Integrity and Accountability

The most important thing you can have as a leader in ministry is not numbers or a large budget or a great space- it's integrity. "Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values." Sticking to your guns when it comes to doing the right thing.

Wikipedia kind of stretched out the definition: "Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes." It's about being consistent. And it is the hardest thing to build and the easiest thing to lose.

See, with integrity comes trust, and with trust comes the ability to develop a relationship. If you don't have trust, you don't have an audience, and if you don't have an audience, you don't have a ministry. All of these things go hand and hand- they're in a delicate balance, and when one gets thrown off, the rest do, too.

Everything rides on your integrity, which is why it's so important to have an accountability system set up around you. Is it fun to get called out for being wrong? No, nobody likes that, but the thing is, you have to remember it's not personal. As a leader, you've been given a huge gift by God to lead His people towards the cross. Where you lead, they follow, good or bad. It's an incredible responsibility and honor to be trusted with God's most prized possession.

The kids and I read through Isaiah last year during Fuel, and over and over, the prophet talks about the importance of integrity and accountability for leaders. He's blunt about it, too.
So the LORD will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day; the elders and prominent men are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail. Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray. -Isaiah 9:14-16, NIV
It's easy to want to sidestep accountability in ministry, but it can be so damaging to the integrity of the ministry. So, with all of this, we need to ask ourselves:
1. Who is holding us accountable? Who has the ability to call us out when we're slacking and celebrate with us when we're getting it right?
2. How do we respond to constructive criticism? Are we open to it or do we brush it off?
3. Are we able to discern the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism?
4. Have we protected the integrity of our ministries through our words and actions? How can we build/continue to build into this idea?


Pictures from ICA

Anna from International Crisis Aid showed us these pictures, and I pulled them from their website to show you what an incredible ministry they've got going on over there.

These are a testimony to their "Food" program, which works to fight world hunger, one family at a time.

Those are the same kids in both pictures. Those are someone's babies. Those are kids who have a second chance at life. It blows my mind that those are the same kids. It gives me so much hope.

Donate to ICA here. They're doing phenomenal stuff over there in the name of Jesus. $40 feeds a family of 6 for a month. $10 provides vaccines for a person in Ethiopia. $30 provides classes for a girl rescued from sex trafficking. $14 feeds an orphan for a week. And it's easy to say, "oh, well that's just one family, that's just one person." We don't have dominion over hunger- we can't solve that on our own. But I know if I was that one person who no longer had to worry about preventable disease killing me because I got a $10 shot, I'd be thrilled. If I was the one woman who knew her family would be able to eat nutritiously for another month, I would be thrilled. It seems so insignificant to us, but for our brothers and sisters around the world, it's life changing. it's life giving.

Being Resourceful

This summer, our youth group partnered with Dirty Roots Revolution in St. Louis for our mission trip. We talked about a lot of things, with the overarching theme being "Figure out what makes your heart beat, and do something about it." One of the days, Anna from International Crisis Aid came to speak to us, and she covered the four different areas ICA works on: hunger, orphans and widows, medical care, and sex trafficking.

During Anna's talk, she gave us a lot of statistics- and one of them really hit home: most families in Ethiopia live on $91 USD a year. Families, living on under $100 a year. Hearing that was like getting punched in the gut. My whole thing with this mission trip too was putting things in perspective of my world. When we heard that children ages 11-14 were dropping out of school to help carry water jugs miles and miles in the heat, I thought of my 5th-8th graders. I tried to imagine them hauling jugs full of dirty water to help their families survive. When I heard the statistic of $100 a year, I thought about my Nike tennis shoes, my Fossil watch, my DVD collection, my purses- how many families could survive for a year on what I spent on luxury items?

And that's the thing- we can say "well you need tennis shoes, you need a watch." They're luxury items. There are cheaper items in the world that can serve the same function and have the same lasting quality. I throw food out, or have 2 shirts in the same style and color, or have 5 different colors of Old Navy flip flops. That's what I've done with my resources. I've used them on myself.

God definitely put me in check on this trip. "Are you using what I've given you? How have you used your resources to further my Kingdom?" I couldn't answer those questions with the confidence of Christ. I didn't feel good about what I had been entrusted with and how I was taking care of it. I knew it was time for a change.

On this trip, I became friends with people who only had the clothes on their backs, and yet, I had 2 boxes of clothes I still havent unpacked from when I moved a year ago. So last weekend, I started cleaning out my closet. I've taken 4 full trash bags of clothes to Goodwill, and I'm still not done sorting. If I haven't worn it in a year or I haven't used it in the last 6 months, I'm passing it on so someone else can put it to good use.

$91 a year, for a whole family. That still blows my mind. And you know what? $91 is pretty easy to save up and send to organizations like ICA. $91 is staying home and watching movies you already own, drinking water instead of pop or juice, skipping snacks, or cooking dinner at home instead of going out. It's so easy, and it changes the world for someone who God knows by name, who God cares for deeply.

Another random thing that I keep thinking about- how many Bibles do I have? Being a youth worker, I have a ton, in all sorts of translations. I also have access to biblegateway.com, that has all the translations right there, and I've got an app on my phone that does the same thing. Luxury items that we take for granted every single day. It just hits me in the gut.

So the question I'm asking you guys, and the question I continually ask myself: What are we doing with our resources? And, can people see God as a result of the decisions we're making? In my life, I want the answer to be yes. Will I always get it right? no, but will I be able to do my part to make a dent in the world? yes. We all have the ability to make dents in our corners of the world. It's just a matter of having the willpower to step up and do it.


we're getting fancy over here.

after three years of being a pink and turquoise party blog, i've streamlined this bad boy right on into the future. next thing you know, i'll be a robot and deloreans will be zooming by my head.

just kidding guys, the world isn't ready for all of that yet.

it is a new day for the blog though. i've spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about communication and personal brand, as well as how i can best share my corner of the world with the rest of it. at the same time, i'm in this stage of life where everything needs to be simple and clean. i gave 4 trash bags of clothes to goodwill on saturday, and that was the tip of the iceberg. there's a bigger story with that and a pretty exciting blog post, but i dont want to overwhelm you guys with all sorts of change all at once. i mean, i know you could handle it, but like, i don't know if i'm ready for all these emotions.

there's a lot of change in my personal life right now, but it feels so good to get the ball rolling again.


Random Summer Update

- The mission trip is next week- we're headed to St. Louis with a team of 22, partnering with The Dirty Roots Revolution.
- I'll be on vacation from July 11-20th. If you need something, call the church office. I'll be unplugged for my entire vacation [scary but needed]
- Because I'll be gone for so long, I made an Out of Office auto reply message. It's pretty awesome. check it out by emailing me at kara@columbiacityumc.com
- We've got a ton of kids headed to camp in July- Katie and Evin are going July 18-20 at Lakewood, and a bunch of our high schoolers are headed to CAC July 18-24th. Please pray for God to move in their lives.
- My college roommate is getting married and moving to Australia. Talk about life change :) Please pray for Rachael and Leon during their engagement and planning, as he's in AU and she's stateside.

Enjoy the summer! You guys are the best.