A two-second search on Pinterest will bring up a hundred info-graphics about the qualities of great leaders.
You could spend a lifetime in research. (If you’re a parent, a teacher or a ministry leader, you could spend two lifetimes.)
Let me help shorten the process.
Have integrity. Real, solid, hits-you-in-the-feels integrity.
The kind of integrity that makes you uncomfortable when you miss the mark is the same kind that makes those following you feel rock solid enough to soar.
If you’re Christian, people are following you, whether you know it or not.
People are watching and they’re either heading towards Jesus or away from him, base on your integrity. (Of course, they should be looking to God, not you. But they don’t know that yet.)
I know that sounds like a lot of pressure, but there’s good news.
The good news is that having integrity doesn’t mean being perfect. (Which is great, because, as a Mom, in particular, having integrity usually means acknowledging your failures at one of your most important jobs.)
What Integrity Looks Like
If you committed to something, then come through. Do what you say you’ll do.
Everywhere we go, the ‘little ones’ that Jesus talks about in Matthew 18:6 are assessing themselves through us. If, as the church, we are called to make disciples of all nations, those nations have to have a straight line on who they are in Jesus before they will trust that He’s the guy for them.
There are seriously broken – heartbreakingly injured – hearts all around you. They don’t yet have that straight line. They’re looking to those around them to tell them that they matter.
They aren’t just the people who look broken, either.
There are ‘little ones’ wearing very capable masks.
“Are these people trustworthy? Or are they just like every other ‘big person’ I’ve know?”
“If I open myself up and let this person see me, are they going to show me that I don’t matter the way so many others have?”
“Is this a safe place, where I can be vulnerable? Or am I right to have built these walls around my heart?”
Anytime you or I make a stand that we are trustworthy people, someone is responding with “Prove it”.
In the secular world, the answer to that is: “That’s not my responsibility. I shouldn’t have to ‘perform’ to someone else’s weakness.”
But the church is not the secular world. Nor are our families or our marriages.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
If you step into a position where others look up to you, don’t drop the ball, unless…
When You Drop the Ball, Own It
We are all human. We are going to mess it up.
Ever signed up to be a part of the children’s ministry and then realized that you really needed to be in the service on Sundays, not in the Toddler Room? (I’ve done it. And I don’t think I owned it properly at the time, either.)
Ever made a promise to your kids, or your husband, and then completely forgot. (Multiple times, over here.)
Ever said that you would collect Christmas Boxes for Samaritan’s Purse and forget to be there for your timeslot? (I did that yesterday and now I have some serious apologies to make.)
You’ll drop the ball. That’s not the issue. This issue is what we do when we’ve dropped it.
Even if you – or I – have a good excuse for not following through on commitments – not living up to the trust ‘little ones’ have placed in us – there is a right way to handle it that minimizes the stumbling we cause.
Do This First
Feel that you need to bow out of a commitment? Make sure you absolutely have to.
Imagine what your reason would be and what you’re apology would sound like, if you were being completely transparent.
“I’m just too busy with work, my kids want me to take them to the zoo, and I really want to go to the movies with friends.”
“I’ve been neglecting to maintain my yard and pay enough attention to my wife in favour of watching the playoffs, lately. So I just can’t come.”
“I’ve double booked myself for this timeslot and I just can’t let my boss down this time.”
Be honest with yourself. Get counsel before deciding. Your effective witness is at stake.
If, after asking God to reveal your true heart about it, you still feel that you have to bow out, remember that bowing out in the right way might be the best witness you can make.
the hard part
Go to the people you’re letting down – because you are letting them down – and tell them you’re sorry.
Tell them why you aren’t able to keep your commitment. It might teach them about grace for the shortcomings of others and, by extension, grace for their own shortcomings.
Ask for their forgiveness.
It’s a short to-do list, but a hard one. If you aren’t solid in your understanding of grace, then apologizing – standing up and intentionally drawing attention to your own mistake – could be very difficult.
I’m, by no means, excellent at it. My fleshly comfort zone would be to let it go by unaddressed. Pretend it didn’t happen; that there were no consequences.
But there are consequences for those that I let down, and for me.
If it’s my comfort zone that I’m worried about, drowning in the depths of the sea with a large millstone around my neck sounds like it has pretty uncomfortable consequences.
Bottom line: Just like God is looking at us through the lens of Jesus’ righteousness, ‘little ones’ are looking at Jesus through the lens of our trustworthiness.
Let’s up our game and be as trustworthy as possible. If any little ones stumble over the balls we’ve dropped, let’s be Christians who pick up the people and the balls, have grace for ourselves, and run with integrity, towards the finish line.