Aargh! It happened again. I honestly thought this would be the last time! After all the services? all the teachings? Is this not hypocrisy?
I’m sure you’re reading this and wondering, “what exactly am I talking about?”. That’s exactly the point! It could apply to you just as much as the next believer, and yes, this includes spiritual leaders.
Perhaps because of the social media age we live in, the ease at which bad news travels, and more, we’re never really short on yet another report that a spiritual leader or someone we respect has messed up big time.
This often results in a lot of backlashes, “were they scams to begin with?”, “what does this mean for all they’ve said?”, “Should we even have spiritual leaders at all?”, just to mention a few. And while it’s definitely normal to have emotional responses to issues that we genuinely care about, a huge sign of maturity is to ensure that our emotional responses are regulated by logical thinking.
A huge sign of maturity is to ensure that our emotional responses are regulated by logical thinking.
That said, how do we deal with the issue of scandals or slip-ups? Read on to find out!
✓ Realize that while undesirable, inconsistencies happen.
‘To err is human…’
I am yet to find any religion, philosophy or worldview to disagree with that statement. In a sense, more than anything else, we are most aware of our imperfections. It’s ironic though that while we may all agree to this on paper, we somehow find it hard to apply it in practice.
As a result, we end up sometimes finding it difficult ot forgive ourselves or even others. And without a doubt, the worst is seen when people we’ve somehow assumed to be “more human” than we fall into their humanistic failures.
We have somehow come to assume that a demonstration of excellence in one area, perhaps leadership, indicates excellence in all areas. This could not be any further from the truth. Just as a great footballer could be a terrible swimmer, a great teacher could also struggle with inconsistencies. Similarly, a great leader could also struggle in specific areas as well.
The implication would go both ways then…
First, we ought to learn not to hold anyone to a pedestal where they are incapable of faults.
And then, as leaders, we also need to realize that excellence in one area does not somehow rid us of the responsibility to work on other areas that need work.
At the end of the day, the truth remains, any HUMAN more so believer that fails to consistently pray, study, and humbly estimate his/her inadequacies would fall into moments of weakness.
1Co 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
✓ Pay attention to systems of accountability.
This holds for both us and the people we look up to. Regardless of what rung you are on the spiritual ladder, a person who begins to ignore structures of accountability is setting him or her self up for failure.
It’s important you do regular checks, are there people in my life who can ascertain where I am spiritually? Are my closest friends people who I trust to uphold the standards of God’s will in my life? Are there any relationships I am currently in that my closest friends aren’t aware of. Do my Pastors feel responsible for me or have I somehow limited their influence in my life to just the teaching of the word on Sundays?
Do you get the point? Accountability is something we must intentionally build in our lives. This goes for leaders as well.
As a leader, build structures through which even those you lead can hold you accountable. The moment you begin to see yourself as bigger than any fault, you’ve already crossed the first line in the process of actually falling.
Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
✓ Let your convictions be rooted in truth not personalities.
I think this can’t be overstated enough. I heard an example from an apologist, David Wood, that captures this point quite well:
“Assume for instance that the person who taught you math all through high school was broadcast all through the news to be a wanted serial killer. To make things more personal, he was someone you loved and respected. Perhaps even the reason you decided to study engineering in college. Of course you’d be shocked and hugely disappointed at this realisation. But if we are to be honest, the news would do little in making us doubt all we learned about calculus and algebra.”
There in lies the point. The proof of every good teaching is that it is objectively true, with or without the subjective testimony of the person through which the teaching comes.
Therefore, if all you know to be true is simply due to the charisma, nobility or eloquence of a particular person, you really are setting yourself up for failure. To bring it home to the Christian faith, we must ensure that we’re growing in the objective revelation of truth from God’s word. That way, we won’t be swayed by inconsistencies in either ourselves or others.
Gal 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. Gal 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.