Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian
So yesterday news broke about yet more unethical behavior from a celebrity pastor, this time buying his way onto The New York Times bestseller list.
There is so much wrong with this kind of behavior that I don’t even know where to begin. Frankly, I’m not sure I could say it any better than has been said here. But since reading about this latest in a series of life lessons on the dangers of unchecked hubris, there’s been one thing I’ve felt I’ve needed to say:
If you’ve done this, have the courage to apologize.
Look, I know none of us are perfect. Anyone who says they’re without sin is a liar and a fool, and I am chief among them. But you know what I do expect? I expect that if we’re people who claim the name of Christ, we’re people who apologize and mean it.
What do I mean when I say we “mean it”? Simple: we’re genuinely repentant.
So a true apology is not immediately pleading Jesus, saying how thankful you are that He’s forgiven all your sins, past present and future. That’s spiritual and emotional manipulation, not asking for forgiveness. And it’s not a political non-apology, something akin to “mistakes were made.” That’s acknowledgement, not contrition.
What I mean when I say apologize is simple:
- specifically name your action or attitude
- own your personal error
- explain how you are making restitution
- ask for forgiveness
But all of this, of course, hinges on a critical truth: you have to actually think what you’ve done is wrong.
My fear for many who engage in shenanigans of this sort is they really don’t care. As much as they want to say they’re trying to boost the name of Jesus, they’re really out for themselves. They’ve traded integrity for influence. So the ends justify the means (even when the means are wrong). Their consciences may be so seared that that they’ve become blind to their own folly. They are like those leaders who sat in Moses’ seat, whom Jesus commanded the Jews to listen to but not imitate, for they do not practice what they preach.
They talk a good game, but it’s all talk.
“What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26)
Your integrity is worth more than your celebrity.
Your ministry is more important than your influence.
Your reward with Christ is better than the riches of this world.
If you are truly in Christ, you know this to be true. Now act like it. Have the courage to apologize.