Grace and Compassion Amid Accountability: A Biblical Response When Leaders Fall

In local colloquial terms, this July has been a “drama” month for Singapore so far. Many Singaporeans have been disappointed, saddened, or angered by the revelations about some of our leaders in the news. Many of us also feel let down, especially by leaders who are also Christians. After days of heartbreaking news about our leaders, and in light of all that has happened, many of us also reflect on our own failures and struggles. Whether it is a foible or frailty, we are all sinners in need of repentance and God’s grace. “We are all human” was the frequent refrain this week. How should we reflect, react, or respond in such times? Wesley TIDINGS spoke to the Pastor-in-Charge of Wesley Methodist Church, Rev Raymond Fong, on how we can reflect on and respond to the recent news about the leaders who fall.

Firstly, Pastor Ray, we would like to thank you for helping us process all these recent news events. We know everyone fails, but how should we respond when we hear all this disappointing news about leaders, especially if they are Christians who have failed in the public eye? What can we do, and how can we reflect on all the news that have happened?

Thank you for this opportunity to share a few thoughts. They are still pretty raw as I am still processing and reflecting on what happened.

First, we should be authentic about our feelings. We can be both sad and angry at the effects of sin and the impact it has on many. When our Lord Jesus saw that the death of Lazarus had caused so much grief to the people, he was “deeply moved” (John 11:33). This expression is one of sadness and anger. Jesus wept because he was angry at the effects of sin because it led to physical death and caused deep emotional pain to many. There is a place for a holy and sad anger. Don’t be afraid to express it.

Yet in our anger, do not sin. Sinful anger produces gossip, slander and causes disorder and hostility (2 Corinthians 12:20). Don’t let contempt corrupt your heart.

Instead, let’s create room in our hearts for grace and compassion. Grace, because our Lord is a God of second chances and He is able to redeem and restore. Compassion, because we should think of the families and loved ones have been deeply hurt or affected in the wake of the revelations. Think of the spouses and children who will be judged and ridiculed. Pray for them. If you know them personally, reach out to offer support. But please keep them in prayer for the days ahead for them will be challenging.

You mentioned grace and compassion. But is there some level of accountability that is expected? Do grace and compassion always go hand in hand with accountability?

Yes, accountability is required. The one who has fallen needs to face the consequences, own up and account for what and why it has happened.

Yet there must be grace in accountability. This means that while we expect accountability, it is a grace-filled and honourable process. We do not have to shame, ridicule or put down. We can give space for honest and authentic expressions of remorse and repentance. No matter how people fall short, we must be prepared to journey with those who have fallen.

What are some of the Scripture verses we can reflect on, on grace and compassion?

Galatians 6:1 reminds us that we are to restore someone caught in sin with gentleness. That implies being kind, meek and considerate in the process of restoration.

If we remember the character of our God, then Scripture like Psalm 116:5 reminds us that God himself is full of compassion. Who are we not to be likewise? Pray Psalm 55:1, that God will have mercy on those who have fallen, that like David, they will return to the Lord.

What can we do as a Church to build up our faith, and, at the same time, encourage our brothers and sisters-in-Christ to know that we are all vulnerable and have our own struggles in life?

Let’s encourage each other to put our faith in God and not men (Psalm 146:3,5), as we find our rest in our God’s sovereign purposes despite all that has happened.

Given what has happened, we should create safe space for sharing of reflections in our small groups and communities. Let’s foster a culture of authentic vulnerability as we listen to each other’s stories of God’s redemptive goodness in our failures and struggles. Let’s encourage each other to persevere and walk faithfully with our Lord.

Finally, how can we guard ourselves against trials and temptations that come our way? What are some of the more practical ways to do that?

Watch and pray. None of us are infallible and so let’s not think too highly of ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:12). Let the sin of others humble ourselves afresh under the hand of God to move us from prideful complacency to humble watchfulness.

Watch your boundaries. Don’t flirt with, but flee from, sin. Be aware of your weaknesses and stay clear of situations which lead to compromise.

Be accountable. Allow someone to keep watch over you. Getting into an accountability group means nothing if you are not willing to account and allow someone to speak into your life. Our willingness to account is the measure of our integrity. Let’s strive to live a life where there is nothing to fear, nothing to hide.

Find a community of trusted persons with whom you can be authentic and vulnerable. When you wrestle with an issue or sin, be ready to share honestly, confess readily and find your healing (James 5:16).

Finally, guard your marriage by nurturing it. Don’t let the enemy have a foothold through temptation. If there are issues, don’t be afraid of addressing them or seeking help for them. As a church family, we are here for you. Just reach out to us.

I hope these handles are helpful. If anyone out there is facing some challenging times, let us know how we can help in any way.

May the Lord empower us as we keep our eyes on him and stay surrendered to him.

Let’s be praying.

Rev Raymond Fong, known in the church community as Pastor Ray, is the Pastor-in-Charge at Wesley Methodist Church. The elder son of missionary parents, Pastor Ray was a government lawyer for 11 years prior to entering full-time ministry in 2011. Pastor Ray is married to Grace, with one son.

At Wesley Methodist Church, we understand that everyone has to go through different seasons in life. We desire to help individuals, couples and families pursue Christ, seek wisdom in biblical counsel, and thrive in their faith journeys. We also want to support individuals, couples, and families in our church and community who are confused, in need, hurting or facing difficult times. The care and support we offer include intercessory prayer, marriage enrichment and counselling, and counselling for families, or individuals of all ages in trying circumstances. Please visit Wesley Counselling Services , Wesley Prayer Ministry , Wesley Cancer Support , Wesley Pastoral Care or Wesley Family Life Ministry for more information on your concerns.

Read also: Spiritual Heads of the Family; A Beatitude-Centred Family

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