Why Mark Driscoll should never have Resigned

I just finished reading the post on Church Leaders regarding Pastor Mark Driscoll resigning his role and stepping down from Mars Hill Church.

This is just another example of The Church covering it’s backside by crucifying its leaders. How sad. Mark led, that’s what leaders do. If the people and staff in the #MarsHill church didn’t like his style of leadership, or attitude, they could have voted with their feet and left. Instead, yet again, they chose a passive aggressive approach that reinforces The Church’s irrelevant, weak, and hypocritical PR message to the watching world.article_images-driscoll_step_down642x428_902300769

I disagree with Marks leadership style, his dogmatic thinking, and much of his theology. I don’t think that Mark and I would ever be friends. However, I would stand with him any day, in any setting for the fact that the church he built has sold him down the river inappropriately, and without cause. For that, we share common scars. When fear infects people, instead of faith — all involved lose, the fallout is great.

Mark should not have resigned. However, it is unfortunately the only way he and his family could possibly move on in order to with living out the gifts, calling, and passion God gave them. The Church in America is way to well known for eating it’s own and crucifying it’s leaders when their humanity shows up.

It’s time we speak up and discontinue the gospel of punishment happening in our Church culture. This will take courage, and much grace to enter into conversations that are well known for being uncomfortable. If you want to make a positive contribution to disrupting this all-to-common status quo, join my friends and I here.

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Gratitude for Disappointments and Painting the Lines…

Three years ago life was going very well. I had a thriving practice as a therapist, counseling people towards wholeness in their relationships with themselves and others.

A new house, cars that didn’t break down, kids plugged into friends and community that they loved; more than enough money in the bank…exhale…it felt like a ‘page had turned’ and my family and I were settling into a new routine, and had navigated the challenges of our recent past during that time.

About 18 months before this, I was working full time as a pastor of one of the largest churches in our area. My role as an associate pastor, with a full time staff of 20 pastors at that time, was overseeing the ministries related to spiritual, emotional, and relational health. I loved my church, and what I was doing. My favorite ministry was one called Celebrate Recovery, mostly because the people were so authentic; they may have been messy by the worlds standards, but at least they were honest.

As this ministry grew to a few hundred participants per week, and was leading the charge for modeling service, practical love, and grace to the church. I felt a ever increasing disillusionment within myself. I realized that I did not believe in grace the same way the leaders of this ministry, or the participants did. Yes, it was easy for me to teach the message of grace from the front, I’m the leader I show up and deliver, that’s what we do. I knew all the answers chapter and verse…but deep in my heart I did not believe that ‘this grace’ applied to me…it was for everyone else.

They don’t tell you in bible college that when you become a pastor the rules change. What you preach and what applies to everyone else, no longer applies to you as the pastoral leader. This occupational hazard requires you to make your humanity appear less messy than everyone else. You “should know better” as the head elder at my church said publicly once, referencing the choices I had made. Years before, I went to bible college and chose to become a pastor because I believed that was the solution, the formula, that if I did it good enough I would feel complete and whole once I had “arrived.” Yeah…that was a waste of time, and only taught me the head knowledge, how to do the legalistic “look good” dance, but not how to get the real experientially into my heart.

At a Celebrate Recovery conference with my leadership team, a pastor from another church shared his story. It was pivotal for me, because it was my story. He concluded by saying “When we confess our sins to God he frees us; but when we confess our sins to others, God heals us.” He was referencing Biblical passages 1 John 1:9 and James 5:17

Now I’ve heard God be clear with me a few times in my life, and this was one of them. It’s as if God was saying to me, “Trav, you’re not healed and free because no one knows your secrets. You don’t trust anyone. I’m not enough, you need to experience my grace, love, forgiveness, acceptance, and hope from other living breathing human beings. You need to risk”

painting lines
My summer job has been painting parking lot lines, humbling, and so far the best I can get. #Grateful

That was hard to hear. I am notoriously self sufficient. I am a profound “D” for driver and builder that finds a way to get it done, and does not settle for no. I can bulldoze my way through anything, and anyone, if necessary to get what I want. However, my supporting value is “S” of security and stability, the safety that comes from being consistent, dependable, loyal. You want someone like me on your team.

