When the Tallest Trees Crack and Fall: Christian Leaders, Sin, & Disappointment
Last fall, we took our 12-year-old son away for a weekend of hiking and discussion while we worked through the Passport 2 Purity material together.
When we went for our longest hike, it was a blustery day with heavy winds. As we went deeper down into the canyon, the pines at the top of the hill loomed tall above us. Soon we heard sharp snapping noises. Swaying wildly, the trees too close to the edge of the pack, too tall, too top-heavy, and too unprotected from the wind, began to crack and fall with amazing speed, downward to the earth below.
The more I thought about it, the more it hit me: it’s an apt warning to us all.
- Don’t grow taller than your roots grow deep.
- Don’t be top-heavy, proud and puffy at the top but easily swayed by the winds.
- Don’t plant yourself away, unprotected, from the other trees.
You can’t expect to healthily grow while living purposefully far away from your local church Body. Don & Lori Chaffer, married couple at the helm of the band Waterdeep put it this way: “don’t walk away from the crowd.”
You can’t expect to healthily grow if you appear strong but have no one who can question the direction and top-heaviness of your growth. Three years ago, men like Mark Driscoll, Bill Gothard, Bob Coy, Doug Phillips stood at the head of large ministries. They’d each grown tall. They appeared strong.
But they, each of them, purposefully stood at a distance. They eschewed accountability, pulled away from anyone or anything that would have authority over them, and in time, like the pines we heard crack in the canyon, they cracked and fell. And, as they fell, each one damaged other saplings and trees that were growing around them.
It should bring sober awareness to us all.
“Let anyone who thinks that he stands
TAKE HEED, lest he fall.”
~ 1 Corinthians 10:12
- Beware when you look around you and only see a few, loose, weak fellow believers. Don’t plant yourself in a place where you are unprotected and unsurrounded.
- Realize, no matter how tall you seem to be, that you are weaker– more vulnerable– than you think you are. You can fall… I can fall… easier than we may believe.
- We should focus on growing as part of a healthy forest. Don’t try to go it alone. Don’t just focus on your own “height” or health. Plant yourself amongst others who are healthily growing… be a integral PART of a strong local Body of Christ.
What warnings would you add?
What observations come to your mind when you see Christian leaders fall?
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