I believe one area of leadership we don’t talk enough about is how leaders should handle personal sin and failure due to sin. We often wait until leaders sin to the point where they are disqualified, then we talk about what they should do. They should step down. They should be fired. They need to get help. But we never talk about what they should do to handle the sin before it gets to the point they are disqualified. I believe there are a few reasons for this problem. First, leaders don’t always like talking about their sin. As a leader, you don’t want people to see your flaws and struggle because your their leader. This is a terrible attitude, but we often have it as leaders. Second, if a leader does talk about his sin, he will be judged and condemned. That might be a strong statement, but often times when leaders confess sin and ask for help they don’t receive the loving support and help we are told to give in Galatians 6:1.
As leaders, we are sinners just like the people we lead. If you’re a pastor, you’re a sinner just like the people in your congregation. Student pastors, you are a sinner just like the students that make up your student ministry. Leaders, we will sin and struggle with sin, but we need to learn how to handle it so it doesn’t destroy us to the point of having to leave our leadership position. Here are three things leaders can do to handle personal sin in their life.
1. Confess and repent quickly. This may seem simple, but when we sin we often get so discouraged and down on ourselves we forget God told us to confess our sin to Him and He will forgive us (1 John 1:9). In his book Doctrine, Mark Driscoll reminds us that repentance is a gift to the Christian. Because of Christ and his payment for our sin on the cross, we have the privilege to confess and repent of sin! Christian leader, don’t stay down and discouraged when you sin, confess and repent of it quickly! God will forgive you and your fellowship will be restored the moment you confess! This doesn’t mean that you will not feel broken, we should feel broken over our sin. But remember Christ already paid for every single sin you will ever commit on the cross. Confess, repent, and get back up!
2. Seek out accountability. This is huge! We often shy away from this as leaders because we don’t want to reveal our sin to someone else and naturally as sinners we don’t want to be accountable to someone. But as leaders, we must have accountability set up in our life’s. Don’t stop at confessing and repenting when you sin, get help and be accountable to someone. Leaders, you need someone in your life asking you the “hard questions” and asking how you’re doing personally in your walk with God. The leader who does not have accountability in their life are asking for the enemy and their flesh to destroy their leadership position. When you sin, confess, repent quickly, get back up, and find some accountability!
3. Use your sin to encourage others. I am not saying share all your struggles when you stand up to preach or teach, but what I am saying is that when it is helpful and appropriate encourage others by your struggle with sin. Encourage others to confess and repent as you confess and repent. Encourage others to seek out accountability as you seek out accountability. The people we minister to need to know their leader is a real person who has real struggles. In Psalm 51 David confesses his sin to God. In verse 13 he says, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways…” After he has confessed and repented of his sin, David says he will then turn and teach others no to sin! J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church, said, “God can take the sins of our kingdom and use them in great ways in His kingdom.”
Leader, you will sin and will blow it at times. If you have fallen morally you may lose your position because God is clear in His Word that there are some sins that will disqualify a leader. But you WILL NEVER loose your relationship with Him! Deal with your sin before it costs you your position.
A book I would recommend on this subject would be Failing Forward by John Maxwell. In this book he explains how as a leader you can fail, but fail forward in a way that will help you as a leader. Also, if your a leader, you need to check out Perry Nobles blog for some great thoughts on leadership.