The ultimate betrayal for any staff or congregation (in the case of a church) is to discover that their leader has lived a double life and that he has been teaching truth while living a lie. It is a dissonance that does not compute, often negates in the minds of those betrayed the truth that has been taught and is almost impossible to reconcile apart from acknowledging the fallenness of man.
Truth and lies cannot co-exist forever. And when it becomes known it is as if a fraud has been perpetuated on the organization, especially when it has a long history. It begs the question, "Is everything I have known about this individual a fraud?" "Is it all a lie?" The answer is probably not but the question lingers in the mind and one is never sure.
One cannot underestimate the pain caused by a double life. In the aftermath it leaves confusion, anger, cynicism, a sense of betrayal, chaos and unanswered questions. It can split churches, hurt organizations and wound staff and constituents. The wound takes years to heal.
The personal life of a leader is not an optional concern for those who lead. In taking up the leadership mantel they take up the responsibility to live the life they espouse: Not perfectly but with disciplined attention. If one is not willing to live the life of a leader they should not lead. There is a higher standard because there must be integrity in both the words and the example of those out front. The compromise of either or both leads to betrayal. It is why Paul told Timothy to watch both his life and doctrine closely.
Anyone who has lived through the revelation of such a betrayal knows the wake of pain left behind. Others must come in and clean up the mess, bring healing to wounded hearts and there is anger that sometimes never dissipates as people carry their animosity toward the one responsible.
Can God bring restoration to the one who betrayed and healing to those betrayed? Yes! Only He can take any sin and use it for His purposes. Only He can redeem and forgive and give us the ability to forgive. But the road back for all is hard. Memories may fade but they don't go away. Forgiveness must be given time and time again. It is a road no one wants to walk.
The slippery slope for leaders is that they see success, begin to believe their own press, marginalize those who don't agree with them, become isolated and isolation breeds the arrogance that the rules don't apply to them. They do!
(Posted from High Point, NC)