7 Lessons from Betrayed Leaders

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I’ve blogged over that past several weeks mostly about the unspeakable pain of betrayal. 

  • A youth pastor forced out of a position
  • A Christian CEO subjected to serious but completely false accusations
  • Plus, I’ve spoken with other leaders who faced relentless, undeserved opposition

So, what good could can God possibly bring from betrayal? At a minimum, what can we learn from these folk’s stories? I’ve summarized below seven lessons – kind of a mix of lessons and observations, really – I’ve gleaned and found helpful.

1. Deal head on with your feelings. All the people I spoke to who have successfully dealt with the pain of betrayal have grieved, cried it out, or talked it over with others in some fashion. Several sought out therapy. Rather than merely hurting silently they focused on processing their feelings and worked through to a better place.

2. Engage in self-reflection. Every single person stated that during recovery from betrayal they became aware of areas of their own lives in which they needed growth.  One pastor whose story we have not published realized while being forced from his pastorate that his own anger, regardless of the things done to him, was out of control. He’s worked diligently over the years to correct that fault.

3. Forgive. You, like Jesus, simply must forgive betrayal. There exists no other way to get on with your life in a whole and health manner.

4. You can come away with a deeper faith, trust and dependence on God. As several leaders stated in one way or another, “God will always see you through”. 

5. You can gain wisdom about working with people. They learned and planned for more effective ways to deal with people in leadership in the future.  We’re not talking here about becoming cynical or generally distrustful. Instead, folks told us that they gained insight into the signs of a genuinely trust-worthy person.

6. You may learn things about yourself – and find some areas of potential improvement. As I said above, the survivors of betrayal I wrote about all did some self-inspection. It wasn't uncommon to hear some say that they themselves were not completely blameless in the difficulties they experienced. 

7. Scars, yes, but healing, too. Scars remain for all of them. But the bleeding has stopped and there is no infection. Some pain still remains but they are not crippled by that pain. They report feeling healthier emotionally and spiritually than ever and wiser with others. Most report a desire to help others through their own pain. Some told us they are now in the best place emotionally that they ever have been. They lead thriving organizations, churches and ministries.

I hope that betrayal never happens to you or me.

However, if it does, we remember that Jesus knew the pain of betrayal, too. We may be called to share some measure in that suffering. Yet, God will also help us through that dark night and in due time into the dawn of greater joy in life and success in ministry.

Finally, thank you to all who shared your stories with me. I pray for continued healing in your life and greater fruitfulness than ever in your service to Christ.