WHEN LEADERS FALL
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
~ OUR OFFICIAL STATEMENT~
I DON’T BELIEVE IT! Have you ever said that? We probably all have if we are completely honest. We are more likely to say that these days with the onslaught of fake news, shady political agendas, shifting ideologies and the seemingly endless character assassination attempts on world leaders, elected officials, and even ministers. We are being inundated with massive amounts of information these days and it can be quite overwhelming and taxing to our body, soul, and spirit. This is where we MUST get on God’s wavelength and learn to cope and process God’s way.
As humans, we all process information differently and react with responses that are unique to our personalities, cultural backgrounds, spiritual condition, age, education, biblical beliefs, and scores of other contributing factors. The challenge we all face is rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), and leaning on the Spirit of God to guide us past our humanity to acknowledge God’s perspective in the matter. He is perfect, just, and fair in all things (Psalms 18:30), and we, as humans are not.
Here are some factors that often get in our way when we are presented with deciding or judging the information we receive:
BIAS: Did you know that we are all naturally biased? We like certain things and people, and dislike others, often without being fully conscious of our prejudice. Bias is acquired at a young age, often because of one’s upbringing. This unconscious bias often becomes apparent when we examine our response to a situation or scenario. A bias is an unfair tendency, inclination, or prejudice toward or against something or someone and is often based on stereotypes, gut feelings, or rationale rather than actual knowledge of an individual or circumstance. This often results in prejudgments and false conclusions and it happens almost completely subconsciously.
EMOTIONS: Para-social relationships are one-sided relationships, where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party, the persona, is completely unaware of the other’s existence. Para-social relationships are most common with celebrities, movie/television stars, athletes and even ministers. When Kobe Bryant died in a plane crash, millions grieved, but felt virtually no grief over the other 8 souls that perished, because we did not have a para-social relationship with the “unknown” people, but we felt emotionally connected to Kobe. We subconsciously gauge and measure ourselves to celebrities and when they have excelled and risen above who we are or could ever be, we adore and look up to them for their greatness. While this emotion is a good gift that endears us to people, it can often cloud our perception of who these people really are.
IGNORANCE: We often feel insulted when it is implied that we are ignorant, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. In Romans 1:3 we see the writer wish for us to understand, be informed, and educated as opposed to being ignorant. When we were young and immature, we could not admit that we were ignorant about many things, and felt we needed to appear smart and intellectually, so that our ignorance would not discredit us and our identity. But we do not know what we don’t know, and we should remain humble on our journey towards wisdom and understanding.
FREE WILL: Our will refers to the human capacity to actively decide and choose what to believe, and what to do instead of reacting automatically to facts or stimuli. Selfishness, pride, rebellion can destroy us, while humility, wisdom and self-control will position us closer to God’s will in the matter.
These are just a few contributors to how people process though good and bad information.
There is one thing we have come to learn about people and that is that some do not want to learn or know the truth. Some people are content with the information they have and are unwilling to exchange it with any new information regardless. This is not something you can change, and it is best to quickly identify these people and move on because they will cost you precious energy and resources. Jesus himself dealt with many people around Him who did not believe Him or His message. He gave clear instructions on how to deal with them in Matthew 10:14 when He simply said move on and shake the dust from your feet if they do not listen to you.
So, while there are those refuse to engage the facts of the matter and simply want to remain neutral or indifferent, there are many who are polar-opposites and have a completely different disposition to processing information. These people place a high value on fairness, justice, truth, and resolution and are not content with the status quo. They insist on resolving matters, and bringing all things into plumb, according to some measure of truth. We know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, so we encourage all things be held against His perfection so that we have a flawless plumbline to drop against anything, or anyone, at any time.
He is the Word and the perfect law. If we paraphrase James 1:21-25, it says to get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says, is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
When we drop the plumbline of the perfect Word of God into our personal lives, the church, the nation and current affairs, we will be surprised at what we see. Things are not as they appear, and we are commanded to rightly divide things into “true” and “false” because God is not the author of confusion. (I Corinthians 14:33) This plum line will expose what is out of sync and then by exercising our free will, we choose what we do with the truth that has been exposed.
