When Leaders Compromise

lightstock_167786_medium_user_2298620A few months back, I observed one of the saddest things I’ve seen in a while.  A leader stood up in his church and compromised what the Bible teaches about a topic, simply because it’s not socially acceptable in our culture to teach otherwise.  He chose to go with what was socially acceptable, and relegate the Bible’s teaching on this subject to applicability in antiquity, not in our lives today.

This is not the first time I’ve seen or heard such a thing, but each time it happens, it’s so sad to me.  To stand up and say, “This is what the Bible teaches – I don’t like it, and I don’t fully understand why, but this is what it says and this is what it means, regardless of what I think about it” – that’s honest, and I can respect that.  I’ve felt that way at times.  But to offer  your opinion as what God really means, despite what the Biblical text clearly says – that’s not ok.  And to see a leader compromise the truth of Scripture and the integrity of their ministry like that is really heart breaking.

Teaching is hard.  James 3:1 writes that, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” I fully understand and can empathize with the fact that it’s not always fun and enjoyable to bring the whole counsel of God’s Word to people.  I certainly don’t always want to hear it!  Scripture convicts and challenges my ways of thinking and living, and that’s not always pleasant.  But it is a standard that is unchanging and immovable, regardless of how I feel or what I think (which can change from day to day or year to year).

Leaders, be aware: when you choose to compromise, to take the easier road, you don’t just make a poor choice for yourself.  You lead all those who follow you down that path, and the ripple effect spreads farther than you know.

I share this post in all humility. I’m CONFIDENT that in nearly 20 years of teaching the Bible that I’ve made errors when I’ve taught. I’m CONFIDENT that I’ve not always done the absolute best job possible exegeting and teaching the text.  Young teachers can make terrible mistakes as they are learning, and I was no exception.  But it’s never been intentional.  It’s never been because I didn’t like what I read in Scripture on a topic and felt the need to “update” the Bible.  Leaders and teachers, we don’t have edit rights to that document.

The temptation to compromise the teaching of Scripture is nothing new.  It was present in the early church and in every generation that followed, and it is very present in our day.  What is politically correct or socially expedient might be easier to stand and deliver, but that doesn’t make it biblical.  And when we choose to present it as such, we compromise the leadership that is entrusted to us and the role of teacher that is placed in our hands.

Fight the temptation.  No matter how uncomfortable, no matter how difficult, present the truth of Scripture.  And trust God to use it as only He can to change lives.

Have you ever been tempted to compromise the truth of Scripture as you prepare to teach or as you stand to present it?  How do you guard against that?