Doug Phillips. Bill Gothard. Ted Haggard.

Take a quick look around the internet news websites or on any number of blogs and you’ll likely see stories or comments on these three individuals. Those in high positions of leadership who commandeered many a follower until recently when their moral failures made it impossible for them to continue on.

There were a lot of reactions that surrounded these unbelievable situations. Disappointment. Anger. Mocking comments. Sadness. Disbelief.

My reaction wasn’t much of anything because I had never known much about these men or followed any of their teachings or principles. But there have most assuredly been times when people I looked up to have let me down, either due to failure on their part or a misunderstanding of who they were on my part. It left me stunned, confused, a bit sick to my stomach and upset.

Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’ve experienced this with these very people I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Perhaps there has been a pastor, leader, friend or close family member who you greatly admired that has failed in some way to live up to the expectations that you placed on them or has fallen from grace.

What should our reaction be, then, when the people we admire disappoint us?


First, I truly believe we should forgive. We are all sinners and God does call us, time and time again, to forgive our brother {or sister} who has harmed us or others.

Then Peter came to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22, KJV

Forgiving someone involves what you do on your part with the help of God. It doesn’t require the other person being sorry for their sins or publicly admitting that they were wrong. Forgiveness also does not mean that we excuse their actions. There are consequences for sinful choices. We simply choose to let it go so that it does not create bitterness in us. It is hard! But it is a biblical principle and is worth it.

Secondly, and I believe this is just as important, we need to guard our own hearts. Against what, you ask? Against placing people on a pedestal. Against idolizing a leader, teacher, pastor or a set of teachings.

It alarms me to see the devotion and, dare I say, worship bestowed upon many famous Christian leaders. This applies to both men and women who have ministries. Their belief systems are taken to the extreme and they are lauded almost as prophets. We must live by their principles in order to be holy and acceptable before God. Their way is the only way to live the Christian life.

When these leaders’ words wind their way into our pattern of thinking, and then they fall from their heights, what inevitably follows is incredible disillusionment. What we once believed in has failed to deliver on its lofty promises, and it’s quite possible we can feel that God has disappointed us as well.


How can we protect ourselves from this false opinion, that God has somehow let us down?

By placing our trust in His Word alone, over anything or anyone else.

How often do you read the Bible? Compare that to how often you read or listen to someone else’s interpretation of the Bible and its truths. {I need to ask myself this often, believe me!} And there’s nothing wrong with listening to sermons or reading solid Christian materials or devotionals–my husband and I enjoy doing that individually, with each other and with our children!

But if you find that you spend more time listening to sermons by famous preachers or reading the “how to live a Christian life” materials by famous teachers than you spend reading God’s Word, your priorities may need to be… :)

When those we look up to or place much of our trust in disappoint us {and inevitably they will, even if it’s just in a small way, because they are only human}, we can forgive much more easily when our trust and confidence is placed in the Bible, where it should be. When we make Scripture our authority, we will never be put to shame. 

We are reminded in these situations that Scripture does not tell us to be sanctified in “someone’s” word, but in God’s Word. And these are words that will never disappoint us!

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. John 17:17, ESV

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