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July 2010

When church leadership "falls," pt 4

In the previous posts on this topic I presented the following thoughts.

  1. We are a part of each other and are all responsible for our service to each other and the results of that service. God has graced some people as leaders and they are gifts to the body of Christ as well as being a part of the body of Christ. We are all sheep in God's pasture. And we will all have to give an account of our service to each other as well as the results of that service. (from part 1)
  2. It is important to grow in wisdom and understanding and to seek God on what he is doing at any time when we are making decisions. And this is especially important when leadership falls into "sin." It may be that the problem is with the church in general and God is just giving the church an example of repentance and humility because the church is not walking in repentance and humility. (from part 2)
  3. Jesus dealt with the Pharisees the way he did because they answered to him. The Pharisees were taking care of a vineyard that belonged to Jesus and his Father in heaven. Members of a church cannot deal with people in leadership this way. They don't answer to us. They are not accountable to us. And they are still in a place of authority. (from part 3)
  4. Jesus made it clear that our relationships with him and the Godhead are personal and independent of leadership. That does not mean we are not under authority or that we don't honor those in leadership (and each other). We must maintain a servant's heart, realizing that we are accountable for how we bear the fruit of the Spirit and how we walk in wisdom regardless of what our leadership goes through. (from part 3)

All of this is to help us grow in wisdom and to mature as the body of Christ. There are times when leadership falls and needs restoration just as we do. There are times when leadership falls and we need to be the ones repenting. There are times when leadership falls and needs to be replaced. In any of these situations wisdom and maturity in the Spirit will help maintain unity and peace in the church.

The last thing I want to address is grieving. For many people there is a deep sense of loss when leadership falls. There is very real grief and a time of grieving. This means there will be a lot of different emotions; strong emotions. Grief counselors often talk about the stages of grief. One model includes: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Kubler-Ross). We may not go through all of these emotions and not go through them in any specific order. We may bounce around. But when we feel loss we experience strong emotions. And strong emotions can work against us.

If we are in denial we may not be willing to face a real problem in the church. If we become angry we could become critical and judgmental. We may start bargaining to avoid any change in the church when God is in fact changing something. We may become depressed and just walk away from what God is doing. And we may accept a loss that God does not want us to accept but rather restore.

When problems arise with leadership the church members will experience strong emotions. That is a part of us. But if we are growing in wisdom and maturity in the Spirit when things are good then we will have a foundation to help us when problems arise and our emotions rise up. 

Hebrews 2:5-9
 5It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6But there is a place where someone has testified:
   "What is man that you are mindful of him,
      the son of man that you care for him?
 7You made him a little lower than the angels;
      you crowned him with glory and honor
    8 and put everything under his feet."

    In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

1 Corinthians 3:21b-23
All things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

All things are yours. Be filled with faith. Keep your peace, keep your unity.