When leaders disappoint

***So I had this written a couple weeks ago, but it just didn’t feel ready, so I didn’t post it. I feel it is still relevant even being so late. With that said, I apologize for the delay. Please feel free to leave your feedback (knowing that if it becomes rude, I maintain the right to remove). I welcome your thoughts and conversation—whether in agreement or difference of opinion. ***

 

I’ve had so many “potential posts” run through my head over the past month, and yet none have actually made it from thought to text. Now that November is over I’m feeling pressure of having to get something written and wanting it to be impactful. I originally wrote this prior to that very monumental week for our country and the natural inclination was to write something political in nature—even if only to assure the community of believers that God is still in control no matter which candidate “won” (which is, of course, true). But despite having my degree in political science (or maybe because I have my degree in political science), I wanted to stay away from politics as much as possible in this format. If there is a specific issue that needs to be broadly discussed I’m not inclined to shy away from it but there are just too many idiosyncrasies that are bound to be muddled and misconstrued—especially with as heated election as this particular one proved to be.

Then there is the process that I’m in the midst of regarding my daughter’s injuries and subsequent healing (if you didn’t see on Facebook—my daughter’s bones are healed! We are anxiously waiting for the MRI at the end of the month to evaluate the condition of the soft tissue, which we are continuing to believe that God has also healed). There is so much that can (and eventually will) be written regarding this but much of it is very raw and still in need of massive editing to hone in on a specific message to be shared. Much of is basted in hope and I am excited to share all of the juicy revelation and growth that God is refining in me (and my family).

Part of my heart is processing the sad news of leaders I respected who appear to have taken a stance contrary to truth while still claiming it is in the name of truth (if that seems confusing, it is—hence the processing). I learned the hard way that we subconsciously hold fellow believers to a higher standard than others that we know who may not have a relationship with Jesus. My first time working for a Christian organization led to frustration because I thought they would act differently, handle issues differently—not just differently, but better. I expected more. But the reality is that we are all broken. I’m not saying that as an excuse for people to act poorly, rather as a realization that I had to acknowledge and recognize my own shortcomings in the midst of the situation.

That being said, in that particular situation there was a minimal fallout of influence. It was contained, so to speak, within the department in the lives of a handful of coworkers. The leaders I’m processing have a massive realm of influence. They reach far beyond a set of walls, into the lives and hearts of people around the world.

So how do we handle it when our leaders of the faith disappoint us? (just a note, this can equally be held true for leaders in general if the election has got you down)

There is no easy answer or one solution to “fix it.” I believe that it is just as likely that my method of handling is a polar opposite to your method, but there should be several keys that span spectrum.

One is recognizing that our hope is not in our leaders—it is in Jesus.

You may be rolling your eyes at the super-charged church answer, but bear with me. I’m not saying this as a freebie, get-out-of-jail-free card, I’m saying it because we have a tendency to create idols out of our pastors and Christian leaders and forget that our primary membership is not at a particular church, but in heaven. Our primary leader is not the person standing in the pulpit, but the one standing at the right hand of God the Father. We glorify our leaders. We love them deeply and defend them fiercely, that is until they inevitably say something that makes us uncomfortable. But God called us to respect our leaders, not worship them. They are fallible and will make mistakes. Jesus will not. He already achieved perfection and has offered that transferred righteousness to all who believe in Him.

Another place to start is in the Word. Don’t take their word for it, what does the Bible actually say? Not how does someone interpret what the Word says, what does it actually say? I feel like as much progress as we’ve made in getting the Bible into the hands of so many, we have gotten lazy in knowing what is inside the book we so eagerly share. I’m not excluding myself from this. I have times when I am truly hungry for the Word. I want to read it. I want to digest it. And I want to read it some more. Then there are other days when I feel like I’m reading the same line over and over again, nothing registering, nothing being retained. But on whole, believers need to get past our podcasts and find out what the Bible actually says rather than simply taking what people tell us it says. You don’t need a degree from seminary to hear the voice of God. You simply need a relationship with Him. He has promised to reveal Himself to us. That doesn’t mean that we’ll instantly understand it all, but it does mean that we can find peace in the midst of the storm.

Finally, lean on grace. Again, I don’t say this as an excuse because the Bible also alludes that teachers of the Word will be held to a higher standard (see James 3:1). I do make a point of grace because after you’ve gone through the other two points, I feel that this should be where we land. Ultimately, Jesus is the only leader who won’t disappoint us or let us down. If we are well versed in the Word and continually seeking God for clarification and revelation, we will know the difference between truth and deception (even when cleverly cloaked in the terminology of love). That leaves us with grace. Grace to forgive, but also grace to recognize that they are going to have to reach a point with God and either seek forgiveness or be held accountable (whatever that looks like—not my place to judge; that belongs to God alone). Grace does not grant me a cart blanche oblivion, giving me permission to blindly continue to follow them and believe everything they say. It does mean that I can respect them, offer love, and simply find my support in God’s truth alone. I don’t need to make it a point to continue to poke and prod at their mistakes and misguidance. That’s been done. And honestly, those are things best left to people who know and love them best and who can do it in love and mercy (see Proverbs 15:1…and a lot of other Proverbs. Solomon had a lot to say on the topic).

Does this solve the problem? Not for the leader who has disappointed, but it helps us deal with that disappointment. There are some practical things that will have to be handled (and in past cases have been handled) by their superiors (church, publishing companies, ministries, etc.) but that is not my job. My job is to seek God’s truth so that I don’t fall prey to deception. Above all, I want to be a woman who draws people closer to God, not lead them astray. I want to show people how great the Father’s love is for us but also recognize that it doesn’t come without cost. It cost Jesus his life; it may cost me a friendship, a comfort, or any other thing that Satan will try to use against me. The devil schemes. He uses things that sound good and honestly almost like something the Bible would say. He likes to get just close enough that we get comfortable with the idea that when we step on board we don’t realize that we’ve stepped out onto thin ice until it breaks underneath us. Be vigilant. Be aware. But don’t become haughty or prideful, always finding grace upon grace (because God offers it first to us).

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