A friend recently asked me about how being in the public eye quite often, influences the way I live my life. As flattering as it was to be recognized as a person of some fame, I assure you that I am by no means a famous person. Yet, being exposed to some sort of stage from my early teens, I have had my share of public acknowledgement. And from it, I’ve learned that any form of public exposure, as cool of a status as it may bring, comes with a multitude of responsibilities that at times make the status seem much less cooler than anticipated.
I grew up singing and playing music at church. I learned early on that people paid close attention to the way I lived my life and held me to some standard of perfection. I never signed up for it…but it came included with the exposure. Till this very day, this burden of responsibility shadows my life, and with the growth of my ministry, its magnitude and reach have only multiplied. There are certain times when I am tempted to make a statement on twitter…share a meme on Facebook…or leave a humorous comment on an Instagram photo, but I have hold myself back…not because to do so would be intrinsically wrong, but simply because I feel that my gestures may have the likelihood of negatively influencing those look to my conducts for moral guidance. And I will be honest, there are times when it seems a lot more expedient to trade in my role as a leader for the privilege to live any way I desire, but I have learned time and time again that what I can accomplish via the privilege of leadership is well worth sacrificing the privilege of living with abandon.
On the contrary side, there have been moments when I have done things that were flat-out-wrong…all the while the public watched. There are no more dreaded moments for any leader than these – moments when leaders fail – and I would add, rightfully so, because people’s lives are stake here. Unfortunately, there have been many people who have been hurt – even to the point of losing their confidence in the faith because of such moments.
Perhaps you have been in a situation where you have caught leaders doing or saying something that was questionable…or shunning something they should have regarded. These are all moments when leaders FAIL…and as glaringly significant these events can be in their consequences, just equally significant are our responses to them.
I will ask you this –
If a person loses faith because of the failure of a leader, is his loss of his faith solely the fault of his leader?
I don’t believe so. If it was, I would argue that God wouldn’t have to hold him responsible for losing faith. But so is not the case! I will tell you this – if your spiritual life revolves around your leader, it will only be as viable as your leader’s reputation. Don’t get me wrong, there are many men and women of God that I admire, who help me grow in my walk with God…yet, I have forced myself to face the scenario of what my spiritual life…what my faith would look like, if they failed. I mean what would I do, if they cheated on their spouses…if they did not practice what they preached…if they turned out to be crooks and con-artists…would I still believe what I profess? It all depends on what my spiritual life…what my faith has been founded upon. And I tell you, if it has been founded on my favorite pastor…I’m in for quite a ride.
The truth is that when you said yes to Christ-ianity, you did not say yes to follow the person that delivered you the news of salvation, but the One who was anointed to save you – Jesus The Christ…The Anointed One. And soon after, when you joined a church, you did not join your pastor’s flock, but the flock that your pastor was appointed to care for and oversee. It is important to be reminded that every pastor is only the hired hand watching over Someone Else’s flock…and that, he/she, as a matter of fact, is a member of that flock. Yet, if you do not truly recognize whose flock you belong to, and whom you signed up to follow, you are in for a whelm of confusion and turbulence, should your leaders fail! I want to assure you that if you are a Christian it is because you are following Christ (Matt 16:24). And no matter how much you may love your pastor, know this – you are not his flock for there is only One Shepherd (John 10:11). It’s in the name folks!
The apostle Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Corinthians 11:1.
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” [NKJV]
I find it interesting that Paul beckons his readers to imitate him. I think he would have been applauded well had he said, “imitate Christ…there is not much good in me any way.” But – and I must add, to my great joy – Paul includes himself. Why? I believe this is because Paul realizes that as a Christian – one who follows Christ – He is called to walk perfectly even as Jesus walked. Note that I said as a Christian and not as a leader. All of us who have been made new creations and born-again into the family of God- not just leaders – are called to walk as Jesus walked – as totally unique and peculiar people, royal, holy, and perfect sons and daughters of The Living God (1 Peter 2:9). This is who we are and thus the reason why God demands that we live and walk as such (Eph 4:1). It is having been convinced of this truth that Paul invites his readers to imitate him. If Paul had opted out of encouraging others to imitate him, he would have been doing no less than opting out of the calling He has received from God to walk like Jesus walked. He would have been setting himself up for failure from the get-go! I thank God, he doesn’t do that! Paul instead takes the bold stance to encourage others to imitate him, by doing so, boldly boasting his God-given ability to fulfill the calling that he and all believers have received!
The power in Paul’s statement is two-fold.
1. We were re-created with empowerment to walk like Jesus walked.
2. Paul is not the ultimate leader. Jesus is.
Perfection is not just for leaders. None of us are to fail because our Perfect Example – the One both followers and “leaders” are following does not fail. Yet if your leaders fail, please don’t fret…just keep your eyes on Him. And I do pray that your fallen leaders don’t stay down, but allow The Great Shepherd to pick them up – and just maybe, even peeking though the lens of their failures, you can learn something from your leaders – how to be lifted up by Grace – should you ever fail.