When Leaders Fail
Does the failure of leaders in the Church prove that our faith is false? Today we meet leaders who failed and what God did about it.
And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” Numbers 20:12
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! Mark 7:8-9
In both readings today, we find grievous examples of leaders abusing or misusing their authority for personal advantage. Some who criticize biblical faith will point this out as evidence that our faith is erroneous because some characters in Scripture were inconsistent and hypocritical.
Moses failed as a leader by using God’s power to gain glory for himself. In striking the rock to bring water for the people, he failed to show that it was God’s work and he took the credit due to God. He paid the price of dying before the nation was able to go into the Promised Land.
Jesus condemned the Pharisees who, though they were highly esteemed for strict adherence to the law, created a legal loophole in order to avoid fulfilling their financial responsibilities to their parents. He told them they put their traditions above God’s law.
Think about it
All leaders are sinners, including Christian leaders. This does not mean they should not be respected and followed when they lead us in God’s ways. It does mean they need God’s grace and mercy just as much as other believers who have less visibility and prominence. James warned would-be teachers that they will be subject to stricter judgment (James 3:1-2). The fact that all Christian leaders sometimes fail to measure up to God’s standards and a few leaders fail grievously does not negate the truth of the gospel which announces that we are only saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Support godly leaders through prayer, proper respect, and encouragement, but do not follow them blindly. They are able to err, and they may at times need to receive correction from those who follow them. Never assume any mantle of leadership lightly. If you are a leader, be mindful of your responsibility before God.