How to Cope When Leadership Fails - Hope 103.2

How to Cope When Leadership Fails

In the wake of scandals across churches and leaders, here are some pointers to how we can process when leaders "fall from grace".

By Hope 103.2 NetworkFriday 23 Jun 2023LifestyleReading Time: 3 minutes

In the wake of scandals across churches and leaders, the Christian community has been trying to make sense of what went wrong and whom to hold responsible.

When leaders “fail”, there inevitably can be perceptions of blame and judgement.

It could also pollute our attitude towards religious institutions and leave a rather sour taste towards leadership.

As we witness this and read regular updates, it also can have an impact on our wellbeing.

The people we might have perceived as “good” have now turned out to be flawed.

In fact, some of them have serious allegations against them.

How can we process and respond to leaders “falling from grace”?

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Check in with yourself

What am I feeling?

Where in my body am I feeling it?

This might range from anger to disappointment, from shock to denial.

Whatever those emotions are, you can try to acknowledge them and let them “sit” with you.

Your emotions have wisdom to them and don’t need to be discarded as unimportant.

Take a moment to notice this as your feelings might be quite nuanced.

This simple act of checking in will help you be more aware of your internal world.

Ask how this affects you

Are you in the ministry space and now feel like you have to defend all your decisions?

Perhaps you are a parent who is trying to help your child make sense of this or a leader yourself who is struggling in a particular area.

Whatever your position is, it is important to think through how these incidents impact your day-to-day functioning.

Have you noticed significant changes in your mood?

Has this contributed to a sense of hopelessness?

If your functioning has been impaired, seeing a professional can help in gaining clarity and moving forward.

Remember: Leaders are fallible

We can sometimes hold the belief that church leaders have perfected the art of living out every Biblical truth.

The reality, however, is they might make errors in judgment, be susceptible to mistakes and not always get it right.

This does not justify unethical behaviour or imply they should not be held accountable.

However, it should not come as a shock when we hear news confirming the best humans are humans – at best.

Revisit expectations of leadership

We expect church leaders to be representative of the institution as a whole, so it can be frustrating to witness them struggle.

There are numerous reasons behind such “failures” in leadership.

Some of them are lack of accountability and mentorship, lack of flexibility, gaps in communication and boundary violations.

Who is a perfect leader?

What are my expectations of leaders?

It might help to verbalise your beliefs and expectations of leadership, and then redefine the ones which might be unrealistic and sometimes unhelpful.

Have you been experiencing significant difficulties in terms of your wellbeing and find it challenging to move forward from leadership incidents?

If you are looking for professional help, you can get in touch with one of our Centre for Effective Serving team.


Article supplied with thanks to The Centre for Effective Serving.

Feature image: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash