Rescuing Fallen Church Leaders
- Wednesday, September 07, 2011
From the examples of some of well-known Christians who fell into immorality and refused to step down, we learned that their refusal may indicate a lack of contrition or acceptance of responsibility for their actions.
During the time that the leader is no longer leading, the right resources must be made available for him and his family for spiritual scrutiny, marital restoration, and ministry renovation.
Those who teach have great responsibility, whether they choose to remember that or not (James 3:1). Those who lead must care for and nurture the church of God (Acts 20:28). When one who leads others to righteousness fails to live righteously, there should be an analysis of what he is missing spiritually, and what areas of his life and calling need growth. To think that a spiritual leader simply “made a mistake” that can be forgotten with an apology is to misunderstand the process through which a person goes to move from spiritual leadership to moral failure.
Others in the kingdom may cast a fallen leader aside and expect him or her to figure these things out. The better course of action is for wise, mature Christians to step in and guide the process, either formally or informally (though formally is usually better). Someone should care enough to rescue those who can be rescued.
Those who are helped often are raised up by God again to be leaders in the kingdom.
Typically a moral failure does more than cost a leader his position in the kingdom. Nearly always there are strained marriages and damaged families. This is particularly true if the immorality involved another person or some type of sexual sin.
Every month we have a number of church leaders from around America attend our workshop for marriages in crisis. These are men or women who got caught up in sin that destroyed their ministries and harmed their families. We see ministers, elders, deacons, teachers, praise team members, small group leaders, and all the rest. It is not surprising if you think about it. Satan’s forces seem to come at the kingdom from both ends of the spectrum; attack the weak Christians who are on the fringe, take out the leaders who are in the forefront. It is actually quite a reasonable approach and appears to be extremely effective.
When we, or others like us, are able to work with these leaders and help them rescue their marriages, we serve God in thwarting Satan’s schemes. If the marriage fails, the likelihood of restoring the fallen leader to a position of leadership again diminishes. He may find himself back in step spiritually and again used by God, but some opportunities in the kingdom may well be withheld because of their failed marriage.
Additionally, saving their marriages may well be the catalyst for saving their children’s futures so that they do not grow up to be bitter at the church either by what their parent has done or by how the church reacted.
When churches are not focused altogether on their own pain, they think about how important this is. They are the ones who make all the arrangements and pay all travel, lodging, and fees to get the fallen leader’s marriage the help it needs. If every church made it a priority not only to remove the leader from leadership responsibility until healing takes place, but also to aid her spiritual life and rescue her marriage, we would have a cadre of restored leaders who not only have spiritual wellness, but who understand how to rescue sinners in a way that many Christians never will. Rather than decrying the loss of leaders and the decline of churches, the kingdom could rejoice in salvaging sinners – even those who should have known better – and taking the gospel to the world in a way that proclaims Christ’s love to those who are NOT perfect.
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