I returned from that trip, and mustered enough courage to begin to share some of my struggles, secrets never spoken, to those I trusted at the time. At first I was met with compassion, but that tone quickly changed. Remember, as a pastor, the rules are different for you.

False accusations of misconduct with clients forced me to close me therapy practice. The most painful part of all this for my family and I has been the betrayal, attacks, and disdain from those we considered family from our church. We did our best to participate with the church “Restoration Team,” but they were more concerned with giving consequences and punishment to satisfy their sense of justice, (and cover their backside/image)…more than they were interested in applying the grace they preached.

These were my closest friends, now treating my wife and I as enemies. During one final meeting at our church, they actually looked me in the eye and said, “it’s our job to protect the world from you Travis.” They facilitated false unethical allegations being reported regarding my conduct to the state licensing board for therapists. They said they did this because they felt since I “betrayed” them in my leadership role as a paid pastor, that I shouldn’t “have any leadership role ever again, in any setting.”  They waged their war against me through gossip, liable, and slander of me with mutual colleagues in our community, getting newspaper articles published. We felt hunted. They even went so far as to mail copies of their allegations to people they thought I was connected to through viewing my LinkedIn profile. [Yes, I have screenshots of every member of the church who ‘viewed me’ and amazingly a letter would show up to one of my connections a few days later.]

Through all the attacks, I chose to take the high road, take it on the chin, and do what I needed to do to stay healthy and navigate all the chaos with my family and closing my business.

Pastor Travis and Jaime Waits first testimony   YouTube
My bride Jaime and I sharing our first public testimony since our crisis. Blessed to be invited by Pastor Ted & Gayle Haggard at St. James Church to do this in November 2013

They treated my wife as an enemy because she chose not to believe their version of their story, nor join their self-righteous judgment attitude. Our church family disowned her, and our kids, asking them not to associate with the church, nor our friends, as long as she was connected to me. If she would have divorced me, they would have come running to her aide. [Quite a contradiction, since, as the marriage pastor for the church, I helped write the church policy discouraging divorce and advocating for restoration, which the church board adopted.]

The unfortunate thing about unethical allegations, especially when they are salacious, with Boards is that the worst is always assumed. And when a church is the one making the complaint, it must be reputable and vetted right? Not even close. I was dead in the water, and my attorney defending my secular therapy license said the Board was “trying to make an example of me.” I was never interviewed, my side of the story to refute the allegations was never heard. The states boards allegations have never been founded or proven as facts and are untrue.

The best choice I could make to give my family and I a chance to move on was to resign my license to practice in my state. The truth didn’t matter, no one wanted to hear my side of the story. The worst damage from the press, liable and slander from our church, had already done it’s work at killing my standing in the community and ability to keep my business solvent.

Moving on has been tough. When your resume is all leadership in the “people business” of church ministry, therapy, counseling…with a graduate degree…translating that into other verticals is hard. All of my skills fit well with business development, teaching, team building, branding, marketing, coaching, training, human resources, etc…except getting any of those opportunities is just like shifting to a brand new career. Prospective employers or business partners treat you like you have no experience. But most, rather than believing truth, allow the negative press of “allegations” to justify their lack of courage engaging in any strategic alliance.

So, our pastor recently preached a message on ‘being grateful for disappointment” which I did not like hearing. Life is hard, bills are late, debt is mounting, I can’t remember the last time I smiled and my wife and I had bandwidth to experience joy. We are both working the best jobs we can get, managing our food stamps the best we can, and doing our best to equip our kids with tenacity and perseverance. I spend my free time building online courses, and hustling to get a job that is more inline with my experience, passion, and skill set — and one that pays more than food stamps would allow 🙂

As I thought more about my pastors message, I settled. Mental toughness is about embracing the present, “be here now”, be still and breath, so that through acceptance, you can move forward. We each have a choice who we will be in this story, the role we play in others lives, and the role we play in our own. If real love and practical grace is “making life better for the other guy” as my pastor says, then that’s the plan.

