A note from Kelly King: I have a faulty tire pressure light on my car that randomly comes on even when the pressure is fine. The problem is that now I ignore the warning light, assuming everything is “just fine.” In today’s article, Rachel Lovingood shares her own tire story and how it relates to the integrity of a leader. Let’s all make sure we have regular maintenance checks and accountability with someone else regarding our journey with the Lord.
It was just another ordinary day full of regular things, and I got another one of those phone calls. You know the ones where you hear bad news that just makes you sad. My hubby called and let me know that another ministry leader we know had just resigned for personal reasons.
Now, we have been in ministry leadership for over 30 years, so unfortunately we have heard of more than one situation like this, and every time it breaks my heart. I almost always wonder “How did things get to that point for someone who leads?” “Was there some sign that he or she was struggling?” “Was there something that someone could have done to help prevent a major crash and burn?” and so on. No judgment, just grief and sadness.
I found myself asking God some pretty similar questions too, and He, as only the Lord can, brought to mind an extremely flat tire situation I once faced.
It was a super busy day for me, and I had a lot on my agenda to take care of. Then right in the midst of the busyness, I hustled out to my car and noticed it sitting unevenly. One of my tires was so flat I knew immediately that there was no chance of driving it anywhere. Of course, that had to happen on my busiest day, and as I began the process of getting that situation resolved I learned an important lesson.
You see, I thought back and remembered that several times in the past few weeks I had stopped and added some air to that very tire. When I shared that with the man who was fixing the tire he responded with “Yep. Sounds like you had a slow leak that eventually caught up with you. When you ignore the signs of a slow leak, it will get your attention before too long.”
Wow. How true are those words? And typically, when the slow leak catches your attention, it’s going to be a much bigger deal than just stopping to add a little air. The man told me that if I had addressed the problem with my tire when I noticed something was not quite right, it could have been fixed much more quickly, easily, and less expensively than what happened when I ignored the issue and let the leak get worse and worse.
That’s a good lesson for us as leaders to pay attention to. How often do we do routine maintenance (to stay with the car repair theme) on our own spiritual lives? What if we were in the habit of asking ourselves some hard questions and being honest about the answers? What if we asked the Lord to show us any “slow leaks” that may be damaging our spiritual walk and commit to dealing with whatever we learn instead of pretending that everything is fine and just covering up the problem by adding a little extra air?
Here are a few tough questions to ask yourself:
- Do I see signs of continual spiritual growth in my own life? Why or why not?
- How do I respond when confronted with my own sin? (like Saul who looked for someone else to blame and made excuses or like David who recognized his sin for what it was and repented)
- What are my eyes fixed on? (my circumstances or my God? Hebrews 12:1-2)
- What is the condition of my heart? Do I care anymore? Do I have time for hurting or lost people?
- What am I craving? The things of the world or the things of God?
- Is discipline a lifestyle for me? There is a strong temptation to compartmentalize our lives and be disciplined in some areas but let ourselves off the hook or justify sinful behavior in other areas (2 Peter 1:5).
- Are there any relational issues with others that need rectifying?
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list so feel free to add more questions. The most important point to consider is how making it a practice to ask questions like these regularly could prevent us from letting a “slow leak” turn into something much more destructive and catastrophic to our lives, ministry, and leadership influence.
I definitely do not have all the answers and would never attempt to make any judgments about anyone else’s leadership or influence, but God has challenged me to be more proactive in my own life and maybe this concept can help you too.
Above all else, we can pray for each other and ask God to make us sensitive to areas of our lives that we tend to justify or excuse our own thoughts and behaviors. And take heart: greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world!
Rachel is the Senior Associate Pastor’s wife and a women’s leader at First Baptist Church, Cleveland, Tennessee, as well as a LifeWay Women’s Trainer. She is co-author of In Our Shoes: Real Life Issues for Ministers’ Wives by Ministers’ Wives, Even More, and Salvaging My Identity. She is a wife of a minister, a mom of three fantastic kids, a friend, a writer, and a teacher. Her experiences working in youth ministry as well as women’s ministry in various churches across the country have developed in her a deep love for women and a mission to help enable them to live victoriously in spite of the struggles they face.