When Leaders Fail Us

I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. Psalm 142:4

That verse has always expressed a deep sadness for me. I too have felt utterly alone in the world; abandoned by those I loved and even by those paid to care for my soul. So when I recently read in Matthew 27 the account of Judas’ repentance and confession, tears of compassion came quickly.

With his heart full of remorse Judas goes back to the chief priests and elders, he throws the silver pieces on the floor and makes his desperate confession, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” His heart was breaking for a drop of grace or mercy to quench the fire that was beginning to lap at his soul. But instead of being instructed on how to find forgiveness his spiritual elders cruelly abandon his lost soul, “And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it! They were the ones who had led Judas down this path of perdition as they invited him into their plan to condemn Jesus. Their own words identify their culpability, 6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.”

Poor Judas, without any hope he ends his life.

Yes, there are many things we could say about the theology of this passage and wiser people have debated those thoughts. However, none can debate the terrible and cruel failure of the spiritual leaders in this passage. Leaders are responsible for much and yes they are only humans after all.  Do you find yourself  like me, having to forgive those who are given the charge of caring for your soul? We know what Judas should have done. He should have gone back to Jesus, like Peter had done and like we will do today. For Jesus is our high priest and our saviour.

His promise to us today is:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Matthew 6:14, 15For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

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3 Responses to When Leaders Fail Us

  1. Paul DeGraaf says:

    Thank you for caring for my soul.
    Until my last breath, p.

  2. Louise says:

    Hey Denise,

    Thanks for your thoughts. We just got back from Florida and watched every orange truck for you! Didn’t realize your truck was black…

    Hey, this post is interesting…and difficult to readin some parts as viewed from the leader side of leadership. It is tough to hear you lament about those “paid to care for your soul”… As one (previously) paid to do this, I know only too well that I could not care adequately for the souls of many in my congregation and that frequently the expectations of others clashed with my own ability to care in the way they needed/wanted.

    Having been both deeply hurt by leaders in the church and served as one who loved the church, my present state is to extend as much grace as I possibly can to leaders. To be honest, I’m not sure we in the church should create a schisim between those ‘paid’ and those ‘not paid’ to care… Is there a difference? Yes, those in leadership have a responsibility before the Lord to lay down their lives for the church. But so must we as lay people, lay down our lives for the church (each other). Yes, those in leadership fail to meet our expectations… But, I too fail to meet my own expectations often…and perhaps the expectations of many around me.

    I guess my particular perspective of this issue is influenced by my own woundedness…a woundedness different from your own. But perhaps we share the fact that our lenses have a unique scratch on them and we now must look through it or around it when we view the world.

    I/we stand as ones accused of failing my/our church…our ‘sins’ layed out in a myraid of specific and hurtful words, e-mails and even 11 pages letters….

    As one who is broken and can only be a wounded healer, I now resist the those who would have me live up to their personal expectations of what ‘paid’ soul care should look like.

    I’ve let people down and not even known how or what I did to let them down. I have earned their rejection and condemnation without owning any motive to hurt them at all…and yet they accuse.

    I/we have had to re-learn to listen more closely to our Father and live as the beloved. This is difficult!

    So, I too share your compassion for Judas and I extend the same compassion to leaders, lay leaders, elders…we’re all just people who see through a glass darkly in the way we see one another and Jesus.

    Lord have mercy on us all.

    Love to you and Paul. We’d really enjoy a cup of soup in the kitchen again soon if you are through Burlington. Are you ever here? We miss you!


  3. Hey Louise! I agree with you that we are all responsible and called to care for one another similar to a healthy family dynamic. In our daily reality however there are those who hold positions of responsibility, some are paid and perhaps I was unfair to isolate those but there is some leadership structure that does exist.
    And of course we will all let one another down (Ps 118:8; Ps 146:3). We will fail those we love, and those we love will fail us. These are truths which we all experience regularly.
    Our choices after the failure (whether on our part or others’) is what makes all the difference. The strength to make the choices that bring life is only found in the death of Christ where I am forgiven and I have the power to forgive others. Free indeed!
    I love your insight when you say, “our lenses have a unique scratch on them and we now must look through it or around it when we view the world.”
    You are so right. Thank you.
    We miss you both too and would love to spend an evening together (but you know that). We will pray that God would give us time and opportunity. xox denise

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