I was just thinking about a visit I took to a city I love. As I looked at how the city had changed, I compared the images in the city to the ones that were lodged in my mind since I was last there. What I saw saddened me. The grass overgrown yet it used to be cut by the city‟s municipality / council.
More than half the traffic lights were not working and not much, if any, maintenance had been done to most buildings recently. Cars, even in the city center move in zigzag at a snails’ pace because of the potholes that have become common place on the roads.
The infrastructure seemed to be on a steady decline from neglect. To a greater extent the reason for the derelict sight was due to economic chaos that has speedily destroyed the city. The heartrending images in this city demonstrated the regressive impact that neglect, in general, can breed.
There is an author I can’t remember, who referred to how neglect activates the “law of nature‟, whereby even the most beautiful garden, if neglected, will become a jungle. A lot of areas in our lives have the potential to fall apart when we do nothing to consciously maintain them.
For instance, when parents neglect spending quality time with their children, divides are created culminating in a breakdown in relationships and other manifestations of dysfunctions in the family.
Part of a definition of neglect by www.wordweb.info suggests giving little or no attention to something. Perhaps giving little or no attention to improving your skills in your career or work environment could put you in danger. Could it be possible then, that if we are not making any conscious effort or giving attention to improvement in whatever area, we step into the “neglect zone‟?
If so, this could mean that if we are not in any way improving, we are getting worse. As a thought: I don’t think we can accept that we could ever be at a stage of maintaining the status quo. It is either we are improving or getting worse.
Neglect is what I’d like to think as one of the major root causes of backsliding. It all starts with missing a day in a week without spending time with God. Then two days the following week. It may start by missing a Connect group meeting or church on to a point where it becomes routine and eventually one is classified as ‘backslidden’.
It may be not complimenting your spouse like you used to, culminating in diminished appreciation all round. Neglect could also take on the face of not responding to our friends plight for help like we used to.
The speed of ‘destruction’ is not as fast as we think. Nothing ever “just falls apart” suddenly. It is usually a gradual letting down of the guard. If we do not intentionally and constantly asses our teams, systems and lives we are actually working against ourselves.
When was the last time you really took sometime out and did an honest assessment or evaluation of your life, leadership, family, friendships? Based on how you have been expending your time and resources are your priorities still the same? Are you on course? Are there any areas where you are now slacking because it is no longer as easy as it used to be?
I’d like to challenge you to look out for areas of neglect that could have manifested themselves in the life or your family, organization or team. Even in your own personal life. Take note that even the things that seem small or insignificant could be serious. Lots of termites can destroy a large house!
Recognizing these things could save your relationship with your children, your marriage, career, connect group, department you serve in… After all, it is the small foxes that spoil the vine.