Let’s face it, we’ve all made mistakes. And it’s with this in mind that I write the first of a series of posts on the importance of vulnerability for us leaders. We’ll define “leader” as anyone with a sphere of influence.
In last week’s news in the United States, it was reported that leaders Jared Fogle, popular spokesman for the Subway sandwich chain, and Josh Duggar, of homeschooling family “reality-show” fame, both admitted to extramarital relationships and not living up to the standards of marriage to which they committed themselves.
It is important to address the idea of care—self-care—for leaders and the necessity to be vulnerable with others. In the rest of this post, we’ll go over our biblical mandate for holiness, which we will equate to self-care. Next week, we’ll talk about resources related to vulnerability, and in the third post of this series, we’ll discuss how restoration helps put a leader back into a position of leading.
It’s pretty easy to find many critics this week judging Fogle and Duggar. And, of course, what they did was wrong. Their families were instantly short circuited because of their selfish actions. But our quickness to judge these two is not what we’re called to.
Remember the situation Jesus found Himself in where the Pharisees wanted to trap Him? The Pharisees had brought to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. Forget for a second about the man that had been caught in the act—it was the woman that was brought to Jesus. A male-dominated society’s leaders wanted to see what Jesus would say. Moses commanded that the woman be stoned to death—punishment by a panel of guilty jurors. Not too different from recent Facebook status updates. But unlike the crowd shouting then, Jesus called the Pharisees—and us—to something different. He tells the Pharisees that those who are without sin can cast the first stone (John 8).
My own awareness of my sinfulness reminds me of my own brokenness and the fact that I am not that different than Fogle or Duggar. And yet there is freedom here. In my awareness that I can’t cast the first stone, or second or third, Jesus takes away my ability to judge. He brings restoration to me and the one I want to condemn in leveling the playing field. Wasn’t this the idea behind Jesus’ words in Matthew 5, that one is able to commit adultery simply by looking at someone lustfully with their eyes?
You see, in God’s economy, we’re all guilty. We’ve all fallen short of bringing about His glory (Romans 3:23). And so it’s not a matter now of slinging mud. Instead, Fogle and Duggar’s actions provide each of us with a mirror to more readily see our own sin, whatever that sin may be. For some of us, we are guilty of lust like Fogle and Duggar. Or, we’re guilty of greed or jealousy or pride. For others of us, it’s lying (even just those little white ones). Still for others, it’s discontent. Or not being able to care for others as we’re called. And yet, isn’t this why we need a Savior, that even in our sinfulness, Christ died for us (Romans 5:5)?
If this is how God demonstrates His love for us, then how can I not, as a 21st century Christian leader, use these recent news incidents as a way of growing in my relationship with Jesus? Ask yourself the following questions with the Lord:
- Using John 8 as a template, how would Jesus respond to Josh Duggar or Jared Fogle?
- How does Jesus respond to me when I fail as well?
- How am I vulnerable to others to help me grow where I am weak? With whom might I start?
Take a moment and pray for Jared and Josh, two fellow human beings who also so desperately need the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take a moment to pray for God’s grace and mercy over you and your family and those you lead as well.
And Lord God, how grateful we are that through the work of Jesus, you call us to something new and better than ourselves, that you desire to bring us up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set our feet upon something solid like a rock and establish for us a new path (Psalm 40). Amen.
Check back on the next two Thursdays for more from David Costillo on vulnerability and restoration.