Almost 2 years ago, I returned home to find that our beautiful 150-year-old oak tree had given way in the wind, and a huge branch was laying on the house. There was siding damage, gutter damage, likely roof structure damage, and the list goes on. I was initially shocked, then heart-broken that this sprawling tree stood strong for so long, and yet, had a secret. There was rot which could not be seen at casual glance. I spent some time reflecting on the spiritual metaphor of the scene.
I wondered if there were issues in my life which had been easily ignored but that would create a crack one day when pressures and stress pressed hard against me. Is there some "secret rot" in my soul making me vulnerable to failure? I asked the Lord to show me things I needed to address and where I needed to repent.
I wondered if there were issues in my leadership style which might give way and crush elements of the movement of churches I was seeking to cultivate. These churches are like my home in some ways. Would my "leadership rot" have a nasty consequence on them? I prayed asking the Lord to help me become a better leader.
As I looked at my dead tree in the hands of the removal service, it was clear to me that the man responsible for clearing the tree from my property was an expert in truth telling. He let me know some of the flower beds were going to be ruined by removal equipment. He let me know that there could be additional damage when they craned the tree off my house. He was a straight shooter. I wondered about times when I am called into situations where hard words need to be said clearly, bluntly, and lovingly. Could I rise to that needed role? I asked the Lord to give me courage to say what needed to be said when others might skirt the issues.
This fallen tree became a leadership development and personal reflection time for me. I thanked God that not only had no one been hurt by the tree, but that also he used the reflection time to teach me about myself. The afternoon was a good time of growth and development.
Here are three questions to ask yourself to make sure there is no hidden rot:
Do I have secret habits which if left unchallenged will evolve into serious problems which will negatively impact my ministry? Ask God to open your eyes to clearly see your areas of vulnerability.
Do I have habits in my leadership which could damage the people I aim to lead if and when life and ministry gets full-throttle? It could be a quick temper or jealousy of others or any number of seedling issues hidden in your soul. Pray for God's mercy to build accountability into your life so there are safety mechanisms preventing immaturity from damaging those you love.
Who in my life is a truth-teller that I can depend on to speak words others may not have the courage to say? We all need truth-telling friends who have our best interest in mind to such a degree that they would risk offending us with hard words. Ask God to give you a truth-teller whom you can trust and cultivate accountability with in relationship.
Ken Nabi, Regional President
Ken Nabi has served as the Regional President for Converge Great Lakes since 2016. He earned a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist before enjoying 21 years as a pastor at Community Church of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Ken is a strategic leader focusing on movements and reproducible systems. Community Church of Fond du Lac planted five churches during his tenure, and those churches helped plant seven more churches.