Saturday, 26 April 2008

When Church Leaders are an Embarrasment

When Church Leaders Are an Embarrassment
By Rebekah Montgomery

As guest speaker, I often hear sorry tales about church leadership.
Recently, I spoke at a church where their dynamic pastor suddenly left. Church members were puzzled — until unpaid bills and credit card statements began rolling in.
A deacon at another church confided that his pastor demanded raise after raise until the church was virtually bankrupt. Then he left.

No one expects religious leaders to be flawless. No doubt: The Carpenter of Galilee has had to creatively use some rough-cut and irregular blocks to build His Church.
But an embarrassment?
Church sex abuse scandal. Prostitution. Wife abuse. Adultery. Luxurious lifestyles. Exorbitant salaries. Unpaid bills. Malfeasance of church monies.

A gifted, respected leader is exposed as deeply flawed. Then the truth comes out: For a long time, the leader has been living a lie. Others knew — or suspected — but turned a blind eye. When a blind eye is turned to sin, the Church gets a black eye. And Jesus is once again put to public ridicule.

A leader’s fall not only sets tongues wagging, it causes much “collateral damage.” I’ve felt it necessary to apologize to non-Christians and young believers who have been burned by bad behavior on the part of a Christian leader. Some are not just hurt, but turned off to the Gospel and perhaps lost for eternity.

Something Old, Nothing New
The early Church saw a similar situation and the Apostle Peter, who occasionally embarrassed himself, addressed it:

If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. … For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God… (1 Peter 4:15-17 NIV)
If those in leadership don’t live faithful lives, God may have to use a donkey like He did to correct Balaam, the errant prophet — or the local secular news media — or worse to clean out the corruption.

What to Do?
1. Pray for your spiritual leaders.

Let them know you are praying. Ask if they have any needs for which you can pray. If God privileges you to see your leaders’ faults and weaknesses, it is so you can pray with knowledge.

2. Encourage your leadership to be accountable.

Accountability doesn’t mean The Inquisition: It does mean, “… if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 NIV)

3. Encourage your church leaders to adopt systems that deter temptation.

These are common sense measures such as discouraging male pastors from counseling female parishioners, church checks requiring the treasurer’s signature, etc.

4. Do self-examination.

It is so easy to see the faults and failings of others. Comfortable, too. When we’re shining the spotlight on another’s blemishes, it leaves our warts in the dark. But God sees in the dark. And we need to daily ask Him to show us ourselves in the strongest light we can bear so we also aren’t tempted.

© Rebekah Montgomery 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you pastor this really really helps. Keep up the awesome writings

BetweenYou and Me

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