If the best I can do for my family in helping us rise and start again is paint the parking lot, then I will be the best parking lot painter I can.

 

The Paradox of Restoring Yourself in Leadership

This was an exciting week for us! Following our 16 year wedding anniversary, my wife & I spent a few days with some key Christian leaders. The purpose of our Roundtable discussion was to explore how to apply the biblical New Testament concept of “grace” in order to restore leaders who experienced a moral or ethical “fall” which impacts their position of leadership. How can we restore leaders in their position so that they can continue to use their proven acumen, now in a more authentic ways?

This is an area that we are extremely passionate about, as it has impacted our own journey within leadership. For sure, the church community lacks a sufficient model of how to do such a task that does not just remove the leader from their position indefinitely. The secular world has tons of examples of leaders “falling from grace” and being restored. Whether it’s the business community, Hollywood, the NFL, or politics, clearly “the world” knows something that the church has not learned, or rather, applied well to its shame:

the person who rises from the fall makes a more positive impact than they ever made previously

Quite the irony, since the church campaigns it’s message on brokenness, new life, grace, forgiveness, and second chances. As one leader stated so succinctly, “the church saves people by grace, yet restores them through works.” The church has plenty of opportunities where leaders fall, but so far the norm is misguided action in response. 

The ideas are plenty, however the solutions to this glaring contradiction are frustratingly far away. What is clear is this, if you fall, (as a Christian leader), you must restore yourself.

Allies for help are rare…

What I mean by that is, as the leader who fell, now your character, integrity, and trust are completely shattered. To risk requires trust, and to trust requires risk. The risk for others to put their name next to yours is too high. In a fear driven culture the Evangelical church is most concerned with image management, and protecting their backside holding their pocket book. (Yes, it would be great to see the church act in faith, and not fear, but it does make sense as that is the default for all of us as humans, to self-protect).

If you’re one of these fallen leaders, the sooner you embrace that you are a liability to the image of the church, the sooner you will be able to focus your intention & choices on survival. You must stand on your own two feet. Stop wasting your time hoping the church that condemned you will restore you. They won’t. They ran from you on your worst day, they certainly won’t reach out to you on their best day. [Few ever validate the collateral consequences of “disciplining” a leader…you punish their family as well.] I am describing here a double-bind that places both the fallen leader, and the church community they came from in what appears at first as a ‘no-win’ situation. It can be done, and it must be done.

So often in our process, we have been met with a “wait & see” attitude, at best. Wait & see meaning a tentative stance towards the leader that often communicates false hope of help to come. Sounds like this: “…after we get to know you for a season,” “…if there’s anything we can do let us know.,” “…we’ll pray for you.” We must own our response, not just be reactive and translate these well-meaning statements into practical action or else they do come off as platitudes that can be frustrating to hear repeatedly.

More common has been the flat out refusal and quick back-peddle justified by the fact that we are “damaged goods” (…yes we’ve actually been told that…). It’s amazing how the comfortable will protect their sense of power. They don’t want guilt by association. It’s not fair, but it does make sense.

The worst, actually, are those that “want to help.” To them you’re not a person, you’re a project. They want to profit from your mess, take credit for the finished product (a cleaned up version of you…hmm what’s THAT look like???), yet these are the very same who quickly justify why they won’t put their name next to yours. Remember, you’re a liability and would do everyone a service to go away.

These words may sound harsh, and the reality of experience is often that; but we are confident our friends whose motives are genuine, will not be offended. To the fallen leaders, our encouragement is this:

use the help anyway, regardless of what motive you discern it’s coming from.

