As various ministry leaders have made headlines recently, being found guilty of immoral and unethical behavior, there seems to be a pattern from their followers. They often cite David’s sin with Bathsheba and subsequent “restoration” as a reason to forgive and forget. Looking to their favorite leader as a beacon of inspiration and truth, followers hope to quickly overlook their failings in order to get them ministering again and feeding the flocks. As long as they repent of their ways and declare to do better, we should move on and not look back.

Unfortunately, this line of thinking is not just among followers, but leaders themselves. TD Jakes has been in the news again with allegations of having sex with other men at Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs parties. When Jakes spoke with his congregation immediately after the story broke, what was his response?  “The worst that could happen, if everything was true, all I got to do is repent sincerely, from my heart.” 

Are you serious!? This is all that’s required if a prominent minister violates God’s laws? We need to seriously reconsider using David as a standard bearer for fallen leaders. Certainly, David should be commended for his immediate repentance upon hearing the prophet’s rebuke and exposure of his sin (2 Samuel 12:13). Without hesitation, David did not defend or justify his actions, but acknowledged them and pleaded to God for mercy. He wrote Psalm 51 in the midst of his repentance and demonstrated great remorse for his gross sins before the Lord. He also realized that all of his pomp and circumstance did nothing to appease God. It was only a broken and contrite heart that God would accept. His cries to the Lord did reveal the purity of his heart to please His God, first and foremost.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

But if this is the reason for citing David’s example, then this is what we should see evidenced in any pure-hearted leader who has been found in sin. An immediate recognition of their sin before God and a total surrender to God’s discipline and oversight. If they truly have “David’s heart” then it would be seen in their words and actions that display full responsibility for their sins, the negative impact on those they hurt, as well as full recognition of any negative consequences that will likely follow. Not only will they display open and honest grieving for their actions, but also exhibit a grieving for those they abused in the process.

But, even if a fallen leader displays this level of sincere and authentic repentance, any parallel to David should also take into consideration the price he paid for his sins. Though he may have continued in his role as king, it was his entire family and lineage that paid the price for his selfish actions. Not only did his son die, but rebellion would rise up in his household and defilement would be unleashed upon his progeny – for years. Though he could still enjoy the close fellowship of God’s Spirit in his life, his intentional and premeditated sins would continue reaping destruction on those he loved. He went to his grave understanding, not only the mercy of God, but the gravity of God.

The fact is, the greater one’s influence and spiritual authority, the greater the consequences will be when disobeying God’s laws. God doesn’t give free passes to those He favors. And just because a leader has a pure heart and sincere intentions, doesn’t make them exempt from discipline – or harsh consequences.

Scripture declares that David was “a man after God’s own heart.” I would suggest this could actually be interpreted as, “a man after God’s own choosing.” This was actually the known phrase among nobility in other nations at that time. The inscription on Nebuchadnezzar’s son’s grave was, “…his eldest son, the chosen of his heart…” A similar reference in the Babylonian Chronicle citing Nebuchadnezzar’s choice of king Zedekiah was, “he appointed therein a king of his own heart.”  This suggests that this phrase places the priority on God’s choice – not David’s heart.

So, if David was God’s choice, why did He choose him? Certainly because of the purity of his heart. But David was also passionate. It was evident in his writings and music, as well as his leadership style. He was fiery, impassioned, and full of zeal for the Lord. When totally submitted to the Lord, that made for a mighty king, valiant warrior, and effective ruler for a rebellious nation. God may have chosen David precisely because of that zeal and passion. But it was that same passion that became unbridled, self-absorbed, and eventually destructive. Thus, David’s strength was his eventual downfall. This may be the two-sided coin of a fallen leader. It may be those very leaders who carry the greatest zeal, passion, and determination in their call, that are also the most vulnerable to their own desires. If they allow their victories, achievements, and the growing admiration of their followers to get to their heads, they will become blind to their own weakness and find themselves falling from a great height.

Yes, God gives us incredibly gifted and charismatic leaders. They are chosen precisely because of their God-given strengths and abilities. He knows the risks He is taking in giving such power to these who carry such potential. And yet, He calls each of us to recognize that our strengths, as well as weaknesses, must all come under the cross in total submission if we are to truly please His heart.

On this side of the cross, I would hope we do not look to David as some standard bearer for leadership restoration, but as a sober reminder of the severity of a holy God.

In this episode I interview Blaise Foret, a former IHOPKC student and staff member. He tells of his own experience with that ministry and the danger signals he began receiving, even years ago. The warning signs he describes expose spiritual strongholds in place that are very common among many ministries and churches across the Body of Christ.
Will we have the courage to look, listen, and learn?

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Picture of Wanda Alger

Wanda Alger

Wanda has been in ministry for over 35 years as a worship leader, teacher, author, deliverance counselor, and speaker.


