Sometimes leadership is less about where we’re going and more about where we stand. At some point, you will inevitably have a leader under your care who gets caught in or confesses an area of sinful behavior. The temptation (and most common way of dealing with this) is to remove them from ministry until they clean up their act. The problem is, alienation breeds secrecy and secrecy is where sin flourishes. If we want to see people healed of the shame and wrong thinking that manifests in these behaviors, we must be willing to stand with them in their struggle. Obviously, there are situations and behaviors that pose a tangible danger to themselves or others that may require distance or removal from a given ministry area. Outside that, however, I would encourage you to consider experimenting with a different way of treating revealed sinful behavior.
- Affirm them in confessing their sin even if they didn’t have much choice. The source of sin can only be sought out in relationship.
- Offer yourself as a source of community and friendship in their journey of seeking out the source and healing of their sin.
- Tell them you do not have answers (even if you think you do) and you are willing to listen and not try to fix them.
- Above all, let them know that you are there for them and will stand with them no matter what the outcome and no matter how long the process takes (If you are not already, get acquainted with the difference between acceptance and approval).
I believe the measure of a strong leader is their willingness to stand with someone who is exposed in their brokenness. I also believe that just one person who will stay with you in the journey can make up for many of the people who suddenly disappear when life gets hard. The great value of a layered church leadership (leaders, coordinators, staff, pastors) is that you can offer to stand with anyone in your area of ministry in this way and know that there is someone behind you who will help you not become overwhelmed or beat down in the process.