I am vacillating between optimism and pessimism when it comes to the spiritual development and resulting responsible behavior of Christian people. My activities over the last couple of days have included observing disappointing behaviors from some people who should know better. These separate episodes were not serious, at least as they relate to life and death situations, but they were each nonetheless negatively impactful in their own right.
Clearly, this kind of behavior is common, but I do not believe that it should be the norm. Leaders have to maintain a certain level of hope and positive expectation in regard to the spiritual maturity of their followers. If we begin to expect the worse from people, we will lead them that direction. If we become skeptics to the possibility of Christ-like lifestyles, we are unqualified to be leaders.
Jesus calls us to raise the standard of expectations very high and to maintain the integrity of godliness. Scripture presents to us some pretty unmistakable guidelines of how Christ-followers are supposed to behave. Spiritual leaders have to stay committed to the expectations that God establishes for his people.
So should we be surprised when people behave poorly? Only if we live in a cave. People have a propensity toward sin, a natural bent that leads us away from God and toward spiritually immature behavior. But I do not believe that we can be responsible leaders if we accept this kind of behavior as normative. If we observe behavior by our followers that is inconsistent with what Christ teaches, and we do not confront these behaviors, we are as guilty as those who are behaving poorly. It is our spiritual responsibility to teach and to lead.
I plan to challenge individuals who call themselves Christ-followers but who behave differently. I plan to be very busy in the future.