When a leader disappoints

Right in the middle of this letter of confrontation, Paul describes how he confronted Peter.

Have you ever been tempted to not live up to your ideals?  Have you ever been disappointed by a leader who didn’t live out what they preached?

This passage is terrific for two reasons. First, we will see the temptations of a leader, and second, we will see the incredibly gracious way that Paul confronts Peter.

Temptation of a Leader

  • “before certain men came from James” – Sometimes get our brain on backwards and begin to perform for all of the voices in our lives instead of the ‘audience of One’ (God).  We view ourselves in light of how others ‘might’ see us.  We place others’ opinions in place of God so that we no longer see ourselves the way He sees us.
  • “he was afraid” – we act on others opinions instead of discerning the Word.
  • When you are in a position of leadership, people will follow you – no matter where you lead.  Make sure you are going where God wants people to go.

How Paul Confronted Peter

  1. He reminded Peter of his allegiance to the gospel
  2. He led with a question, comparing Peter’s actions to the gospel

It looks something like:  “You don’t eat wheat.  Why are you eating a scone?”  (yes, that was me on Tuesday.)  Direct, but not “you are such a hypocrite!  I can’t believe you could do this to me!… ”

There is definitely a difference in these two approaches.  Leaders are people and many times they disappoint us.  God give us the grace to hold them with the respect and honor we would want ourselves and confront them in a way that brings correction instead of destruction.


4 Responses to “When a leader disappoints”

  1. Chad Estes Says:

    Hi Kim,

    I appreciate your article. I’ve seen the passage a bit different than “the incredibly gracious way that Paul confronts Peter.”

    When i read, “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” and “I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” it feels that the rebuke was both public and confrontational. The tone of his comments both to Peter and to the recipients of his letter to the church in Galatia are bold, strong, and full of emotion. I don’t think Paul led Peter with a question because he wanted conversation. Paul shares it in such a way that his parenthetical question is snarky hoping to make his point sting.

    Although I don’t think the purpose of that epistle is to show us how to confront, it has made me consider that since the steps of leaders can lead others astray the care for the sheep outweighs the feelings of the shepherd. At least that is how it reads to me.

  2. kimmartinezstayingfocused Says:

    Thanks Chad.

    You did point out something that I was thinking about after I wrote it (and I had missed in the writing thereof) – he confronted him publicly.

    He still kept the conversation on the issues, and didn’t cascade into a waterfall of drama, but when a leader leads (erroneously) publicly, he/she also needs be corrected (or correct him/herself) publicly.

    You are right, I don’t think the purpose of the epistle is to show us how to confront, but it is still an example. Interesting how much of our lives become acts of leadership whether we want them to or not.

  3. Chad Estes Says:

    Great points, Kim. Thanks again for sharing this article.

  4. Jeanine Says:

    Interesting article and discussion! Part of this may also be in the fact that both Paul and Peter were guys – and apparently “A” personality, choleric, “movers and shakers” type of guys! Guys often treat each other with a rougher, tougher version than we gals could take. Frankly if we gals were to talk this way to each other, we all would end up in tears!

    Basically the point you started with is that we are to esteem, honor and treat leaders with respect – while correcting any erroneous behavior. That’s tough, and often leads to a parting of ways – even for guys. (How many church pastors have gone their own separate ways over something like that? It truly seems to me that pastoral teams often treat each other harsher than their counter-parts in business, to their shame. The true difficulty is to accept each other almost all the time, and only correct when it’s over something harmful or sinful. Otherwise we need to ask God to help use phrases and intonation that keeps the peace – a truly difficult thing to do!!!

    Interesting comments – makes one ponder it all!

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