Rather than wait around for my dad to make the inevitable discovery, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and throw myself upon the mercy of the court. I set my jaw, marched from the garage into the living room, and stood tall in front of my parents as they sat watching tv on the couch. "What's going on, Johnny?" they asked, obviously seeing the look of resolute determination on my face as I stared into the face of certain death. "I played with Dad's knife in the garage," I declared, "and now I can't close it."
Dad promptly got up, went into the garage to investigate, and then returned moments later, his adult hands deftly solving the problem that my tiny fingers could not. He then led me by the hand to the master bedroom, a place synonymous with pain and retribution, and gave me a very measured and robust swat on the butt with a wooden paddle. Even though it stung, I was impressed by the fact that it had been a single swat, instead of the customary two or three which such a brazen act of defiance might usually have merited. I learned that day that if you make a mistake, it's much better for your conscience (and for your backside) if you own up to it rather than trying to cover it up.
Discipline teaches respect in a way that simply cannot be learned academically. At a fundamental level, respect for others should not be a cerebral matter, but rather an ingrained action. Some of the gentler, more "enlightened" voices of society call corporal punishment an antiquated and barbaric way to raise a child. Looking back on my young life, and at some of the times when potential punishments affected my decision-making process, I choose to call such punishments "effective and lasting behavior modification."
Life is filled with many highly-consequential decisions. When you make a good one, everyone applauds and says, "your parents must have really raised you well." I can proudly say I've received such high praise more than once (thanks, Mom and Dad). When you make a bad decision, however, there's no blaming others or sloughing off responsibility based on your past, your present situation, or any other factors except for yourself. A person who chooses to ignore this rule, who attempts to disguise their failures or blame anyone and everyone but themselves for their poor life decisions, will quickly find themselves without friends and without any credibility as a grown adult.
This brings me to a very practical real-world example:
If a church were to hypothetically spend millions of dollars to purchase some property, and then rush into renovating said property to convert it into a "satellite campus" even though it's adjacent to their existing facility, and then later find themselves getting hammered by state and local officials for failing to seek proper approval from the authorities before beginning a major renovation, one could say that said church officials may have been too hasty. When they purchase a bus for ferrying homeless people from downtown DC to bring them to church, only to later decide to use it as an overpriced, under-utilized metro shuttle, one could arguably say that they changed plans arbitrarily.
Furthermore, when they spend vast sums to purchase a large meeting tent designed to fill the role of the as-yet unrealized "satellite campus" after months of making no progress, one could argue that they wasted even more of the church's valuable resources trying to cover up a previous mistake. When they endanger the safety of their staff members by forcing them to set up and tear down said tent repeatedly (and sustain a few falls and cuts in the process) instead of hiring time-saving paid professionals, one could either commend their commitment to their cause, or finally declare that they've simply run their credibility into the ground.
Part of being a pastor or paid staff member of a congregation means being accountable to the people for how you utilize their money and time. When a growing number of people begin to express their concerns, and the staid response of the church remains "don't question us." You may very quickly find that those who formerly sang your undying praises are now quietly shuffling toward the door in increasing numbers.
We are all adults. We're not stupid. When you have a giant, half-bricked building staring you in the face every Sunday as you leave church, it's easy to apprehend that things aren't going well. Perhaps instead of producing numerous new shiny projects to distract people from the edifice which literally stands as a monument of your failure, you might want to consider discussing your disappointments openly and honestly with the congregation. In doing so, you might earn back a smidgen of the tremendous respect that you've lost.
The Titanic was famous for its dutiful orchestra, who staunchly refused to instill a panic among the passengers by running or attempting to jump overboard as so many others did when the ship struck that fateful iceberg. Rather, they dutifully sat and played hymns as the ship slid helplessly beneath the waves taking 1,517 of her 2,223 souls to the bottom with her. As much as I enjoyed my temporary passage aboard that beautiful ship called DC Metro Church, I, for one, refuse to be a member of the band.