Up Close and Personal


Out of the mouths of babes!

After one of my shows a cute little girl, about 5-years-old stood staring up at me in awe!

“What is your name?”  I asked.

“My name is Allie.” She answered without ever taking her eyes from my face.

“Do you want an autograph?” I asked, thinking that she might be too shy or overwhelmed by the awesomeness of my presence to ask for herself.

Almost imperceptibly she shook her head no.

Suddenly filled with an even more awesome spirit of generosity I asked it she wanted a free DVD.

Again her curls bounced back and forth as she shook her head indicating she had no interest in a DVD.

Now growing a little uncomfortable with her relentless stare, I asked.  “How can I help you?”  I leaned close to hear her whisper…

“Up close, you’re really old!”

All of my self perceived “awesomeness” evaporated!  No autograph, no request for a DVD just a public proclamation that up close I look really old.  There are few times in my life when I have laughed harder. Later that night a question tumbled in my brain.

What do I really look like up close?  Other than old.

At work, in church, on stage or in any public place we often look different than we do “up close.” The people who best know what we look like “up close” are family members and people who see us when we are not trying to impress anyone. Here are some other questions that I asked myself after this experience that I hope you find interesting and insightful.

  • What would it look like to stop trying to impress people and let them see the “up-close” you?
  • Is your “up-close” person totally different than your public persona?
  • Do you have a group of friends who know the “up-close” you and love you anyway?
  • Are you willing to let anyone know the “up-close” you?
  • Is the “up-close” you the person you really want to be?
  • Can you let people be “up-close” with you even if you disagree with them?

This isn’t about spilling every secret of your life to the world. That would be foolish. Only a few trusted friends should be allowed that close.

But, I often find myself hiding parts of the “up-close” me for fear of disapproval. Part of me wants to let friends like you see the old guy more “up-close.”

Yet part of me fears the criticism that always comes when one dares to do so. I don’t claim to have the answers to all the above questions but I am facing those questions in my own life and would love to know your thoughts.

What are your thoughts?  How up close and personal should a person be?


  1. I’ve found one of the benefits of “small group” exercises is coming to the realization that you are not the only person with fears, doubts and leaky toilets… You learn to share your “up closeness” with others and in turn find out that many times the persona of another is just hiding the real (and usually “more better”) person. Putting on airs can only work for a short time. Its like trying on a mask in a mirror in the bathroom… you may be able to fool even yourself in that setting – but once you try to fool friends and family out in the living room, they’re able to see the whole you and the mask becomes silly. Thanks for sharing the real you.

  2. I’ve been trying to see you “in person” ever since I saw you on our Christian TV station doing the “doberman/shitzu” bit … see where you’re going to be in Lutz, FL .. that being the closest to where I live in Deland, FL … am hoping to finally meet you … “up close” … if not there am sure you’ll come closer to home one of these days …

      1. I checked it out online & it looks like it’s only an educational type seminar for pastors etc. I thought it was “just you” … think I’ll wait … surely you’ll be this way again … soon I hope …I’m the one that couldn’t find anybody to drive to the First Baptist Church of Orlando when you were there.

  3. I’m a nurse, and a once while triaging a patient she denied smoking, and drinking. She said, “I don’t smoke, drink, or use drugs. I like me.” I loved that last statement. I like me. I’ve spent many of my younger years trying to look better than I am to impress everyone but me. I decided that very day, with that sweet lady’s awesome words, to be who God made me to be. I decided to like who He made me to be. I may be nerdy, and simple, but that’s ok. Ken, I don’t think you’re old at all! I think you are wonderful and amazing just the way you are. I like you! 🙂 Happy Thursday!

    1. I am in Minnesota today. Below zero weather. Your words warmed my soul. Thank you Janna. I said to myself, “Your not old.” My bones answered, “Yes you are.”

