The Climb

Posted: October 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

As followers of Jesus Christ we all know the deep pain of watching a beloved leader fall. What’s more, is we know the anger that comes when that fall seems to stem from blatant hypocrisy. In most cases this is because the given leader has lived a duplicitous life, putting up a facade as if they have it all together. In some ways this is understandable. As a leader I identify deeply with the pressure to please, and to conform to people’s expectations or perceptions; so how do we as leaders protect ourselves from this?

The Bible is amazing. No I’m serious. I’ve read through the Scriptures many times over the years, and it never fails that something new will grab my attention, no matter how familiar I am with a given passage. So I shouldn’t have been surprised this week, that as I was praying I Timothy 4:15 over my life (as I do several times a week) that a phrase jumped out at me. Paul tells Timothy to, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” It’s that last line that grabbed me- so that all may see your progress. Here Paul is talking to a pastor, a leader of the church of Jesus Christ at Ephesus, and he tells him to keep progressing!

There’s an unwritten rule that so many leaders have tried to live by- come across as if you have arrived. Be the standard for maturity. Hide your faults. Part of the reason why so many leaders go down this path is because the people who follow us put us there. It’s hard to come off the high horse people put you on. Yet Paul’s words to Timothy is to refuse any notion of being perfect. The fact that Paul tells Timothy to not only progress, but to do so in a manner that everyone sees it, suggests that we leaders are to present ourselves as fellow travelers who have faults and blemishes just like those we lead. Like them, we need to be progressing, growing and maturing…always.

Putting our deficiencies on display, and being vulnerable with ourselves and the people who follow us will promote the following:

1. It will protect the sheep from spiritual devastation when the leader fails. If I have been open with my shortcomings, refusing to hide them, the people will be less prone to idolize me. So if I fail, and God forbid, the less likely are the people to be struck a severe blow that will cause them to leave the church or question the faith.

2. Humility. Speaking openly about my deficiencies, and being upfront will better position me to walk in humility instead of pride.

3. It stimulates vulnerability among the people I lead. Followers mimic the example of their leaders. When the leader is vulnerable and authentic, so will they be.

  1. Cedric says:

    Yes sir! As we intentionally progress in our faith walk, we should be careful not to make spiritual progress our idol. Let it not be personally said of me or you what was said of the Church of Ephesus: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars, and you have persevered and have patience and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…”

  2. EB says:

    I was just mentioning the other day that I appreciate how you and the other pastors are honest with us regarding your struggles. Shortcomings of a Christian were not something that was often shared through my upbringing. I have to admit that I’d often felt as though I should have “arrived” by now. There’s so much more to learn, however, and I’m seeing how God is my strength in each of my weak moments. I see how He’s teaching me during those times, and of course, I can’t help but share that with others.

    And you’re right, the fact that you all share, encourages me to confide in those who seek to walk and pray with me and to hold me accountable to continue struggling and not give into portraying a facade.

  3. Angela Foster says:

    So true. This is a perspective that is missing among many Church leaders. If a pastor does not admit his faults, he will try to hide them. The followers will also not have unrealistic expectations for themselves. Well said.

  4. Adriane Hopper says:

    This is a great blog first of all…thank you for announcing it on facebook or else I wouldn’t have found it.
    Okay, as for the idea of sharing your faults as a leader, I think this is very important, however I think it is something that can’t be done without careful forethought. What the leader does, others may think it is okay to mimic, or get away with, b/c if he/she can live with that struggle and be fine, then so can I. It would be important for the leader to walk the congregation through what has happened as a result of this wrong action or sinful behavior. When they hear about the “spiritual reaction” to their leader’s wrong action, then it may deter them from the same behaviors. I don’t think it’s okay to just say this is my struggle, I’m human, and I hate that I “disappoint God” in this way. Anyway, just my thoughts…
    I love this blog…did I say that???

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