My dad was one of the leaders of our church as I was growing up. That had its positives–and also its negatives. The big plus was that it allowed me to see them as human beings first…leaders secondly.
One of the challenges I’ve found as I’ve grown older is that it is too easy to put people on pedestals because of their position (whatever it might be). Then when they do something that is “just” human, they fall off the pedal and we allow that to cause us to lose our faith.
Yes, those who are in leadership positions should–hopefully and ideally–live out their beliefs more effectively. But they are also human beings…flawed human beings.
Does that mean we should excuse everything they do? No…not at all.
But it does mean that we need to understand that they are not perfect–and give them the grace of forgiveness that we desire for ourselves.
I’ve been thinking about this recently as my faith tradition is struggling with issues of sexuality and being a worldwide church. I work at my church’s headquarters as well, and that’s also made me think of the topic that’s the title of this post.
Unfortunately, some who have worked at headquarters–and some others who are struggling with this particular issue (as well as some who have struggled with previous issues)–have allowed the humanity of our leaders to cause them to lose faith. It’s not because of a “huge” sin (as they might perceive it). Rather, it’s the little things–the times when someone is not as kind as we think they should have been…times when someone has lost their temper…times when someone’s interpretation of scripture clashes with our own and we wonder how a “godly” leader could think that way…times when we see someone in a situation we think is “not fitting” for a leader…in other words, times when they are human.
As followers of Christ–which is my faith tradition–I am called to live out my understanding to the best of my ability. So are my leaders. I know I’m not perfect; how often have I excused my own behavior by saying something like “Well, I’m just human!” So why is it so difficult for me (us?) to allow others to be “just human”?
That’s where we all are…struggling to understand who we are–and whose we are–and what kind of society we are being called to create. We’re human…and so, despite our best efforts, we are going to fail sometimes. But we only fail completely if we don’t get up, brush ourselves off, and continue working together. After all, we’re all “just human”!