Session 5: Adam Hamilton

Adam Hamilton is senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. One of the fastest growing, most influential mainline churches in America, the adult membership has increased from four to 13,000 since 1990. Leaning on personal leadership experience, Hamilton provides perceptive insights into how and why leaders fall—and how to help preempt such failures within a team before they occur. The author of several books, including Leading Beyond the Walls24 Hours That Changed the World, and Making Love Last a Lifetime, he was identified as one of the top “Ten People to Watch in America’s Spiritual Landscape” by PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

How Leaders Fall

  • He finds out after church one day that two men pastors on his staff might have had an affair with each other.
  • A week doesn’t go by when some leader in our country falls.
  • None of us are immune.
  • Today I am going to talk about how we as a church got through this situation.
  • There are many variables, every situation is different.
  • There are a couple things we could do:
    • Say nothing
    • Be evasive, “they left for personal reasons”
    • Scarlet letter approach, clearly denounce the sin, and then distance ourselves from them as much as possible
    • Approach this crisis with transparency, honesty, and compassion
  • Make clear the consequences. But we are the church, and we must reach out to broken people.
  • Shared the situation with the staff, and then we were going to wait and tell the congregation on Sunday, but I got phone calls from people. Should we let the congregation continue rumors? No, I sent out an email saying that we as Christians shouldn’t continue the rumors, but we are going to talk about this on Sunday.
  • Some people were waiting to see a stone thrown.
  • Shared the situation with the congregation, and then preached a message about sin, and not just with these men, but with us as a church.
  • Who are you as a church? Are you going to stand with stones in your hand? Or are you going to live with compassion?
  • We have a staff covenant that the staff signs every year.
  • We have rules about who you spend one-on-one time with.
  • Twice a year I have a meeting with our staff, the “sex talk.”
    • We are all human beings, and we are wired with 3 drives.
      • Reproduction
      • Deep desire for intimacy and companionship
      • Sin
  • You will find yourself addicted, then alienated.
  • “The moment of the maybe,” you start to entertain the idea of “What would happen if…”
  • It is a time for self-deception, and we don’t think clearly about how we exit this situation. We don’t think about how this would end happy.
  • Nothing good can come from telling the person about how you are feeling, “I wish we would’ve met before I got married to my wife.”
  • Never share your feelings with that person.
  • Eventually a “maybe” becomes a “yes.”
  • There is a grace and redemption, but this path is so broken that it takes a long time and alot of work to recover from this.
  • No longer say “maybe” say “no.”
  • Me and my wife have always loved each other but we don’t always feel like we love each other.

5 basic things to help resist temptation:

  • Remember who you are – You are a child of God, a leader in the church, someone’s wife or husband, or dad or mom, or son or daughter.
  • Recognize the consequences of your actions – Will I feel better or worse after I do this? Will I feel more or less human? Proud or ashamed? More free or enslaved? Would I want my congregation to know about this?
  • Rededicate yourself to God – Stop, drop, and pray. God help me with this.
  • Reveal your struggle to a trusted friend – James 5:16, “Confess your sins to one another…” Hold each other accountable.
  • Remove yourself from the situation – Sometimes there are radical means we must take to avoid sin. Erect clear boundaries. It may mean to leave your church, and find a different church.

2 big ideas:

  • Sanctification – We are all called to a higher standard. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 & 7. Honor God with our bodies.
  • All of us are tempted as human beings – The final word of the church must always be not judgment, but a word of grace. We cannot be those who pick up the stones.
  • No one is beyond temptation
  • If you sin, remember the Gospel is for sinners, and Jesus Christ offers grace.

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