“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God … Imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7
I was late for a pastor’s cluster being held at a nearby church, so when the way into the parking lot was blocked by cones, I decided to drive around them even though it meant going over the grass. No one was watching, I thought, but as soon as I had maneuvered my vehicle to the other side of the cones, the worst possible person appeared in the parking lot as if by magic. It was a maintenance person from the church who was a friend of mine from the past. I rolled down the window and told him how sorry I was for ignoring his cones. He was genuinely upset.
“Do you know what happens when people sneak around the cones?” he asked. Not waiting for my reply he continued, “It leaves tread marks in the grass that encourages others to do the same thing. How are we supposed to get people to do the right thing when even the leaders don’t do it?”
I told him how sorry I was and asked his forgiveness which he gave (I think). After he left I just sat in the car and let God deal with me. This small event was a picture of my life at the time. I had become very busy running from one meeting to another; meetings at church, meetings with family, meetings at school, meetings with pastors… I didn’t seem to be able to stop. What was being cheated was my private time with God where I don’t prepare sermons or plan anything, but only worship and enjoy Jesus for His own sake. I still prayed, because I needed God to help me with all of my responsibilities, but I had lost the first love, that delight that finds its reward in who God is and not in what He can do for me.
No one else noticed except my wife and the Holy Spirit. I could continue on in this way and fool most people, but it was clear to me that if I did it would lead to more and more compromise in private that would leave tread marks which others would certainly follow. But I had a choice. It wasn’t too late to stop, I felt the Holy Spirit say. I just needed to acknowledge my sin and seek a new passion for God.
What about you? Are you leaving treadmarks of compromise that pave the wrong path for those following you? It’s not too late to repent and give a better example.