I’m not going to name any names here, but you’ve certainly seen the stories. With painful regularity yet another preacher gets caught in a scandal. Donated funds have been diverted to personal use. An inappropriate sexual relationship is discovered. The “ministry” has become focused on someone’s personality rather than God’s work.

One more of God’s servants has fallen to the lure of the gold, the girls, or the glory.

And God’s enemy rejoices.

When you think about it, it’s a wonder God entrusts any of us human beings to be His messengers. We’ve messed things up ever since the days of Adam and Eve. The fact that the gospel is such an enduring and ever-expanding force in this world is a testament to IT’S power, not to that of the very earthen vessels it’s carried in. (See Rom 1:16, 2 Cor 4:7) As Joyce Meyer has said, we’re nothing but cracked pots!

We all sin. But when a person in Christian leadership breaks trust with a “big sin,” the larger damage to the Kingdom of God is the issue. It’s not that one thing is any harder for God to forgive than another: it’s that the impact on so many others becomes important.

Thank God for those who live with integrity over the long haul. Thank God for those who refuse to do anything that would bring dishonor on His church. Thank God that there are those who demonstrate day after day, year after year, that His grace is sufficient to keep one from falling.

No one can deem themselves automatically immune from the pull of financial gain, sexual indulgence, or worldly fame. There are at least three important things any potential leader must do to move through public life with any integrity.

  1. Live in the Sunlight. Don’t keep anything in the dark. Old habits, addictions, family-of-origin issues, sexual desires – all must be dealt with fearlessly. That doesn’t mean airing dirty laundry in public, but it does mean he or she must be ruthless in addressing all these issues, or any others that arise. Sweeping dirt under the rug eventually creates a big enough pile that everyone else can see it. The only solution is to sweep the dirt out regularly.
  2. Don’t isolate. There is safety in community. Christian leaders, especially, who have no one to hold them accountable are in real danger. Every pastor needs a pastor. Every leader needs a small group of others who can ask him/her the tough questions and point out blind spots.
  3. Stay close to God. It may seem obvious that church leaders spend time with God regularly, hear His voice, and follow His leading. That’s the way it SHOULD be. But sometimes busyness takes over. When anyone, especially a leader, becomes too busy with God’s work to spend the necessary time caring for his/her own soul, it’s only a matter of time before problems develop.

Being a Christian leader at any level – from deacon or Sunday school teacher to mega-church pastor – brings a special level of responsibility. If that’s you, resolve to remain free from the gold, the girls, and the glory.

And the most important way to do that is to stay on your knees.

Your Turn: What do you think is the most important factor in living a life of integrity, especially for a leader? Leave a comment below. 

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