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The Failure of Christian Leadership

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

In this video from Gospel Coalition Pastor John Piper speaks to the collapse of Mars Hill Church (which took place several years ago) and church leadership failure in general.

(John Piper makes the point we are all letting Jesus down regularly. This should humble us

before Christ and inspire us to go prayerfully before him in repentance.)

In our time the failure and sin of Christian leaders seems to be rampant. It disappoints and tarnishes our witness to the world. Yet we are not in a unique situation. The 24 hour news cycle amplifies everyone’s failures a hundred times.

Christian leaders are sinners and although they should, or it seems so to us live by a higher standard than the rest of us they have feet of clay as well. Temptations for leaders are as real as they are for the rest of us, but the consequences are much more severe.

The fact is immorality of leaders has been a reality among God’s people for as long as God has had a people.

Here is the sad consequence in that people are not punished for their pastor’s sin. But when a leader, preacher, teacher, writer, coach, parent, any role role model — lives and leads under the influence of secret/unrepentant sin, inevitably someone will follow him into that sin.

Nothing remains hidden. Proverbs 28:13 “If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy.”

Faithfulness, holiness, purity are priorities for all believers in Jesus Christ, but especially for Christian leaders. The problem becomes as a leader in your church, small group, family, when you allow sin to live in you, it eventually will infect those who respect and admire you. You cannot hide your sin as you pour yourself into others through sermons or influence.

As followers and friends of our leadership we must treasure faithfulness, holiness, and purity. Pray for your pastor’s purity and character. Commend and appreciate your pastor’s character when you see it at work. Learn to cultivate it among aspiring leaders, future pastors, elders, fathers/mothers, and young people.

God gives us constant grace that saves wretched sinners like you and I. That grace will slowly but surely make us all pure and whole again.

The failure of a leader’s ministry does not signal the collapse of Christ’s church. No, not even hell can prevail against her. Matthew 16:18 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

God is not thrown into crisis with a scandal, he is still sovereign. Yet we should use the moment to assess ourselves and our dependence on God for the grace to live worthy and honoring of God.

Philippians 2:12-13

Lights in the World

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.


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