Dead flies in your perfume?
Every morning I wake up to Radio 4 and the news; sometimes in my sleepy state it can be difficult to separate a major news item from a dream (I was once convinced I had sung Crocodile Rock live with Elton John to a standing ovation!) On Tuesday 27th September I did wonder if I was again experiencing another dream, as allegations about Sam Allardyce were revealed by the news reader. As the day wore on, these allegations grew and became an indictment of the level of corruption within football. ‘Big Sam’ paid the cost by losing his job after just 67 days in charge.
I am sure many of us ‘tutted’ at the grainy images and muffled conversations recorded by the Daily Telegraph; “how could he be so naive?” and “wasn't £3m a year enough?” were questions going through my mind. But then, honestly, I began to reflect on my own leadership and resolved to begin removal of the forest in my own eye, before attempting the extraction of the splinter in others. Now, let me be clear I am not using this article to confess to a major embezzlement of funds from Rural Ministries, or the suggestion of 3rd party ownership of ministers to my own financial gain. I am however mindful that integrity in Christian leadership is absolutely vital. Unfortunately, there are countless examples of Christian leaders recently who suffered great falls, as it emerged that their private lives were vastly different from their public images.
So where does it all begin? I am not sure that people become a liar, thief, or cheat in one sudden momentous decision, but rather in a series of seemingly minor choices which on the surface seem quite harmless. When ethical or moral graves are dug, it is invariably not with a JCB, but rather a small teaspoon, one little decision at a time. Let me share some ways in which we might protect ourselves, and continue to be leaders with integrity.
- Never consider yourself above temptation; it is all too easy to think it would never happen to us, and then before we know it we have succumb to a pattern of behaviour that would cause embarrassment to our ministry.
- Keep a watch on your spiritual temperature; C. S. Lewis in his essay, God in the Dock said; "Moral collapse follows upon spiritual collapse." The writer of Proverbs put it this way; Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Maintaining our daily walk with the Lord is absolutely essential.
- Get an accountability partner; every 6 weeks I meet up with a wise minister, with whom I can be totally honest and open. He has been in ministry much longer than I have, and has a good handle on the pressures that come with leadership. He hears my hopes, my disappointments and my hurts. Just occasionally he asks why I have done something, and I am reminded that I have been digging with a teaspoon.
- Watch what you watch; The battle for sin always begins in the mind; unfortunately our culture today is awash with images that depict human sexuality as anything but healthy and wholesome. Where we click (computer) and where we flick (TV) can affect how we tick.
A profound verse in Ecclesiastes says this; As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honour.
Let us each ensure, as much as we ever can, that we will be leaders of integrity, and not allow a little foolishness to spoil our ministry. Let us show the world through our leadership, that who we are in private is the same as who we are in public; that our faith is real and backed up with our attitude and word, and that there are no dead flies in our perfume.