      1. Thank you for the chuckle. I love Minnesota, my native home, but now that I’m in Georgia, I love winter here. There is no -30° I gave away my Minnesota winter coat and I’m not missing you. Minnesota in winter has a very special bird, that only comes in winter to Minn. It’s a Kee Bird. Because of the way it chirps. It goes, kee kee keeriminy it’s cold out here !!!! Just imagine that bird in a parka and snow pants. Lol. I just love you Ken, your humor sticks with a person and your words for salvation touch those who don’t know Christ and affirms belief for those of us who already know him.

  4. Met last evening with a church search team. My prayer before and at the interview was, “Lord, don’t let me try to sell myself.” It was a difficult prayer. I wanted those good people to like me. But what was even more important – God’s purpose for that congregation and for me, because what He makes and what He does is so much better than out feeble efforts.

  5. I think everything you say or do should at least be genuine — meaning, you shouldn’t lie about yourself through your words or actions. For me, it’s a choice about how much to withhold. It should always be the truth, but how much truth at once?
    Having at least one person who knows nearly *everything* about you is good, I think (like a spouse or best friend), especially if you’re a believer and they are too. That’s good accountability. Add a few more who know quite a lot about you and feel comfortable approaching you about things is also good. In some places, though, it can be hard to find good friends, especially if there are not many Christians around. Ultimately, God is your closest friend anyway 🙂

  6. Airing all of our dirty laundry isn’t the answer but neither is hiding behind a mask so we can pretend we are someone different from the real us. There is a middle ground, which can be difficult to discern.

    For me, I want to be open enough so others know I struggle daily as well but careful to not compromise those I love in the process. Being a witness for Christ involves letting others see His faithfulness in our lives–that’s pretty tough if all anybody ever sees is the polished us.

    Not too mention, if we hide behind a mask, we are denying issues we need to face, so we can grow personally.

    Great thought-provoking post, Ken. From what I can tell from a virtual distance, you do a nice job on your site letting us see the real you.

    1. Julie, Your consistent participation on this site is so encouraging to me. Thank you for being a part of my community of friend. Don’t leave. I would miss you.

  7. Its the fear of Rejection and Judgement as we live in a society of convenience. Here is what I mean…… Everyday, we strive to make things in our lives easier, quicker, better and more convenient. Now, add the fact that we naturally judge those around us and that we have made it easier to reject having to deal with people (work form home) or keep people in our lives (divorce) or be friends with someone if we don’t have to (Facebook). The technology explosion has given us the ability to choose how we want to live, work or socialize with people without confrontation. Without confrontation you never reach resolution, which means you rarely gain acceptance from another person. Unless we learn to accept each other for who we are (good and bad), we can never experience one the greatest gifts GOD ever gave us… LOVE!….. Its the fear of rejection that causes us to not be who we truly are to everyone around us and we have made it too convenient to even take the chance.

  8. I think that fear of letting people up close comes out of our residual belief in legalism. I spent a large portion of my life believing that God saved me; but, that He couldn’t really love me. He has spent my lifetime teaching me of how much He loves me. We, human Christians, are caught between the realization of our own failure and the truth that we are the Beloved, Chosen, Redeemed, Child of the King. I think those of us most sensitive to this dilemma are those with complex personalities who also have great empathy, deeper insight, and tremendous vulnerability. That characteristic is both our worst limitation and our greatest asset at the same time. It is that vulnerability that draws others toward Christ as we are willing to honestly pour out our hearts (Just as you do so often through your openness). Sometimes we bleed as our hearts lay open; but, we remember there is no pain or sorrow too great for the salvation of one soul. Sometimes, my greatest fear is that my “honesty” about fears, frailties, and failures will dishonor my Father; but the truth is He can take all my mess-ups and create a beautiful portrait of Himself and use that to bring others to Him. It is not about me.