You need it, and if it provides an ounce of momentum for you in charting a new chapter, it is worth it.

Trust us, it would be great to NOT have to rely on others and pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. That is unrealistic and for most leaders who fall, the common denominator is isolation that was the greatest contributor to their implosion. I’m a high driver and prefer to build alone, however, as counter-intuitive as it may feel, we have benefited most from a redemptive community of relationships to heal. You need others with battle scars unafraid to link arms with you to vouch for you. It is the critical step necessary following the crisis, to rebuilding and experiencing restoration because it validates that a new trajectory is in play, and the hard work of survival, healing, and growth have been and are worth it.

Comeback stories…

Unfortunately, with the age of the internet and big brother Google watching there’s NO WAY you get to move on. Geography won’t help you. Your only option is to get your negative records to page 2 of Google, where no one will see them. Forever, your scars are now part of your narrative.

Yes, time may have elapsed. Yes, You may be “healed.” But to the person looking you up in the internet search the news about you is brand new, and MUST be true because it’s online.

What leaders need most initially for restoration is practical, concrete assistance. Leaders and their families need others to risk on their behalf. It is no small thing and takes courage to give a fallen leader another shot through practical solutions. Here’s what this can looks like, as part of a restorative community:

  • help them get a job, any job, that pays more than minimum wage. A job YOU would want to have because it pays a LIVABLE wage. What good is it to have a “job” when it won’t pay your bills???
  • help them move out of survival to sanity every month financially
  • a stable place to live where they won’t be scratching each month to make the rent for fear of being evicted
  • money for our kids to engage in normal kid activities to help protect their dignity
  • grocery money for when the food stamps run out before the end of the month

I love God, but I really dislike (hate) the common core religious system of “Evangelical Christianity.” Too many Christians hide behind their ginormous head-knowledge to justify their judgment, condemnation, apathy, legalism, & bigotry…to do nothing and wait on the sidelines. As a people group, we Christians need to learn from world and be willing to write our own comeback stories. We need modern day versions of what we read in scripture of Paul, David, Peter, Abraham… all human men who blew it, and THEN were used to their highest potential because they were restored.

“Pull me from the darkness, lift me back into the light
Fill this empty vessel, Fill this hole I have inside
Am I worth forgiveness, I can’t make myself believe
Show me that you’re listening
And tear this devil out of me”

“Good Man” by Devour The Day c.2014

Restorative Communities…

As a community we must put action with faith (James 2:14ff) if we want to be relevant with our faith and a positive contributor in writing the stories of redemption for our leaders. “Another’s sin is our opportunity to apply the Gospel…” is the main idea guiding the conversations from this week. Prayer is powerful, encouragement helpful, … but to the fallen leader and their family too often these are nothing more than spiritual platitudes that don’t aid the process. We absolutely value your prayers, as we do not discount the reality & power of God. However, your actions that cost you something mean more practically & are the most helpful that leaders need along the way in their restoration journeys.

As we were also reminded:

we each have a choice WHO we will be in this story”

The world, and God ARE eagerly watching, and they are absolutely keeping score. It takes a village, and we need more courageous friends who are willing to write new chapter’s in the narrative of the church restoring its fallen leaders. The church needs to BE the hospital for the wounded, not a theatre for the performing.

As our discussions this week reminded, we are not alone. We are grateful for our friends who have been unafraid to be numbered with the transgressors. Other good leaders have been in our shoes and made it through this survival stage. Clearly this issue is a black eye for the Christian church that reveals it’s continued hypocrisy & irrelevancy to the watching world by shooting it’s wounded & eating it’s own.

We haste the day to see the sun rise again, and be a practical to help our fellow leaders truly being restored, experience the real application of grace, and instilling real hope…so that their worst days are not the final chapter of their stories. We believe it is our responsibility, as wounded healers, and the responsibility of all those who are passionate about empowering authentic leadership, to lean into this area as a community, and change the narrative.

