I have personally known Carl Lentz for 10+ years. He has been a friend, supporter, and encourager of mine. Carl has spoken at our church, I have recommended him to other churches, and have even brought him into denominational gatherings. He has been a good friend! Plus he has done so much for my son, Malachi, and me – getting us free tickets to anything Hillsong, backstage passes to meet-n-greets, and introduction to incredible leaders. Like I said, he has been a good friend!
Even though I am a friend, I cannot condone poor behavior. This post is not about making “excuses.” Leaders don’t do that. Leaders take responsibility. Carl made his decisions and yes, there are consequences, but that’s not the point of this post. I choose to give people space to heal!
I have seen littered all over People, PageSix, PerzeHilton.com, Daily Mail, ET, and TMZ detail after detail of Carl’s ‘fall from Hillsong.’ It is exhausting. But now I see Christian leaders and organizations jumping on the same train – but instead of a view from grace, it comes off as arrogance, attacking, and critical of ‘every’ pastor that looks, preaches, or knew Carl. C’mon man, this is ridiculous!
SKINNY JEANS ARE NOT THE ISSUE
Let me say it again for the people in the back, “Skinny jeans are not the issue.” The issue of sin and poor decisions starts in the heart! There have been plenty of suit-wearing leaders with moral failures, but we didn’t criticize the suits. But, somehow, now the standards have changed. What did Jesus wear? The same clothes as his culture!
CONFESSION: I wear skinny jeans. Yes, at 47 years old. And I have been in ministry for 25+ years. My clothing styles have changed, but the substance of who I am has remained strong. It’s never about the clothes – it is about the heart! It always has been and always will be!
“The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). And all I can say is THANK GOD!
POPULAR PASTORS ARE NOT THE ISSUE
There have been popular pastors for millenniums. Today, it is different because of social media addiction. But just because a pastor is known, liked, or re-posted, does not mean they are a moral collision waiting to happen! I have the privilege of knowing many well-known preachers, and I can honestly tell you they are incredible examples of integrity! Yes, we can find something we don’t like in any person or something we disagree with, but Christians cannot continue to use the tragedy of others to push their own agenda.
Many of these “Christian” leaders and magazines use their platforms to attack people and concepts instead of the real issues. Billy Graham is arguably the most famous pastor in recent history – known by presidents, diplomats, and more – but he never comprised his moral standards. He put the accountability measures in place. This could be a missing ingredient in many of our modern daily failures – not being famous or popular.
PARKINGS SPACES ARE NOT THE ISSUE
This one drives me crazy. We have redefined narcissistic behavior to having a “parking space in the church lot.” Are you kidding me? In full disclosure – I do not have a parking space – in fact, I usually park in one of the furthest parking spaces. So, I am not taking this personally. But if moral integrity is determined by a parking space then our standards for evaluating are wrong.
Now, are there some things that pastors do that create issues? Absolutely! Hiding out and never having contact with people in our church is not a biblical model for pastors – we are called to stand between the “porch and the altar.” There are so many things people can touch on that reveal an entitlement mentality, but parking spaces, meals, and honor are not them!
BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD
We used to hear this expression growing up: “But for the grace of God, that could be me.” I think we need to bring that expression back. Anyone, given the right pressure or poor accountability can make failed decisions. We should not ‘shoot our wounded’ or use them as illustrations in public forums that extend a bad name into the world! Articles that fill New York Times columns are not where Christians need to carry on this discussion and sharing them to social media accounts puts that black stain in front of the world – it becomes another reason why people ignore faith!
But for the grace of God. So glad that I have many layers of accountability in place – starting at home. It has made all the difference in my life and ministry!
To all the critics, I have an honest question: “Have you really prayed for them?” Whoever it is, did you seek God for them while they were leading well or are you just the voice of rebuke when they fall?
I texted Carl the day I found out. I texted him before I wrote this post – “Praying for you Carl.” I don’t agree with behavior, but I believe in full redemptive potential! What is that? It is how God can take where you have been, what you are going through, and still take you to where He designed you to be!
Let’s stand together in prayer for all pastors and leaders! Let’s stop bashing surface-level issues and, instead, strike at the core of moral failure – a heart issue. It’s not about skinny jeans, popularity, or parking spaces!!!
The data is clear! “Pastors are quitting in record numbers. Most are depressed and discouraged. Some are suicidal. Their marriages are falling apart. They kids are losing their faith. Their board is coming against them. They are underpaid. Under appreciated. Under valued. And that was all pre-covid, ” writes Joseph Nieves. This is not the time to be against each other, but to stand shoulder to shoulder!
We need to pray for pastors, encourage pastors, bless pastors and if they fall, help pick them up and their families, because “But for the grace of God, that could be me.”