Amanda has said for over 2 years that exposure was coming in the body of Christ, for leaders specifically who have been in sexual sin, and have not dealt with it...especially for those who have victimized others, and perpetrated sexual misconduct and abuse to others. God has heard the cries of the victims, and His justice will be seen and felt by many. The FEAR OF THE LORD is returning to His house! (Joshua 4:24, Deuteronomy 6:13, Proverbs 6:13)
It is a great loss when one of our own brothers and sisters falls into sin. Not only does it wound the person who fell, but it bruises the reputation of our Father in Heaven, and causes many to waiver in their own faith. Especially babes in Christ and those who are just coming into the things of God. For every cause, there is an effect. Sins brings forth death and God grieves for everyone who is affected in these cases. While forgiveness, healing, and restoration is provisioned through God’s love and mercy, the harvest and fruit remain, and the consequences of the fall will go on as it did with Adam and Eve. While salvation is now available, the sin that entered the earth still operates because the gates were opened through the free will of man.
We see moral failure in leaders throughout scripture and it continues today. Much of it is sexual in nature as it was with Solomon, David, Samson, as well as those in the early church that Paul referenced in his letters. We have witnessed countless tragedies within the religious community involving sexual scandals, ranging from small churches all the way up to international ministries, and even sovereign nations such as the Catholic Church. We all knew someone who was crushed when Jimmy Swaggart fell and that was a devastating blow to the church. Todd Bentley's large sexual scandal last year is another painful example, and the list goes on and on. Many people fell away and never returned because they we so hurt, confused and disappointed by these leaders.
One common thread emerges in every case, and that is that some people cannot accept that this has happened. We often here: “I DON’T BELIEVE IT!” This will inherently exist until the end of time because we are dealing with humans who have a free will to choose what they want to believe. However, as believers, we are not at liberty to dismiss God’s position in these matters. He is supreme judge of all things. If we have surrendered to Christ, we are to be dead to the flesh and alive in Him so that we have the mind of Christ, fully capable of discerning truth from lies through His Holy Spirit. If we bypass this covenant agreement of surrender to our master and Lord, we have departed into our reason, logic, intellect, bias, emotion, and will and are exposed to delusion, darkness, and distortion. Great danger comes when we continue down that path and it will ultimately destroy us.
Then you have the other group who will not necessarily dispute that moral failure that has happened, but they can’t bear the thought of rendering a judgment against anyone, so they defer to God to deal with the situation. After all, He is God and they are not. Right?? Well, while God is indeed sovereign and the ultimate Judge, He has clearly expressed how His judgment design works. There is much more to His design than one verse of scripture in Mathew 7:1 that says, “judge not lest ye be judged”. If that is the extent of our theology in the matter, we are grossly ignorant and are most likely part of the problem today regarding this out-of-control epidemic of lawlessness that is rampant in our lives, homes, cities and the nation.
When we violate God’s laws, instructions and protocols, things will go south quickly, and we cannot blame God when it does. His grace and mercy are all part of a plan that includes compliance to His instructions, laws and parameters. Once we breach them, other laws kick in and then justice and judgements follow. God is no respecter of persons in these matters. He is a just God and renders equal opportunity to all who will surrender to His will and way. He also is fair to right wrongs and protect those who have been violated, because righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne. (Psalms 89:14)
Let’s look at some biblical judging protocols:
• 1 Peter 4:17 tell us it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? Notice that it starts in God’s house and relates to believers. This is a New Testament truth that applies today, and it applies to every believer. This includes knowledgeable, popular, anointed, famous and powerful leaders. It must start inside the church because we are sons and daughters, kings and priest, the hands and feet of Christ, ambassadors, and agents of His Kingdom, therefore He demands that this be clean and whole FIRST.
• In 1 Corinthians 5:12 Paul ask this question: for what business is it of mine to judge outsiders (non-believers)? Is it not those inside [the church] upon whom you are to pass disciplinary judgment? God knew that His children would fall from time to time, and that judgement was necessary to restore order and righteousness. This judgment roll is not sovereign, but rather a human roll carried out by an actual leader against another person.
