I’ve just been reading through a book by Ajith Fernando, The Call to Joy and Pain. A reminder that the Christian life will involve pain and suffering and that joy is found within that suffering. One paragraph about attitudes towards leaders and preachers struck me as being very profound.
A cynicism is growing within the church. Christians have seen too many leaders fail to live up to their profession. They have seen selfishness when the agenda to which the leader asked the people to commit themselves turned out to be more a personal agenda than a kingdom agenda. They have seen leaders using the church to get rich, sometimes by exploiting weak and vulnerable people. They have seen preachers who do not practise what they preach. They have seen leaders who call for commitment to a mission and then exploit and misuse those who are thus committed. (page 95)
Fernando goes on to say that this state of affairs could eventually lead to “a dark age” in the church. He argues, and rightly, that one of the main ways in which we can avoid this and to bring back a respect for truth and integrity in the church is “for leaders to faithfully live the Christian life and pay the price for doing so.” Not a sentiment that is likely to bring him a huge number of fans, but one which I think is profoundly true. The church desperately needs leaders of integrity.