10 Responses

  1. I agree with everything you said about whether David should be our standard… but I think there is another angle to this. David was anointed by Samuel to be the King over Israel. He was a warrior king. He was NOT a priest; NOT a spiritual leader of the people. He didn’t have spiritual care or authority over a flock. Pastors and Leaders in the body of Christ today, who have been given authority over the flock, should be held to a MUCH HIGHER standard than a Warrior King in the Old Testament! (I don’t think I expressed myself very well. I hope you understand my thinking.)

    1. Exactly my thoughts. Yes, David was a psalmist, he wrote many songs, loved to go the the temple, be in God’s presence and worship Him and minister to Him, but that was his heart, but he was not “ordained” as a priest; he was anointed as king.

  2. I have observed several recent discussions about restoring fallen leaders. At least two things are missing. First, no more than lip service is paid to the idea of the offending leader making amends to the victim of his/her sin. Should not doing all we can to restore the person who was victimized by sin be our highest priority, not restoring a popular pastor, prophet, etc.? Second, I have not seen anyone suggest that many Charismatic churches must begin listening to men of God who are well-schooled in the written Word of God and know how to teach it. In the pursuit of spiritual experiences, too many sound Bible teachers have been shoved aside, especially those who attempt to warn about certain popular practices and beliefs. They are written off as “legalists” or being under the influence of a “spirit of religion.” The Word of God is not incompatible with spiritual experiences, but certain spiritual experiences, “revelations,” etc. are contrary to clear scriptures. The problem is systemic, and we have not seen the last of sin and corruption being exposed. Unfortunately, there is a decided lack of discernment and wisdom among many leaders of the Charismatic Church. What is needed is NOT revival as much as repentance and the restoration of the original Apostolic teachings, and the latter are ONLY found in the New Testament. If the church begins to move in great signs and wonders, revival, and the like without a solid foundation in the Word, the results will be disastrous, and deception will run rampant in our churches and fellowships (as it already is in far too many cases).

  3. There is a danger that we can over-spiritualise things and overlook the basics of human behaviour. Most people are only sorry that they have been caught. “Christian leaders “ are no different – if anything it is even more likely among those who stand to lose influence, power, status and wealth.

  4. Let us not forget what the New Testament says about church leaders, that the “must be above reproach”, married to one woman, and manage his family well. If this is true about TD Jakes, he committed multiple sins- he broke his covenant with his wife committing adultry, commuted sexual immorality in his homosexual relationships, lied, and did not truly repent. Tragic.

  5. David did not have a born again spirit. But, of course, likely these leaders don’t either. The difference is a born again spirit was available to them. Sitting in an American church today is one of the most dangerous places you can be. See Mario Murillos blog.

  6. 100% agree – David pre-Psalm 51 should never be the standard bearer to New Testament believing Christians to excuse sin, ever. David didn’t have the Prophets or the New Testament strong warnings and commands and hadn’t yet suffered the devastating consequences of his sin. Had he known the strong warnings of Scripture that what he sowed he would reap he would never, ever have repeated what he did with Bathsheba and Uriah, but be the strongest advocate to never, ever entertain such temptation in his actions and thoughts.

  7. In the situation with Mike Bickle,
    I have not seen any mention of
    “When a brother fall, come alongside to restore”. Mike is still our brother. I’m currently reading his book “After God’s Heart”….Mike has done sinful things and is experiencing the consequences but he has also done very Godly things.
    There has been no mention to my
    knowledge about the woman’s role in all of this. Where were her parents,
    her spiritual leaders? Why was she
    spending alone time with a married
    man, why was she accepting favors from him? Where was Mike’s wife
    in all of this? Mike bears the lion’s
    share of the responsibility but there’s
    more to the story.
    This is also a time for each one of us
    to be falling on our faces begging God
    to search our hearts. I pray the fear of
    God be restored in the world, beginning with us.

  8. Thank you Susan for your reply!

    John 8: The woman who was caught in adultery was about to be viciously stoned by her accusers the “Church/religious” leaders and Jesus “calmly” handled the situation. As her accusers insisted on a response to try and trap Him Jesus finally gave them one. He said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” It was quiet and “all” her accusers dropped their “stones/weapons”, and left. Then Jesus asked a question “Where are your accusers now? Did anyone of them condemn you? She said, no Lord. Then JESUS said neither do I. Go and sin no more.” Who are we to say a persons repentance isn’t enough when you can see clear change?

    Maybe the real test is the “Church/Religious” leaders response…

    I am not justifying sin because we all have committed some type of sin. Even leaders, have falling short (or sinned that no one knows about but God forgave them when they repented) of the glory of God! If “we” truly repented He forgives us.

    Restore those that want to be restored without using platforms to gossip, spread rumors and forgetting about everything they did before the accusation when we don’t know ourselves what “actually” happened.

    The way the Church responds these days is very crucial. Let truth unfold and never stop proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

  9. Keep bringing it Wanda. We all need to not just hear, but receive this; deeply, down to the roots of our being, so that any presumptuous sin is uprooted. Thank You!!!

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