When it comes to the qualifications for becoming a spiritual giant, God seems to be less uptight than humans. Every one of the great patriarchs of biblical faith I can think of had a huge dark side. There were murderers (Moses, David, Paul), liars (Abraham), womanizers (David, Solomon), cowards (Gideon), hypocrites (Peter) – you get the idea. What’s more, God was not afraid to put their faults and sins right out front for all to see.
Today, the religious population seems to want their leaders to maintain a certain level of near perfection. An occasional self deprecating amusing anecdote followed by a chuckle is allowed, so long as everything else, including the hair, is in place. We don’t come right out and tell them to keep their troubles to themselves… we seem to really believe they don’t exist.
The Bible says that every temptation is “common” to the human race. Why, then, would anyone think that their pastor, priest, rabbi, spiritual teacher, friend, etc. is any better than they are? Even more sickeningly, why does the religious system continue to perpetuate the “us and them” mentality that some people are better – therefore more valuable to God – than others? Personally, I can handle a spiritual leader with problems, but I cringe at those who act like they have no problems.
In addition to being low-lifes of every form, the truly great men and women have always had something else in common: the ability to admit their shortcomings before God and others, and plead for strength to turn their lives around. God always responds… with forgiveness, restoration, and new direction.
How refreshing it would be if leaders within the community of faith admitted that they are mere humans like the rest of us. That while trying to emulate the strengths of the great heroes before them, they also struggle and fall like their predecessors. Sadly, some devotees would probably go searching for more perfectly green pastures. Others, however, just might rise out of their depressed, trodden down states, lift their eyes from looking at the ground, and see the wide open arms of God and the fully accepting smile on His face.
(NOTE: In the time it took me to write this, I committed at least a dozen sins in my mind while just sitting on a sofa.)