By: Regis Nicoll|Published: November 6, 2006 1:52 PM
When the news about Ted Haggard broke late last week I was at first, skeptical. The libelous charges of massages, methamphetamine and gay sex seemed suspiciously timed with the upcoming elections. But as Haggardâ€™s admissions evolved during the weekend, I recognized an all too familiar pattern.
In his book The Making of a Leader, Dr. Robert Clinton of Fuller Seminary notes that few leaders finish wellâ€¦including less than 30% of leaders in the Bible! Even many of the biblical figures who did finish well--Jacob, Moses, Aaron and David, to name but a few--experienced significant moral lapses in mid-race that undermined their ministries.
Although the particular failure of leaders may vary--be it pride, abuse of power, lack of integrity or sexual misconduct--common to all is the lack of accountability.
Iâ€™m reminded of words of Jimmy Swaggert after the disclosure of his moral failures: â€œI fasted and I prayed and I begged God for deliverance from pornography. I realize now if I had turned to my brothers in Christ for help, I would have been delivered.â€
Then thereâ€™s Gordon MacDonald, who, after an immoral relationship was revealed, stated, â€œI now realize I was lacking in mutual accountability through personal relationships. We need relationships where one man regularly looks another man in the eye and asks hard questions about our moral life, our lusts, our ambitions, our ego.â€
And now the â€œIâ€ statements in Ted Haggardâ€™s admission point to a similar lack of accountability: "The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life."
Rev. Haggard is in the company of legions who proved that the only thing we can do successfully by ourselves isâ€¦fail. Haggardâ€™s statement reminds us of the power and pervasiveness of sin. But it also reveals the danger of isolation, to which pastors and spiritual leaders are particularly vulnerable.
One of the key â€œtake awaysâ€ here is the importance of being in community, not only with God but with others. We each need vital connections with people who are invested in our lives--people who will not only cheer us on, but challenge us with tough and sometimes uncomfortable questions--questions that will cause us to pause, examine ourselves, and make the course-corrections necessary to finish well.
May we pray for the leaders in our own communities and, as necessary, offer or facilitate resources for their spiritual support and accountability.