Another One Bites the Dust

What You Can Learn From a Fallen Leader

Another popular evangelical leader has fallen. Admitting his marital infidelity and his wife’s affair, he resigned from the pastoral position of a high-profile Florida church and his own complimentary ministry. Last week it was announced that he and his wife are divorcing, the marriage apparently beyond repair.

Poor Reactions
In reading about these sad events, I fight two unworthy reactions that surface within me. I want to say, “I told you so” to people who follow this kind of leader because he speaks well, looks good, is popular, knows the Bible, and looks “successful.” I also want to become a sceptic who criticizes any leader of a large church who gathers a following through his teaching, writing, and charisma. I need to battle these two urges which I am struggling to do.

Better Responses
What are more worthy and profitable responses? I think there are two that go deeper into each of our souls.

  • It is good to be sad. It breaks your heart to see the damage that the flesh and Satan can do to a person. Yes. Every human being is broken and weak. It is sad that we are so proud and so vulnerable at the same time. Be saddened by the damage done to people’s view of Christianity as a result of public sin. Don’t condemn. Weep for the sin and brokenness surrounding you.
  • It is good to be scared. You can fall! I’ve always thought that if I were to morally fall in sin, it would be over a sexual issue. If it can happen to this Florida pastor, it can definitely happen to me and you, too. Though I often live in ignorant bliss, I do know there are sinful passions that lurk deep within me. I know something about the weakness of my own will. I know how my pride blinds me to the truth about myself. I know about the godless, sensual culture that wants to destroy me. I am frightened about myself. I don’t trust me. Do you relate to my struggle? Do you share similar concerns about yourself? It is good to recognize how weak we really are.

Few Answers
At this point, I’m supposed to offer bits of wisdom to help you become affair proof. Here’s where I provide you with methods that would keep your marriage strong and alive so Satan can’t make inroads. Or, a trick or two to keep yourself pure and morally clean. Maybe someday I can do that. But for now, I can only say this:

  1. Don’t fool yourself. You’re in trouble already! If you think you can live in this culture and not be affected by it, you’re in deep do-do. You are not strong enough to ward off the power of your own flesh nor that of the evil one. Do you live as if you yourself have the power to fight? Do you see yourself as knowledgable, wise, experienced, and careful enough? If so, you’re foolish. Instead, do whatever it takes to guard your heart in God. Pretty little white-picket-fence programs won’t do it. Catchy little cliches or thought games are not enough. You can’t win this battle by living in your head. The Florida pastor thought he could – with right theology and enough Bible knowledge. But, your heart must change for out of it come the issues of life.
  2. Don’t underestimate the Trinity. “Come to Me,” Jesus says. But you run to books, psychologists, friends, recreation, or substances to deal with your inner darkness. There’s a place for some of these. Yet, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…and those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5.22-24). But you and I hardly give Jesus Christ and the Spirit the time of day. The very One-in-Three who can work in you and me giving us the energy we need to battle our flesh and Satan, we ignore. Healing of your soul happens as you intentionally walk a transformational journey with the Father, Son, and Spirit. You become like the One’s you “hang around with.”  Let the Trinity do their energizing and healing work in you.

So here’ s a take-away for you: You need to get single-mindedly relentless about changing your heart. If you don’t, the results may be disastrous.

Write down one area of your life where you know you’re vulnerable to the flesh and Satan. Seriously pray and ask God to help you change your heart. Then, start doing battle in this arena. With your cooperation, God will help you struggle. Stay tuned to future blog messages for help.

Dr. K

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

7 thoughts on “Another One Bites the Dust

  1. Feeling blessed about my 17 years of marriage. Stories like this serve to remind me to not take my wife or marriage for granted.

  2. Hey Keith,

    Great thoughts. To your first point of being sad, it reminds me of the prayer of St Nikolai Velimirovic: “For all the history of mankind from Adam to me, a sinner, I repent; for all history is in my blood. For I am Adam in Adam and Adam is in me.”

    Regarding a later point of not fooling ourselves, I’m reading a book by Fr Zacharias in which he says the way ‘up,’ the way of pride, is the way of Satan. Satan is full of pride and looks for others on the same path that he might both encourage to become more prideful and yet also accuse.

    On the other hand, the way of Christ is down into hell (Christ descended into hades…1Peter 3:18-19) then up into heaven. If our path is to be that of Christ’s, then we, too, must descend into hell…to continuously remind ourselves that we are deserving of hell and by the grace of God we are saved (brought “up”). Fr Zacharias contends that if we are always going “down,” then Satan has no interest in us and will leave us alone.

    Sadly, there are many areas in my life in which I’m still trying to go up…

  3. great post reminds of a quote the best of men are men are best , and we as men sexual sin is almost always are greatest danger. I think of the cult leaders which is about controlling the woman and in james jones case the men and the woman

  4. I want to explore your idea of being scared. I often find myself ready to fight, to work, to make plans and strategies and to “get better.” In all that, I try to press fear away–because I find it crippling.

    Perhaps there are two (or more) kinds of fear: the kind that loads us down until we collapse and the kind that leads us to tread forward with caution into uncertain waters. Maybe they’re only semantically different. But it seems that fear, anxiety, and depression filter in when I think of my own brokenness. And that can crush me. Somewhere in me, I need to know there’s hope, and in my past, my hope has been hamstrung by fear, particularly fear that I would be abandoned by those I loved if I didn’t get better fast enough…whatever that means.

    So it makes sense what you say: we should be (some amount of ) afraid. But how do we keep from overcorrecting into despair? What is the correct amount of afraid?

    Thanks, Dr. K.
    -JD

    • Hey Josh,
      Good thoughts. I use the word “scared” to differentiate what you are calling a “crippling fear” which, of course, is always unhealthy. By being scared, I move forward cautiously (as you described in your second kind of fear) realizing something bad could happen. Yet, I still move forward. I think this is a better response than dismissing the message of this example as if “this will never happen to me.” Despair would happen only as we completely ignore my last point – the power and wisdom given to us in our relationship with the Trinity. Our hope lies there!

      Good stuff! Keith

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