When Christian Leaders Fall
When Christian leaders fall into sin the impacts are huge: on them personally, their family, their church, the wider Christian community, their witness before the world and most significantly the name of Christ.
The lessons for us?
1. Pride always comes before a fall. When Christian leaders are in a position where many people seek their word and advice pride becomes a very real temptation. Once pride enters it opens a door to other sins (and inevitably ones of a sexual nature) which can easily be justified because of our perceived self importance. This has been the root sin of so many fallen Christian leaders. Therefore humility is needed at all times. However famous and gifted we are, the glory must go to God and him alone. ‘Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall‘ (1 Corinthians 10:12).
2. Fear of God. The fear of God teaches us that no sin is hidden from God and that he will judge us through Christ impartially. There are many scriptures which show us the tragic eternal consequences of wilfully continuing in sin (e.g. Hebrews 10:26-31). When pride comes in the fear of God diminishes.
Leaders are often under many pressures and the temptation to seek relief in, perhaps inappropriate ways (such as alcohol, drugs and illicit sex), is very real. We too in such times can think of reasons to justify sin – ‘I need it’, ‘I deserve it’. ‘My ministry is so important.’ ‘God understands.’ If this is the way we think we have deceived ourselves.
3. Be accountable to others who you trust. None of us are immune to temptation so if you are tempted by or in sin GET HELP. Better to be ashamed before men than to be ashamed before God on the day of judgement. We don’t just ‘fall’ into sin. It begins with a thought and gradually progresses to the point where our conscience is seared. But, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Christian leaders especially need to be above reproach. Therefore it is crucial they be accountable to others at all times. For example, when travelling, to ensure they are not alone with someone of the opposite sex (other than of course with their wife, husband, daughter or son). Expenditure needs to be accounted for by an independent party.
4. Our faith should always ultimately be in Christ, never reliant on another man or woman. It is not wrong to see someone as a good example and from whom we can learn and gain wisdom to grow. But we need to guard against putting another Christian on a pedestal, effectively making them an idol. Christian leaders, as we all, are subject to temptation (and more so – which is why we need to pray for them) and may, at times, sin. We are to be followers of Christ, not of men.