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When Christian Leaders Go Wrong


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This is the presentation from a Cafechurch Melbourne session on 3/9/2019 about the failures of Christian leadership, inspired by Marty Sampson's excellent questions. We looked at the failure of leadership in Scripture - starting with Saul the first King of Israel, then through a few more contemporary examples. We asked the questions: is Christian leadership failure somehow worse than the failure of secular leadership - and if so, why? We concluded by looking at what Jesus had to say about Christian leadership - and its contrast to how Saul lived his life.

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When Christian Leaders Go Wrong

  1. 1. When Leaders Go
  2. 2. Gratitude For what are you grateful?
  3. 3. As good Protestants we have to begin by asking ourselves…. What does the Bible say?
  4. 4. When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel…Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice… Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ …. the Lord said to Samuel, ‘… they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you.” 1 Samuel 8:1,3,4-5,6b-8
  5. 5. There was a man … whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else… When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, ‘Here is the man of whom I spoke to you. He it is who shall rule over my people.’… Samuel took a phial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, ‘The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. 1 Samuel 9:1-2, 17, 10:1a
  6. 6. Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. 1 Chronicles 10:13-14
  7. 7. Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam [grandson of David, son of Solomon], ‘Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you.’…[Rehoboam] spoke to them [saying], ‘My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’ 1 Kings 12:3b-4, 14
  8. 8. Question • Is failure of Christian leaders somehow worse than “secular” leaders? • Why, or why not?
  9. 9. • Pope Stephen VI (896–897), who had his predecessor Pope Formosus exhumed, tried, de-fingered, briefly reburied, and thrown in the Tiber. • Pope John XII (955–964), who gave land to a mistress, murdered several people, and was killed by a man who caught him in bed with his wife. • Pope Benedict IX (1032–1044, 1045, 1047–1048), who "sold" the Papacy. • Pope Boniface VIII (1294–1303), who is lampooned in Dante's Divine Comedy. • Pope Urban VI (1378–1389), who complained that he did not hear enough screaming when Cardinals who had conspired against him were tortured. • Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503), a Borgia, who was guilty of nepotism and whose unattended corpse swelled until it could barely fit in a coffin. • Pope Leo X (1513–1521), a spendthrift member of the Medici family who once spent 1/7 of his predecessors' reserves on a single ceremony. • Pope Clement VII (1523–1534), also a Medici, whose power-politicking with France, Spain, and Germany got Rome sacked.
  10. 10. Question • Do you have a story of leadership failure that you feel comfortable to share? • What effect did it have on you? On your friends? On the community as a whole?
  11. 11. Sexual Abuse • (ex) Dean of Newcastle Anglican Cathedral Graeme Lawrence • Convicted in July of sexual abuse of a 15 year old boy • Seems to have covered up a ring of paedophiles • What does it mean for the Diocese?
  12. 12. Question • Why do people still defend leaders who they know have done terrible things?
  13. 13. Question What does it mean for the church?
  14. 14. • Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1 • Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 • “Every human community will disappoint us, regardless of how well-intentioned or inclusive.” Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
  15. 15. The Story of the Blood Relative • Are there institutional practices and habits of mind that can lead to more spectacular failures?
  16. 16. What Does Jesus Teach Us About Leadership? After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. John 13:12-14
  17. 17. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
  18. 18. In the deserts of this world, may you find signs of God. In the wilderness of your lives, may you be encouraged by God. In your joy and in your sorrow, may you rejoice in God. a And the blessing of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be amongst us and remain with us ever more. Amen