Like most of us who have been around a while I have seen my share of Christian leaders who have failed the test of leadership. This has included affairs, financial misappropriation, addictions, extreme narcissism, unwillingness to be accountable to their boards, staff abuse, plain poor leadership and the list could go on. Just do a Google search and there is no lack of high profile leaders whose lives have come undone.
As in all of life there are lessons to be learned here and these are some of the lessons I have learned.
One. All of us have feet of clay and struggle with our own shadow side. Leaders do as well. No one is exempt from one's lower nature or the normal temptations of life. Thus while we hold Christian leaders to a higher standard, they too will fall in a fallen world. While disappointed, I am no longer surprised. But for the grace of God go I.
Two. That being the case I no longer place any individual on a pedestal believing they are different. The higher one places them the further they fall and the greater the disappointment. I pray for leaders in my life but recognize that they are subject to the same life issues that I am. I refuse to become a groupie of the latest high profile Christian leader.
Three. I cannot outsource my relationship with God to others. I am personally responsible for my life, my spiritual growth, the use of my gifts and how I use my life for God. Thus when a leader falls, the truth is that it does not impact my spiritual life and I do not become disillusioned.
Four. I recognize that one of the reasons leaders fail is that they get caught up in their own success and people no longer tell them the truth. I am committed to being respectful but absolutely honest with leaders around me, resisting the temptation to treat them differently or to be less than candid. What they do with it is their business. Mine is not to contribute to the problem.
Five. I must guard my own life so that the common factors that contribute to leadership failure do not become my experience. This includes accountable relationships, encouraging my staff to be candid and upfront, living with humility and being deeply aware of my own shadow side and vulnerabilities. No one is exempt from the issues that contribute to failed leadership.