Updated: Oct 27
The Christian community is looking for a leader who we can really trust and follow, but for those in my age bracket, we find that difficult. We've grown up hearing about the very public, shameful failures of successful ministers, and it's shaken us to our core. It can feel like every time we think we've found someone we can really believe in and follow, they let us down in a painful way. (And if they haven't publicly let us down, we're pretty sure there's something we just don't know about.)
It seems like any time I share some book or message from an author or pastor, within months that person has a huge public failure and I feel embarrassed for how naïve I was to endorse their message. I hesitate to ever publicly admit that I appreciate someone's sermon or song or blog because I feel it coming - public exposure of some kind of failure that makes all their beautiful words feel tainted.
Not only do I hesitate to share my appreciation, but I also cringe when I think of the criticism I might receive because other people know these ministers personally, or think they do, and are quick to point out their flaws. (Oh, don't follow that guy. He's a control freak who yells at his staff. Or she spent $4000 on a gold-encrusted toilet seat.) It can be easier just to shut up about them and write things like, "I heard a sermon the other day that sparked my imagination," rather than giving credit to the person whose words and creativity deserve recognition.
It's hard to trust.
But is all this public humiliation of our leaders really new or surprising? Isn't our greatest worship leader of all time also one of the worst sinners - a polygamist, adulterer, and murderer with children over whom he had very little control? And yet, the song book of the Christian faith is written mainly by this very man - King David. No effort is made to cover his sins in the Bible.
If we are to believe many Christians today, we really should throw away the book of Psalms and never mention King David. Yet we all know that God called him "a man after God's own heart" and promised that because of David's faithfulness, one of his descendants would always sit on the throne in Jerusalem. Do we shudder to quote the Psalms? Do we ignore the richness of King David's contribution to our Christian faith because he also ordered an illegal census? Because when his son requested that his daughter, Tamar, be sent to him to care for him (when there were many servants available), he allowed it. When that son raped his sister, he neither punished his son nor covered his daughter's ruin.
Humans are messy, flawed, and full of hidden motives and desires. We fail. We fail and we fail and we fail. But isn't that what makes us so grateful for God's mercy and forgiveness? Perfect candidates for salvation! In our weakness, God's power is able to shine forth and we are used to change the world.
If I ignore the powerful message of a preacher who fascinates and encourages me, like Steven Furtick, because someone somewhere doesn't like him, what does that say about my faith in the God of second chances? What does that say about the grace I receive from God for my own sins? If I dismiss the incredible motivation I received from Rachel Hollis' books because I'm disappointed by her personal stance on things that she doesn't cover in the books I've read, what does that say about how God used her message to catapult me out of my despair and self-pity into someone who wrote and published a book and started a successful new business in the same year that my little son was still on a feeding tube and vomiting buckets every day?
If I throw away the beautiful message in the lyrics of a song that allows me to feel the presence of God because I find out through social media that the performer interprets Scripture differently than I do, how does that protect me from anything? The song increased my faith and got me through a difficult time, so why should I reject it?
Spiritual maturity, the kind that allows us to lead others to Jesus, doesn't require perfection of others. It allows us to acknowledge that every single person is fighting a battle we may know nothing about, and maybe their battle has been broadcast all over the media for us to think we understand, but we don't truly know them. We can't see their hearts. David, sinner extraordinaire, was a man after God's own heart. His songs are the backbone upon which our current system of worship is built. God doesn't apologize to us for using this man to lead us into His presence. God just lets us see David as he was - angry, joyful, sorrowful, grateful, afraid, loving, depressed, jubilant, fair, unfair, full of self-control and greedy, humble and proud. JUST LIKE WE ARE.
What if every good thing you and I accomplished was dismissed in light of our worst sins? Let's stop dismissing people when we discover they are, in fact, imperfect.
It's time to grow in our spiritual maturity. We can discern right from wrong because we have the Holy Spirit living inside us. We can worship God through the lyrics King David wrote without believing that all the things he did were right. The Holy Spirit is our guide. That's enough.
If you're not already following me on social media, it's a great time to start. I've been taking a little break from it this week. I didn't intend to, but I had some other business to attend to and I forgot about it. It's been kind of nice. But I'm sure I'll be back there again soon. Most of the time I enjoy sharing a glimpse of my life with the world. Sometimes it gets heavy though. I may write more about that later. For now, Instagram (@kimberly.wyse) and Facebook (@kimberlywyse) are my main platforms. I also do video versions of my blog on YouTube and IGTV, and I have Pinterest boards. Let's connect.