Leaders know the leadership axiom “words create worlds”—the words we use in our ministries and organizations create the cultures we live and lead in. Sometimes inaccurate and hurtful phrases become so frequently used and so commonly expressed that they should be corrected.
“My truth” is one of those phrases that should be reconsidered. You’ve likely heard “That is my truth,” or “Know your truth.” We should stop saying that phrase. You may have to catch yourself, since it’s one of the phrases that has caught on, one of those phrases people use without even knowing why they’re doing so.
How dare I suggest that someone not speak “their truth”? But what if this is my truth? Shouldn’t I be able to speak my truth? See, your truth (and my truth) may not the be the truth—and that’s not just my truth but the truth.
Here are two reasons to remove the term “my truth” from your vocabulary.
1. It’s illogical.
Leaders often insist on “one source of truth” when they analyze and evaluate data and metrics surrounding their work. There’s immense frustration when people show up to meetings with different data because they’re pulling reports from different sources or pulling from their own perceptions. Inevitably someone will say, “This is ridiculous. We need one source of truth.” No wise person in the meeting disagrees. No one suggests, “Let’s just all go back to our work and live our truth.” That would be insane, since one group would be responding to inaccuracies. No, people need to return to their work and their roles responding to the actual truth.
Just because I insist something is true for me doesn’t make it true.
Certainly, there are multiple views or interpretations of truth, but there is one truth. There are multiple ways to express the truth, but there is one truth. Declaring something as “my truth” gives the inaccurate and unhelpful perception that truth is changing, that truth is not a constant and inevitable reality we must reckon with. It does not help people—it hurts them, since it leaves them without anything consistent or trustworthy on which to stand.
Just because I insist something is true for me doesn’t make it true. Plenty of times I’ve believed something as true for me when in reality it was false. No matter how much I believed the tooth fairy was the one putting a few bucks under my pillow, “my truth” was not “the truth.”
2. It’s unspiritual.
Maturing as a Christian involves desiring God’s truth, not designing our own.
The desire to cling to “my truth” is not new; it’s as old as Eden. Like Adam and Eve, we can insist it’s our right to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil—to decide what’s right and good and what’s not. And by doing so, we place ourselves in the audacious position of defining truth. But we’re not creators of truth, so we shouldn’t act (or speak) as if we are. As Christians we believe God is the true and faithful One. We should be consumed with him and his truth, not our own.
The Christian faith is liberating, since we don’t have to build our lives on ‘our truth.’
The Christian faith is liberating, since we don’t have to build our lives on “our truth.” Instead, we follow the One who called and proved himself “the truth” (John 14:6). If we know him and cling to his truth, we’re free (John 8:32). We’re free from the pressure of constructing our lives on fragility—our limited experience and limited understanding. We aren’t shackled to self; we’re freed to know Truth himself.
Since I don’t want to be a member of the self-appointed word-police, I’ve tried to find something positive in the phrase. Where can an argument be made for it? In both Romans 2:16 and 2 Timothy 2:8, the apostle Paul calls the good news of Jesus “my gospel.” He was so personally affected by the gospel that he carried it deeply and clung to it tightly.
But unlike “my truth,” the phrase “my gospel” wasn’t about Paul’s ability or self-reliance. He wasn’t declaring a path for himself. He wasn’t differentiating himself from others, as if there were one gospel for him and another for someone else (see Gal. 1:6–9).
To the contrary, Paul viewed himself as a brittle clay jar housing the real treasure—the good news of Jesus (2 Cor. 4:7). Which is how we must view ourselves: fragile and dependent on the Lord of truth. The truth of Jesus is infinitely better and more liberating than the pressure to discover and declare our own.