Personal and Leadership Restoration
Keep in mind that restoring a kingdom leader requires a different process from restoring a believer who has not taught, preached, prophesied as a prophet, or been a functioning elder. If a person holds an eldering leadership position and fivefold ministry function, the process for restoring requires both personal and ministry-function processes.
A leader should be restored by leaders, not peers, not non-ministry “professionals.” If the ministry leader needs non-ministry professionals for personal restoration, or as part of that restoration – and that is a strong possibility – the personal restoration of a leader remains in the hands of ministry leaders capable of dealing with and assessing every part of the process, including the professional component. The ministry part cannot be handled by anyone but ministry leaders.
The Process of Restoration
Mercy is great. Forgiveness is instantaneous. Both mercy and forgiveness must involve the people and place where the breach of trust and ministry integrity occurred. Escaping that situation is part of the process in many instances, but the people who actually experienced the offense are the people who forgive. Separating a person from the people and place of the breach ignores the fundamentals of the restoration process.
That is not to say that it is impossible to complete a personal restoration if the person separates from the people and place since that is often healthy for all parties. It is to say that facing the reality of the breach of trust is absolutely necessary to the healing. Any professional or eldering leader who thinks otherwise is enabling denial.
When a ministry leader gains mercy, acceptance, and forgiveness from people other than those who were part of the breach or sinful behavior, thus ignoring the victims of the leader’s breach, we have an odd and insufficient context for restoration. The process breaks down before it starts.
Forgiveness is instantaneous, and the personal restoration is immediate in this sense when the person seeks forgiveness from the people and the place where the breach occurs.
A personal restoration cannot occur without facing this confessional and repair of the breach. However, that does not mean that a leader of ten thousand people has to meet with all ten thousand personally to reach healing. He does have to air the facts as far as is possible to reach the influence to which his sin has gone. If his breach is personal, he faces one person. If his breach is ministerial, he meets the leaders of the ministry, and they communicate his repentance and forgiveness.
Personal restoration often means relocation, for a time, and may result in a permanent relocation. However, failure to make things right with the people and the place never produces full restoration in the personal process.
What is different about leaders is their leadership. Restoration of the person is not the same as the restoration of his kingdom leadership function.
Restoration of Ministry Leadership
Ministry leadership restoration includes restored trust. Trust must be restored over incremental time with several eldering leaders involved.
The area that the leader breached is no longer an area where the leader should lead without a strategy of intentional oversight. Ministry restoration means the sinning leader comes back into a full function of destiny, calling, and purpose. The area of his function that was the area of his downfall must be included in that restoration, but the strategy for recovery must consist of a new level of accountability.
Judas returning as treasurer? Yes! To believe in less than full restoration weakens the power of the Cross. But to restore Judas to treasure without incremental time to test trust is just silly.
Someone besides Judas has oversight to audit his heart as well as his books.
Porn problems or homosexuality are not the end of a fallen leader’s life or destiny. But a leader must be restored personally, then in leadership separately, and incremental time to rebuild trust is part of the “leadership” restoration.
Most fallen leaders find someone to measure their personal value who will ignore “breach of trust” issues. Restoration after a violation of trust is not the same as personal restoration.
More than one elder should be involved because any elder may focus more on personal restoration to the exclusion of leadership restoration. Often, one leader will assume personal restoration is all that is needed for ministry restoration. Thinking about personal restoration without even considering leadership dynamics will always lead to future or repeated disaster.
The” Send Him Away” Option
If the leader is restored where he was when he fell, with the same people, he will still require the test of trust. Often, this restoration of trust is forsaken, or the fallen are rejected because of a pattern of behavior. That is a valid option for the people and the place – they have that option. They are not mean or unloving to protect the ministry when a pattern of behavior plagues a leader’s life and repeated efforts to bring healing fail, or repeated rebukes are unheeded.
When this option is considered, forgiveness must still occur when the sinful leader confesses. Asking forgiveness for a breach is essential. If the choice of separation comes into place, the fallen starts over somewhere else with different people and leaders. If the people and place refuse to restore – and they only have this option after repeated failures or rebellions concerning a pattern of behavior, not separate and different breaches – then, other leaders will restore the broken leader.
Changing venues, leaders, and relationships does nothing to restore a person or his leadership. While it is an excellent decision to do so, the change is never the source of healing or cleansing. When a leader is sent away for healing and restoration, personal and ministry leadership, the change of people and place is not redemptive, and the same processes for restoration that occur when any leader falls must be applied. Denial is not curative.
Also, the change often means the new leaders fail to implement incremental time for rebuilding trust in the restoration. They simply look to heal instead of restore. They assume the personal restoration is enough because they were not a party to the breach of trust in ministry leadership.
Healing and Restoration
Restoration includes healing. Recovery is much deeper than healing. It goes to source issues, roots of the fruits. It is spiritually ridiculous to think a change of location restores.
Nothing but repentance and the grace and power of the Cross restored.
Feeling accepted and loved and appreciated is helpful but not therapeutic. The same incremental time should be applied to rebuilding trust. The same time should be used as it would if the person remained in the place, with the same leaders and people.
If the person ran off from those people to find someone who restores them on their own terms, disaster will reoccur unless the new leaders install incremental time to rebuild trust as part of the process.
The fallen are not in charge of their restorations. They must surrender to elders who will restore them through a strategic process with oversight and accountability. This is a two-part process of personal restoration and ministry leadership.
Personal restoration includes marriage and family. Until the spouse is as healed as the fallen leader, no ministry occurs, or the scope and type of ministry are limited. Until the family is as healed as the fallen leader, no ministry occurs, or the scope and type of ministry are limited.
In all situations, the heart of the hurting is priority, not ministry leadership restoration. Because the leader was dependent upon ministry for income, his family suffers financially unless he works at a job. While ministry leaders are often carried along by other ministries who wish to help them financially, and this is not wrong, the reality is that personal restoration may be assisted by the fallen leader accepting himself as a person instead of a ministry.
In other situations, fallen leaders are rushed back into a function to produce finances without personal restoration, marriage and family healing, and the emphasis is “he is a great preacher or leader” instead of “he needs time to healed.” This is a terrible kingdom protocol, but one that ignores the reality of spiritual conditions that produced the breach.
Unbelievably, many boards that handle the restoration of fallen leaders are composed of business people with money – they were chosen for business acumen instead of spiritual kingdom leadership dynamics function – while they are good people, they are ill-equipped for the protocols and processes of restoring a kingdom leader. They nearly always design a strategy that ignores the real issues. They should never be in charge of restoring a fallen kingdom leader.
They could finance the process to give the leader space to heal. They could continue to support the leader personally. They could be a source of hope and help to the family and children. They cannot take the lead where only other eldering leaders with kingdom leadership function can provide what is necessary for both personal and ministry leadership restoration.