Tuesday, May 25, 2010

When a Leader Falls

Over the past several years the marriages of several couples who I looked up to and respected have come to an end. I know of only two who saved their marriages by offering forgiveness, grace and mercy. I have also experienced some of the leaders I looked up to, some I knew personally, make huge mistakes (sins), big enough to pull them out of their leadership roles.

Today I have a heavy heart and am burdened. I'm tired of watching my friends drop like flies. I'm sick of the enemies victory in their marriages and their lives. I needed some good reminders so I dug up an article I wrote a few years ago. If you have a heavy heart perhaps you will find some good reminders here:

When a Leader Falls

It seems more and more we here of spiritual leaders falling morally. In the time we live in news travels fast. Maybe there aren’t more leaders falling, maybe we hear about it because we live in the “information age”.

Devastation, heart break, disappointment, sorrow, grieving, disillusioned, faith shaking, these are some of the emotions and feelings we may experience when someone we look up to as a spiritual leader falls morally. How do we respond to these situations? What do we do? How do we treat the leader who has fallen? What do we do with what he or she has taught us? How do we filter through the feelings and emotions?

The first thing we must do is go to God’s Word. The Bible has to be the foundation for every situation we face in life. His Word is where our roots should run deep. What does the Bible have to say?

• Everyone sins
Romans 3:23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
As believers we must remember that every one of us has sinned. Not only have we sinned in the past we will also sin again. There was only one who lived a perfect life and He was the Son of God. The danger we fall into as Christians is that we often put spiritual leaders we look up to on a pedestal; we almost take their humanness away from them. Spiritual leaders, no matter how “great” they may be, still sin. So the fact that a leader sins shouldn’t shock us, it should grieve us just as we should be grieved when we sin.

• Sin traps and destroys
Ephesians 4:27
and do not give the devil a foothold.

Being tempted is not a sin but giving into the temptation is. When a believer gives into temptation he has opened the door for Satan to get a grip on an area in his life. No Christian is above this taking place in his life. That is why it is so important that we guard our hearts, minds and lives. Believers are human and humans are tempted and sadly, humans sin. Sin can trap a believer; certain sins can easily become habitual sins in the life of a believer.

I Peter 5:8
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour

The devil isn’t prowling around looking to destroy the lives of unbelievers; he already has them in his grip. Satan’s goal is to destroy our lives. In doing so he destroys our testimonies and the impact we can have on others. Public sin has a far ranging impact and affect on those around us.

As we put spiritual leaders up on a pedestal, we forget that they are human just like us. We forget that Satan is out to get a foothold in their lives and destroy them as well. They are not super heroes that are not influenced by the devil’s tempting. They can be trapped and destroyed just as easily as any believer. If the devil tempted Jesus Christ, the Son of God, why wouldn’t he tempt spiritual leaders today?

Psalms 7:15
He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made.

• Confession and Repentance are vital to restoration
I John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Our prayer should be that when a spiritual leader sins that the leader would go to God first and confess his sin and repent. To confess is to agree with God that sin committed is indeed a sin. To repent is to turn away from the sin. If the sin was one that is made public or becomes known publicly he should also confess to his brothers and sisters in the Lord, to openly confess. This open confession is evidence that indeed the leader has come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and can help heal any wounds caused by the sin. No Christian can be in a right relationship with God unless there has been confession and repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:9
yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.

• God’s Word is still God’s Word

“If this spiritual leader that I looked up to falls morally how can I believe anything that the leader has taught me?”
It boils down to this: Even though the leader may have messed up, God’s Word is still God’s Word. God’s Word is unchanging. The leader’s message is validated by whether or not it comes from the Bible. If the message is from God’s Word then truth is taught. If God can speak through a donkey He can certainly deliver His message through an imperfect leader.

Isaiah 55:11
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Numbers 22:29
Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?”

Psalms 33:4
For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

• Focus on Christ not on Man
As Christians we are disciples, followers of Christ. As children we played the game “follow the leader”. In this game you needed to keep your focus on the leader and not on the person in front of you. Your goal was to copy the leader. As followers of Christ, He is our leader, the one on whom we should put our focus. Jesus Christ will never let us down. It is impossible for Jesus to fail. When we focus on man we will be constantly let down because man is imperfect. We look up to spiritual leaders but ultimately we need to focus more on Christ than the spiritual leader. Spiritual leaders who are following Christ would tell you to not focus on them but to focus on Christ.

Most Christians have had a spiritual leader who has made a significant impact or influence on their life. This impact or influence is the result of God’s work - God’s Word, using the leader. When a leader falls it doesn’t negate or cancel out the commitment or decision made in the Christian’s life. The commitment was made with God and not with the leader.

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