3 Ways to Handle Personal Sin as a Leader

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.

Why I Am Studying Leadership in Seminary

In a few weeks I will start my first set of seminary classes with Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. I will be working on a Master’s of Art in Religion with a specialization in Christian Leadership. As I was praying and planning for seminary I knew I wanted to pursue a Master’s of Arts in Religion degree, but was not sure what I wanted to specialize in. Liberty allows you to choose a specific specialization when you take the Master’s of Arts in Religion. With so many to choose from I was torn between discipleship and leadership because I know they both will be important in life-long ministry. My undergrad youth professor, Shean Phillps, took the discipleship classes at Liberty and implemented several of the books and things in our undergrad youth classes. Because of this I decided to go with the specialization in leadership.

A few weeks ago I was playing golf with some of my friends and my friend Mark asked my why I decided to specialize in Christian leadership in seminary. A few others have asked me the same thing so I decided to share the two main reasons I feel God has directed me to specialize in Christian leadership in seminary.

Everything rises and falls in leadership. I have heard this saying many times and believe it is extremely true. I believe that a successful ministry can always be traced back to good leadership. Show me a growing, dynamic church and I will show you a good leader. Show me a growing, dynamic student ministry and I will show you a good leader. The church today is in need of well-trained, wise, and Biblical leaders! Most ministries fall apart because of poor leadership. I have also heard it said that if you want to measure the spiritual temperature of a church or a student ministry than measure the spiritual temperature of its leaders. The spiritual temperature of the leaders will dictate the spiritual temperature of the people under them.

I believe God has gifted me and equipped me to work in a large church setting. I am encouraged by mega-churches who are doing it right and hope one day I can serve in a large church. One of my mentors, Brian Baker, has pointed out this gifting and equipping in my life as well. I doubt I will land a ministry job in a large church at first since I’m fresh out of college, but believe I will one day in the future. In larger church, leadership is huge! That is one reason I am specializing in Christian leadership. When you lead a ministry, for example a student ministry since that is what I am pursuing, you spend more time training and building a leadership team rather than you alone focusing on the students. In the book The Greenhouse Project, Ric Garland, the director of Word of Life Local Church Ministry, says that one person can only effectively disciple five to six people. In a large church, a student pastor cannot disciple each student. He must train leaders and build a leadership team to carrying out his passion and desire for student ministry.

You are a leader everywhere. John Maxwell says leadership is influence. Wherever you effectively influence people, you are a leader. I know God has called me to be a leader in the local church, but also know God has called me to be a leader to my wife, children, and anything else He decides to put me over. I believe my study of Christian leadership in seminary will help me be a Godly, Biblical leader inside and outside the local church. In a culture where leaders are falling left and right due to immorality and lack of character, we need good leaders. The church needs them. The world needs them. Our culture desperately needs them!

These are two of the main reasons I feel like God has directed me to specialize in Christian leadership in seminary. At the end of this degree I have the option of rolling it into a M.Div. (Master’s of Divinity) and getting that degree as well. I am not sure if I will do this because I’m not sure what my life will look like in a few years. Either way, I am grateful for the undergrad education God has allowed me to receive and privileged to be able to work on a Master’s for the next few years.

Recommended Leadership Resources

I decided to add a new category of blogs called “Leadership.” I have a deep desire to become a better leader and I believe the church is in desperate need of good Biblical leaders. I am actually starting a master’s degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary this January in the area of Christian leadership. You don’t have to pursue a degree to become a better leader, but you do have to take the time to learn and studying the idea of leadership. I wanted to share three leadership resources that have helped me in the area of leadership and I believe they can help you too.

The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. This by far is one of the best leadership podcast I have ever listened to. They update it about once every few weeks and every podcast is extremely helpful in the area of leadership. What is really good about this leadership podcast is that it does not focus only on local church leadership. Many leadership podcasts deal with leadership within the church, but this one does not. We need good Christian leadership in “secular” circles and workplaces as much as we need them in the church. If you are a Christian and are in leadership in a “secular” circle I would highly recommend this podcast for you. You can go here to download this podcast.

Perry Noble Leadership Podcast. For some of you the moment you read the name “Perry Noble” you already shot this resource down. I understand Perry Noble and Newspring Church has done some things many of you would not, but that does not mean God is not using Perry Noble and his church to advance God’s kingdom. We can learn something from everybody, even people who use different methods than we do. Please don’t turn this great resource down because you don’t agree with Perry Noble. I have been listening to this podcast every month when they update it and every time God uses it to teach me more about Biblical leadership. This podcast focuses more on leadership within the local church so I highly recommend this podcast to anyone in local church leadership. Out of all the three resources I am sharing in this blog, this is the top one for me. You can download this podcast here.

