A Culture of Cowardice (part eight)

How come when a prominent Christian leader falls, it is so often shrouded in darkness? The secrecy so often persists until the police, the media, or the victim of the leadership abuse brings it into the light. How often are those illuminations met with skillfully-articulately denials or a minimizing reinterpretation of the offense?

Is it just me, or do you see it, too?

We who are Christian, are fond of reciting John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”, particularly when the topic is evangelism. Trouble is, our behavior – at very important times and in very important ways – covers up truth.

The Greek word translated “truth” is alethia.

It means “reality”.

What is.

13 cover upYet, in times of crisis (like when a minister falls in sin), we invest ourselves in elaborate cover-ups. One reason we do, I think, is we’ve forgotten what business we’re in.

Is it any wonder that those outside our faith community scratch their heads?

What are they to think when we froth at the mouth about the “truth” of our Gospel and then behave in ways that endeavor to keep truth hidden away?

Were the roles reversed, what would you think? How likely would you be to consider their faith claims?

Andy Stanley in The Next Generation Leader identifies courage as central to leadership. One way leadership courage expresses itself, he says, is in recognizing and declaring current reality—regardless of how embarrassing or discouraging it may be. When a prominent pastor falls, the courageous around him or her will honestly and forthrightly communicate the truth of what happened.


In the people-development business, rather than the keep-the-people-comfortable business, they recognize this as a critical character-development opportunity.

A leadership failure is “ground zero” to anchor the values that are central to how we, as Christ-followers, are committed live.

When Paul instructed Timothy: “Those [elders] who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” [2 Tim 5:20], he placed the benefit to “the others” above whatever difficulty the leaders who have to mop up the mess, or the fallen elder, would encounter. And, “the others” are not just Christians, but those outside who are intently watching how we live.