This post is part 5 of a series of women’s ministry questions. Click here to read older posts.
Recently at a YOU Lead women’s leadership training, we had a panel answering questions submitted by attendees. Several past and upcoming posts will address those and try to help answer them.
Today’s question is: When do you trust those who have betrayed you in ministry?
How many of you have faced that? I have. It is such a difficult part of leadership. Shakes your faith in your fellow team members and hurts your heart.
A lot depends on the kind of betrayal involved. If it’s a moral issue, my question would be: how did they respond when confronted? If they were defensive and excuse the behavior that tells me one thing (that they are sorry they got caught!). If they are broken and truly repentant, that will tell me something else.
If they are not repentant, the only course of action is to ask them to step down from the position. If they are repentant, then they need help, possibly counseling by a professional. But there should also be a plan in place for walking them through the restoration process. That takes time. Restoring them immediately to their position is not usually wise. It might be best to release them from leadership for a period of time, with follow up to check up on where they are in their restoration process before returning them to a leadership position.
We are told in Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.” Now if others are to imitate the faith of the leader, then we must be held to a high standard of integrity and honesty. Do we want them to follow us as we are engaged in immorality and lies? Certainly not. If a leader is struggling in this area, they need help and love but they do not need to be leading and teaching others, at least for the time being.
We are also told in James 3:1 that teachers will receive a “stricter judgment”. This passage is addressing the tongue and being an untrained teacher who is teaching false doctrine out of ignorance. But it certainly seems to apply to all teachers being held to a high standard.
We must pray with and for those who betray us in ministry. We must walk with them through a restoration process, and as they follow Christ obediently they certainly will be leaders God can use in ministry, maybe even more so as they have experienced falling and being forgiven.
If they are not willing to walk the road of restoration with you or another church leader, it indicates they are not ready to be in a leadership position with your women. Find other ways they can serve as they journey forward into healing and spiritual growth. Don’t leave them even if they choose not to be restored. Love them and pray for them. Let them know you care and that you are a resource should they choose help.
Sometimes leadership is just a hard job! But not confronting sin and betrayal will not benefit the ministry to women in your church.
How have you dealt with this tough issue?
Watch for future Q/A posts!