It’s the worship leader who struggles with masturbation. It’s the Sunday school teacher who spent Saturday night watching porn. It’s you. It’s me. All battling with one of the most dreaded fears of Christianity; hypocrisy.
Just a bunch of hypocrites
Something we hear a lot as Christians is “the church is just full of hypocrites.” When we feel like we are that hypocrite, that label alone can bring a weight of guilt and shame. It can be enough to make us feel like we need to resign all ministry and renounce our “Christian” label forever. After all, “Christian” and “porn addict” don’t exactly go together, much less “worship leader” and “porn addict” or “teacher” and “addicted to lust.”
We are such hypocrites.
Or are we?
There is a difference between hypocrisy and imperfection. We are imperfect people. We are people who, daily, make plans, and daily seem to break them. You might get up Sunday morning with every intent and desire to go to church and honor God. Then, something happens. Before you know it, somehow, you just fell. What do you do?
Go to church and act like nothing happened, condemning every sinner that walks through the door.
Don’t go to church at all.
Go to church, well aware of your failures, asking God for forgiveness.
It isn’t failure that makes you a hypocrite. It is how you present yourself to others that defines whether or not you are a hypocrite. None of us are perfect, and I think people are a little tired of Christians acting like we are. It’s wearing the painted Barbie face every Sunday that makes people angry. It’s acting like we are perfect when we (and the rest of the world) are well aware that we are not.
What if I lead?
If you are a Christian in service or in leadership and fall, there are some things you need to consider. First off, leadership is not synonymous with ‘perfection.’ The desire to have perfect leaders is a flawed trait of our humanity. It is really a searching for Christ, and you aren’t Him, so don’t stress yourself out trying to carry that cross. It will crush you. But that does not excuse a life of blatant, outright immorality.
As a leader, you do have a certain level of responsibility for how you live in front of others (how you actually live, not how you pretend to live). Should a worship leader be going out googling porn all week and then come to church all pumped up about God and fussing about purity? No. But, do worship leaders fall? Yes.
Is there forgiveness for failures? Of course, but there is a point when someone’s life is so toxic to their ministry that they need to stop.
So where’s the line?
You could be caught in a gnarly love triangle- trying to balance a shallow love for God with a shallow love for lust and deep narcissistic infatuation with yourself. Or you could just be a real person, plagued by a weakness that won’t seem to let you go, constantly seeking real grace from a real God. Which one are you?
You need to evaluate a few things:
1. Your relationship with God
2. Your opinion of yourself
3. Your relationship with sin
4. Your opinion of your service
5. Your relationship with the people you serve
If you are falling in sin and using your service as an excuse that your sin couldn’t be “that bad” then you are gravely deceived. Just because you have a position of service does not mean your life glorifies God. He is not impressed by the gifts He, Himself, gave you. It is by His mercy that He doesn’t zap you dead at the mic stand. Christian service is not a substitute for a relationship with Christ, it is supposed to overflow from it.
If you are concerned about being transparent about your failures, then you may need to take a time out. Service is not about maintaining your image; it is about glorifying Him, and if you are afraid to be honest because you think people won’t like you anymore, then your service is shallow at best.
If your service or leadership is the only time that you are even focused on God, then you just need to stop. Do us all a favor and build your relationship with Him before you stand in front telling us how to build ours.
Christian service and leadership is not a crutch, an excuse, or a replacement. It is supposed to overflow from our love for God.
Do you love the Lord? Are you striving to follow His heart? Are you seeking after Him? Are you growing in Him? Are you willing to be honest about your failures, not in a way that flaunts your sin, but in a way that points to His mercy? Are you willing to let Him use you (any part of you) however He wants?
A genuine person stands in front of the mirror of God’s word, looks at the picture of Christ and knows their own failures and shortcomings. That picture is their goal. They long to be like Christ, but are aware that they are not even close. A hypocrite pastes Christ’s picture to the mirror, blind to the depravity of their own heart and soul and insisting that they really are just as good as they look.
If you want to know if you are a hypocrite, it is as easy as looking in the mirror. Is what you see a true reflection (or are you lying to yourself)? Then, is that reflection you see the same face you show the world? If not, work on being genuine. Don’t sugar coat your sin, excuse it, ignore it, shove it in a box and act like it never happened.