2020 included some leader failures, some pretty big ones, and I’d love to leave this year with some food for thought. Those of us who are leaders, marching toward 2021, should keep a few things in mind.
Do not celebrate the fall of a leader. This is not the time to walk in pride, gossip, or toss jabs at that leader you never liked anyway. I’m certainly not suggesting that we as leaders don’t examine these things when they happen. We must learn from them, but we shouldn’t celebrate them. These are real people who have fallen, and falling hurts. It hurts not only the leader, but all of those around them. Their family. The church family they Shepherded. Depending on the fall, it may also affect other people and their families too. Publicly, this also can impact the view the world has toward religious leaders. Their fall affects us all. The correct response: We should mourn with those who mourn. This is not something to celebrate, but something to grieve. We should be praying about over it.
Do not believe yourself to be too high to fall. We should see these failures as cautionary tales of what can happen to ministry leaders who lose sight of their calling. When the audience grows, the opportunities come, financial blessings start rising, popularity increases, and influence expands… so does the space for temptation to enter. None of us are immune to the attacks of the enemy, to tempt us in the ways in which we are prone to weakness. If we allow our pride to blind us to what is happening around us, we too can fall. No ministry leader sets out to fall from grace, but we live in a world that is priming that pump every single day… that wants to see us fail, and the enemy takes advantage of that. The correct response: We should be setting up protections, accountability partners, and guidelines to help us guard ourselves from temptation. Invite others in as overseers to our lives, to have input, influence, and even investigate into our lives when needed.
Fallen leaders are not always unable to get back up. Yes, I do believe there are some serious moral, and illegal, failures that should prevent certain people from ever leading again. But, I also believe there are some things that a fallen leader can recover from. It may require time, counseling, reparations, or interventions to happen first, before there can be restoration to office. And, restoration to office may require having more accountability or working their way up through the ranks again building back up trust over time. The correct response: Each situation must be evaluated individually, to determine if this is an offense that can be overcome and restoration to office is possible or not. If your church or ministry has a leader that has erred, and it is believed restoration is possible, come up with an accountability plan and an action plan of what things must occur for restoration to happen. Additionally, include clear explanation of consequences if the leader should err again.