7 Reasons Christian Leaders Fail

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Shane Idleman

In light of what’s going on with Robert Morris and Tony Evans, I decided to re-release this article so we can all focus on finishing strong.

Why do Christian leaders fail? They fail for the same reason all Christians fail. Each of us is drawn away by our own evil desires and enticed. When we act on these desires, they lead to sin (see James 1:14-15). Sin has a life cycle, either growing or withering depending on whether we feed or starve it. John Owen, the prolific Puritan author, wrote, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”

Consider the following ways sin enters our lives:

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1. “It will never happen to me.” First Corinthians 10:12 reminds us if we think that we are standing firm, we should be careful we don’t fall. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18, ESV). Pride says, “I’ve never committed adultery. It will never happen to me.” Humility says, “By the grace of God, I haven’t, but I may.”

Strength is found in admitting our weaknesses: “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). Pride opens the door to compromise and unwise decisions, ignoring conviction. Conviction is not always a hammer to the head but a still, small voice to the heart. Sadly, many confuse God’s patience with approval. C.H. Spurgeon rightly noted, “We are never, never so much in danger of being proud as when we think we are humble.”

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2. I’m “too busy.” We are all susceptible to putting ministry first and God second. If we’re too busy to cultivate a prayer life that puts God first, we’re too busy. Men would live better if they prayed better. We’re often too busy because we’re doing too much. “When faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live” (E.M. Bounds). It’s hard to fall when you’re always on your knees. Moral failing cannot gain a stronghold in a broken, praying heart that spends time in the Word and obedience to that Word (see James 1:22). Nine times out of 10, when a leader falls, he or she has no meaningful prayer or devotional life.

3. Holiness is compromised. The enemy attempts to draw us away from God’s holy standard. I vividly remember a story about a young boy who kept falling out of his bed. He finally asked his mother why this kept happening. She wisely answered, “It’s because you don’t stay far enough in.” In the same way, many of us fall back into sin because we don’t get far enough into God’s framework of safety and protection through holiness. In the words of Isaac Watts, “True Christianity, where it reigns in the heart, will make itself appear in the purity of life.”

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