What Everyday Life Says About Us

By Kathy Ferguson Litton

Why character?

Because people watch leaders. Some of you hate that notion. They watch not only WHAT we do but also WHO we are. I (Kathy) learned valuable lessons during the outpouring of notes and emails to me upon my husband’s death. Rick’s accomplishments or leadership were rarely mentioned. The common message overwhelmingly was WHO he was. I was shocked to hear from one man, a true Bible scholar and noted leader, of his most moving memory of Rick. It took place far from the pulpit. It was “…when I watched him pick up a broom to sweep the floor….” at the conclusion of a community Halloween event. A little moment, just everyday life. Mundane moments are powerfully revealing.

Because ministry leaders’ reputations have reached an all-time low. A recent Gallup poll revealed that Americans now consider nurses and pharmacists more ethical and honest than members of the clergy. Our collective reputation is in disrepair and there are valid reasons. The general public has become suspicious of us and assumes ministry leaders are all hypocritical, greedy and disingenuous. Note this press release from WASHINGTON, D.C.:

Americans’ rating of the honesty and ethics of the clergy has fallen to 47%, the first time this rating has dropped below 50% since Gallup first asked about the clergy in 1977. Clergy have historically ranked near the top among professions on this measure, hitting a high rating of 67% in 1985.

Evidently we are not doing very well in everyday life. The good news is that at least ministers still rank above lobbyists, congressmen and car salesmen. While we may laugh at this, it’s an uncomfortable laugh, since it signals an unprecedented moral and spiritual crisis of the ministry.

This is alarming because leaders are Biblically admonished to be men and women of character and faith, whose lives represent an image of Jesus Christ. Is this not a fair expectation for who are called to lead and shepherd God’s people?

Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. —Hebrews 13:7

 …in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works… —Titus 2:7

Not only do we reflect Christlikeness with our character, we also are building trust in the people we hope to influence. Listen to John Maxwell: “You build trust with others each time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience, or honor over personal gain.”

Everyday life provides the battlefields on which our character wins or loses. Here are four character traits to evaluate in our lives:

  1. Honesty – Am I truthful? Do I lie in order to cover my (or my husband’s, or kids’) own inadequacies or failures? Do I misrepresent facts? Exaggerate? Do people know this about me?
  2. Purity – Do I guard my mind – what I read, watch and say? While in that moment when I am alone do I practice what I preach regarding things I set before my eyes? Is there a dark compartment of impurity my life?
  3. Humility – Am I arrogant? Have the words “cocky” or “proud” ever been used to describe me? What does my everyday life say about my humility? Do I project that I am better than others?
  4. Service – “I came to served and not be served….” Jesus Christ. He took up a towel and basin to wash feet. Have we developed an entitlement attitude?

What do you think about the reality of these statistics? Which of these four traits need the most work in your everyday life?

Published May 23, 2014

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Kathy Ferguson Litton

Kathy lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband Ed, pastor of Redemption Church. Both lost former spouses in car accidents, and God uniquely gave them new love and life together in 2009. Kathy enjoyed 26 years of life and ministry alongside Rick Ferguson. She has three children and ten grandchildren. Presently she serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development.