When Leaders Fail

When Leaders Fail


We've all seen it happen. We see it in the lives of biblical characters, as well as our daily lives today. Leaders fail.  We've seen them fail morally and ethically.  These are people we respect and look up to.  If it hasn't happened to a leader you know, or someone you're working with, chances are it will.  The question is, how do we respond, how do we move forward?

What causes leaders to fail?

While there are myriads of reasons why leaders fail, I believe when it's boiled down to it's essence it's a flaw in character of which integrity is a key part.  Leadership is about character. Without integrity, leaders can't effectivly lead.

Romans 5:1-5 reminds us that suffering (even in leadership), produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope put in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  For the leader who fails, there is a breakdown in this chain.  More than likely when "suffering" started they tred to handle it on their own.  For whatever reason they felt like they couldn't share it with their community.  So in a way, the community failed as well. By not being as involved as they needed to be in the life of this leader.

But the question still remains, how can we move forward?  How do we respond?

A proper response

For the leader who failed the response needs to be one of repentance. A turning away from what caused their failure and turning back to God.  This means owning this sin and taking responsibility for it.  Without this step, endurance, character, and hope may never be achieved.  This can't and won't happen alone.

For the community the leader is a part of, their response should be one of forgiveness and restoration.  They need to be working with and encouraging this leader in his / her efforts of repentance.  This will take time and patience by all involved.

The fallen leader needs to be pointed to Christ in some specific ways.  They need to know that in Christ they are forgiven of sin (Colossians 1:14). Their sin doesn't define them, or determine their value. They also need to be reminded that they have been empowered by Christ and therefore free from sins grip and can live righteously (Romans 6:20 -23).

What about consequences?

Restoration can mean a lot of things.  In this case the primary kind of restoration needs to be relational.  Between the leader and God.  Between the leader and the community.  But what about the restoration of position as a leader?  For me, here is where it gets tricky, and I struggle.  Moses was forbidden from entering the promise land.  David was not allowed to build God's temple.  On the other hand, Peter denied Christ 3 times and was restored to lead the New Testament Church.  Some won't be restored to certain privileges but all can be restored where it matters most;  love covers a multitude of sins (James 5:20 and 1 Peter 4:8).

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