What the Fall of a Leader Teaches About Life Calling

I am so grieved and upset about the news reports of sexual misconduct and abuse by a very well-known international Christian leader. I am sorry for his victims, family, ministry supporters, and the damage this will do to the cause of Christ. This isn’t the first time a leader with a prominent life calling has fallen, and it won’t be the last.

But let his fall teach us something about our call. You don’t have to be famous to learn something here.

Depth of character matters more than details of calling.

Many of us are in pursuit of calling, trying to discover and explore so we don’t miss it. But what’s more important than landing on your calling is developing your character. Character is the foundation that will support your calling. If your character is shaky, it will not bear the weight of your calling. Invest in your calling, but as you do, invest in your character like your calling depends on it.

This is why the Apostle Paul commands his protégé Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely” (1 Timothy 4:16). He knew that for Timothy to live out his calling, he needed to guard, observe, and study his life and doctrine. It is easy to get off track in the world, but one way to stay on track is to study your life and beliefs. What is your life saying about you?

Know what spiritual practices make you well and then commit to them.

Spiritual practices are those activities that foster your identity, keep you on track, and deliver God’s grace to you. They are means of refreshment, renewal, and relationship. Often when one gets busy, the spiritual practices are put on hold, but this is foolish. Why end those practices that make you well, when all along your calling needs you well?

Some examples of practices are:

  • Silence and solitude
  • Prayer and worship
  • Authentic and accountable friendships
  • Soul-searching curiosity
  • Journaling and storytelling
  • Time in nature

The key is to know which practices are good for you and to commit to them, especially if you’re busy with your calling. They make deep people, and your calling doesn’t deserve a shallow vessel.

Your primary calling is to walk with Christ in love and personal holiness, while your secondary callings flow from the first.

If you’re a Christian, your first call is to Christ himself. It’s not to do for the world what God has placed on your heart; it’s to remain in Christ. Then what you do will flow from your relationship with Christ. This is Jesus’ point in John 15:4: “Remain in me and I will remain in you."

I tattooed this on my arms as a reminder.

It's easier to want to accomplish great things but forget to walk with Christ. When we don’t foster an authentic love relationship with Jesus, which then transforms our heart and behavior, then we become dependent on how others view us or too concerned with the impact we’re making, or we let our desires lead us.

Instead, submit your lessor callings to your primary calling and you will have the power to remain faithful.

Your life calling cannot be an excuse or permit for sloppy living.

Sometimes when you hear of leaders falling, they say there was so much pressure that they deserved “a little something on the side.” They blame their indiscretions on the weight of their life calling. They worked so hard and their position so unique that no one could possibly understand. That’s why they acted so poorly.

This is pure bunk! Your life calling is no excuse or permit for sloppy living!

If you’re accomplishing great things publicly, you don’t have the right to make a mess privately. In life calling there is no separation between your private life and your public life. There may be a difference in how you operate—you don’t share secrets and private information with the world for example—but who you are in public should be who you are in private.


What our world needs is to see humble men and women who know who they are, who are walking with Christ in love and personal holiness, who practice spiritual disciplines intentionally, who have authentic and accountable friendships, and who have the character to support their great callings.

Let us see, let us be, men and women like that.

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