I’ll never forget the day I heard Stephen Arterburn, Christian Psychologist and leader of New Life Ministries, recount in painstaking detail how he encouraged and paid for his girlfriend’s abortion. And how that deadened his soul. And took years to recover from. And how hard it was to ultimately accept God’s forgiveness.
It wasn’t unlike the time I heard Max Lucado share his struggle and ultimate victory over alcohol.
One of the oddest things a first-time reader to the Bible encounters is how more than 50% of the Old Testament Law (the first five books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) is nothing more than painful stories of human brokenness. You can just picture the average first-time reader’s response, “This is supposed to be a collection of laws. Why are there a bunch of sordid stories?”
I can only assume that the reason this is the case is because nothing teaches a principle better than a story, lived out, with skin on it. The before, during and after-ness of real life people dealing with the consequences of their successes and failures trying to implement God’s law in their lives.
Adam sins. Cain murders. Abraham sleeps with someone other than his wife. Sarah feels hatred. Jacob lies. And on and on and on it goes.
As church leaders there is a temptation to read these stories, teach their lessons to others, and forget that they are modeling for us what authentic leadership looks like.
Part of your calling as a small group leader, children’s ministry teacher, or paid staff member, is to set an example for the people you are leading (1 Timothy 4:12). But that does not mean hiding who you really are – your imperfections, your addictions, and your sins.
It means exposing them before others for all to see. To learn from. To give others hope.
Brokenness doesn’t disqualify you from ministry, it qualifies you for ministry. Having experienced something, and then ultimately gaining victory over it is what enables you to, “…teach people how to obey Jesus’ commands” (Matthew 28:20).
At CCV we place a high priority on creating an “atmosphere of grace and acceptance.”
We encourage people to be real, to not hide from who they really are, and to squarely face their struggles and frustrations head on free from judgment and hypocritical insinuation.
We encourage our pastors to freely share their sins, their pasts, their divorces, their addictions, their bouts with depression, stints in counseling, fondness of country music, and ultimately their victories so that others can see what God is teaching them, who they’re becoming, and how that can encourage others by providing hope.
That’s because there’s power in honestly sharing who you are, warts and all.
Your greatest gift to the world is freely sharing what you most desperately don’t want to share.
Don’t ever forget that.
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