With the help of The Message I have been reading through Second Chronicles in the Old Testament. It’s been a long time since I plodded through the lengthy lists and endless collection of names in Chronicles, but Peterson’s simple translation takes off the edge and allows for easy reading, even if I’m reduced to skimming names at times.
To my surprise, Second Chronicles is a fascinating book about the kings of Judah, basically ignoring the kings of Israel unless they did something with relevance for Judah. There is more detail about each king than in the book of Second Samuel, and so that creates some striking portraits. In light of my recent post about pastors falling into affairs, I noticed that just about every king, whether God-fearing or not, failed in some major way, especially later on in life.
In fact, it seemed that several kinds did well so long as a priest or two kept them in check, but once the oversight was lifted, there was tremendous temptation to do as they pleased, thereby offending God and causing the people of Judah to suffer.
My theory in the previous post about pastors seems to apply here, especially since God did not originally want all of the power over his people concentrated in one person: we need less trust and more grace for our leaders. When I say less trust, I’m implying that we put too much trust and consequently too much pressure on our leaders. We are overconfident in them and also in ourselves. When a leader does fail, as even the Bible implies is highly likely, there often is a lack of grace for our leaders who buckle under the pressure and difficulty of bearing so much by themselves.
Less trust does not imply no trust or even minimal trust. Less trust means we need to reevaluate our perceptions of leaders, keeping in mind that no matter how holy and honest they may be, they have chinks in their armor like all of us and need the support of a community. We set our leaders up for failure when we place them above the community, in an untouchable place as the holy pastor.
Grace is one of those words that receives a lot of air time, but is little understood and even less practiced. Grace to a fallen Christian leader means unconditional love, even if trust has been breached. So long as the fallen leader struggles to cling to his Lord, the church is there for the long, difficult process of restoration. Grace is not popular, doesn’t feel just, and will be costly for those extending it, but without it the church cannot survive.