{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way} :: Lesson 3~Nobody’s Above the Fall

We all have them. People we look up to. People we think are “more spiritual” than us. She’s written a book so she must have a perfect relationship with God. He’s such a great speaker so he must know everything there is to know about the Bible. He’s such a good pastor so he would never speak an unkind word to his wife. We rarely verbalize them, but they’re there. These high expectations we place on people. We don’t do it on purpose. It’s a result of our human nature…to make famous those who have been gifted with certain talents. Really we’re all very much alike…I’m human, you’re human, we’re all human (can you hear Natalie Grant singing? *wink*)

One of the funny and not-so-funny stories about our marriage is that when I married Brad I thought he was perfect. We didn’t have the typical get-to-know-you dating circumstance that is allowed most couples. The full story is one for another post but for now I’ll just say that we learned about each other through ministry, working together and mutual friends. We had become friends ourselves which is what led to our engagement, but we never dated as a couple or argued and made up as a couple or grew in comfort as a couple until after we were married.

I had watched him for 4 years…
the traveling “artist” who had finally settled down,
the talented singer and worship leader,
the pastor who loved people and took time to really listen,
the speaker who spoke in such a relatable way,
the funny, outgoing, sometimes-crazy guy who made us all laugh.

photo by Erick Todd

So when he proposed I thought I was the luckiest girl on the planet…
And I was. And still am!

The unfortunate thing for him, and for me, is that I assumed because he had all these gifts and abilities that he just naturally operated in them at all times. I didn’t give him much room, if any, to make mistakes. I thought he would be the perfect husband…always knowing what I needed, always knowing what to say, always “on”.

Poor guy!

The first time he forgot to call to let me know he was running late, you would’ve thought he deliberately took my heart out of my chest, threw it on the ground and stomped on it. I was so upset that he “didn’t think of me”. I can promise that he thought a lot of me after that conversation….like “who is this girl that I married and can someone please help me??”!

And so went the first few months of our marriage. Until I came to the realization that HE’S NOT PERFECT. He’s not JESUS. He’s my husband. And he’s doing his best just like the rest of us. I came to realize that he makes mistakes, just like I do, and that every action that he takes is not an intentional message sent my way! Whew! Glad we’re over that! For the most part anyway…*wink*

Several years later, I realized I had once again put really high, unreachable expectations on someone. When I heard that our pastor had had a moral failure, I was devastated. How could he do this?

I was such a lost, angry teenager when my best friend had invited me to church. Okay, her mom had made us go to church after a night of senior-year celebrating and crawling into bed in the early hours of the morning. I stood in the service that morning, a bit hungover, and tried to keep the tears from spilling down my face as the worship music played. I had never experienced the presence of God like that before. I just had to go back. So I did and a month later I made the whole-hearted decision to follow Jesus.

I had been in church nearly every Sunday since that decision. Ten years of sitting under the leadership of our pastor…

I went through an internship,
became part of the staff,
married one of the pastors
and dedicated our babies.

I experienced retreats,
worship services,
prayer movements
and missions trips.

We had celebrated marriages,
birthdays
and anniversaries.

We had laughed together,
cried together
and been angry with each other.

He’d had dinner in our home, we’d had many at his. He had visited us in the hospital when Brad had surgery, when we’d had babies.

Nearly every significant event I had experienced since that teary Sunday morning included this man. He was my spiritual father and I respected him very much. But my view of him went beyond respect. I trusted him. I knew he loved our family and that if we ever needed anything, he would be there. But even beyond trusting him, I thought he could do no wrong. If I disagreed with something he did, I assumed it was my lack of maturity. I rarely second-guessed him or evaluated him for the man that he was. I was positive he had a direct line to the Lord that was shorter than mine and that he would never do anything out of God’s will. I had an “if all else fails, he (and the church he pastored) would always be there” way of thinking.

All of that changed that Thursday night. This man, or super-human (in my mind) had made a mistake. If he could make this kind of mistake, who could I trust?

I walked through the next couple of years…healing and processing. In looking into my responsibility in the situation, I realized that I had put such high expectations on this man. I assumed he would never falter. This assumption led to such heartache. Such disappointment. This assumption made the situation immediately about me…instead of about a friend who was going through an extremely difficult situation.

The reality is, we are all tempted and we all have choices to make each day. The fact that some fall harder, or further, than others is decided by our response. The higher the expectations we place on others, the higher the consequence. I am not referring to the natural consequences that occur with position, but consequences of the heart.  

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. ~Prov 4:23

Let’s not forget that we ALL need God’s grace. We are ALL in equal need of salvation. Let’s give people room to be people. Let’s accept them for who they are and not try to make them into super-human perfectly perfect people. None of us will reach perfection this side of heaven. This view isn’t to look down on anyone, but to give everyone the space…permission…grace…to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus.

We all desire this kind of grace for ourselves. While we are watching those in leadership positions, let’s remember to pray for them. Let’s remember that we are all in this together and that we ALL need the help and support of each other. Those who are in leadership positions (myself and my husband included) have been placed there by the Lord…not by some super-human-perfect strength of their own. And when one falls, let’s give them grace and offer forgiveness.

 

This post is part of the series {31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way}. Did you miss a lesson? Catch up here.

9 thoughts on “{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way} :: Lesson 3~Nobody’s Above the Fall

  1. Wow…I am speechless. I know exactly what you mean. I felt the same way about my own husband and about our former pastor…ita scary that everything you said, I thought and felt identical as well!!

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  2. This is a 'big idea', and could be a book in itself. My favorite concept from this post, “I walked through the next couple of years…healing and processing. In looking into my responsibility in the situation, I realized that I had put such high expectations on this man. I assumed he would never falter. This assumption led to such heartache. Such disappointment. This assumption made the situation immediately about me…instead of about a friend who was going through an extremely difficult situation”. Learning how to be more dependent on our relationship with God and less dependent on man, that's how we grow up in Christ! Paradoxically, the more dependent we become on Christ, the better we can love man. Thank you for your transparency. Great post, brave.

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  3. Oh how so many can relate to just how you felt. Personally, I wasn't all that affected by the events because to me he was no different than anyone else just because he carries the title of Pastor. I'd seen and heard of many Pastor's fall, so although it was a shock, I wasn't personally affected by it. What bothered me was the way he was treated as a result of the fall. It is so refreshing to see that people have and are coming out and showing him grace and acceptance, and loving him like he should have been all along.

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  4. You were brave to stand before so many who may still have negative attitudes and opinions and hardened hearts towards him, and openly offer grace and forgiveness! God honors that. 🙂

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