Did you hear about the pastor that had an affair and left his wife?  The rabbi who was admitted into rehab for cocaine use? What about the priest that was arrested for molesting children? The minister that embezzled the church funds? Oh, and that elder’s wife who had an abortion? ….  

The list goes on and on.

Forget naming them. Instead, we should consider what do these leaders have in common? Well, one thing is they have a bunch of people watching them, pointing fingers, saying, “How could they …!”

They are “fallen leaders,” otherwise, broken shepherds.

Now, only the L-rd knows the heart of man and his motives, and how he has come to be where he is. There are endless scenarios, but I’d like to focus on leaders in general and how we can fall off the pedestals often created along with high expectations.

Mainly, fallen leaders are a jackpot to the enemy. Leaders are more of a target than your average sheep. The enemy gets the leader and he bowls a strike; he breaks the trust and confidence of many. Leaders carry a large responsibility and presumably the anointing to reach many souls. We are therefore subject to intense enemy fire to destroy us.

The enemy seeks to break our barriers, weaken our support, and come in for the kill. He tries to get a hold of us and drag us down. It can be a slow process or very quick. Again, some leaders may willfully choose to let the enemy in, but even without invitation, there are always surprise attacks. Those attacks have caught us all. We are human and by nature we sometimes forget to put on that “breastplate” or pray in the Rearguard. Before we know it, we can be faced with temptation and sin.

People have many comments and labels for fallen leaders, but none of them are exclusive to leaders. Everyone falls short. We’re all as clay. We all have filthy rags. But, thankfully, we who are in Messiah have an extended warranty. If we bring the parts into the shop, the L-rd fixes us.

There is nothing new under the sun and there is nothing extinct about G-d’s love and mercy. The relationship between G-d and all of His children functions on the same basic principles. With leaders, there is more accountability by volume, and yes, that is significant as one action can affect many. But, let’s never forget G-d’s love, which covers a multitude of sins, and His forgiveness towards His repentant child which is always available – even to one dying upon a tree.

So, let’s bring it home. Are we excited when our brother or sister in the L-rd points a condemning finger at our shortcomings? The last time you sinned and repented, probably three minutes ago, did G-d send Gabriel down with a pink slip that said, pack your things, you’re fired? I think not.

Two people in particular come to mind from Scripture with regard to this subject, King David and Rav Shaul (Paul). These two men committed sins (adultery and murder, respectively) that in believing circles are considered in the top ten worst sins, and by some even unforgiveable. Well, thank G-d, G-d is still on the throne – the perfect Righteous Judge. Amein?

In spite of David’s sin, he is called a man after G-d’s own heart. Though some say the consequence of his choice brought about the loss of his firstborn son with Bat-Sheva, the L-rd did not take David out of His plan. He blessed him with Solomon and his family line continues to the Messiah Yeshua.

Rav Shaul, likewise, in spite of his sin, remained a Pharisee and became an Apostle to the nations. It can be said that he paid the consequence for his choices in that he had a problem with his eyes, a “thorn in his flesh,” after his encounter with the L-rd. But, his ministry to the people remained. And all the more the L-rd’s strength was made perfect in his weakness. Our falls can be turned for good – a testimony, no less. Halleluyah!

Now, this is not a license for leadership to willfully sin. However, when repentance has been made by the fallen with the L-rd, there must be an acknowledgement on our part that all of G-d’s children make mistakes. And, we are commanded to get in line with G-d’s forgiveness. Does not the Word say we must forgive in order to be forgiven? So, when these events occur, how do we as a Body respond?

Consider … if a leader is struggling with a temptation or sin, where does he (or she) turn in the presence of a critical flock of sheep, ready to pitch the leader off a cliff, never to return? Do we have our pointers ready and our slanderous words, or do we carry the Spirit of G-d, in love and forgiveness?

The principle applies to our leaders and to our fellow sheep. How do we treat our fellow brothers and sisters as the L-rd is cleaning them up? We were all at one point caught as scaly, smelly fish and some of us have been swimming in murky waters for a long time.

There are hurting, struggling leaders who are living with family problems, temptations, or hidden sin, and some don’t know where or how to come out and get help. They are engaged with the enemy in a circle of lies, shame, fear, and guilt. They know that the truth sets them free but they also know on the other side there is great scrutiny and lasting labels from their fellow believers. And worse, depending on the governing leaders, there is the possibility of being removed permanently from the position where the L-rd has placed them.

Considering the above examples of King David and Rav Shaul from Scripture, does G-d see His repentant child as unworthy to participate in His purpose? Who is man to decide with his own judgment what G-d’s purpose is for His children? Does Scripture say only these types of people can be forgiven and start anew? Or only after much guilt and shame has been placed on them for a period of time, then they can be forgiven?

Every situation is unique unto itself. A period of healing or recovery may require a sabbatical. But, let’s not negatively brand the recovered. These leaders have a powerful testimony of G-d’s saving grace. I am inclined to believe that G-d continually wants His children to be wholly healthy and restored if they are willing to submit in faith and obedience.

The main question is, how can we change? How can we change to create a Body of Messiah where everyone, leader or not, can be washed clean, get the help needed, and know with confidence that he (or she) will be received with His love, righteous judgment, and forgiveness?

The answer resides within us. When we line up our heart, mind, and spirit with HaShem, and become men and women after G-D’s own heart, we will then create a healthy Body, tremendous growth and strength in faith, and a light that shatters darkness. Amein.