When Christian leaders mess up

Happy new month Guys! Here we are starting the month talking about Christian leaders and what happens when they mess up royally. How hard should the Church and the congregation be on them? 

Once upon a time, (lol that is how we tell stories in Africa), there lived a young Christian man. He was a vibrant Youth pastor and served the Lord with all that he had. He was cheerful and happy with a smile for everyone and it was only a matter of time before he became a pastor. 

However, his ascent into pastoral lane cane to a halt one day. Allegations of fornication were made against him and found to be true. He was given the standard punishment. This seemed fair enough but after that he was removed from the leadership position he held. 

This was a punishment and epic disgrace in one act. This guaranteed that questions would be asked. There was no way anyone would hear that he had been removed that they wouldn’t ask what happened. Especially since he hadn’t been promoted. 

A few people felt bad when they heard this punishment, but they justified it by thinking that maybe God needed him to be away from that particular position if it put him in temptations way by the close contact with the opposite sex . However a lot of people weren’t also happy because he didn’t seem beaten. They weren’t satisfied, they probably felt he got off too lightly compared to the gravity of his punishment.

Interestingly, he took it all in his stride. Never by a look or scowl did he betray what he was going through. He endured the looks, mockery, taunts and jeers from those who knew but apparently that punishment and the epic disgrace wasn’t enough to pacify the powers that be.  Almost a year later Bro J. was asked not to carry out his Sunday duties in the Church again. 

MY TAKE

Now maybe I am too forgiving but I feel like there was more focus on punishing him than in counseling him, reforming him genuinely and monitoring him to be sure he doesn’t relapse. A sneaking suspicion tells me that some of the punishments have it’s root in malice. 


I am probably wrong though but moral righteousness isn’t my thing. Far be it from me to judge someone who God hasn’t forsaken. Who is to say the people meting out punishment aren’t doing worse but they just haven’t been caught.

I am not downplaying what he did. Sure! He messed up. He messed up big time. Christian leaders have a duty to live to to what they preach but I am not shocked. I have never been the type to trust a human being absolutely just because he is a pastor or whatever. I have seen enough to know that Christians are under attack, and a pastor who doesn’t take cognisance of the hatred Satan has for Christians can eventually backslide. So even if I hear today that the most popular or powerful pastor in Nigeria did something unexpected, I may be surprised but not shocked.

I know that there has to be punishment to show that the Church has a higher standard for its workers. But shouldn’t correction be done in love? Making the man a pariah and feeling like saints because he likes sex and you happen to like money or gossip isn’t the solution.

I heard of a pastor who slept with his fiancee before marriage and his superior confronted him with that fact. He denied at first but eventually confessed and was punished. When he finished that he was transferred to another branch. I think that is not too bad

There’s a popular pastor who committed adultery some years back and he came on the pulpit to confess to the congregation. The congregation scattered and many people left the Church but now,after some years he is back on track.

In my opinion, remorse and repentance are key factors to determining appropriate punishment by Church authorities in these cases. Plus the gravity of the offence and your level in the Church. What do you guys think? Excommunication, punishment with light consequences if heavy ones? Open disgrace or no punishment at all?

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    mildred
    May 1, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Stuff like this happened in my church some time ago, the guy confessed to the pastor and pastor told everyone at workers meeting and the guy was punished for a while and after was prayed for and everyone moved on. He’s still serving in my Parish and no one ever talks about it. When it happened a lot of people said it wasn’t right for the pastor to have made it public since the brother came to him privately, I thought so too for a while, but then the guy didn’t even seem to mind, so why take panadol for his migraine. As a matter of fact I think he felt good serving the punishment, A lot of us have secret sins yet we are quick to judge, point fingers and yimu at the next person. Mistakes are what makes us humans, I dare say no one is above it. And I’d rather serve public punishment than allow God deal with me privately. mba . On a totally unrelated note….it’s my birth month…yeeeaaaayyyy…..