The Gospel of Punishment by Travis Waits

Check out the comments this post is generating… “The Gospel of punishment” … thoughtful and challenging dialogue in how we will apply what we say we believe…

Travis Waits

In our culture of church leadership today there is significant focus on “preaching the Gospel.” To be clear, this was the original mission that Jesus gave the church (see Mtt. 28:16ff). The challenge is that leaders within the confines of American churchianity have lost the application of what this means.

What is missing from this preaching, is the pragmatic applyingof the Gospel.

I have written explicitly about how God’s grace violates man’s sense of justice. No where does this show up more clear, than in the application of the Gospel when leaders experience the need for restoration.

As Pastor Danny Silk says, punishment within the church is a condition of “humanity trying to reach heaven” rather than believers attempting to bring Heaven to earth. He states:

“The real difference is vitally important; it is not in their sin, but in what they did afterwards. It is repentance… But know…

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Getting your hands dirty

When I write I usually have music streaming in my headphones at the same time. It seems to be one of the things that helps me get in touch with emotions better, and express them. The act of blogging and walking in vulnerability has been cathartic thus far. I am amazed, and humbled that my words are resonating with so many.

The gospel of Mark recounts the story of  a paralyzed man that was unable to walk. A crowd of people had gathered to hear Jesus teach at a packed house, as his reputation for helping people experience healing from their infirmities had grown in his ministry.
The specific story is about a paralytic who was “unable” to reach Jesus on his own because things were blocking his way. Physically his infirmities prevented him from getting the restoration he desired. So his friends, put him on a mat, and carried him to the house: Here’s what it says in Mark 2:

 1-5 After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and word got around that he was back home. A crowd gathered, jamming the entrance so no one could get in or out. He was teaching the Word. They brought a paraplegic to him, carried by four men. When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.”

(Mark 2:0 MSG)This changed when his friends chose to help him and lifted him into the healing waters. He needed friends, in his community to experience the healing & restoration that he believed was possible.

I see this same principals at work in our own process of restoration, and believe it is impossible to restore yourself on your own. Yes, God is the one who restores, however for that to become more than just a belief, but an experience you need friends willing to risk with courage.

  • You need friends willing to vouch for your character,
  • You need friends to give you an opportunity to rebuild dignity
  • You need friends to assist you with practical needs of living, connect you with work.

Many in church leadership say nice words about restoration, and grace, but do not translate that into action. We have experienced this multiple times, frankly at nauseoum… Most, offer platitudes, “I’ll pray for you”, etc, but the unspoken message is this: once you hang on long enough & I can verify that you’re not a threat to me…when I’m no longer afraid of you…then I’ll help you. I understand this, because it seems fear controls the church more than faith does.

6-7 Some religion scholars sitting there started whispering among themselves, “He can’t talk that way! That’s blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins.”

When the religious focus on the wrong areas (their definition of repentance for example…) they miss out on their opportunity to apply the Gospel by their lack of follow through of applying grace. This has been one of the most frustrating parts of our restoration process, the lack of redemptive community.

God loves us as much on our worst day, as He does on our best day. On your worst day, when you are wounded, hurting, addicted, stuck, deceived, paralyzed…that you need friends who will pick you up, carry you, lift you up, dig through the mud for you…so you can experience Jesus.

It is when the “man born blind” had his sight restored for the first time that he had his most powerful ministry. He didn’t need a waiting period to make sure the healing stuck. That’s religion, and modern day pharisaicalism at work in our church leadership that gives lip service to restoration, with no intent of really living that out.

8-12 Jesus knew right away what they were thinking, and said, “Why are you so skeptical? Which is simpler: to say to the paraplegic, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher, and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both . . .” (he looked now at the paraplegic), “Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.” And the man did it—got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him. They rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”

When we cater to the gospel controlled by fear and punishment, instead of living the Gospel we saw Jesus model, we lose our ability to apply true grace. It is high time we ceased our useless preaching about grace, and really any topic, and make our walk match our talk. Our preaching has become noise that adheres to a moral prescription of legalism, that does not lead to heart change, and frankly does not work. The Apostle Paul and Jesus spoke often about the useless focus on the exterior of people, the story of the “white-washed tombs” comes to mind especially…).