Minute with Maxwell. I came across this leadership resource a few days ago and so far it has been extremely beneficial. This resources is a daily e-mail that contains a one-minute video of John Maxwell sharing a leadership principle with you. I subscribe about five days ago and so far every “Minute with Maxwell” has been very helpful. This is a great source for leaders both within the local church and outside the local church. The fact that this is a John Maxwell resource should be enough for you to jump on it! You can go here to subscribe and start to receive your daily “Minute with Maxwell.”

I recommend that you at least start using one of these resources to help you become a better leader. Our churches, our world, and our families need good, BIblical leaders. God has and will use these resources to help us become those Biblical leaders this world needs.

Refuel Innovate Church Conference 2011

Yesterday I had the privilege to attend the first day of the Refuel Innovate Church Conference at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. I saw this conference online a few months ago and thought it looked real good, but wasn’t planning on attending. I was planning on traveling up to Ohio for a week to visit my girlfriends family with her so we decided that on the way to Ohio we would stop at Refuel for the first day of the conference. I am so glad we did because God used the first day of the conferences yesterday in my life in great ways! I try to enjoy, but also think critically of every conference I go to so I can either encourage or discourage someone to go to the same conference and know enough about the conference to spread the word if it’s a good one. So I will try and cover some important areas here so hopefully this post will help you consider attending Refuel in the years to come.

Speakers: The speakers were great! Because it was put on by Thomas Road and Jonathan Falwell they had a strong pull to probably get any big time speaker they wanted. The speaker line up was John Maxwell, Ed Stetzer, Steven Furtick, Jonathan Falwell, Ron Luce, Johnny Hunt, Jud Wilhit, and Tom Mullins. Since I only attended the first day of the conference I only got to hear John Maxwell, Ed Stetzer, and Steven Furtick. All three of these speakers did a great job at sharing their hearts about ministry and leadership as well as preach the Word of God faithfully and powerfully. Maxwell spoke about having a “life list” where you put various things down on a list that you focus on doing, or being, daily. Ed Stetzer spoke on ministry idolatry which was extremely convicting as he spoke on how ministry becomes an idol many times. Steven Furtick, with all his passion and heart, spoke about believing God to accomplish the dream and vision He has given you. As far as the conference goes, the speakers where the best I have heard in a long time. If your looking for a conference with great speakers this conference is for you. I give this conference a 10 out of 10 for speakers.

Schedule: This is the only part of the conference I did not enjoy. Refuel was scheduled like this: two main sessions, roundtable lunch workshops, then two more main sessions. The second day was going to scheduled the same way except for the lunch workshops. I would have liked to have one main session in the morning then throughout the day have various workshops on different topics or issues in ministry. This is how most of the conferences I have been to have been set up and I enjoyed it very much. The Simply Youth Ministry Conference, which I would suggest for all youth pastors and youth workers, that I have attended for three years is like this. The day starts with a main sessions then you have fifty plus workshops and tracks to choose from to enjoy throughout the day and then the day closes with another main sessions. Now I understand of the smaller size and less speakers at Refuel, that keeps them from scheduling it this way, but more workshops would have been better than just main session after main session. Because of the world class speakers the main sessions back to back was not that bad and it was still enjoyable. I give this conference a 8 out of 10 for the scheduling.

Location and Facilities: You could have not asked for a better place for this conference. The campus of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University has been one of the best places I have ever seen for a big conference like this one. The main sessions were held in the worship center of Thomas Road and the that place is extremely comfortable. The seats have to be the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in within a worship center. Main street is what Thomas Road calls the area outside the worship center and that holds their coffee shop, book store, bathrooms, kids area, and more. Each speaker had their books out on main street at a booth for sale as well as different organizations such as Liberty University, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, World Help, and more had their booths set up. The facilities of Thomas Road are top notch and made it a perfect place to hold this conference. I give this conference a 10 out of 10 for location and facilities.

Price: The price of this conference was perfect for all that it included. If you registered before April 19th you only had to pay $49 and then if you waited until conference you was paying $59. For the speakers, free conference materials, and lunch this is pretty good. Since I am a college student I was able to go for the college student rate of $15! I give this conference a 9 out of 10 for the price.

Overall I would highly suggest this conference for all church leaders both full-time and lay leaders. I hope I can attend this conference again in the future and I’m sure it will only get better and better each year. I hope this short review of the conference might help you decided if you would attend in a future year or not.