Nov 292018 3 Responses

How to Keep Your Name Out of the Headlines

For the famous, it’s the headline. For the less notorious, it’s the talk of the office or the stands. We all know people who have had their lives come crumbling down with one horrific decision. Affairs, arrests, and firings are just a few of the dramatic ways that people’s lives come tumbling down in a single moment.

It causes onlookers to wonder, “How could their lives fall apart so quickly?” To the outsider looking in, people’s lives dramatically change in moments. In one day, a man of character suddenly chooses corruption. In an instant, a woman in a happy marriage shockingly decides to start an affair. Without warning, the perfect family falls apart. To others, it appears like a sudden 180, but it’s not.

Despite appearances, a dramatic fall rarely occurs in an instant. Instead, big falls are often the culmination of a series of small decisions. Day after day, individuals make foolish choices which seem insignificant to them, but actually are predictable indicators of a coming fall.

4 Steps to the Big Fall

Sudden crashes often happen in a process of five steps. (See: Read This Before You Die)

1. They lose their sense of need. The beginning of the end is very subtle. In an unknown decision to others, a person decides they no longer need others to make wise choices. Rather than recognizing their need, they assume they are strong enough to do things on their own. This subtle step can happen days or years before the big crash, but it is the defining moment which will lead to a sudden fall.

2. They stop good habits. Believing they are strong enough to do it on their own, they forgo the process which empowers them to make healthy choices. Meetings are skipped. Accountability is avoided. Serving others is ignored. They begin to stop doing the disciplines which helped keep them healthy. When a person struggles with addictions or bad habits, they have to develop a process by which they can get healthy. The moment they stop doing those things, they are on the road to making bad choices. (Sidenote: as a pastor, one of the greatest predictors that a person is soon to make bad choices is the subtle choice of a church member choosing to stop volunteering, which leads to reduced church attendance, which often culminates in a destructive series of choices.)

3. They make minor compromises. Major earthquakes are often preceded by foreshocks. These minor seismic events predict a more major scenario. So it is with life. Our major mistakes are often preceded by minor compromises. The recovering alcoholic who stays away from their old stomping grounds suddenly slides into a bar. A faithful husband chooses to quietly begin looking at pictures online which aren’t appropriate. By themselves, the choices may not seem life destroying, but they are creating a climate where the major fall can occur. (See: The Hardest Thing for a Pastor to See)

4. They ignore internal (or external) conviction. Before a major fall, most people have a pressing moment where they have a chance to avoid the choice. At a minimum, they feel an internal conviction which warns them of what is to come. They can see the change in their own heart and know that if they continue in their present direction, they will fall. In many cases, this conviction isn’t just internal. Often, friends or family love the people enough to say something. A warning is given, but not heeded. Instead, the person pushes away the concerned word from friends and family pretending like they are ok. This is often their last chance to avoid chaos. When they reject the conviction, they have guaranteed the fall.

Only after these four steps does a person make a life-changing decision–money is embezzled, a drink is taken, a drug is tried, an affair occurs, or a law is broken. When they are caught (and they almost always are caught), those in the community are often shocked. The process toward the fall is rarely noticed by the crowd. Some family is aware. A few friends might know. But to most, the minor choices are unseen. So to many, the fall seems sudden and shocking. They might even be tempted to think “what if my life suddenly falls apart.”

But the reality is that the big fall is neither sudden nor shocking. It is the predictable outcome of a specific process. Instead of fearing a sudden mistake, we all should focus on the process which can lead to a big fall.

Never think you are above a bad decision. Know your need.

Always engage in healthy behaviors which keep you out of trouble.

Take small compromises seriously. Don’t make them and when you do, quickly repent.

Pay attention to your heart and put people in your life that will hold you accountable.

Big falls don’t have to happen. But when they do, they don’t have to forever define you. If you’ve made a big mistake, read When Your Life’s About to Fall Apart.


3 Responses to How to Keep Your Name Out of the Headlines
  1. […] But now, I hope he falls well. (See: How to Keep Your Names Out of the Headlines) […]...

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