Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Can Haggard Be Restored?

Twenty years ago I was a part of a church where our pastor was exposed in adulterous affairs (yes, plural). The church went through an incredible fallout. The rancor was something else. The degree of anger and hatred toward the pastor was intense. You see, he was so revered in the church - really put on a pedastal - that it shook people's faith.

Just this year this man came back into ministry to start a new church. Get this, twenty years later people still are mad...still don't want him in ministry. Who are the sinners now?

I'm confident that Ted Haggard will be restored. Hey folks, that's what church is all about! I think his deception was terrible. He let a lot of people down. His hypocrisy was off the charts. But that's what happens when we don't deal with our sin. We hide it and hide it until it takes us down. If we have any concept of God, we deal with it, find God's forgiveness, set things straight, win back peoples trust, ask forgiveness, prove ourselves and get back in the saddle. That's called restoration. That's called mercy and grace. I think the Bible talks about that some place.

Sure, there are insincere, evil people. There are people who have no intention of changing. My sense is that Ted Haggard isn't one of these guys. I think he has a heart for God.

Haggard needs to be held accountable for what he's done...not excused. But he shouldn't be pushed aside. From what I've heard, his family and church are handling this with a lot of maturity. We can all be better people as a result of this if we follow the Spirit's leading.

God's no dummy. This won't mar his image. People will see things about God they would have never seen if this hadn't happened. These are the moments the church can shine and reveal God's power and grace. God specializes in turn around projects. (i.e. resurrection!)

I'm not worried about Haggard. I'm more worried about how people respond to Haggard.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Thoughts on Ted Haggard

Ugggh! Another one bites the dust!

I just saw Ted Haggard at a meeting in Mpls. a few weeks ago. Pretty impressive guy. In fact, so impressive that he made me glad I'm in little 'ol Menomonie. He seemed to have so much going for him...and so busy...that I thought to myself, "I could never do what he does. I'm not built like that." Turns out that he wasn't built that way either. He probably increasingly put on a good front while he was wasting away on the inside.

Even in my little world of leadership, I can see how it can happen. Life gets overwhelming, so you look for ways of escape. I'm able to delegate, exercise and take vacations! So far, that's worked! But I can see how you get busy, you feel responsible, you don't want to let people down, more and more is asked of you, you don't want to complain or so "no" but, at the same time, you need a break. A lot of people find that "break" in illicit sexual relationships and pornography. Interesting that that's where so many turn. Maybe it's the immediacy, intensity and even the intimacy of sex that draws us there first. Life as a leader can be lonely.

Fallen leaders entail so many issues. There's the hypocrisy, the addiction, the marital infidelity, the pastoral infidelity plus, how do you restore someone like that? Or, should you?

There are so many emotions involved; anger, sadness, resentment, etc. The closer you are to the fallout the more you have to carefully sort through it all. Act too rashly and you will add only more gas to the raging fire.

I've been around other leaders who have fallen. It's made me extra cautious in my own ministry to never go down that road. I was glad to see Haggard come clean and stop the denying foolishness. That's insulting. If he continues to deal with his stuff, I hope he returns to ministry a better man. In the mean time, I pray for his wife and kids, his church and those who will try to use this against the message of Jesus.

We need to guard our hearts. This could happen to any of us. If you don't think so, your fall is closer than you think. There is no shame in this for the church if Haggard and we all handle it well. We've all got hidden parts. The question is, what are we doing about it and how are we handling it when others come clean?