How to Prevent another famous Christian Moral Failure?
Lessons on boundaries, power, and fame.
What can you say? I was disappointed but not surprised.
I was perusing the interwebs when I found that one of the main singers from one of my favorite worship bands, Maverick City Music, had to step down. He had to step down because, according to reports, he was exchanging nudes with fans over Instagram.
When this occasionally pops up in my inbox, I wish I could say I was surprised. But at this point, at my age, I’ve seen this happen so many times that it’s just normal. Whether it’s Ravi Zacharias, Carl Lentz, or the laundry list of other public Christian failures that happened, it’s just the regular part of the Christian scene. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
I am not here to cast a stone. I am here to ask a more important question–”Why? And How do we prevent it?” This is a more important question because, if you’re reading this, there’s a chance God is going to give you some sort of public stage. I truly believe that we are made for greatness. While a following is definitely not required in fulfilling our calling, it inevitably can mean that.
So let’s ask this–what can you do to avoid being an abject moral failure? Trust me, I have thought about this question many times in my own life as well. I cannot help but look at the life of David and find its answer.
We know that David had his moment of moral failure. He saw Bathsheeba bathing on a roof while he was in his castle. And he called his servants to go grab her. And then he had sex with her.
It’s easy to judge David. I find it such a provocative story because it forces us to ask the question, “What if?”
What if you were in a bad state, had unlimited power, and could hide the consequences–would you be able to avoid what David did?
That is a challenging question because as easy it is to judge David. When our brokenness is magnified (vulnerability increases), when our power increases (self-arrogance increases), we don’t know how we’d respond. I have thought about that myself and wonder what I would have done in David’s shoes. In the right circumstances, and with just enough of a deprecate internal state, I can just as easily do what David did.
As I have been reflecting this over the years, the answer came to me. The revelation I feel is a gift from God. It is actually easier than it looks never to be a moral failure: The way to never have a moral failure is never be in a position to need to make that decision.
Before we ask why David failed, perhaps we should ask–
Why does David have an unfiltered view of his citizens’ bathrooms?
Why is there no one to stand up to David when he requests Bathsheeba’s presence?
In other words, where are the boundaries around his life to limit him from being in a position to ever need to choose the right and the wrong in the heat of the moment.
“The way to never have a moral failure is never be in a position to need to make that decision.”
I assure you that behind every Christian leader that failed is someone who overestimated their ability to choose righteously. Boundaries are necessary because we can never underestimate our ability to choose the wrong.
Too many people do not have the correct boundaries in their life. and when that happens, they’re left to their human devices. And when they are left to their devices, they find out if there is no measure of the capability of destruction we can do.
Let me share some boundaries in my life that people find strange:
I have 0 female friendships. I do not have any female friends. I do not want to. I avoid messaging females at all costs.
I will never be alone with a woman in a private space. No car rides, no babysitters, never.
Over the course of my life, this has required awkward and difficult decisions to be made. One time, a female student (while I was helping out with youth ministry) asked me for a ride to our practice location. I have no qualms with her, but this violated my rule. I had all this worship equipment in my car so I could not fit another person in. So I spent time moving all this heavy worship equipment from my car just so I could have another person in the car. This other time, a female co worker asked me if we could carpool because we lived 2 doors down and gas was expensive. I said, No. Easy choice.
It’s awkward. But it’s necessary. It’s not that I have something personal against them. It’s just I never want to be nor ever set a precedence for being a position where I will be at my worst self.
Let’s bring this back to subject and ask 2 questions to summarize:
Do you think boundaries are important in order for us to live out our calling?
Do you have boundaries set in your life to ensure that you do not make dumb decisions that you might regret forever?
You were made for greatness,