Why Moral Failures Hurt The Church
I’m tired of the parade of posts in my feed about “Pastor so-and-so” at “Such-and-such Church” losing their ministry due to some failure of integrity in their life. We only hear about it when it’s a person of prominence, but the truth is, it happens far more than we could even fathom.
It’s painful watching professing Christians in positions of influence fall morally. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pastor, professor or a politician - it hurts to watch a leader lose the influence and ministry God has entrusted to them, due to cracks in their character. The ways in which it hurts are many, but here are the three most prominent in my mind:
1. It discourages those of us who follow their lead.
Many of us are certainly guilty of putting our leaders on a pedestal. This is an obvious pitfall to avoid for reasons we won’t get into here, but the truth is, it’s good for us to find human examples to emulate. This is why Paul told his readers to imitate His example (1 Cor 4:16). God gives us leaders to point us to Him, but also to serve as an example of how to follow Him. When our leaders fall, it leaves us disappointed and discouraged in them and in ourselves for looking to them.
2. It distracts from the attention we’re trying to draw to Jesus.
It doesn’t matter what theological, or methodological tribe they come from, it hurts the entire body of Christ when any Christian leader falls. Our goal as Christ-followers is to point a hurting world to a healing Savior. When our leaders fall, it draws the attention away from Christ and onto that person’s sin. It’s not hard to see how this hinders our mission.
3. It detracts from our credibility as followers of Jesus.
“Christians are all about power.”
“The only thing Christians care about is your money.”
“Christians preach principles they don’t keep themselves.”
You’ve probably heard someone say something like this. If you haven’t, you may not know any non-Christians. These are just a few of the obstacles I encounter regularly with people who don’t follow Jesus. The problem is, these obstacles have been put in their way by the actual failure of leaders who profess to follow Jesus. No Christian is perfect, but when you lead, you live with a larger responsibility. You hurt the credibility of all Christians when your character eventually crumbles under the weight of unrepentant sin.
So, what to do with all this?
First, if you’re currently struggling through the discouragement that comes from watching a leader fall, remember that Jesus never has and never will. Earthly leaders are a shadow of Jesus at best. He is our only perfect leader. Set your hope in Him and on Him and no one else.
Second, if you’re a Christian and aspire to leadership of some kind, work on the preparation of your heart twice as hard as you do your theology and leadership competency. Leaders don’t tend to fall for lack of ability to do their job. They fall because their hearts were not properly prepared.
Third, if you’re already a Christian leader of some kind, for your sake, for our sake and for Jesus’ sake, please partner with the Holy Spirit to seal up the cracks in your character because...
When a leader falls, it hurts us all.