Thursday, August 05, 2010

2010 Leadership Summit - Session 3b: When Leaders Fail (Adam Hamilton)

Session 3b: When Leaders Fail (Adam Hamilton)
(note: for other notes from the Leadership Summit, please see my other posts on my blog at or see my posts on twitter at - You will also find some great notes from the Leadership Summit at or follow him on twitter at

Founding and Senior Pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS.

Someone came to him before a service mentioning that they needed to talk because two of the pastors were involved in an extramarital affair with each other. The assistant in that worship service was one of these pastors. 2005-2006 Study by Francis Shaffer organization found that 30% had confessed to extramarital affairs. Billy Graham was careful to set up many boundaries set up for himself, like don't go to lunch alone with someone with the opposite sex.

There are different ways to address this in business compared to how it's addressed in the church. It's not just the people who have fallen, but also the people of the church. It is a betrayal of trust. There isn't one-size-fits-all solution. They can set up boundaries and do it in a confidential manor. In the United Methodist Church, the bishops take over the disciplinary process. Sometimes a restoration process is set up. Depending on the seniority of the position, it is handled in different ways. It depends on how visible the person is and how they influence the people around them.
1. Just let things lie where they lie, let the congregation figure it out for themselves
2.Evasive, say that people are leaving for personal reasons
3.Scarlet letter approach, clearly denounce the sin and comdemn them
4.Approach with honesty, and compassion, making clear the consequences.

They decided on this approach and let the staff and key leaders know. It was a shock. There were feelings to unpack. By Tuesday night people in the community already knew. They asked them not to throw stones and pray for the families. People came on Sunday who had not come in years. They wanted to reinforce their feelings that the church was made of Pharisees. He spelled out briefly what happened and how it would be handled. He preached a simple sermon on temptation, repentance, and God's grace. It wasn't about these two pastors, but on all of us. He talked about the adulterous woman. He wanted to know if the church would be forgiving like Jesus was. Would we cast stones or not? No matter how it's handled, there will be people who leave. But, many wanted to stay and many who wanted to join because of the way it was responded to and communicated with grace.

Why are leaders susceptible?
We developed policies. We looked at what opens the door for such behavior?
We developed policies of where you can go and how we expect people to act. We talked about how people needed to go on different flights, stay in different hotels. Twice a year he has a meeting with staff on misconduct and much of it is on sex talk. There are 3 drives: (1) we are wired for reproduction (a drive toward sexual intimacy. It's good and God gave it to us), (2) We have a need for companionship, and (3) we are sinners with a drive toward sin. Pastors are giving by nature and sometimes find themselves empty, and then find themselves looking for relationships to build them up.

Romans Chapter 7: Paul finds himself doing what he doesn't want and not doing what he wants. Jesus told us to pray that we are not lead into temptation.

Sometimes it's best to think of the terrible results of giving in to temptation. You need to think about being ashamed, convicted, and sick.

How does it happen?
Your work is exciting. You go home and get very little encouragement, but maybe you're told you shouldn't have stayed late. Then you go back to work and find the teammates support you and enjoy talking about how exciting it is to accomplish the things you're working on.

“The moment of maybe” you wonder what something would be like. How nice it would be. You rationalize sin. You're powers of reason don't take effect. You don't think about the ramifications. Don't tell the other person how you are feeling. This won't help, it will be a short step from sharing those feelings to acting on them. There's the old blues song “Don't let the Devil ride, because he's going to want to drive”

You always have to be careful because you are always

Five “R”s for resisting temptation
1. Remember who you are: A child of God, a follower of Jesus Christ, a leader of those around you. Each day pray that God will guide you to be who God wants you to be
2.Think about that after: Will I feel better or worse, more free or enslaved, will I want people to know about it? Will it grow trust. Fantasize about the worst possible outcome
3.Rededicate yourself to God. Just like you were told to do in a fire: At that moment : Stop, drop and pray. Ask God to help you with the situation. Instead of entertaining the “maybe,” pray
4.Entrust your feelings to a friend
5.Remove yourself from situation or person – set your boundaries. Maybe you need to remove yourself from your position.

So, in recap: Sanctification 1 Thes 4:3-5;7 and that we all struggle. The final word of the church must not be one of judgment but one of grace.
We serve a Lord who was a friend to sinners. Jesus spoke about the prodigal son. Even on the cross he spoke of forgiveness.

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