When a Hero Topples

When a hero topples, those who follow them are in danger of toppling as a result. How do you deal with the collateral damage? Is it preventable?

The doping scandals in professional long distance cycling tempered my enjoyment in recent years. Even so, the televised events provided spectacular scenery to keep me motivated as I rode my exercise bike, and I enjoyed the strategy and tactics of the complicated sport. I usually cheered on the underdog and not the established hero.

In the beginning stages of one race, rumours of impropriety surfaced about one team’s leader. He was a global hero. His team stood behind him in the midst of growing pressure from the media and those within the sport. By the time the rumours were verified during the last days of the race, that leader’s support team were exhausted and spent, having given their all to see their leader win several stages. The team’s body-breaking work went for nought. Just four days before the end of the three-week race, their disgraced leader resigned. A dark cloud of suspicion now lay over every participant of the race, no matter what team they were on. The media horde descended smelling fresh blood, looking for the discontented ones.
Although the leaderless team had little chance of winning, the remaining members continued to race. One of the youngest team members rose to the occasion to place twelfth out of the field of one hundred and forty cyclists, a remarkable feat. Another member of his team could not cope with the stress and abandoned his mates when they needed his physical strength the most.

Several riders on rival teams were so incensed by the scandal that they spent more time talking to the press about it than they did preparing for each day’s competition. As a result, their performance suffered considerably.

Unfortunately, There have been Christians in the public arena who fell into sin and broke trust, not only within their local circle but on a national and international scale. God keeps these men and women accountable for their sin against those they directly hurt. He also holds them answerable for any of their followers who stumbled as a result of that trust broken.

When believers place more trust and dependency on Christian ministries, pastors or speakers than they put on their relationship with God, they position themselves for a significant fall when their hero falls. Such dependence belongs to God alone. They needlessly stumble to the side of the road with self-inflicted injuries of bitter disillusionment, unforgiveness, and resentment. They fall victim of those individuals who hover in the shadows, waiting to pounce upon any opportunity to fuel bitter resentments they carry against the organised church. They are so busy looking at the spiritual wrecks along the highway that they fail to pay attention to the road before them, leading to their own crash and burn.

God urges us to keep our eyes on the race He has set before us by disciplining our hearts and minds to stay focused only on him.

Personal Application

When we place people on pedestals and insist they stay up there, they become isolated. The enemy targets those who are isolated; they are easy pickings. How often do you pray for media-dubbed Christian heroes? How often do you pray for your pastor?

Begin to pray today. Pray for close, honest friendships for those to whom we title a Christian hero. Pray for healthy and transparent bonds that are give-and-take. Pray for a Jonathan and David type of friendship where each friend is free to expose their heart without the fear of being used and where each friend is free to confront the other as need be.

When the first whiff of a scandal emerges in the press about a Christian hero of the faith, what is your first response? Do you head to the gossip websites or do you head to your prayer room? Do you tend to believe the worst before you believe the best? Do you flog that person in a blog by holding them up for display as a cautionary tale?

Psalm 118:8 – “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”

Psalm 146:2-4 – “Put not your trust in princes in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-26 – “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.”

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Until Next Week

©2018 Katherine Walden

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