Thursday, June 16, 2011


One evening I stopped by the church just to encourage those who were there rehearsing for the spring musical. I didn't intend to stay long, so I parked my car next to the entrance. After a few minutes, I ran back to my car and drove home.

The next morning I found a note in my office mailbox. It read: "A small thing, but Tuesday night when you came to rehearsal, you parked in the 'No Parking' area. A reaction from one of my crew (who did not recognize you until after you got out of the car) was, 'There's another jerk parking in the "No Parking" area!' We try hard not to allow people--even workers--to park anywhere other than the parking lots. I would appreciate your cooperation, too." It was signed by a member of our maintenance staff.

I'm sorry to report this staff member is no longer with us. He was late coming back for lunch the next day, and we had to let him go. You have to draw the line somewhere. ...

No, I'm kidding. Actually he's still very much with us, and his stock went up in my book because he had the courage to write me about what could have been a slippage in my character.

And he was right on the mark. As I drove up that night, I had thought, "I shouldn't park here, but after all, I am the pastor." That translates: I'm an exception to the rules. But that employee wouldn't allow me to sneak down the road labeled "I'm an exception."

I'm not the exception to church rules, nor am I the exception to sexual rules or financial rules or any of God's rules. As a leader, I am not an exception; I'm to be the example. According to Scripture, I am to life in such a way that I can say, "Follow me. Park where I park. Live as I live."

That's why we all need people like my staff member to hold us accountable in even the small matters. Because when we keep the minor matters in line, we don't stumble over the larger ones.

Just when I was starting to think, "I'm an exception," somebody on our staff cared enough to say, "Don't do it, Bill, not even in one small area." That's love.

Bill Hybels

Willow Creek Community Church 

Traveling Abroad

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