When Christian Leaders Do Wrong
- Wednesday, April 16, 2008
If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (1 Cor. 6:1-3)
So the question remains, what should we do when we’ve been let down by Christian leaders who have caused harm—yet refuse to even acknowledge it? Here are a few thoughts that are helping me through this process:
I need to look for the "good guys." When one is confronted with evil, it is important to remember that there is lots of good out there. I need to remember all of the good and holy people whom I've met in ministry. For instance, the minister who'd been at this church when they originally invited me is one of the godliest men I know. He was mortified by his elders' behavior and did everything he could to mediate the situation and encourage them to be honorable.
I need to do right myself. Jesus was the most unjustly abused person in the history of the world. His simple advice in situations of unfair treatment: "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 6:39).
I need to use this as a "tutoring experience." The pain I’ve felt from this experience must make me just that much more resolute never to do this sort of thing to another—no matter how I rationalize it away.
I need to get a grip. In the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big deal. There are Christians in Muslim countries unable to get and keep jobs. There are Christians in Sudan being murdered for their faith. Comparatively speaking, this is nothing!
I need to remember that my only job here is to forgive. I need to remember my own sins; how many times have I failed to hold up the banner for Jesus myself? How many times have I been a bad witness? How many other people have I hurt by my wrong behavior? Jesus taught that we will only be forgiven if we forgive others. I cannot expect Jesus to release my sins if I don't release the sins of these brothers. This means I need to pray sincerely for them. Not in a self-righteous way, but for their souls and the spiritual health of the flock that they lead. I need to remember that church leaders are under terrific pressures, and sometimes, pressure doesn't bring out the best in people. It's time for me to give God a chance to heal and soothe. With every pain comes an opportunity for God to stretch and teach us more. If I will gently relax and "wait upon the Lord," He can bring good even from evil.
If I don't forgive, the devil is the only winner here. The devil's stock and trade is in bitterness and broken relationships. Mike Root, one of the finest preachers I've ever known, says that the two great enemies of the ministry are cynicism and apathy. If I allow a hypocrite to get between me and God, all that means is that the hypocrite is closer to God than I am.
Steve Diggs presents the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar at churches and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve on the Web at www.stevediggs.com or call 615-834-3063. The author of several books, today Steve serves as a minister for the Antioch Church of Christ in Nashville. For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four children whom they have home schooled. The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.
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