LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

I Thought About Stealing $569.78

I just built a deck...and it cost a whole lot of money. After having wood decks for the past 20 years, I decided I was done with painting, staining and maintaining. So I ran the numbers and designed my dream deck using composite wood materials from the local lumber company. Even the first phase of the deck cost me the price of a good used car--but since I'm planning on staying in this house for a few more decades, I took the plunge.

As I was building my Taj Madeck, I kept thinking...Decks shouldn't cost this much. There must be a high profit margin on this material.

So when I got the invoice and noticed they had wrongly credited me double for a return of excess materials, I actually thought about keeping the money. They would never know. They certainly wouldn't feel it. I sure needed the money more than they did.

I actually mulled it over in my mind for an entire day. For me, $569.78 is a lot of money. It took me about 24 hours to make the right decision. But I could feel it eating away at my soul. And I didn't like the way that felt.

The gospel of Mark talks about my struggle this way: And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world (i.e. $569.78) but lose your own soul? (Mark 8:36 NLT).

I've often wondered thought about people who fall in a big, public way. I wonder about John Edwards or Bernie Madoff or Ted Haggard or Chris Brown -- if you could peel back their history, would you be able to pinpoint the one bad choice at the beginning of it all? And how harmless would that one choice have seemed to them at the time? It was likely a choice that was guaranteed (at least in their own mind) to never be uncovered.

I wasn't going to share mystory because it is a bit embarrassing (I really did think about keeping the money). But I share it because I think it is likely that someone else might be in the "I'm-not-sure-what-I'm-going-to-do-yet" phase of your choice. Perhaps it involves money, or maybe it is a choice in a relationship or in your marriage. Let me just encourage you by saying your decision matters.

Sometimes confession can give you the strength to do the right thing. If you find it helpful, consider the comment section below a confessional of sorts.