  9. I agree that only a few people should realy know the up-close you. There are some people that you just plain need to stay awsy from. Three times in the last year, my closest friend where I now luve had had a falling out, one time it lasted 4 months. I guess by that time I had forgotten just.how my heart was torn up. We made up. Out of those three, I only initiated one. After three of these, she called our friendship once. One of the break ups was my fault. She called it off but I caused due to some meds I was taking caused me to be not my up-close self and far far away from anything that was really me. Some people can’t handle the truth, even tho it’s given in love so again, our friendship is over, byt this time I need to be away from someone who causes me so much pain. I believe it’s time to let this one go and not go back to it. I wear my heart on my sleeve and when it gets ripped off, it hurts. I realize I rather digressed, but my point for others is that when you!re an adult and your close to someone who is always full of drama that she/he brings upon themselves and knows what to do to stop the drama, yet continues to do it over and over and constantly complains about it and then gets angry when you put the truth in their lap and tells you the friendshipis over, give them what they ask for, walk away and don’t look back or you get dragged down with them. In Christ’s Love, Bonnie Pruett

  10. Hi Ken, I usually reserve my thoughts for myself but this intrigued me. I spend a lot of time with myself being a fairly young disabled man and think I have come to know me better than most. I also like to watch people as they interact with one another and am amazed at how often I hear the same conversations, altered slightly depending on the surroundings. Now I understand this has to do with decorum and professionalism, but I like you have a hard time keeping my lips from moving, and will through in curve balls from time to time. Usually the resulting nervous smile and attempt at a pithy comeback tells me that people are so used to showing us who they think we want to see they are hard pressed to see someone being who they truly are even if for a moment. One can see a measure of relief on their faces when I go back to being just the guy buying groceries, in line at the bank, waiting at the doctors office. I think many look at the public vs up close persona as a struggle between power and vulnerability. In as much that a display of self not only allows for a moment of weakness that may be used against you now or in the future, but also being able to shield the up close persona, even from those close to you, may grant the wearer some psychological power in his dealings with others. Now I am not saying anything new here I know, but it is a sad state of affairs. Most of the dealings I have with people anymore are of the superficial nature, and I have noticed the more technological we become the more superficial our dealings become just in the nature of themselves. I would love to have more people know the up close me and to know more people up close, but this takes time as most people are not fixed points in space and time. Rather they are like the sheen of oil on water the pattern ever shifting and changing from the slightest breeze, the vibrations from a crack of thunder, or a drop of rain. In short life happening, all these things may not have changed anything intrinsically, but the surface has shifted so that things are now fundamentally different and these things take time to see, Time, patience,some effort, and above all trust are necessary to see the up close person. Sometimes on a day to day basis. These qualities are something I have found lacking at large. The only thing that has seen me up close, with out much of a filter, is my dog. As you see she has all the above qualities in spades and knows from all the time spent with me what kind of a person I am and that at the end of the day she will be fed, watered, and above all loved regardless of what has happened. There may also be a real problem out there that many people have to put on so many different masks, no one knows who they are anymore. Even those who have the time and inclination may not have the chance as they are constantly being told who they could, should, or want to be by some company, celebrity, or expert. Now Ken since no one is probably going to read this I will comment on your last question specifically “Can you let people up-close with you even if you disagree with them?” I will pose a question to your question, who knows you up close better than anyone? Does that being want to associate with those who only agree with him? So why should you? I was raised in the church, but do not go there anymore, much for the same reasons I don’t go to Wal-Mart (perhaps this analogy is lost on some). Nevertheless I still live my life with the full intent that God has a purpose through me, even if it is to reach only one person and make them see life is worth living that day. However it is not mine to pick and choose with whom I open my heart because I find that person distasteful, disagree with them on some moral, spiritual or intellectual level. If I never made myself venerable i.e. cared about someone I disagreed with how would I ever learn anything about them, and more importantly about myself other than what I already knew. Sorry Ken, but I find many of today’s believer’s distasteful insofar as they work from a place of moral and spiritual safety saying they care about the world. Give me the one who doesn’t go to church, but has spent some time in the desert and come back whole, and looks and doesn’t see a sinner, an Islam, divorcee, or gay person, but just someone to care about if they will have it. My apologies for the rant Ken, and thank you for your question, as you can see I have been thinking about this as well.
    Take Care and LIve…….

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