This last week, I voraciously read about another very famous pastor who resigned under less than ideal circumstances. Being among the many who don’t know him personally but are aware of the work he has done, I wrestled with many questions. Is there more? How bad was it, really? What are they not telling us? How do we keep this from happening to us? What is the fallout going to be?
These questions and many others flooded my mind. With each new story like this, I must fight the tendency to become cynical about these influencers and their motivations for doing what they do. And that raises an even more troubling set of questions for me. How am I the same as they are? Am I really different at all? What is the difference between getting caught and not getting caught? How would I respond? How would I want others to respond if I was the one in the spotlight?
That is the trouble with leaders failing. They make it very easy to point the finger at them and their position. It takes the spotlight off of my own need for God’s amazing grace for a minute and allows me to let loose a rash of venom directed at them that, if I was honest, was probably stored up because of what I see in myself. So, in my own self, this leader pays for their sin as well as mine.
I want to leave a few disjointed thoughts about leaders and sin and how we can help them and pray for them, not just become jaded and cynical.
- People are people. Love them anyway.
- For our best intentions, we make mistakes. Everyone does — even leaders.
- Spiritual leaders are absolutely necessary for our spiritual development, but they are not Jesus. Pray for them. They need it.
- Support and encouragement do more to change people than criticism. Just because you can clearly see their mistakes doesn’t give you the right to be critical.
- Criticism is not a spiritual gift. Anyone can criticize. Jesus lifts up the broken. We should act like Jesus.
- Jesus followers must be known as people who fight for others, not against them. Shooting our wounded is not a way to deal with broken people, no matter what level of leadership they are serving in.
- Jesus said that in the measure you forgive, you will be forgiven. Never forget that we all need grace. Be a person of grace.
- It takes courage for a leader to admit they have blown it. It causes destruction when they don’t admit they are wrong. Don’t make them regret being honest.
May we be people who handle the brokenness of all people well. May we be known as those who have the heart of Christ. May we give God’s radical grace to those who need it most. And may we continue to imitate the leaders in God’s church as they imitate Christ.