Our hearts desire is to see the landscape of christianity transformed through the application of real grace. Yes, selfishly we would love to experience our ‘brothers & sisters” in the faith step up and link arms with us towards this mission. When I was leading Celebrate Recovery I learned the phrase from Pastor John Baker that “God never wastes a hurt.” That truth was critical in my journey of repentance and healing. God may not waste our hurts…but people do…and they waste their opportunity to stand in the gap, instill hope, and dispense grace…often.

I believe that restoration between the Lord and I happened the moment I repented through surrender. Restoration in my marriage and family occurred through a process of confession, forgiveness, and rebuilding trust as wounds were healed. Restoration with my livelihood, (what I do for work and income to provide for my family), has yet to be restored. Unfortunately, the “church” has played a pivotal negative role ensuring that reality. Thus, restoration with the church is still a moving process. I had a great pastor friend of mine ask me, with surprise, “why I was still trying with church?

I’m still trying, because God is not enough…as His people we are His hands and feet. We need each other. He wired us for relationship, and thus we heal in the context of relationship. We need to experience God via redemptive relationship with each other in a healing community. The church is meant to be a light house, a spiritual hospital if you will, to a watching world that readily shows up in the darkness, dispenses grace, and instills hope. That is why I have not given up yet.

One of the key things the ministry of restoration my wife and I hope to be able to provide for pastors and ministers who go through similar experiences to us, is practical support. By that I mean income via new employment, housing…typically when a pastor falls, he loses his job, his income, his influence… AND so does his family. Most do not understand this…especially restoration teams and church leadership.

Are you willing to risk getting your hands dirty for your friends? On your worst day you will know who your friends are, because they will be the ones who show up to be your advocate. They will be the people that speak truth in love, and dispense grace … who are able to see and treat you in way that communicates you are more valuable, than any negative choice you have made. They will apply grace, the same way Jesus did…and that’s who you should have on your restoration team.

Raw interview with former therapist, Pastor Travis Waits on Authenticity and Ethics

For many leaders who are accused of ethical allegations of the worst kind, even if false, experience irreparable damage to their reputations, families, business, relationships, and leadership. Travis Waits has done the hard and courageous task of leveraging this negative experience, to help fellow leaders develop their character to greater depth and authenticity. It has been a trial by fire for sure. Starting over, in any career is a challenge. Travis Waits models true authenticity, courage, and, as a grace filled truth teller, is disrupting the status quo of leadership to be more effective.

In this uncut video interview with Robert Ricciardelli, thought leader and founder of The Converging Zone, Travis Waits describes his process, tenacity, and passion to empower leaders to live in alignment with who they are in their core.

 

Travis Waits is a former licensed therapist and professional counselor in the state of Oregon. He chose to resign his licensed therapist and licensed counselor credential’s in Oregon after false unethical allegations were made regarding his conduct with clients. He went through over a 18 month process in an attempt to clear his name, uphold his family’s dignity, as well as maintain his business. These false allegations were promoted by the very church leaders seeking to “restore” him, in the community where Travis Waits had also served as a pastor for over four years before becoming a therapist.

Unfortunately, continual liable, gossip, and slander sanctioned by church leaders, fueled the court of public opinion negatively with misperception so much so, that it was impossible to have any sort of due process with the state licensing investigating board, nor with recovering his community standing. Travis Waits was never interviewed by board investigators, and his former church closed it’s doors by expelling Travis and his family from their midst. He closed his business, sold their home, and moved his family out of state for a fresh start to rebuild a life full of real restoration and redemption.

The day i didn’t need to hear, “I told you so” by Travis Waits

Most viewed of 2014 so far…

Travis Waits

“You know this is just a consequence of your sinful choices” was the statement I received after expressing my honesty with the struggle of rebuilding a life for my family and I. I have heard this statement before.

