In the midst of this election cycle, one of the more perplexing matters is the number of people who profess they adhere to Christian principles not only supporting Donald Trump but holding him up as a model of leadership. The issue is a question of character. Yet, what is just as disheartening to me is the recent fall of well-known pastors. In the past three years alone, at least four well-known pastors have resigned from their pastorates because of failure in character.
Pastors Bob Coy and Tullian Tchividjian stepped down from their ministries after revelation broke of both having affairs with other women while they were married to their wives. The problem in character is not limited to adultery, however. Pastors Darrin Patrick and Mark Driscoll were both asked to resign from their leadership positions due to a lack of biblical and personal accountability and a misuse of their power and authority.
The temptation, I believe, is to look at these pastors in condemnation. We convince ourselves this could never happen to us. Remember, though, the wisdom of Proverbs 16:18:
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
We must ask how we should respond to these occurrences. Anytime I hear news break about a pastor stepping down because of a failure in character, I respond in two ways: (1) my heart breaks over the incident due to how the sin has tragically affected the pastor’s family and church, and (2) I allow it to be a teaching moment for me to reflect and evaluate my own life and ministry. It is this latter response I want us to think about especially as we are Christian leaders and are those being trained to be Christian leaders.
The ultimate problem with Pastors Bob, Tullian, Darrin, and Mark for their disqualification was not in the content they were teaching. There was no legitimate accusation of heresy in their preaching. The falter in their leadership was character. When the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and listed qualifications of church leadership, what was the focus (1 Timothy 3:1-13)? Character.
Besides the qualification that the pastor or elder must be “able to teach,” Paul hones in on the call to character. Content is necessary but not to the neglect of character.
Lessons for CBC
So, as faculty, staff, and students of Crossroads Bible College, what lesson can we learn from these incidents? We must learn in our training of Christian leaders to reach a multiethnic urban world for Christ that we are calling leaders to character. We are teaching and receiving solid biblical content. We must also be encouraging biblical character.
We are not simply teaching content; we are teaching people. The training students receive at Crossroads is not information merely to be absorbed but biblical truth that should shape every aspect of the person. The content in the classroom should contribute to the character modeled in the home and in the church. The call of the Christian leader is more than a call to receive and teach biblical content. The call of the Christian leader is a call to character.