[I share Julie’s story with her permission although under a different name and a few altered details in order to protect the privacy of all involved. Julie wants to relate her experience in hopes it may help someone else and for that I thank her.]
Have you ever been blind-sided?
Julie sat in her counselor's office, as she had regularly over the past year, tears in her eyes.
She is by no means a weak person. In fact, Julie is a very high achiever and a strong Christian.
An entrepreneur in her 30’s, she launched her own non-profit from scratch about eight years ago. She experienced tremendous success as her organization grew rapidly into an international ministry. The city she lives in recently recognized her as a top leader in in her region.
So, what brought her to the point of tears?
This is what happened. When she started her growing and thriving organization, she selected a right-hand person to work with her very closely. Julie went to church this person and worked with her every day.
Julie trusted her implicitly.
Imagine her shock and dismay to learn this person had launched a campaign of lies about her in the community, outrightly accusing her of misappropriating ministry funds! Blindsided, Julie felt devastated.
She assembled a quick meeting of her board. Fortunately, their accountant assured the board that the organization's finances were in tiptop shape. There existed no possibility of impropriety whatsoever.
The board acted quickly and decisively. They instructed Julie to fire this person right away which she did. However, the firing created additional backlash as Julie’s once trusted friend, now nemesis, began talking to people in Julie’s Christian circles, smearing her and spreading additional rumors.
The person also attempted but failed to launch a duplicate organization. Some people believed the rumors. Still do, in fact.
Julie, despite the stereotype of the hard-nosed CEO, is a sensitive, caring person. All this hurt her deeply and thus her visits to a therapist to deal with depression and even burn-out.
Here’s the encouraging part. After a year of therapy, prayer and to some extent just the passing of time, Julie feels much stronger.
When I told her that I had been writing some articles on Christian leaders recovering from betrayal, she actually asked me to publish her story. She wants others to know that healing lies on the other side of the storm.
In speaking with Julie, I asked about her recommendations for people going through a trial such as hers. Julie said, “No matter what, God will see you through.”
In addition, she notes that she is now much wiser in terms of who she selects for top leadership positions. She considers closely their level of emotional maturity.
Personally, I must also add that Julie’s story is a cautionary tale about leaders keeping their organization’s or churches financial affairs in order. If Julie’s books hadn’t been perfect, think of the potential consequences. I personally know a pastor who experienced a similar situation to Julie’s and ended up being disciplined by his denomination for some financial indiscretions – nothing too serious, but the cloud of accusations made things worse for him.
So, we will end this story on what I consider to be Julie’s plain yet profound advice: when betrayed by someone you trusted, it will hurt. Hopefully, you will learn something helpful. Above all, though, no matter what, God will see you through.