace that the church desperately needs. Taking off the mask, I say: Thank you, thank you, thank you—here is an invitation to freedom this sinner needs.”
Mark Galli, Editor, Christianity Today
“As with Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera, the mask’s been ripped off. Hescreamed when it came down. What will I do? Steve Brown teaches me to sigh with blessed relief. Will the church let me? Steve’s church will, and I believe him. This is a cheering, terrific book—every searing word of it.”
Paul Zahl, Author; retired Episcopal minister
“Steve Brown’s new book, Hidden Agendas, messes with us where we need to be messed with and encourages us to live and love with the freedom that Jesus intends for us. The gospel of God’s grace exposes and sabotages all posing and pretending, and Steve helps us understand what that disruptive and liberating process involves. As an adjunct faculty member of five seminaries around the country, this book has vaulted high on my recommended reading list for everybody preparing to serve in some form of vocational ministry, but it’s a must-read for all of us who care about making the gospel as beautiful and believable as we possibly can.”
Scotty Ward Smith, Teacher in Residence, West End Community Church, Nashville, Tennessee
“Beloved, this book is a treasure. Steve, in his winsome, down-to-earth way frees you from the desire to remain hidden and gently leads you into the truth of who you really are. I found myself laughing one second and weeping for joy the next. Read, rejoice, rest.”
Jessica Thompson, Speaker; author of Everyday Grace
"Talk about crafty. Under the guise of exploring that scariest of topics, human motivation, Steve Brown has hidden a remarkably wide-ranging, uncommonly funny, and psychologically penetrating masterclass of practical theology. What’s more, he’s jam-packed it with the kind of stories you can only accumulate from a lifetime of full-blooded ministry, rooting the Good News right where it belongs—behind the masks we all wear. Here’s a not-so-hidden, kicker-free agenda for anyone interested in understanding themselves, loving other people, or knowing God. Digest this book, post-haste.”
David Zahl, Editor, The Mockingbird Blog; author of A Mess of Help: From the Crucified Soul of Rock n Roll