• 1 Corinthians 14:9 gives us another illustration as Paul says let two or three prophets speak and let the others judge. How could this happen if we are not to judge at all? The fact is, judgement isn’t condemnation, it is an effort to keep natural things of man in line with spiritual things of God. Our church leaders are to hold other church leaders accountable and enforce proper checks and balances as it relates to defining God’s heart, His word, and His heart.
• We see another reference in 1 Corinthians 6:2 that gives us clear insight into the duty of the saints in judging matters ranging from the smallest disputes all the way up to us judging the angels. It is clear we MUST take a position and choose God’s side and will in ALL matters.
• In John 7:24 Jesus Himself said do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. We must look beyond the ministry platform, the suit, the jet, the multi-million dollar campus and assets to the view the heart of the matter, and then render judgments that are righteous and aligned with God’s declared and expressed Word.
This brings us to a heartbreaking situation, that has left many confused and troubled over a news article reported this last week in the Times Free Press, regarding sexually inappropriate behavior by minister and Christian author & television personality Perry Stone. This is the first major publication of this incident, but we do not believe it will be the last.
There is deep hurt, damage and embarrassment involving the victims, related friends, and family members, as well as the unsuspecting partners and employees of Omega Center International and Voice of Evangelism. The privacy of those involved are paramount during this process, so we will not divulge names, but we will say that there is much more to this story than was expressed in the TFP article. From what we know, the accusations are substantiated with overwhelming evidence and we feel that in time the entire situation will be exposed.
This is absolutely devastating to all the victims, and our hearts go out to them greatly, as we have relationship with some of them directly. We will not divulge the details, but the evidence that we have seen is quite disturbing to say the least, and this is only a small part of the whole case, which unfortunately involves many victims dating back several years. Our involvement has been one-on-one with these individuals for the purpose of prayer, advisement, as well as support over the last 1 ½ yrs. We recognized that they were at a huge disadvantage, and needed much wisdom and counsel as they attempted to heal and move forward with their shattered lives. These girls feel abused, hurt, disillusioned, and truly heartbroken. Again, let us be clear…yes, we actually know some of these victims and their families, and can validate the truth of what they claimed based on the evidence at hand.
When you are a victim in a situation like this, and the violator is a minister of high profile, you face an excruciating choice to stand for what is right, as you know that it will be met with threats, scandal, character assassination, rejection, and severe persecution. However, no matter how hard you try, you cannot overcome the pain. Pain isn’t overcome, it has to be healed. Then there is the justice side of the problem that nags at you, because you know some other innocent young woman is being groomed to become the next victim, and your silence is partly to blame unless you testify to the truth.
This is where things get tricky and people start squirming, because they are about to have to make a decision to stand with the victims, stand with Perry Stone, or remain neutral. We are choosing to stand where God stands and look at the whole scenario, confront the evidence, find God’s heart in His Word, grieve and support the victims, pray and intercede for Perry and his family, while encouraging full disclosure and truth, without excuses or compromise. We also desire to encourage those who are weakened by this news, and scripturally judge any believers who are standing in the way of Godly justice, restoration, and reconciliation.
Many are unwilling to make a proper stand or decision because they are either:
• Bias towards Perry because he has impacted their life, because of his international voice, or because of his obvious anointing, amazing assets, and overall ministry stature and global influence, in contrast to the “unknown” girls/women involved.
• Emotionally they have a one-sided para social relationship with Perry, and cannot relate with his recent behavior as that contradicts the moral character that they built into him personally.
• They are ignorant of the evidence and the stories of the victims, and are disenchanted by the notion of moral impropriety or sexually inappropriate activity.
• This scenario is proving too upsetting and they are unwilling to change their mind about the reality they perceive about Perry Stone regardless of any witnesses, testimony, or evidence.
People that are bias, emotional, ignorant or just plain unwilling to see it any other way are coming out in droves against these victims. These victims are getting stoned while they are already down, and they are dealing with them daily. We are feeling it too as we stand with them through all of this and sadly, we know this is just the beginning. However, we simply cannot allow these voices to be the loudest without speaking out. This kind of thing has happened too much, by too many leaders, and many want to sweep it under the rug. That is not how God deals with it. There are victims, and our heart cries for justice for them, some of whom have left the faith, and without intervention, may never return.
