Our Fallen Leaders: Amazing Grace, But Where’s the Sound?

Our Fallen Leaders: Amazing Grace, But Where’s the Sound? July 2, 2024

As the Summer Equinox passes, there have not been many “equal nights” of “Amazing Grace” for our recently questioned or fallen leaders of the Church. You have seen them in the news. Stories of concern or scandal falling like dominoes: Driscoll. Lentz. Jakes. Evans. And now, Morris.

That’s just the first six months of 2024. Over the years, there have been many pastors and preachers who slipped on a banana peel in the pulpit and experienced a fall from grace. The accusations and stories make it easy to allow disgust to rule what we think about these Christian leaders.

And you would not be alone. Many believers have already done the same thing.

Some of these people in the pulpit proved they were not capable of such unspeakable acts. Others have shocked millions because of their actions or words. Despite the outcome, when the stories leak, a solid brick wall of unforgiveness and unrelenting antipathy greets each of them.

Therein lies the abrasive rub: These people spent a lifetime extolling God’s eternal mercy to others but were not afforded one inch of it for themselves. Why? They stand in the gap for millions of strangers across decades. Yet, when one of them plummets face-first into a sinkhole, that gap becomes their new home because few people dare to help them out.

The public hears the news and begins to point fingers. Forgiveness is forgotten, mercy is missed, and pain becomes a problem. At that point, we must ask anyone who will listen, “Amazing Grace, right? So, where’s the sound?!”

Sin is Sin Is Not Sin After All

Neon sign of "Sinner" by red drapes
Does sin have levels? It does if you ask around in church. (Image credit: Maruxa Lomoljo Koren via Pexels)


That’s a fancy term for some similar phrase that carries the same meaning with different words. Think “either/or” statements, like “either church will be packed today or it won’t.” One of the most popular tautologies in the Church is “sin is sin is sin.” It’s a reminder that although any sin is bad enough to have us blacklisted from the Lamb’s Book of Life, it never will.

But then there’s this:

[Pilate] entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:9-11 ESV)

Jesus (surprisingly, to some) says that “sin is sin is not sin.” Shouldn’t that end the argument and allow Christian leaders to be judged based on their actions rather than perceptions of them? Is now the time to stop painting them all with the same judgmental brush?

For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all. (James 2:10 HCSB)

Consider the standards of today’s gospel leaders. They do good work all week. They’re in the community serving others. Yet, all it takes is one good puff, and the house of cards blows down. The preachers, pastors, and priests who abuse their posts for ill-gotten gains (e.g., greed, lust, pride, envy) are being uncovered and exposed—as they should be. 

What about those others who “keep the entire law?” Some men and women of God spend their lives serving the Lord and His people. People change for the glory of God. But, “fail in one point” and are held “guilty of breaking it all.” Only Jesus walked this planet without sin. The rest of us? Please. Most of us reading this post sinned five minutes before getting on Patheos.com.

Shouldn’t we apply the same grace to God’s leaders that we do to the rest of God’s children? Don’t they deserve that much? Where’s the amazing grace to apply to their lives, mistakes, and sins?

Falling Forward

Slip on ice sign bolted to a telephone pole
Hey preachers. This is for you too. Apparently. (Image credit: @Skitterphoto via Pexels)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

Is God’s amazing grace “sufficient for you?”

When you mess up at work or in your relationships, doesn’t it feel good when your boss, co-workers, significant other, or children give you grace for your mistakes? After you commit one of your “closet sins,” why do you even bother approaching the Throne of Grace unless there’s a shot to receive it? God will forgive you. It’s a guarantee!

Aren’t fallen Christian leaders not worthy of the same thing? 

We all have a past, most hidden and crammed under the bed with the rest of our junk. Each of us is worthy of God’s atoning power. Now, the consequences of particular sins should be–and, in many situations, are–different. Break the law and pay the price. But break our hearts and that’s an entirely different story and punishment.

Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others? (James 4:11-12 MSG)

Everyone falls, some in much larger puddles than others. Some shatter the law and do unthinkable things. Others mess up no greater than the rest of us. Yet if they are leading others from the pulpit, the amount of grace they receive from the people they teach can be as small as a communion wafer. And, for God’s sake, that must change.

We are no better than them. They are no worse than us. Let’s remember what was used to “save a wretch like me.”



About Shawn Paul Wood
Shawn Paul Wood, Th.D., is an award-winning copywriter, contributor, and content strategist, and ghostwriter of several faith-based articles, speeches, columns, and books who has worked for some of the most admirable brands in their respective industries for over 20 years. As Founder of Woodworks Communications, with a master’s and doctorate in Theology, he leads teams of content strategists and marketing professionals to expand the brands of corporate leaders, serial entrepreneurs, and respected ministers of the Gospel. Before working with global communications agencies, he was a media relations director and communications executive for noted leaders, such as Abide, D/FW International Airport, UNCF, Mannatech, Christians United for Israel, Avocados from Mexico, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, Darden, and Bishop T.D. Jakes. He aims to help others develop self-discovery through stories and the written word to proclaim the Word to the world. For more information or help telling your story, visit WoodworksCommunications.com. You can read more about the author here.

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