How To Lead A Team After They Experience A Moral Failure

I wish it didn’t exist. Sin. Leaders who sin. The evil that destroys. (all sin does)

Over the years, I’ve seen my share of the devastation that unchecked sin has on a team, especially when a leader experiences a moral failure. It just happened again recently. And this is true whether you’re thinking of the leader I’m referring to or one in your community.

Because it’s way too common.

But how can you lead a team after they’ve experienced a moral failure?

It is a difficult time! The present and future will never be the same as the past. It is a matter of survival!

To make it through this well, do two things:

1. Guard your heart

2. Walk in love

Guard your heart

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

  • Keep it for Him and be open to Him. Continue to have your first love for the LORD. Speak to Him about the difficulty. Stay close.
  • Be honest with your feelings. Feel them completely. Hold them in your hands. Write about them. Don’t lie to yourself.
  • Do not allow your mind to wander/wonder. It’s easy to imagine what happened and get dragged into it. It can even become a temptation. Don’t even go there. Be disciplined.
  • Grieve well. There’s a progression to grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Allow yourself to take the time necessary to make the most of the process. It will help the healing.
  • Manage your memories well. When you have a painful memory, ask God to show Himself there, to interpret it for you. Ask Him what He wants you to remember about it.
  • Partner up with someone. You need alone time to process, but don’t go through the process alone. Use the buddy system.
  • Journal about what conclusions you’re making and process them with God. This is so crucial! You will conclude things about God, about ministry, about the church, about leaders. Ask God to edit and inform your conclusions!

Walk in love

(And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14)

  • Be toward each other. Determine to stay in a heart posture of love and care for each other. Believe the best about each other. Stay committed to the community.
  • Be tenderhearted. Everyone else is also hurting, also grieving. Allow your team to express their grief in their way and withhold judgment if it’s different from how you grieve.
  • Spill love. What comes out of you when you’re squeezed is simply what is inside. “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.” Ephesians 5:2
  • Make loving the focus. Not revenge. Not justice. Not self-protection. Not running. Love. It’s a choice empowered only by the Holy Spirit. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
  • There but for the grace of God go I. Humility is the heart posture of love. You don’t know what you would’ve done in their shoes. You don’t. 
  • Pray for the offender. Man, this can be a hard one, but it will shift your heart like nothing else!
  • Choose to forgive. Withholding forgiveness is like drinking the poison you think is going to hurt the other person. It doesn’t say that what they have done is ok. It sets you free and puts the responsibility of justice on God.
  • Aim to reconcile. I don’t know if “ministry of worship” is in the bible (in those words), but “ministry of reconciliation” certainly is! 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 reads, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” Reconciliation is our narrative. It’s our script. It’s our mandate. It’s our go-to. It’s gotta be!

Grace to you if you’re in one of these bewildering seasons.