Early on in my process, counselors or recovery mentors would use this phrase to highlight some aspect of “denial” they felt I was in. Insinuating that I was in some way not taking personal responsibility for my actions. [Side note… when you repent, admit wrong, make amends, and seek forgiveness, all without running from your consequences you’re not shanking personal responsibility, nor in denial. You’re actually walking wholehearted in your integrity and rebuilding trust in yourself].

Without empathy attached to this phrase, (“it’s just a consequence of your sinful actions…”), it really just sounds like an I told you so.” Which is the exact statement I heard early…

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The Gospel of Punishment by Travis Waits

In our culture of church leadership today there is significant focus on “preaching the Gospel.” To be clear, this was the original mission that Jesus gave the church (see Mtt. 28:16ff). The challenge is that leaders within the confines of American churchianity have lost the application of what this means.

What is missing from this preaching, is the pragmatic applying of the Gospel.

I have written explicitly about how God’s grace violates man’s sense of justice. No where does this show up more clear, than in the application of the Gospel when leaders experience the need for restoration.

As Pastor Danny Silk says, punishment within the church is a condition of “humanity trying to reach heaven” rather than believers attempting to bring Heaven to earth. He states:

“The real difference is vitally important; it is not in their sin, but in what they did afterwards. It is repentance… But know this: repentance only works when the priority of the environment is a heart-to-heart connection.

Repentance does not satisfy the broken rules. … Repentance will not work in an environment where you are protecting a relationship with the rules. In a rule-driven environment , repentance has a different meaning. It signifies your willingness to be punished. You are repentant when you allow me to inflict my punishments upon you for whatever offense you have committed against me. The issues of the heart that led you to make the mistake in the first place is never dealt with, because the issues of relationship and love are never touched.

In a rule-driven culture, the general attitude toward a repentant person is: “you have surrendered your will to me in our environment. I’ll never be able to trust you though, because you have proven yourself to be a lawbreaker, and that fact will rest in my memory for a really long time. Until I begin to forget about how scared I am of you, I’ll never be able to empower you again.”

This is the attitude that presides over what we typically call the “restoration process.” … You pay the price in order to assuage the anxieties of the people in the environment who live within those rules. When we practice this in the Church, we allow ourselves to be defined by the limits of earthly government. When you break the law, the best Earth’s government can do is to say, “We hurt them sufficiently so that you all would calm down.” (The Practice of Honor, p.79 c. 2012)

What he means by this is that, regardless of repentance or not, church leaders who fall in any capacity need to experience discipline so that the punishment fits the crime, so to speak. We all feel better, our justice-meter is soothed when we know someone has “paid” for their misguided choices. Contriteness, repentance, humility, even making amends, these steps do not appease us. In fact, what we each do, is withhold grace until we have determined enough time has passed, enough consequences experienced…enough justice has been rendered, at least for our sensibilities.

As it treats it’s leaders, so goes the church. The vast majority of mainstream church leaders are failing to apply the Gospel. That is why their preaching is irrelevant to a watching world. Jesus said, “you will know my love by their love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

In my experience, Jesus shows up on your worst day, honors your dignity, gives you a hand-up, empowers you (the opposite of condemnation…), and transforms you to lead more powerfully because you have experienced His grace…what a contrast to what the typical church leadership restoration plan is.

It is appalling the way we treat our leaders in the church. We put them on pedestals, then blast away, and somehow act surprised when they are not perfect, make missteps or outright hide their sin from us. For the leader, there are few choices. We all know what happens. A leader confesses they lose their job, their dignity, and influence.

I’m sure many of the self-righteous evangelicals will pipe up now and say, when you’re a leader you’re called to a higher standard (James 3:1 out of context), so they should lose their position. That’s human logic, and has not once reflected an application of the Gospel in God’s economy.

