So yesterday, the first entry, was an overview. Almost a way to establish my “credibility” in commenting on this topic. Today, I’d like to go in a little more on the responsibility of leadership. For a scriptural base on where I’m coming from see James 3:1, 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Jeremiah 50:6; Ezekiel 34:1-16; Mark 14:27.
Let’s get a basic out of the way: all sin is sin. Nothing is better or worse than the other, a truth we need to confront with more than lip service in the body of Christ. Fornication is not better than homosexuality, but worse than lying. Killing is not worse than stealing, but better than gossip. It’s all sin in God’s eyes, all in need of the mercy of the cross. All come from a root of sin, a place that says we are better than God, and we must acknowledge our need for Him. So none of us is in a place to condemn, because we all have sin of which we need to repent. However (and this I feel very strongly about), we do have a responsibility, even a duty, to other believers to bring the convicting word of God, through grace, that opens our eyes to the sin in our particular lives. We must speak the truth in love, even when the truth is hard. But this is another post.
So with that as a base, I also believe that there are some sins, and some people, that are more detrimental to the body of Christ. Re-read that. There are some sins that tear apart the Body more easily, and tear down the image of Christ to non-believers. I believe that sexual sins, particularly those involving adultery, are high on that list. Why? Because I think some behaviours are viewed as basic sins and, in the (paraphrased) words of Paul, not tolerated even among non-believers. Look at the wave of criticism against men like Tiger, John Edwards, Kobe, and Shaq. None of these men are Christian leaders, but all have been caught in sexual indiscretion and were derided for their moral failings. How much higher a standard should be held for Christian leaders? Should we not have expected them to have learned to withstand these temptations? When we discover that these leaders have fallen in areas that we believe they should have conquered, then we question their leadership, their walk with Christ, even all they have said.
Furthermore, because they are leaders, they have a greater impact on the perception of Christ. Yes, we all have an impact, but let’s be real. What the President/Prime Minister says about government has a greater, and more widespread impact than what I say. This holds true in the Christian world. What a pastor, or someone else of leadership, says about Christ has a more widespread and greater impact than what I say. This is because we assume there is a level they have achieved before reaching that level of leadership. We believe they have met certain criteria: a certain education, a disciplined and principled walk with Christ, a life that can withstand scrutiny. We don’t allow just anyone to take leadership of our schools, companies, or countries – and we hold our Christian leaders to a same or greater standard. This is why the Bible says that we should not aspire to be leaders – the standard, the weight, the responsibility is great. So when they say or do something, based on this expectation of a proven life, we give it great weight. And when these great leaders fall, particularly in such a basic way, we feel the pain all the more deeply.