The Conundrum of My Consistency
I had a beautiful Golden Retriever named Tessa who consistently parked herself in the neighbour’s yard for years. In fact, at one point, the neighbor offered to keep her because she was there so often. Tessa’s weight reflected her “double home” policy as she consistently ate two meals a day rather than the single meal her sedentary life required. This fact was not discovered until Tessa was in desperate need of “Jenny Craig” for dogs. Tessa, by all accounts, could be described in general terms as faithful. Faithful to whomever was feeding her at the moment, whomever had the most activity happening in the backyard and to the yard with the most shade. The interesting thing about being faithful in dog terms is that it has much to do with needs getting met.
This concept of “faithful” also translates into the lives of my kids (I’ve thrown my dog under the bus, I might as well throw the kids too). When they were teenagers, they faithfully got out of bed only when prompted by threats of the parental sort because they were faithfully meeting their own need for sleep. According to their collective “teen union” any sleep derived after 7am was better than the whole of the sleep begotten between 10pm and 6:59am. I could faithfully count on them to stay in bed until the last possible moment.
As I contemplate my own ideals of faithfulness, honest evaluation leads me to the less than stellar conclusion that I suffer with the same self-focused incentives that plagued my dog and my kids.
I am faithful to particular things because they meet my needs. There is no altruism involved here. My loyalty is contingent on my human desire for comfort and security. It’s pretty self-explanatory actually. I made a list of my needs the other day and it dawned on me that it has not changed much over the past ,hum say, 50 plus years.
Food, comfort and love (can I add shoes?)
I default quite faithfully to the places and people that take care of these basic needs.
In other words, my faithful adherence to anything and everything depends on whether or not my needs are being met…this makes sense to me because when I look around my world I see people changing jobs, spouses and locations in record numbers. Turns out I am not the only one who struggles with being faithful to just myself.
In a study done by the Vanier Group, in just five short years over 41% of Canadians moved. Stats Canada says that in any given year 38% of us will get divorced and most of us will change careers five to seven times over the course of our working life. Indeed, I concur with these stats, as there are days I would love to move to California and get a job at Disneyland selling Mickey Mouse ears! It’s not that we are intentionally disloyal - what we are faithful to a relatively small segment of the population.
When I view my call to lead through the lens of my needs, it looks quite bleak. Leadership is a call to get past my needs and to focus on the needs of others instead.
If my loyalty is this shortsighted I must ask the question, “How does my perception of the concept of faithfulness colour my view of God’s claim of faithfulness to me?”
God talks a lot about His faithfulness actually, and what He has to say stands in stark contrast to my relatively shallow view of this aspect of my spirituality. One of the first times we see God’s faithfulness mentioned is in the book of Exodus. Depending on your vintage, think Charlton Heston or DreamWorks Animation’s, Prince of Egypt.
“The Lord passed in front of Moses calling out,
“Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34.6)
Unfailing love and faithfulness is a gargantuan promise with incredible implications for us. You see, when God said this, He was giving the world a description of His character.
The word FAITHFUL has in its' root meaning the concept of: Trustworthy, Constant, Duration.
These attributes are part of the landscape of your leadership! God does not change His mind about us based on His needs. He is firm in his adherence to his promises and His love never fails. No matter how often I fail to meet His expectations He does not change His mind about loving me because giving up, acquiescing on a whim, looking for a nicer yard, a better job or a prettier companion does not figure into the equation of God’s faithfulness.
God never changes.
Deuteronomy 7:9 says:
“ Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.”
In my ever-changing world I am grateful today that God has set the standard for faithfulness and He is completely trustworthy. The challenge: Can we as leaders, take our queue from our Creator?
By Krista Penner
Krista enjoys life with her family in Mission, BC. She is actively involved in Leadership Development for Fellowship Pacific and in that role is privileged to travel across BC helping churches develop leaders. When not speaking or writing, Krista loves to spend time in her kitchen. Cooking is a passion that she pursues, even reading cookbooks like they are novels! She is married to Jerome and together they share three great kids, Linden, Erika and Marty.
 1. http://www.mymovingreviews.com/move/how-often-and-why-americans-move
SAVE THE DATE | Leverage is hosting a retreat for women in leadership October 17-19 2018.
In preparation of the upcoming retreat, keep checking in for special blog posts on the trifecta of leading well: PLAN-PRAY-PLAY