By Trevor DeVage

If you’re interested in improving your leadership, there’s no shortage of resources to help. Most leaders have a shelf of such books, and many have spent good money attending seminars or classes that tell how to be a better leader.

But today I want to take a different angle. Recent public leadership failures have led me to think about how to DESTROY your leadership. Let me highlight just three of the many ways this can happen.


In last week’s post I wrote about Jerry Falwell Jr.’s tragic fall in the wake of the latest, most serious allegations about his private indiscretions. All of us do well to notice again that someone so experienced in the church, so committed to a worthwhile mission, and surely so aware of the Bible’s basic moral teachings could fail so miserably.

It’s easy to believe that our call to leadership somehow proves we’re qualified for the platform. But it’s easy to forget that the first qualification for the job, especially when we’re leading a God-centered mission, is a God-centered life. Talk long to any effective Christian leader, and he or she will agree this is a daily challenge. And so, for each of us, we must engage in daily self-examination. The devil’s favorite and most insidious lie is to whisper in our ears, “It can’t happen to you.” Believing him is the first step toward a fall.



Review Falwell’s response to his accusers, and you’ll find excuses but no humble admission of guilt. He constantly attempted to minimize the damage to his reputation and shape the narrative so that he could look as good as possible. As a result, Falwell did not fall well.

This is quite a contrast with King David, whose sin comes to mind whenever we hear of contemporary sexual misbehavior. David rushed headlong into his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband. His first instinct, like that of so many, was self-pleasure and then self-protection. But when the prophet confronted him, his repentance was uncompromising and complete (2 Samuel 12:1-13; Psalm 51). (The fact that David could blindly pursue such sin is further reminder that we never outgrow our need to intentionally turn our face away from distractions and back toward God.)

Any of us can fail. All of us need regular forgiveness. Effective leaders are quick to admit when they’re wrong and eager to take the necessary steps for healing and reconciliation. Miss this, and your leadership will falter.



On the heels of the Falwell publicity came the news that Fox Sports announcer Thom Brennaman made a homophobic slur on the air when he didn’t know his microphone was turned on.

His profuse apologies since then have moved some to say he should be forgiven and we should put this problem in the past. Others insist that his public broadcasting career should be over. I’ll not debate that here, but the incident does lead me to state a fact that is as obvious as it is often forgotten: Who we are in private will ultimately affect how we succeed in public.

More than one politician has been undone by a comment he made when he didn’t know the recorder was running. More than one career has been ruined by photos taken of a fling the offender thought was secret.

In this day dominated by political correctness, many leaders have in mind a list of their private thoughts or actions they know they shouldn’t advertise. While that may be advisable (it’s wise to be discreet), it’s also foolish to work at creating two personas, one for friends and the other for the public.

Solid wood is the builder’s choice, not cheap plastic with only a veneer of real oak or maple. Solid gold brings the highest price, not costume jewelry sprayed with a patina of yellow. Every Christian’s task is to polish their interior motives and desires, not just a shiny exterior. If Christian leaders do not tend to this, sooner or later they will destroy their leadership.

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