    • Reply
      Mima
      May 2, 2017 at 11:22 am

      I think telling everyone is not right, that’s practically shaming him. I mean, he’s really not accountable to the entire workforce.

      • Reply
        Bisola
        May 2, 2017 at 7:31 pm

        Yeah. That’s what my friend said when I asked her opinion on the pastor in Mildred’s account.
        She felt the pastor ought to have used his discretion just like a father should if his child confides in him. She compared it to said father calling a meeting of everyone in the household and recounting what was said to him in confidence in order to shame and disgrace.

    • Reply
      Bisola
      May 2, 2017 at 11:25 am

      This is exactly what I am talking about. Punishment, forgiveness and everyone moves on. Not punishment, punishment and cloud hanging over their heads forever.
      The pastor shouldn’t have made it public, Yeah! But maybe that was part of the punishment of the guy, the embarrassment from everybody knowing what he did.
      He also confessed meaning he felt guilty. Bro J here didn’t confess. One day in Church, during service for that matter a sister stood up and accused a brother of “sampling sister after sister ” lol. Things just went haywire after that. Turns out it had been going in for long and some people knew. I guess that contributed to their bitterness and anger.
      Happy Birthday in advance dear. 🎁🎂🎈.

  • Reply
    @cakeswalkintall
    May 2, 2017 at 12:04 am

    Deitrick haddon’s “God didn’t give up on me” is just on point for this discourse.

    • Reply
      Bisola
      May 2, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      You are absolutely correct. Looked it up and the words make sense. For example …..

      “Read in the paper the other day
      About preacher fell from grace
      He begged the church for forgiveness
      He realized he made a mistake
      And some folks left the church and said
      Your supposed to be a man of the cloth
      See they forgot he was the same man
      That prayed for them when they were lost”

      This song totally captures what I was trying to say.
      Thank you @cakeswalkintall.

  • Reply
    D'Dream
    May 2, 2017 at 9:18 am

    The first scenario utmost decision to whittle down the influence of Bro J to none at all is rather too extreme. He that has not commit sin, let him be the first to cast the stone. Public punishment and demotion is not too bad concerning the severity of the act he committed. I have come to this realization that no one is righteous, not even one substantiate by the scripture too.
    Feeling superior in righteousness is a foolhardy position to take and a delicate one at that.

    This reminds me of fracas between Apostle Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15 (go read it). Paul felt Mark shouldn’t be included in their apostolic mission but Barabbas felt otherwise (I thinks he might taken the position after he felt John Mark has truly repented of his former action). There is no need for excommunication, it solves nothing.
    Barnabas felt John ought to be encouraged to return to his first love after being punished instead of excommunication but Paul felt otherwise.

    The second scenario ought to be the standard procedures of churches concerning disciplinary actions against their workers.

    • Reply
      Bisola
      May 2, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      Yay! D’Dream is back 😀😀😀.
      I agree. “Feeling superior in righteousness is a foolhardy position to take and a delicate one at that”.
      I think what bothers me the most is the motive as I said in the post. The motive for punishment see malicious in this scenario. I wonder how long they think he ought to atone for. As it is, with the general reaction I doubt he can ever become a pastor in that branch and I think that is wrong. If he settles with God and repents genuinely why hold the past against him?
      God help us in this Christian walk. Some things dey fear me sef regarding ministry.

  • Reply
    Live In Ibadan
    May 3, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    You are very right, bibi. Suspension should come in handy and he shouldn’t resume his position till it is sure that he has repented and changed.

    http://www.liveinibadan.blogspot.com

    • Reply
      Bisola
      May 4, 2017 at 11:54 am

      Unfortunately I doubt he will ever resume his position especially since another person has been appointed to take his place.
      Thanks for your comment

  • Reply
    Oma
    May 3, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Hmmmmmm….this topic! My take on this:

    * On the one hand – I don’t subscribe to castigations, harsh punishments (that seem like vendettas) and excessive shaming. Pastors at the end of the day are not infallible.

