A few years ago I received a call from a man who was an elder at a church in Texas. He called me because he had a situation and wanted some advice. The “situation” was this…

One of their youth ministers had incurred (suddenly) a large data charge on his church paid mobile phone line. When he was confronted and asked for a justification for the large data usage, he confessed that he had been struggling with online porn.

Shoe dropped.

The elder wanted some advice on what to do with the young pastor, specifically in terms of his employment. Now, before I tell you what I said, let me fill you in on a pretty important detail. As it turned out, the young man had approached his senior pastor about his struggle 2 years before this incident. When he did he was basically told to just work on it and “get better.”

No advice.
No care.
No accountability or plan.

Just, well stop doing it 🙂

Back to our story…

So I told the elder that since this guy had previously sought help, and then was honest when he was confronted about this issue, they probably shouldn’t fire him but maybe reassign him for the time being and put him on a short leash. Additionally, they should provide some good accountability and get him some resources, so they could walk him through this process of recovery and restoration.

What happened after all this?

They fired him. 🙄

Which leads me to the point of this article…

If we abandon our own in their time of need when they make mistakes, then why would we expect a culture where open discussions about tough problems like porn, masturbation, and sexual integrity are welcomed and encouraged?

Our lack of grace when it comes to leadership creates leadership environments where perfection is expected and transparency is discouraged. And if our leaders lead this way, then the cultures they steward will take on those same characteristics.

Don’t get me wrong…

Leadership is a privilege and carries with it expectations and standards.

But leaders are still human last time I checked? 🤔

Maybe instead of sending the message that leaders need to be flawless, or they will be replaced, we should communicate something like this…

If you are my leader I expect you to work hard at maintaining a level of excellence and integrity, but more importantly, I expect you to be honest enough to admit it when you feel weak and have integrity to own it when you drop the ball.

I lead an online small group every week for pastors struggling with porn. These guys are not perfect and they readily admit it.

They have good days and bad days.
Periods of victory and moments of failure.

But one thing stands clear; they are always pursuing integrity and have the stones to own it when they fall short and the courage to keep going.

And those are the type of guys I would follow any day.

They get it.
They aren’t perfect.
And they don’t pretend to be.

Ultimately it falls on our leaders to lead and move culture in the direction it needs to go. It’s on them to create places of safety, grace, and encouragement and set the example for the rest of us for what it means to live with a sense of transparency and vulnerability.

But it’s on us to communicate to our leaders that we want to be that place for them as well.

And until we stop eating our own when they fail or show signs of weakness, don’t expect much to change.