Consider these recent events and how they might affect your ministry.
A Fake Dead Girlfriend and Our Longing for Love
College football player Manti Te'o and the unraveling story of his fake girlfriend have been the biggest story of the past week, and as the truth begins to take shape it will continue to be a topic of conversation. What started as a too-good-to-be-true headline—"Football Player's Dead Girlfriend Never Existed"—has morphed into a discussion of much bigger, and more interesting, questions. What forms the foundation of a relationship? What keeps someone in a relationship? Is there one right way for a relationship to look? And how should we respond to individuals who find themselves in online relationships?
While this specific situation is pretty uniquely bizarre, the desire for companionship and emotional intimacy, a drive that can lead people to do some pretty unpredictable things, is not. Vulnerability is never easy and always carries a risk—Te'o says he lied because he felt too embarrassed to admit he had never actually met or seen his girlfriend. The way we talk about this story is important, because our words and tone will also communicate to anyone who understands that desire to find love and hold onto it even when faced with challenging circumstances. It is important to uphold the dignity of all people and to come alongside those who have suffered embarrassment, disappointment, loss, or tragedy. They do not need our ridicule; they need our love.
Cheaters Never Win (Once They Get Caught)
After years of denial amid suspicion and speculation, professional cyclist and famed cancer survivor Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah in an exclusive interview that he had, in fact, used performance-enhancing drugs en route to his record seven consecutive Tour de France wins and Olympic bronze medal, all of which were then stripped from him. For years he had not only denied the allegations but successfully sued the former teammates making them. He attacked their characters and reputations as he dug further and further into his hole.
Let Lance's story serve as a warning to all those in leadership, particularly after experiencing success. There are plenty of takeaways: Don't break the rules. Don't lie about breaking the rules when you get caught. Don't sue other people for telling the truth about how you broke the rules. But for ministry leaders the big one is this: A reputation is invaluable and not to be treated carelessly. This applies both to our individual reputations and the reputations of others.