We spend a lot of time cleaning up crap. You know…the mess we make as a result of our own selfish decisions. It doesn’t matter if we are leaders, missionaries, or pastors, we all fall to pride, lust, anger, self-righteousness, worry and self. In those times that we fail to triumph over sin we feel like $!#%. Yet God doesn’t want us to live in the muck and mire of self-defeat and sin. He desires that we walk in victory and has given us every tool under heaven and earth to pursue it. So how do we as leaders respond to failure or defeat in a healthy way?
Romans 7:14-25 (from The Message) gives us a process. The Apostle Paul, like us, struggled with crap. “I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.” (Verse 19)
1. Quote Scripture and Love On It
“I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.” (Verse 22)
Remind yourself of God’s truth. It was a lie that got you here in the first place. No one wants to live in deception. Stop the hypocrisy. Stop the posing. Wipe the superficial smile from your face. Take the lie and put it where it belongs – in the shitter. Replace it with TRUTH…God’s truth about you.
2. Hate the Sin and Flee From It
“I’m full of myself – after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison.” (Verse 15)
I grew up with thieves, refugees, convicts, gang-bangers and murderers. I heard the Gospel for the first time with this crowd. I started my faith journey with people like this. I ministered alongside them for years. Out of the dozens of individuals only a few are still following Jesus today. This is because everyone easily hates their sin but not everyone chooses to cut all ties with the old life. Many still hold on to their old pattern of thinking and in the end become ineffective for the Kingdom of God. Take drastic measures to hate your sin and flee far from its prison.
3. Be Broken and Humble Yourself
“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?” (Verse 24)
By God’s grace I was able to attend a Christian college in Southern CA. The freshmen energy was electrifying as most 18 yr. olds had never experienced the freedom of independence from Mommy and Daddy. I met many sheltered Christian kids who wanted to smoke weed, have sex and drink Corona’s on the beaches of Tijuana, Mexico (a short drive away from CA). For these kids they had never made Jesus their own. They had never come to the end of their rope and experienced true brokenness over their sin.
When was the last time you cried over robbing God of His glory? When was the last time you felt compassion for the lost? This is an indicator of your spiritual health. Have you become so calloused in your heart that you no longer hear the Spirit of God? This is a dangerous place to be and only leads to death – in every sense of the word. It doesn’t matter if you are a sheltered missionary kid or an ex-convict who committed murder, God will only use those who are broken and contrite over their sin.
4. Stand Up and Walk After Jesus
“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.” (Verse 25)
Now is the time for you to get up off the floor. Step up and out of the crap you are in. Jesus is telling you to rise up because He has already set things right. You have been forgiven and made righteous in His eyes. He is commanding you to live out your gratitude in action. He is asking you to follow Him towards daily victory over sin. He’s asking all of us to be honest leaders. Leaders who don’t act like we have arrived but whom consistently walk in God’s grace and teach others to do the same. God knows that we struggle. He also knows that we can walk in the complete freedom that He purchased. In Jesus we can and we will.