    * However, on the other hand – a lot of times, some of these ‘fallen men of God’ come across as cocky and arrogant. No remorse whatsoever! They fall, step on the alter and make such unbelievably prideful statements. And I don’t blame them. Most of them are that way because there’s no one holding them accountable. So many times when these things happen, you hear the congregation screaming ‘Touch not my anointed!’ and ‘Don’t judge!’ And in my head I’m thinking, ‘But he’s human; he’s flesh. Are you now saying that because he’s a man of God he can’t fall? Or that because he’s a pastor he should get away with doing wrong?’

    My conclusion – let pastors be held accountable for their actions. Not saying that they should be punished heavily but let them be held accountable. If need be, they should step down temporarily, even if the issue is only being investigated (especially if the whole church knows. I feel not doing so is passing the wrong message to the congregation). If it’s not something that hasn’t really blown up and the pastor shows humility and true repentance, then the issue can be quietly resolved. One thing I also don’t like is when just one party is made to pay for the mess or bears the majority of the shame – usually, it’s the woman. I believe both parties should be held responsible and accountable.

    • Reply
      Bisola
      May 4, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      Welcome Oma. Thanks for visiting and commenting.
      Yeah! A lot of leaders try to hide under they “touch not my anointed” umbrella instead of feeling genuine remorse. That can be very annoying and to me, taking God for granted.
      I agree that remorse and repentance is the key word here. The severity should depend on the offence, the leadership post and remorse or repentance shown. Someone who confesses of his own volition should have that act taken into account when prescribing punishment.
      In this case, the woman was nowhere to be found. I didn’t even recognize her. Blame was squarely on the man’s shoulders. Although that may be because it wasn’t just one woman.
      I do get your point, especially from the angle of Scandals besetting some Nigerian pastors and their reactions to allegations from the women involved.
      In that context, investigation and stepping down is a good option. However who is going to tell the pastor to step down when he’s the owner of the Church 😕.
      Thanks Oma for your angle.

      • Reply
        Oma
        May 4, 2017 at 10:09 pm

        @ “However who is going to tell the pastor to step down when he’s the owner of the Church 😕.” JAMB question ohhhh!! Lol. Churches usually have boards though they deal with those sort of things.

        • Reply
          Bisola
          May 5, 2017 at 8:34 am

          Lol. It’s true nah. You’re right about Boards. Some Churches have them and the pastor is accountable to them. They work better when they aren’t appointed by a pastor or priest like Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, even Redeemed where the Boards has power over their pastors and the church continues even if the pastor dies or retires. But in a case where the Church is the pastor and the pastor is the church, it may be kinda hard oh my Sister.

          • Oma
            May 6, 2017 at 4:25 pm

            Hmm…I get you.

  • Reply
    Precious
    May 4, 2017 at 2:12 am

    I typed a long comment here and fiam it disappeared! I had to gather momentum before typing again. Lol
    In my opinion, no human being has the right to punish another human being. Because you know, we are not all perfect. And Jesus said he who is without sin should throw the first stone.
    However, each church may have its rules pertaining to leadership. So if a leader messes up, those laws will have to be applied. But I’ll say let all things be done in love. Love believes the best in a person. Love gives a second chance. Love conquers all.

    • Reply
      Bisola
      May 4, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      😂 Sorry about that. It can be very annoying and painful at the same time when you take time to write a long comment and it disappears.
      Lol at gathering momentum.
      Hmm Word! That’s another way of looking at it. Leaders especially should not complain if they err and they are punished according to the rules of the Church they attend but it should be done in love regardless and not in malice.

  • Reply
    Amaka
    May 7, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I didn’t type a long comment like Precious. I only got intimidated by the comments above. *covers face* Everyone has spoken so well, what else can I say?

    • Reply
      Bisola
      May 8, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      Lol. Don’t worry you are allowed to play the “no comment “card. Not the intimidation one though. Who dares? 😊

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