There are millions of leaders in the world. Not all of them do us good.
Last week, one of these leaders was sentenced to up to 175 years for sexually abusing girls. This sentence was based on 7 counts but over 265 identified victims came forth. It is believed many more were likely abused that did not come forth.
Dr. Nassar worked for Michigan State University and the USA Gymnastics association. As a physician, he was responsible for ensuring that gymnasts kept healthy. In stead he sexually abused them. As the victims came forward, they detailed abuses related to child pornography and digital penetration and other abuses.
One victim spoke truth to power:
“It takes a monster to sexually assault a child,” she said. “But it takes a monster backed by ego, experience and power, fueled by multiple institutions, to sexually assault a child in front of their own mother.”
Another anonymous statement was read :
“Larry you might not remember me but I certainly remember you,” ……“You ― Larry Nassar ― used and abused my body for years for your own sexual gratification. … MSU, I’m looking at you too. Lou Anna I know you resigned but you owe me and the other survivors one hell of an apology.” (See the link above).
This type of leadership Zechariah warned about. It would dominant many institutions, not just MSU, but even the church. Paul warned us it would become more common just before Jesus would return (2 Timothy 3:1-8, NASB)
And both Zechariah and Paul promised a Good Shepherd who would act to remove such leadership:
“Then I annihilated the three shepherds in one month, for my soul was impatient with them, and their soul also was weary of me.” (Zech 11: 8).
And then the chapter ends with the solemn reminder:
“Woe to the worthless shepherd
Who leaves the flock!
A sword will be on his arm
And on his right eye!
His arm will be totally withered
And his right eye will be blind.” (Zech 11:17, NASB)
Back in Zechariah 10 he unveils the contrast between this abusive shepherd leadership and true leadership:
” For the teraphim speak iniquity,
And the diviners see lying visions
And tell false dreams;
They comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep,
They are afflicted, because there is no shepherd.
“My anger is kindled against the shepherds,
And I will punish the male goats;
For the Lord of hosts has visited His flock, the house of Judah,
And will make them like His majestic horse in battle” (10:2,3: NASB )
The NIV removes the nuanced “male goats” to say simply:
“and I will punish the leaders”
And the reason for the punishment relates to the central purpose of leadership: “for the Lord Almighty will care for his flock” (NIV vs 3)
God takes seriously the care of his flock.
That is why he promises a good judgment that will do its work of both grace and justice together:
All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt 25:32-46).
So God tells us plainly that he takes very seriously the care of his sheep. He will reward those who do give good care. He will punish those who do not .
All institutions and leaders should be on notice. This is the God who runs this place.
This is why, by his wonderful grace, we want as a church and as Christian leaders to stay close to the Good Shepherd and live like he has asked us to. He has grace to do that. This is especially true for those of use who work with children and youth. We want to train and mentor leaders to be able to hear the words of God promised in this passage and receive that reward as shepherds following the only Good Shepherd.
That is the word from God.
That is His goal for all of us.
This is what I want for myself.
That is what I work for as an expert in moral leadership teaching school leaders.
This is what I want from my Andrews University.
In the next posts, I take up the challenge of when we, like Dr. Nassar face our falling.
Because Christianity isn’t only a story about morality. It is NOT a moralistic club. It is a hospital for sinners that promotes the moral ideal of God even as it deals with sickness that inhabits ALL of us. Dr. Nassar did evil. But that same evil is in all of us and it is only be the proper application of his grace that we find ourselves on the sheep side of the final judgment.
This is the challenge of a robust grace morality. How do you have justice as Dr. Nassar experienced in the court and yet have a place for forgiveness.
This is the tough stuff of Christian morality.
I think we find solutions in Jesus’ work with Peter and Judas….