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Let’s test my thesis. Think about the last high-profile celebrity leader, someone you respected, who disqualified himself from ministry. When you hear their names now, aren’t you reminded of what they did before you think about all they taught you? Or when you think about all they taught you, are you tempted to think about their fall?
What about your daddy? When you think about him, aren’t his words and actions the first things that come to your mind, even more than his instruction? Perhaps you think of his “biblical instruction” but reflex immediately to the kind of life he lived, specifically, how his life impacted yours.
Think about one of those cherished moments from your childhood. More than likely, you’re thinking about what someone did for you positively. Perhaps it was their words. Maybe it was something they did. Of course, the adverse is also true: your most painful moments came from the hurtful words or hurtful behaviors of others.
Here’s My Point: People absorb your day-to-day life more than they process and respond to your instruction. When it comes to impacting lives, there is no question that actions speak louder than words. The warning is sobering and the consequences are severe if the life that you’re living is out-of-line with the teaching of the gospel.
Everyone is a leader because there is always someone who is watching, learning, and imitating your life. The question is never, “are you a leader” but “what kind of leader are you?” You have to choose how you want to lead others, even if the only person you’re “leading” is one soul.
There are three typical leader types:
The most dangerous type of these three kinds of leaders is the hypocrite—number two. The God-rejector is living according to his beliefs, so you know what you’re getting with him. And though his actions can have an ongoing, adverse impact on your life, it won’t be because he was inconsistent with his orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
The hypocrite adds another layer of complexity to the vulnerable person’s life. It is one thing to be hurt by an “honest” God-rejector (number one), but when the person “names the name of Christ,” it confuses and distorts the thinking of those impacted by his words and actions.
Imagine the little girl yelled at by her father—and they all attend church meetings each Sunday. Even worse, he serves in the church and his “church peers” respect him. In every case, this child will have a difficult time trusting God because of the confusion between an earthly father and a heavenly one. Additionally, her daddy distorts Christianity. And that distortion bleeds into the church, where he has a place to exercise his hypocrisy.
I’m not blaming the church because it is not their fault if a person becomes an attendee but keeps his sins hidden from view. The point-of-focus still needs to be on the hypocrite who could change all of this by repenting.
The purest form of biblical leadership is the imperfect leader, who is objectively living for Christ. I say, “imperfect” because we cannot imitate Christ perfectly. Nobody “nails it” ten times out of ten or every moment of their day. We never expect a person to be perfect, but you do want them to try sincerely.
There is a plan for authentic leaders who fail occasionally. It’s called the doctrine of repentance. The only people group in the world that can transform themselves in a long-term, sustainable way are Christians. (See James 4:6; 1 John 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:24-25).
Episodic failure is much different from a pattern of failure. The first happens to all of us. The second is the habituation of a person who does not know how to repent, or is unwillling to (Galatians 6:1-2).
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).