Another one bites the dust

I have seen it play out so many times over the last fifty years.  Another godly, gifted, and impactful Christian leader confesses after being confronted with a moral lapse that disqualified him/her for ministry.  Too many gifted leaders suffer debilitating moral injuries after they achieve success by choosing to walk into a moral morass.  During the last few years, I have written three blogs on this topic: two dealing with the very slow, almost imperceptible change that happens in the lives of leaders and one on “Don’t write a book until you are 50”. 

Unfortunately, moral failure isn’t an isolated incident. So many leaders, authors, singers, and speakers achieve fame only to abdicate their influence through various choices they make.  Given their position of influence, their decisions to violate Biblical principles in financial, sexual, spiritual, organizational, or relational areas have significant implications.  By the choices they make, they forfeit their influence for a brief and momentary pleasure.

I have had two of my personal mentors fall morally through affairs.  Neither of them ever fully recovered their impact in ministry. One of them was so candid that he told me a few years after his fall that I was just like him.  I was shocked when he said it. I can remember starting to sweat when he said it.  He was right! I do possess some of the same footholds that he had. 

So, I am fully aware of my own humanness and accompanying sinfulness.  I could make some of the same choices these leaders have made!  I am as capable of sin as anyone.  And so I demonstrate grace in my dealing with each of these individuals.  It is in grace and love I seek to encourage, speak truthful and helpful words, and build up these individuals as they pursue repentance and restoration.  As they continue to walk within Christ’s forgiveness as a part of his body, I will stand by their side. 

The struggle I have, then, is that in the midst of grace and forgiveness, there are consequences to all our decisions.  The really good news is that the Father in heaven has saved us from the ultimate consequence of our sin (choices) through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross on our behalf.  Unfortunately, we are often not spared the consequences of sin which so naturally results from such decisions.  Over my lifetime, I have personally witnessed:

  • the heart, soul and mind of the individual is deeply and permanently scarred through months or years of deception,
  • spouses suffer incalculable trauma as trust crumbles,
  • the children also experience significant emotional pain with which they may wrestle through much of their lives,
  • dynamic churches and organizations lose their credibility, impact, and the missional emphasis fades into oblivion,
  • innocent people lose their confidence in Christian leadership, and
  • many people seem to lose the moorings of their faith.

The struggle is how do I see grace, love, and forgiveness amid these consequences?  My struggle is not easily reconciled within. I see people reconcile this in their lives by tending toward one extreme or the other. Some people come to be self-righteous, rigid, and judgmental; while others deny any real consequence of sin and become character chameleons by adapting to any moral standard that feels good.  The tension for me has never been resolved.  I have had to learn to lead with a limp.  Like Jacob in the OT (Genesis 32.22-32), who struggled with God and lived with a limp the rest of his life, I too, wrestle with God over this real tension of grace and consequences. And therefore, I lead with a limp.

I am continually reminded of my own sinfulness, and yet I realize that our walk with Christ is not a spectator sport.  Unlike watching our screens or even dealing with subjects like physics, chemistry, or psychology, the Kingdom of God is NOT something we can evaluate, research, and teach outside of ourselves.  The Kingdom of God must be experienced personally, viscerally, and eternally.  One can write a book, sing a song, or lead an organization that deals with most subjects in life without personally experiencing it.  We see it all the time. 

However, in God’s Kingdom, celebrities are best when they are heroes who continue to walk in the presence of Christ.  Their lives are centered upon Christ at such a depth and over such a time that personal transformation continues deeply through and despite their influence and fame. They are NOT writing, singing, or influencing others about Christ, but literally, they are being transformed in Christ.  They are continually driven to their knees in humility and deep into their heart, soul, and mind through intimacy and conformity with Christ. 

I have come to believe that as we are growing in Christ and in our impact, it is easy to influence others through what we are learning rather than focusing on being personally transformed through a humble heart.  For my life to be transformed, the process must be invasive in every area of my life over a long period of time. Spectators can be influencers by sharing information, but Kingdom heroes are those whose lives remain being transformed, not being informed. Influencers in the faith are not necessarily Heroes of the faith. There is a big difference in the Kingdom of God between celebrities and heroes. 

Heroes of the faith that last are those who follow the prophet Micah’s words (6.8),

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

These qualities won’t necessarily show through our gifts, but through the way the Spirit encompasses every dimension of our lives. To this we will turn next week.






4 responses to “Another one bites the dust”

  1. Scott Evans Avatar
    Scott Evans

    Thank you Greg for being so supportive and understanding and encouraging and one of my Heroes!

    1. Gregory Wiens Avatar
      Gregory Wiens

      Still learning and still growing…

  2. Brent Fink Avatar
    Brent Fink

    “Spectators can be influencers by sharing information, but Kingdom heroes are those whose lives remain being transformed, not being informed. Influencers in the faith are not necessarily Heroes of the faith. There is a big difference in the Kingdom of God between celebrities and heroes.”

    Wow! Powerful!
    Thank you – from a leader that leans too heavily on information.

    1. Greg Wiens Avatar
      Greg Wiens

      I think we all do Brent…that is why it was as much self confession as throwing stones at others 🙂

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