To be credible

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

I SUPPOSE that’s what everyone wants. We want to be credible when we speak, preach or teach. In all forms of communication, we want everyone to at least take us seriously. They may not believe everything that we say, but at least we are given some considerations. That, at least, would show we are credible enough.

There may be many and endless standards of credibility. For one, we have to have clear facts, those that at best should be beyond doubt. If we are not very certain about the facts, then we should be humble enough to say so even as we explain as convincingly as possible why we are citing them.

Yes, to be credible is about telling the truth which actually is not a walk in the park, since truth goes beyond objective realities and enters into the subjective world. This is where we are going to swim in some uncharted waters, full of mysteries and unknown factors. In the end, truth is being with God who is Truth himself.

For us, that means that we have to be vitally united to Christ who said he is “the way, the truth and the life.” It may be remembered that Christ was so credible in his preaching that practically everyone, except those who were bent not to believe him, “hung on his words.” (Lk 19,48)

As St. Mark noted in his gospel, he attracted so many people, that “when the people heard he was at home, they gathered in such large numbers that there was no more room, not even outside the door.” (2,2)

When we are vitally identified with Christ, we would know what, why and how to communicate. That is how credibility is developed and earned, even if we have to expect that not everyone would believe us. We should not be surprised by that disbelief of some people.

If Christ experienced that, we should somehow expect the same to happen to us. In fact, we can say that the resistance and even hostility that some people may have toward us when we communicate, is a sign that we are actually telling the truth, and thus, are credible. We should learn to be sport also in this department. Let’s not be oversensitive. This thing is part of the territory.

Ultimately, what should guide us in developing credibility is the duty to spread the truth of the gospel which we should learn to do “in season and out of season,” as St. Paul once said.

It might be good to remit here the pertinent text of St. Paul in his second Letter to Timothy: “Preach the word,” he said. “Be prepared in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires…” (4,2-3)

We should see to it that even if we are communicating very technical, mundane or secular matters, everything has to be done in the spirit of the gospel to be truly credible.

So, credibility is about preaching the truth of the gospel even as we try our best also to adapt our preaching and communication to the level of the people whom we are addressing. In this, we should make continuing effort to know the people well, so we would know how to approach and talk to them.

Indeed, to be able to read the mind and heart of the people, to know how to address them is a precious art and skill to have, and an even more precious gift to ask from God.

Just the same, we can be truly credible when our life and preaching, our deeds and words are consistent. This is when we would automatically generate a certain aura, or what some people call as charisma, that would act like a magnet attracting people to us. That’s what credibility is all about—people seeing Christ in us!