This post is part 5 of a series of women’s ministry questions. Click here to read older posts.

Recently at a YOU Lead women’s leadership training,  we had a panel answering questions submitted by attendees. Several past and upcoming posts will address those and try to help answer them. 

Today’s question is: When do you trust those who have betrayed you in ministry?

How many of you have faced that? I have. It is such a difficult part of leadership. Shakes your faith in your fellow team members and hurts your heart.

A lot depends on the kind of betrayal involved. If it’s a moral issue, my question would be: how did they respond when confronted? If they were defensive and excuse the behavior that tells me one thing (that they are sorry they got caught!). If they are broken and truly repentant, that will tell me something else.

If they are not repentant, the only course of action is to ask them to step down from the position. If they are repentant, then they need help, possibly counseling by a professional. But there should also be a plan in place for walking them through the restoration process. That takes time. Restoring them immediately to their position is not usually wise. It might be best to release them from leadership for a period of time, with follow up to check up on where they are in their restoration process before returning them to a leadership position.

 We are told in Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.” Now if others are to imitate the faith of the leader, then we must be held to a high standard of integrity and honesty. Do we want them to follow us as we are engaged in immorality and lies? Certainly not. If a leader is struggling in this area, they need help and love but they do not need to be leading and teaching others, at least for the time being. 

We are also told in James 3:1 that teachers will receive a “stricter judgment”.  This passage is addressing the tongue and being an untrained teacher who is teaching false doctrine out of ignorance.  But it certainly seems to apply to all teachers being held to a high standard.

We must pray with and for those who betray us in ministry. We must walk with them through a restoration process, and as they follow Christ obediently they certainly will be leaders God can use in ministry, maybe even more so as they have experienced falling and being forgiven.

If they are not willing to walk the road of restoration with you or another church leader, it indicates they are not ready to be in a leadership position with your women. Find other ways they can serve as they journey forward into healing and spiritual growth. Don’t leave them even if they choose not to be restored. Love them and pray for them. Let them know you care and that you are a resource should they choose help.

Sometimes leadership is just a hard job! But not confronting sin and betrayal will not benefit the ministry to women in your church. 

How have you dealt with this tough issue?

Watch for future Q/A posts!

Resources:

Women Reaching Women

Transformed Lives

Comments

  1. Hi Chris!
    I have faced this. What made it difficult was that it was with my pastor. He unfairly and harshly blamed me for a situation I had with his wife (things that she took responsibility for later when she & I resolved it).
    I told the pastor that he had hurt me, he strongly rebuked me. We sat down and talked about it twice over the next few months, but he absolutely refused any wrongdoing, saying he never hurt me and even saying I was out of line for questioning him. He then indirectly banned me from serving in my gifted area.
    It has been a difficult situation for almost two years now. I’ve felt abandoned by the church in general. I would love to move to the south. I have looked at other churches in the area, but it seems like God wants me here for now.
    Just last week, a situation came up and I confronted the pastor about it, frustrated that he is still blocking me from teaching. He went ballistic at first, but then a while later, we went aside and talked. This time he had some different answers. He tentatively admitted that “if” he had hurt me back then, he didn’t mean to, which knowing him is as close to an apology as I’ll get.
    It sounds like your post is targeted at people you have authority over in the ministry. How does the answer change when you are betrayed by people who are above you in the organization?

  2. Chris Adams says:

    Wow, you are right it was targeted differently. I haven’t really thought about it from this perspective but I do know what you are talking abut, at least to some degree. Our responsibility is to submit to those in authority over us (unless they are asking us to do something sinful). As long as God has him in his position we just don’t have alot of options except to love and pray for our leaders. Forgive him even if you only got “sort of” an apology. Seek to serve where you can, thus establishing your credibility. Continue to be faithful to the Lord as He shows you where He wants you to be. As long as He won’t allow you to leave your church, He must not be through with you there! Thank you for sharing this other side to the issue! One I am sure many leaders have faced.

  3. Anonymous says:

    In response to Michelle’s post…A few years ago I went through something similar. I was falsely accused by some members of our church and STRONGLY reprimanded by my pastor. Took me totally by surprise because I knew nothing of it until I was confronted by my pastor. He obviously assumed it was true and treated me very harshly, behind closed doors and in front of my husband. It hurt me deeply because I had known this man for many years and thought he would have immediately recognized that this was something totally out of character for me. My husband went back later and talked with him privately about how he had spoken to me. He apologized “sort of” to him, but has never apologized to me personally.
    I was embarrassed and hurt so deeply that I could hardly walk through the doors of my church for months. We were never told who my accusers were, even though my husband and I asked to meet with them, making it clear that our motives were pure. We simply wanted to be reconciled with our sisters and/or brothers in Christ. And I will add, we never discussed this situation with friends or anyone else in our church, although we did get godly counsel from another source outside our church.
    Not knowing who the accusers actually were, but having strong suspicions, made it extremely difficult to move on. I was a mess. It occupied my thoughts, day and night. After the hurt came anger and bitterness – toward my unknown accusers and our pastor. My husband and I were both leaders in our church. We loved the people and still felt called to continue serving there. Although we had prayed and knew God was telling us to stay at this church, I became withdrawn, only attending when I had to. Bitterness had become a stronghold.
    A couple of years ago, the Holy Spirit convinced me of my need to forgive. I’m sure the people who had wrongly accused me had long since moved on. And here I was, still stuck in the “mud.” With the help of a good book on forgiveness and a heart that was ready and willing, I forgave them and my pastor. It has completely changed my life and our women’s ministry. I have been reconciled to my pastor and I very much believe I have regained his trust and respect based on how he has involved me in areas of leadership in the church.
    I am sharing this because I want Michelle and anyone else who has been hurt in this way to know that the enemy would love nothing more than to see leaders in the church become crippled and ineffective – for the rest of their days. Forgive. let it go…give God time to work in your heart and in the heart of your pastor. Let Christ restore you and him. This experience has made me stronger, wiser and more determined than ever, to see the body of Christ, unified. Sincerely forgive, then watch how God works.

  4. Chris Adams says:

    Thank you so very much formsharing your story of forgiveness. Only by gods grace is this possible. Stories like yours give us examples of how it works in real life.

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