6 Words for When a Leader Falls

leaders who fall Ashley Madison

I wanted to throw up. I wanted to punch something. I wanted to cry. I wanted it all to be not true.

Someone from college I believed to be a man after God’s own heart had apparently fallen into adultery. Somehow that seems to be a pattern of men with that reputation.

I guess I know now how the Israelites felt when the news began to trickle out of the palace that Nathan had exposed the secret sins of King David (2 Samuel 11-12).

With the Ashley Madison revelations, I can safely assume I am not the only one in this situation. Homes are being destroyed. Reputations brought low. And so many of us are left wondering, “Is every Christian leader having an affair?”

But that’s the easy road. Cynicism allows us to maintain emotional distance, but we cannot control how far it reaches. Without realizing it, we end up cynical about everything and everyone—including God.

The way of Jesus is the narrow, hard road. It’s the road to Calvary that’s paved with heartache and loss, but ends with triumph and joy.

As so many of us are dealing with the fall of leaders we love and respect, here are six words to keep in mind.

Pray. First and foremost, pray for the families and people affected most deeply. Pray for the churches, ministries, and institutions that have to carry on in the wake of the scandal.

Pray also for your own heart. Pray that you don’t succumb to cynicism. Pray that this situation pushes you deeper into the embrace of Christ. Pour out all your emotions, bitterness, anger, questions, tears to Him.

Repent. Apparently, God is done being mocked by those who claim His name with their voices in public and deny Him with their actions in private. Now is not the time to hide.

Confess any sins to your Father and fall on His mercy and grace. The consequences of voluntary repentance will be much less than the consequences of forced exposure.

Remember. You know people who have been faithful to God and their spouse—think of them. Remind yourself that those people have existed in your life and they still do now.

If you are married, remember how God has worked in your own marriage. How He has brought you through hard times and how you still love each other now.

Guard. Your heart, your marriage, your reputation. All of it. Seeing all of these Christian leaders fall should be a reminder to everyone that we can end up in the same place. In and of ourselves, we are not above it.

Open up your bank accounts to your spouse. Give them access/passwords to every social media and email account. Do whatever you need to do to protect yourself from yourself.

Read. Dig into God’s word. There is comfort there. Read the Psalms. Those men poured their hearts out to God in times of great distress and emotional turmoil.

The words our God has given to us are there for us to rest on, dive in, and weep with. They are there to give us strength and a reminder of in whom our trust must always be placed.

Hope. I can rest in the fact that nothing has escaped the attention of my sovereign God. I have to believe that He is discipling His church for our good and His glory.

I can hope in His promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. I can hope that He is purifying His church for something in the future. More than anything else, I can trust in Him.

Ed Stetzer has written three helpful posts on the Ashley Madison scandal, which is applicable to any situation of a Christian leader suffering a moral failure.


  1. I am broken for the families involved and for NGU. This has been a great reminder that no one is above sin. The enemy is ready to steal, kill, and destroy. He lies in wait like a lion looking for something to devour. We must be ready, we must be alert, we must be suited in the armor… because we are only one bad choice away from being on a youtube video.

    While I am saddened and even angered this was happening, and I definitely think it is important that we remember that there are always consequences to sin, but Jesus is ultimately about restoration. And He desires to restore even the vilest person back to Himself.

    I pray NGU friends past and present will think on these six words, and take long hard look at our own hearts in the mean time. Aaron, I would like to add a seventh word if you don’t mind??? #7 JESUS We must call out and run to Him at all times… “Kings and Kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s just something about that name.”

About Author

Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.