How to Respond to the Failure of Church Leaders

Over the years I’ve been personally affected by the failure of church leaders. As a young person, the pastor of my church was removed from leadership for actions of sexual indiscretion.  I remember the morning when it was announced.  I remember the effects on the denomination, the television ministry, the church community, and the attached Christian school I attended.  

Over the years in ministry I have seen the moral failure of several church leaders.  Sometimes it was for the same reasons as my pastor growing up.  Sometimes it was a result of abuse of various kinds, financial impropriety, or acts of a criminal nature.  Yet over the years, I’ve learned several things along the way about how to respond to the situation.

God. I’ve learned not to change my view of God because of the failure of individuals. God is not to blame.

Failure. I’ve learned to call sin for what it is. I’ve learned not to minimize evil when it happens.

Heart.  I have learned it’s important to maintain a soft heart in spite of the pain of the situation.  I’ve learned not to allow the situation and the failure of others control me.

Compassion. I’ve learned how to have compassion for the victims and for those who have been personally affected by the decisions of others. To be a support for those as best I can.

Compassion.  I’ve learned how to have compassion for those who sinned as a result of the depths of the brokenness that they’ve had.  I’ve learned not to judge.

Perspective.  I’ve learned not to paint every leader the same way.  I’ve learned not to elevate leaders beyond their humanity.  I’ve learned there are a lot of great church leaders as much as there are those who fail.  I’ve learned to appreciate leaders character over charisma. 

Perspective. I’ve learned not to elevate myself beyond where I am at or to think that I am beyond failure. I’m learned to lean deeply on God.

Forgiveness. I’ve learned this is really hard.  I’ve learned to forgive myself when I’ve elevated leaders to a place they shouldn’t be.  I’ve learned to forgive leaders when trust is broken.  I’ve learned to forgive leaders of organizations who may or may not know how to handle the situation. I’ve learned to forgive so I don’t live suspicious and closed but open and free.

Hopeful.  I’ve learned to remain focused on Jesus who is going to put this world right at one point in the future.  I’ve learned that nothing will keep Jesus from building his church.

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