Are all your heroes hypocrites? About twelve few years ago, I was part of what would be considered a large church and I felt blessed to be a part of it. Our charismatic leader usually preached at every service, so the congregation came to know and trust his public persona. However, that changed after rumors started to circulate and local news stations began to report negative stories about him. The reporting was so bad that many people left severely wounded and have not committed a church to this day. Unfortunately, the bond between pastor and congregants were shattered.
Once that trust was broken there was a realization that people had been led astray-away from God. The questions that echoed loudly in our souls-How could our spiritual superman have become such a hypocrite? And does the pastor and staff know they will be held accountable for all those devastated lives that no longer cling to community worship?
PRESSURE REVEALS CHARACTER
My family continued to attend because he was like our spiritual super hero. However, the constant pressure on our pastor brought out things that were difficult to bear. For example, there was a rift between our pastor and another pastor that had joined his church to ours, and we were directed not to talk to any of his members. During a service the people who had left were described as “rats that jumped ship”. As tough as it was to lose those close to us, the hardest thing was witnessing our pastor’s lack of personal responsibility regarding his actions. The bond of a few marriages were traumatically separated. Even those closest to the pastor talked about fighting people to protect him. The ensuing chaos became a worthy competitor to stability and growth, and ultimately we made the best decision for our family.
SUPERMAN OR HYPOCRITE
Like many others I carried this scar for years without dealing with the issue. As time went by, reality set in and I realized that my former pastor was neither a spiritual superman nor hypocrite. I began to wonder what the lesson to be learned was. Could I handle the attention and perceived success better than he did? I saw that all my heroes were flawed. One of those individuals is King David. He impregnated another man’s wife then plotted to have her husband killed in battle. Following this sin David prayed.
A MODEL PRAYER (Psalm 51:1-12)
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
People should not be viewed through a lens of condemnation. When we do, we make the mistake of substituting the word imperfect for hypocrite. In trying times it becomes a go-to word. Pastors and congregants need prayer and sometimes to be saved from themselves. There has to be transparency, a full confession of truth. Some of the details may remain between the individual and God, but there must be some level of openness with the people in the church. This is the only way that healing can begin. We are blessed to have such insight into the life of one of the world’s greatest leaders in the verses above. Let us not be like the foolish man and woman whom condemn others and not confess their own transgressions. King David is known as a “man after God’s own heart”. How will you be remembered?