Occasionally, one of our more prominent Christian Leaders makes the news in a way that’s not good. Last weekend it was former Pastor Josh Harris. He is also the author of the bestselling book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, first published in 1997.
Last week, Harris posted that he and his wife were ending their 21-year marriage. If that were not bad enough, in a follow up Instagram post Harris announced he is no longer a Christian.
“By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian,” he wrote.
Wow! How tragic.
Being a pastor myself, I know that some people have trouble standing firm after moral failure on the part of a prominent spiritual leader. Such a tragedy can cause some to stumble in their relationship with Christ or their desire to know Christ.
My observation is that some local church members nearly worship their pastor as a god. That’s not a good thing, and it is certainly not warranted in Scripture. Then there are the churchgoers who are still on the fence about accepting Christ. So when Christian Leaders Fall, the faith of some belonging to these two groups tends to become shaken.
The potential for this negative impact on their faith is even greater when prominent Christian leaders fall. By prominent I mean the spiritual leader is widely known or has a large congregation. To whom much is given much is required. So the more lives a leader’s life touches, the more lives he affects by his actions—whether those actions are good or they are bad.
How to Stand Firm When Prominent Leaders Fall
Josh Harris is not the first well-known Christian leader to fall and he won’t be the last. But our ability or inability to stand firm when Christian leaders fall is a function of our relationship with the Lord. Here are some things we can do to enable us to stand firm.
1. Keep our eyes on Christ and not on others. Perhaps everyday someone’s trust in a spiritual leader or in an admired fellow Christian will be betrayed. Christians don’t intentionally let others down. But it happens because we are all fallible. That’s not an excuse it’s just a fact. We must run the race before us looking to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrew 12:1-2).
2. Maintain the Proper Perspective on Christian Leaders. Paul touched on this matter in his 1 letter to the church at Corinth. Some church members were saying they were of Paul and others said they were of Apollos. Here are some take ways from Paul’s response to the church:
- You are of Christ and not another. Any other mindset is a sign that you are a carnal Christian (1 Corinthians 3:4).
- Christian leaders should never point others to themselves; they are ministers to you to the end that your faith might be in Christ (verse 5).
- God uses spiritual leaders to plant and water seeds in your life, but it is God who has saved you by His grace (verse 6).
3. When Christian leaders fall, it does not make the truth they proclaimed any less true. There are some churchgoers and Christians who will dismiss all the truth such a leader has preached and taught because they now regard that leader as a phony. But biblical truth remains the truth even after the one who shared it falls. “All flesh is like grass…. But the Word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25, NASB).
It is a sad day when prominent Christian leaders abandon the faith or when they are involved in moral failure. They seriously need our prayers.
Moral failure has nothing to do with Christ or the gospel but everything to do with the person involved.
Again, Josh Harris is not the first well-known Christian leader to fall and he won’t be the last. But in the midst of these tragic events, we can stand firm if our faith remains in and our focus is stayed upon Christ and the Word of God.
Copyright © 2019 by Frank King. All rights reserved.