Jesus hung with the sinners, his preference over the religious leaders of the day. He empowered twelve misfits, screw ups, and sinners to be his closest band of brothers…and collectively they changed the world.

If you’re hearing disgruntled angst, good, then I am accurately expressing my frustration with the evangelical lip service that is given to the Gospel. We throw around terms like ‘grace’, ‘restoration’, ‘forgiveness’, reconciliation’…all with the intent of sounding succinct in our theology, but with no intent of practicing any of theses truths the way our Bible defines them. It’s too messy, and it disturbs our entitled justice we have inoculated ourselves within our American churches.

Were we to transform our ‘preaching’ the Gospel to “applying the Gospel‘ I believe our sense of awe and wonder in God would increase. We would experience with greater frequency those “I was blind but now I see” (see John 9:25f) moments that our trust in God, the presence of His Holy Spirit would allow people to be in whatever stage of the process they needed to be. There really would be an increase in ‘signs and wonders’ because, collectively, believers would rejoice and respond in kind, (as the Prodigal’s father did in Luke 15ff…”) and our churches would really be known as hospitals dispensing hope, instilling Grace, and transforming the world because of their relevancy.

How we go about attempting to “restore” fallen leaders speaks not just to church leadership, but really reflects a pervasive attitude, and misguided belief in the very Gospel we claim to preach. This is one reason I love the 12-step movement. These are people who absolutely understand grace, personal responsibility, choosing to grow. In fact, I believe that the 12 steps are a good reflection of the Gospel-in-action today. It should be a requirement for every person, beginning in middle school to go through this process.

The church could do well to adapt it’s discipleship programs to be relevant by focusing on the process as a whole — and not in it’s neat theological boxes. Let us all learn to apply the Gospel of grace, and not just preach the Gospel… What I love about the disciples of Jesus is that they were irreverent, unafraid, and lived courageously…traits that are woefully lacking in the landscape of churchianity today.

Vulnerability is a key ingredient missing in leadership ethics by Travis Waits

Leadership ethics speaks to the reflection of your character, morals, & integrity to the world. There is a ton of chatter lately about not only integrating sound ethical practice into your leadership, but also defining what actually makes up a base standard to live by.

May I propose that any ethical framework is actually ineffective…unless it comes from within the leader & is reflected through, vulnerability. (This is a topic I have spoken much about, see some of my posts here).

Vulnerability  is not just transparency and authenticity. It is the ultimate act of differentiation however, because it is ‘being seen’ by others as your true self. If you are going through the act of ethics, but it’s really not coming from within – then you are only modifying behavior & that doesn’t last long. You are making your ethics irrelevant.

You cannot give what you don’t possess.

I suggest that the risk, cost, & courage required to be vulnerable is necessary in order to have a complete leadership ethic. And, is especially needed today! If the leaders outside does not match their inside…their influence will be stunted, & toxic.

 

Please contact me today to deepen the impact you make as a leader, and develop a more effective leadership ethic that is authentic and vulnerable.

Safeguarding the Impact of your leadership Influence by Travis Waits

Travis Waits talks about the impact we make as leaders from our influence. With all the pitfalls in the landscape of leadership today, it is critically important that you know how to safeguard your integrity and character that guides your leadership ethic.

To do this authentically requires courage for self-examination, to be open to growth. It is impossible for any one of us to do this alone — we only change and grow in the context of relationship. That is why it is so important for leaders to have a safe, objective sounding board that can advise them in their leadership development.

As you trainer, coach, or speak to those in the trenches of leadership (business, startups, entrepreneurs, family) are you growing and “sharpening the saw” as Dr. Stephen Covey states. You cannot give what you do not possess. As a coach of coaches, or leader of leaders your influence will only extend as far as your own continued growth and development.

Travis Waits empowers leaders to expand the depth of their authenticity, truly differentiating not just in the marketplace, but more so, as professional’s who have an expand impact from their leadership influence as a result. If this resonates with you, please let me know below: