Shirley Arnold Articles

When You Want to Quit

At times giving up may seem reasonable. But the nature of faith is seeing and doing the impossible.


Everyone
at one time or another has wanted to give up! Even Jesus wanted to give
up when He faced the cross. Knowing His footsteps would soon lead Him
to agony and shame, He asked the Father “‘O My Father, if it is
possible, let this cup pass from Me'” (Matt. 26:39, NKJV).

In
essence, He was saying, If there is another way to accomplish Your will,
Father, could we go with plan B? Jesus was faced with the choice of
giving up or pressing on.

“More Than” People

“More Than” People

When my husband and I went out to dinner
one night we were served by an extremely helpful waitress. This woman seemed to
anticipate our every need; she even suggested an item that was not on the
menu.

Throughout the evening, she served us with both joy and efficiency.
She made our evening so pleasant that the next time we went to that restaurant,
we requested her as our waitress. In a society in which mediocrity has become
the standard, she distinguished herself by her excellence.

Learn to Discover Your Spiritual Gifts

Learn to Discover Your Spiritual Gifts

God gives all of us spiritual gifts—but too many Christians never unwrap them. Why is it important for you as a believer to identify your spiritual gifts? So that you can fulfill God’s purposes for you. A spiritual gift is the result of God’s influence on your...

When You Want to Quit

When You Want to Quit

Everyone at one time or another has wanted to give up! Even Jesus wanted to give up when He faced the cross. Knowing His footsteps would soon lead Him to agony and shame, He asked the Father "'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me'" (Matt. 26:39,...

Break Out of Mediocrity

Break Out of Mediocrity

When my husband and I went out to dinner recently, we were served by an extremely helpful waitress. This woman seemed to anticipate our every need; she even suggested an item that was not on the menu.Throughout the evening, she served us with both joy and efficiency....

4 Ways You Can Be Spiritually Blind

4 Ways You Can Be Spiritually Blind

Every new season from God seems to have a theme, catch phrase or byword that characterizes it. In a recent season, one catch phrase expressed a particular hunger in our hearts that became the theme of many of our prayer lives: "Increase our territory." The widespread...

When Leaders Fail You

When Leaders Fail You

Several years ago my husband and I led a short-term missions trip behind the Iron Curtain for 14 days. We were immersed in ministry and had no access to any form of news in English. By the time our ministry responsibilities ended, we were eager to get a copy of USA Today.

When we arrived in Austria, we bought a paper at the first newsstand we found. You can imagine the shock we felt when we opened it up and read the bold headline, “Famous Tele-evangelist Indicted for Fraud.” While we had been out of the country, this scandal had been chronicled in newspapers, magazines and the evening news.

As the days passed, failure after failure among Christian leaders was brought to the light. Many believers became so disturbed that they lost their ability to trust spiritual leaders. The local church as well as parachurch ministries began to suffer financially. Wonderful ministries that were run with integrity suffered as people withdrew their financial support.

The publicizing of the failures was a devastating blow to the body of Christ at large. But we should not be duped into thinking that the failures broadcast on the evening news and written about in the papers during that season are the only ones that have ever occurred in the church. Similar heartbreaking scenarios are happening right now in city after city across our nation.

Effects of a Leader’s Failure
We may not read about them in the headlines, but many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing a crisis in their local congregations. Presented with the agonizing truth that their leader has fallen into moral failure, they wonder what they should do.

First Corinthians 12:26 tells us that “if one member [of the body of Christ] suffers, all the members suffer with it” (NASB). The reality of this scripture rings loud and clear for those who have experienced a leader’s fall. Here are some of the ways we can be affected.

Basic trust is violated. How can we place our trust in people we know are subject to failure? Many believers have responded to this dilemma by choosing not to trust leaders at all. The problem with this response is that it leads to isolation and a cynical spirit.

Living behind a wall of mistrust robs us of an ability to receive impartation. We are no longer teachable, and we open ourselves up to deception and rebellion.

Several years ago, I was part of a ministry that interacted with numerous other well-known ministries in the body of Christ. I had great admiration for the leaders of these ministries, whom I had previously seen only from afar. Unfortunately, my interaction with many of them on a more personal level proved to be somewhat disappointing.

To be honest, I was shocked by the conversation and behavior of people I had considered to be spiritual giants. I was so disillusioned I began to wonder if there were any really holy people in leadership. Now I realize I was overreacting, but those were my true feelings at the time.

With my walls of mistrust firmly in place, I attended a Sunday morning worship service at a church I was visiting. The pastor preached a message about–you guessed it–trust!

He talked about “disillusionment.” The word disillusion means “to come to the end of an illusion.” In that moment, I realized that I had believed an illusion concerning leaders.

The illusion was that ministers should never say or do anything wrong. I had mistaken the anointing for proof of character. The reality is that we all fail, and we are all less than the anointing portrays us to be. My inability to recognize the humanity of my leaders set them up for failure. This simple revelation released me to trust leaders with the understanding that they–like the rest of us–are all flawed.

There is a difference, however, between a simple character flaw and participation in acts of sin such as adultery, homosexual relationships, financial fraud or abusive behavior. Committing such sins requires a process of repentance, correction, restoration and accountability over a period of time.

If your leader has fallen, it is not wrong for you to expect this process to occur. The fact that a leader is “only human” does not excuse him from his responsibility to God and the people.

Our ongoing vision is interrupted. Becoming aware of a leader’s failure can cause us to question everything we have learned under his leadership. Our initial response is a feeling of betrayal. The leader has not only failed the church in a corporate sense but has also failed us on a personal level.

It is natural to want to reject when we feel betrayed. But we have to understand that no one is all good or all bad. We must believe God’s Word in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV).

When my husband Steve and I were new believers, we were very hungry for ministry. We found a program on television called The PTL Club. Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were the hosts of this daily program. Even though they were somewhat flamboyant, we were drawn to them because of their love for God.

Our lives were greatly enriched by their teaching and sharing from their own lives. I identified with Tammy Faye because she shared her weaknesses on camera. She had a problem with fear just as I did. She helped me believe that if she could get free, so could I!

Millions of believers were blessed by the Bakkers’ ministry. When the couple was targeted by the secular media for destruction we did not want to believe the news stories. However, the close scrutiny did uncover legitimate financial mishandling and moral failures.

After recovering from the initial shock, I realized I could remain bitter and reject all I had received. Or I could hold fast to the good and leave the situation in God’s hands. In the final analysis, Jim and Tammy Faye really did love God and had a legitimate ministry. They simply had personal issues they did not yield to God’s dealing.

We have to recognize that we are all recipients of God’s grace. We cannot allow the agony of a leader’s fall to interfere with our progress in God. Another’s failure may sadden but should not paralyze us.

Being safe becomes too important. When a leader falls, shaking is inevitable. A leader is supposed to keep a steady hand on the helm so that the ship stays on course. When the leader creates the storm, we lose the steady hand, and the course becomes somewhat treacherous.

No one likes to feel insecure. After all, Hebrews 12:28 tells us that we “are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken.”

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