A week ago I shared with our church staff about the tragic fall of Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham and the pastor of the famous Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. I never delight in these stories and it hurts to watch the fallout—the church, the media frenzy, etc.
I emphasized again the importance of guardrails in our lives. A fall like Tullian’s is never sudden although it appears to be. It begins with little compromises that seem innocent at the time…a subtle pride that begins to whisper,
“You’re stronger than others. You don’t need to worry about silly temptations as others do.
“You’re in ministry. You don’t need to worship with God’s people or pray. After all, you’re sort of in prayer just by being with Christians a lot.”
An excuse for lust like, “I work so hard, a little bit of sketchy entertainment is good for me.”
“I’m just in a season of relaxation. I’ll buckle down to spiritual things next month.”
It’s so gradual and our blind spots are so significant that we make excuses for ourselves until we are in a place where it’s difficult to hear the warnings of the Holy Spirit and the brotherhood. Yes, we are kept by God’s power, but we have a responsibility to continue in the disciplines of the Christian life and to repair the guardrails that tend to go into disrepair.
Billy Graham is one of the few who has survived fame and ministry with his integrity intact. I believe central to his faithfulness were the guardrails he set in place at the apex of his growing ministry—what was later called the Modesto Manifesto (You can see a summary here) as well as his commitment to daily prayer, confession, and scripture study.
Guardrails are no guarantee against a wreck, but they remind us where the danger is. If you’re a leader or pastor, review the Manifesto and see if there’s something you need to adjust. But also:
- Are you attending worship with teaching? If you’re serving, then leaving to go get coffee, that doesn’t count as a worship service. Are the people who serve with you attending worship? If they are always serving, they will gradually lose touch with what God is speaking corporately as well as individually. It’s only a matter of time before they become another casualty. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR GUARD RAILS AND THE HEALTH OF YOUR TEAM!
- Are you giving generously of your income? Don’t use the excuse, “We aren’t under the law.” It’s true we aren’t under the law, nor are we saved by tithing! But because we are under grace, should we do less?
- Are you in community with others? More than just team meetings. I’ve found I need people around me who aren’t answering to me as boss. I need people who will treat me like a brother who is a recovering sinner.
- Are you consistently in God’s Word and prayer?
You and I need guardrails on the road of life because we have blind spots. And even believers can get off track. Whether you are a pastor, leader, or talented musician, you’re still in need of guardrails. Perhaps even more so.