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Good leaders gone bad: What we can learn from fallen Christians

Peter Demos
Courtesy of Peter Demos

Christian leaders and celebrities falling from grace never becomes less difficult to accept, even as it becomes seemingly more common. In the past 12 months alone, we have learned unpleasant truths about former Hillsong leader Carl Lentz and legendary apologist Ravi Zacharias to name a few of the imperfect Christians in the limelight. Some would even say that the past four years under President Trump have revealed anew how God can use imperfect Believers.

Still, as a former faith skeptic who once, I am ashamed to say, reveled when fallen Christians faced public demise, I am all too familiar with how eager the world is to point to the mistakes of Believers as proof that our faith is null and our God is void.   

It wasn’t until becoming a Christian myself that I realized one of the reasons we don’t fixate on other Christians’ shortcomings perhaps as much as nonbelievers is because we expect imperfection. We understand that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In the spirit of doing unto others as we would have them to do us, we tend to have more grace, because we hope for the same when we fail.

But even as a Believer, it is sometimes easy to slip into the mindset that sins are on a sliding scale. It’s comforting to count our “small” sins of lying or sinning in anger as incomparable to say, theft or sexual misconduct. It’s tempting to discount everything fallen men and women of the faith ever said when we are disappointed by them.

But herein lies the Truth. God uses imperfect people to talk about how the perfect God has transformed our lives. Even, and perhaps especially, those who have committed the sins we would consider big. I think about King David, an adulterer, Paul, a murderer, and Peter, a liar, who all fell incredibly short of Christ’s example, yet continued to repent and try nonetheless. Regardless of the messenger, the message is still the same, and we all have a duty to verify that the people who speak the message are sharing the Truth from the Bible.

There are numerous men and women from the hall of faith known to be flawed to whom I will continue to listen and verify if their messages are Truth based. And as long as what they have to say is biblical and of God’s Word, I will continue to listen to them and learn from their wisdom.

To discount the Truth by looking at the vessel with whom the Truth is presented would be akin to ignoring a doctor’s orders for my health because he practices an unhealthy lifestyle.

Because I follow Jesus, and not Ravi, President Trump, King David or any other imperfect leader, I can learn from their examples and wisdom, noting what God was able to speak through them despite their imperfections. Any individual who can help me follow Jesus more closely is someone from whom I am excited to learn.

Peter Demos is the author of “Afraid to Trust,” restaurateur, president and CEO of Demos’ Brands and Demos Family Kitchen and leadership source expert.

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