Regardless of how anointed someone is or has been, when/if immoral or potentially criminal behaviors are demonstrated by a church leader, they need to step down or be coerced into stepping down for an appropriate time, one proportional to the offense. This could be years in many cases, especially when the ministry or minister has had global impact. The larger the impact, the greater the judgement and probation should be. We know God’s heart in the matter, as He says in James 3:1 that those who teach will be judged more strictly, especially when we see predatory behavior, not simply sexual sin. We feel sexual harassment and predatory behavior is quite different than simply having a consensual indiscretion, although both are clearly wrong.
Amanda has written a previous article regarding our position and stance on this, which you can read here: https://www.propheticreformer.com/post/ministers-with-sexual-sin-or-predatory-behavior
Ministers and leaders need to completely come off the public stage and focus on their personal healing, deliverance, and relationship with God before they are intrusted with the souls of others. Again, it doesn’t matter how anointed or popular you are, God will not overlook, turn away from, or excuse this behavior and direct breech of conduct in the body of Christ. There is sin and depravity in the world, and God hates it. Therefore, we should hate it. How can we allow this kind of behavior in the Body of Christ, especially among leaders, and how can those who are authorized to judge remain silent?
We have known this was coming for many months, after a victim’s family contacted us. We had suspected things were wrong for years, as we lived in this region of TN several years ago, and frequented this campus fairly regularly for conferences etc. We saw things that we simply prayed about, and spoke to none but the Lord about, as we interceded for divine intervention in these matters. We knew the ripple effect that would take place if this continued to go unchecked. Unfortunately, it did and now it is not just a one time incident with one person, it involves a host of people and has for many years. Therefore, we plead and urge believers to remain in holiness, repentance and cleansing!
These "needless casualties" are unwarranted and unnecessary! These moral issues were not a secret. Many were aware of improprieties and chose to ignore it. These things were apparently brought to leadership on multiple occasions, and never received proper recourse until now. Because proper judgment failed within God’s house, now it is being judged from without. The news article was a result of how things have been handled by the board and Perry himself, and by those in his ministry. There was too much cover-up, not enough true and Godly sorrow, that leads to full repentance.
When victims come forward, they are entitled to a fair hearing and validation based on evidence, for the pain and hurt they have experienced. That has not happened. We have understood that if there would have been full disclosure, unconditional repentance and proportional church discipline (judgement) applied, these women, who looked up to this man like a spiritual father, would have completely forgiven him, and Biblical restoration for all could have proceeded, possibly isolating it within the family of God as it should have been.
While we continue to cope with the fallout, we are still praying and interceding for Perry Stone and his family. We are praying that he finds the strength to pick himself back up and move forward in God’s divine grace and healing, but that will not happen as long as there are partial truths and political posturing. We realize that a multi-million-dollar ministry is at stake, but that cannot be the primary concern when people’s lives are at stake. There must be total honesty, and then the healing and restoration process has a chance to succeed. When (or if) fallen leaders are to resume public ministry, it must require biblical oversight via accountable overseers and shepherds that watch for the minister’s soul. Perry Stone’s contemporaries and advisors did him great harm by letting him damage himself and others, by ignoring the warning signs and failing to deal with this issue early on. Now, just saying "I'm sorry" does not help very much. Too much damage has been done, and too many lives affected. Total responsibility needs to be taken by this brother in Christ, and he must exhibit great courage to do so. As it stands, we are seeing a “victim card” being played,and that is the wrong strategy and tactic.
We are certainly praying for and concerned for the many victims, and all in the body of Christ who will be hurt by this. Let us not be discouraged by these things, but rather examine ourselves so that we all are of clean hearts as we approach the coming seasons. There is more exposure coming and we need to be strong and of good courage.
Darin & Amanda Shiflett
Kingdom Life Ministries
Here is one of the words Amanda has released several times over the last few years about more exposure coming: https://www.propheticreformer.com/post/2019/08/27/exposureis-it-god-or-the-enemy
Below is the article from the Times Free Press: https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2020/jul/30/evangelist-perry-stone-acted-inappropriately/528699/