Jump directly to the content

Already a subscriber?

Home > 2012 > December Online Only > Going To Hell with Ted Haggard

FirstPreviousPage 3 of 3NextLast

Grace must pick a side in the light of day, not just whisper its opinion in the shadows and dark places where we sign our name Anonymous. When a leader falls and then repents, grace picks a side. Grace is strong. Grace is a shield to those who cannot get off the battlefield. Grace is God's idea. Like a spiritual Switzerland, we stay in our neutral world where we can both forgive and judge but never get our hands dirty caring for the fallen. And when we don't pick a side, the wrong side gets picked for us. Crematoriums are more sanitary than hospitals. Let's change this!

Of course, I understand that if a person doesn't repent there is not a whole lot you can offer. But Ted resigned, confessed, repented, and submitted. He jumped through our many hoops. When will we be cool with him again? When will the church allow God to use him again? It's funny that we believe we get to make that decision.

The Ted Haggard issue reminds me of a scene in Mark Twain's, Huckleberry Finn. Huck is told that if he doesn't turn in his friend, a runaway slave named Jim, he will surely burn in hell. So one day Huck, not wanting to lose his soul to Satan, writes a letter to Jim's owner telling her of Jim's whereabouts. After folding the letter, he starts to think about what his friend has meant to him, how Jim took the night watch so he could sleep, how they laughed and survived together. Jim is his friend and that is worth reconsideration. Huck realizes that it's either Jim's friendship or hell. Then the great Mark Twain writes such wonderful words of resolve. Huck rips the paper and says, "Alright then, I guess I'll go to hell."

What a great lesson. What a great attitude. I think of John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." Maybe it's not just talking about our physical life. Perhaps it's the life we know, the friends we have and lose. Maybe I show love when I lay down the life we have together to confront you on a wrong attitude or action. Maybe we show no greater love than when we are counted with people who others consider tainted. Becoming friends with Ted was a defining moment in my life, ministry, and career. Sure, I lost a few relationships, but I doubt they would have cared for me in my failures. So really, I lost nothing. If being Ted's friend causes some to hate and reject me—alright then, I guess I'll go to hell.

Michael Cheshire is pastor of The Journey Church in Conifer, Colorado and author of How to Knock Over a 7-11 and Other Ministry Training (2012) and Why We Eat Our Own (2013)

FirstPreviousPage 3 of 3NextLast

Related Topics:AdulteryConfessionForgivenessGracePrideRepentance
Posted: December 3, 2012

Subscribe to read more

Subscribe Today!

  • Monthly issues on web and iPad
  • Web exclusives and archives on Leadership Journal.net
  • Quarterly print issues

Print subscriber? Activate your online account for complete access.

Join the Conversation

Average User Rating:

Displaying 1–5 of 788 comments


December 01, 2013  10:20pm

I don't see how Christianity is any kind of guide in disciplining or rehabilitating a leader. His fitness for any position can be judged on objective criteria without agonizing over WWJD. After half a century in the church I realize that spirituality is an impediment to knowledge, good works or leadership because it burdens and confuses its practitioners.

Report Abuse

Bernard Henderson

September 12, 2013  12:12pm

I truly thought this was a great article. I believe everyone knows a Ted just maybe not on the that level. I thought to myself truth to be told we all are a Ted. Each one of us deals with some type of sin just wasn't exposed. Just in case we forgot -- If we say we have no sin we make Him a liar. We need to take a good hard look within before looking outward. It takes courage to go outside the box and not be a Pharisee or have that type of mentality. It reminds me when Jesus was with the Pharisees and they were looking for Jesus to break the Sabbath instead of ministering to the man that was in pain with the withered hand. The mission of Jesus hasn't changed to seek and to save the lost. Since the Grace of God is greater than sin in man we should be careful to let God build His masterpieces of Grace. Selah ---

Report Abuse

Beck Pulv

September 02, 2013  2:47am

I am not a Christian. I found this as I was prowling google in curiosity about where Ted haggard is now. The comments won't let me put my whole story, but long story short, after realizing my beliefs categorized me as 'non-Christian' and stating so publically, I was subjected to a lot of hate from Christian friends, family, and strangers. I began to act in kind. When ted was in friends of god, i mocked him. But seeing how my non-Christian friends reacted to Teds scandal, and struggle caused me to realize that they, and I, were reciprocating hate with hate. It caused me to fundamentally change my actions, and even some of my beliefs, particularly in terms of morality. I just wanted to let the author know that your doing it (christianity) right. Even I know that the bible says he who hates has committed murder in his heart and will be denied heaven. I'm glad to hear Ted is doing well and hope his ministry to the broken will bring healing to those he helps, and to himself.

Report Abuse


July 27, 2013  10:59am

Steve, I was just thinking -- I hear you and at first blush would agree (re: disqualifying oneself from leadership)...but I'm thinking that at some point, in someway, we have all done this. True repentance, however puts us in a whole different place...we have had a change of mind, heart and are now devoted to Christ in the area that was in need of repentance. What better person to lead? (I do however, believe that there needs to be a time of establishing whether the repentance is real -- God can see the heart, we have to see what God allows us to see so there needs to be time. And the truly repentant will, I believe, graciously live with the limits God allows to be placed on us with humility and trust in Him to open doors at the right time)... I'm just thinking aloud here.....

Report Abuse


July 13, 2013  12:02pm

I wonder when people will come to the realization that in the Lords mind all this is not s about Ted; or even about this article (though it is very well said). It is really about you. You as an individual. Christ forgave the woman caught in adultery. He forgave a cripple lowered to him in a basket. He forgave those who spat on him. Those who crucified him, those who pierced him. He even forgave you (believe it or not). Now in this world we are like him (or we're supposed to be). To the lost it is written, 'Judgrment without mercy will be shown to all who have not been mercifully. Mercy triumphs over judgement. He has cast our sins as far as the east is from the west, into the depths of the sea, They are forgotten. Can you forgive in the same way? There is no real forgiveness if we do not separate the sin from the transgressors the same way he did this for you. It is only in this was that Ted can be truly restored, and maybe even you too! Remember. 'Mercy triumphs!

Report Abuse
Use your Leadership Journal login to easily comment and rate this article.
Not part of the community? Subscribe, or on public pages, register for a free account.
Reader's Pick
What I Learned in the Fire

What I Learned in the Fire

When pastoring a church plant became a living hell, I thought I was done with ministry.
Sister Sites
Help Others Use Their Spiritual GiftsBuilding Church Leaders

Help Others Use Their Spiritual Gifts