Lessons on Leadership from Haggard

Andrew Jones has been tracking the latest with the Ted Haggard scandal over at tallskinnykiwi: Haggard and Haggard and the Hazards of Hotels.

Enough has already been said about this issue by others. Andrew has some good content to ponder for sure, especially a comment by Will Samson:

Please pray for Ted Haggard and his family – Even if you do not agree with all of his politics, he is in the middle of a private hell that most of us cannot relate to. This is true whether the allegations are confirmed or not.

Mark Driscoll has some thoughts worth considering over at Resurgence, though some of them will be controversial (as usual).

With so much political, spiritual, and sexual chaos swirling about, I have decided to take a slightly different track. I think this tragic situation should be an immensely important lesson on leadership, the celebrity status of leaders, and what we expect of them.

Keep in mind that Haggard was the pastor of 14,000 AND the top guy at the National Association of Evangelicals. Either one is enough to cause a good man (or woman!) to crack. The two together sounds like a recipe for disaster. Even the saintly Bill Hybels had a break down as the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.

I’m not saying that Christians can’t lead large organizations and remain pure. Billy Graham pulled it off. But his ministry was very focused on presenting the Gospel at certain events. He did other things for sure, but he was not a pastor of thousands AND an world-traveling evangelist.

Every person with power and pressure will be vulnerable to sin. Immorality abounds in Washington D.C. among our politicians, and even Martin Luther King Jr. had a mistress. Power and pressure do not equal sin, but they make it far more likely.

And this leads to my point: do we really need celebrity pastors of huge congregations? Are we expecting too much out of our church and parachurch leaders? I think we are.

Spencer Burke was a top pastor at a huge church in California when one day he broke down emotionally at a men’s retreat. He did not fall into sin. Spencer backed out before the stress and pressure ate him up.

He moved on to serve as an elder at Rock Harbor, another growing church in California. Sure enough the pastor of this large congregation had an affair. Is any of this starting to make sense???

In my view we can have pastors of large churches, but I agree with church planter Neil Cole who says that mega churches should not be the norm.

Small is beautiful and allows the church to distribute leadership more evenly. We can have paid pastors, but must also be wary of expecting too much from them. In the midst of the ruins surrounding Ted Haggard and his church, I pray that we can find new leadership models and church structures that do not set up pastors for break downs.