RESPONDING TO MORAL FAILURE IN CHURCH LEADERS
May 10, 2018 | By Kevin G. Harney
Let us be ever diligent in seeking God’s grace and seeking a humble heart in all that we pursue in life.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15)
The most recent rash of moral failures, accusations, and heartbreak over sin and human frailty is upon us. Ed Stetzer shared some very helpful reflections on this topic recently. Every time this topic hits the church (and world), I find myself examining my heart, dissecting my life, and crying out to God for all of those impacted.
After 40 years following Jesus and leading in the local church, I have a growing number of insights I hope are helpful for you in regards to moral failure among Christian leaders….
Of all groups of people, the church must be open and ready to hear those who have been hurt or abused in any way….
Let’s not air our struggles and battles in the public or social media….
Let’s not function as judge, jury, and executioner in moral failures….
Let’s not take delight in the fall of brothers and sisters….
Let’s not say “I saw that coming” when we said nothing when it was happening….
Let’s not gossip and talk about brothers and sisters struggling with sin….
It is easy to spend time talking with other Christians about specific people and their sins. There are a lot of better ways to spend our time…. Instead…
Let’s seek to embrace the reality that men and women are different. All Christians should acknowledge that God has made men and women differently. One of the primary breeding grounds for some of the recent accusations and actions comes from trying to operate as if men and women are identical. We are not the same, and the rules must be different in how we interact and serve Jesus together.
Let’s seek to set boundaries that honor Jesus, and protect people (including ourselves). While in seminary, I presented a study on boundaries for church leaders. In particular, my own rules. I never meet with a woman one-on-one in any private setting. I don’t drive with women alone in a car. I don’t make personal calls or send personal texts to women (I do it through my church account and make sure it is church related and public)….
Let’s seek to listen with grace and take every accusation seriously. When a woman or man, a girl or boy comes with an accusation, a concern, or a story of inappropriate behavior by a church leader, we must listen. No matter how painful and no matter how hard it is to hear.
Let’s seek to take appropriate actions to find the truth. Once we have heard, we are compelled to dig in and find the truth. A church board or staff team must do everything in their power to find the truth, no matter where it leads….
Let’s seek to confess quickly and blow the whistle on me. If I am living in sexual sin, hurting others, and crossing lines, the best thing to do is confess this to God and to appropriate church leaders. It is always better to blow the whistle on myself than wait until someone else speaks up.
Let’s seek to create strong accountability relationships. Every church leader should have one or two people who know their frailties, struggles, and temptations. These people should have leverage to make the hard calls, ask the challenging questions, and blow the whistle!
Let’s seek to show grace and forgiveness when people are truly repentant. We are all sinners in need of amazing grace. Let’s extend the forgiveness of God to all broken sinners, even leaders. We can do this while addressing sin and calling people to repentance.
Let’s seek to pray for people who are caught in sin. When we find ourselves talking about or thinking about people embattled in public sin and scandal, let’s go right to prayer. Cry out for justice, pray for the truth to be known, ask for healing in the lives of the victims, and seek God’s restoring power in the life of the offender.
Let’s seek to recognize that with growing leadership influence, the target on our back for spiritual attack gets larger. A doctor friend of mine was asking me about some of the recent news on leadership failings. He said, “We really need to pray more for church leaders….
Let’s seek to develop a practice of self-examination and invite God to search your heart and life. In Psalm 139:1 & 23-24 we read, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me…”
May the God of power, truth, and grace search our hearts, know our thoughts, forgive our sins, and make us more like His Son, Jesus Christ! (Excerpts from Kevin G. Harney’s article in The Exchange)