Last night, Spotlight took home the award for Best Picture at the Oscars. It was a surprise win, as many critics and commentators seemed sure that The Revenant was going to take home the prize.
If you haven’t seen it, Spotlight tackles the story of The Boston Globe team that brought the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church to light. The film is tough to watch, as it tackles what happened to several boys who served in the church and how the Archdiocese of Boston handled the abuse that happened over the course of several decades.
But that shouldn’t deter audiences, especially leaders in the church from seeing the movie. In fact, there are three things leaders can be aware of as they walk away from the film.
The Abuse of Power
“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them.” Mitchell Garabedian, Spotlight
What happens when those who are in authority take advantage of that authority? How are those who submit or are under that authority to respond when advantages are taken? While Scripture talks a lot about how people are to respond to authority, it’s not blanket approval to take advantage of those who serve with them.
Church leaders can guard against abuse of power by keeping themselves accountable. Not only within the church but with friends and spouses as well. Leaders need people who will speak truth into their lives. People who can ask tough questions and whom our church leaders will respond to in honesty. The church is a healthier, better place when accountability keeps power in its rightful place.
The Abuse of Privilege
They say it’s just physical abuse but it’s more than that, this was spiritual abuse. You know why I went along with everything? Because priests, are supposed to be the good guys. Peter Canellos, Spotlight
In 1 Timothy 3, Paul lays out the qualifications for elders and deacons – but these qualifications can also apply to many leaders in the church. And he encourages those who seek to take on the office to serve in leadership as noble.
The opportunity to shepherd, tend, and raise up the flock of Jesus is a privilege. And it is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Leaders are not special because they lead the body of Jesus. They are expected to model Jesus for the church, sacrificially leading and setting an example as Jesus did for us.
The mantle of leadership is one of humble honor and one of guarding the souls entrusted to them. When that privilege is taken advantage of, it breaks trust in the church. The moment leaders stop seeing the honor in the call from Jesus to feed His flock, pride can creep in and can blind leaders.
As we examine what it means to be servants of the Lord, we must keep in mind that it is grace and mercy to be called by Jesus into His church.
The Abuse of Protection
I was eleven. And I was preyed upon by father David Holly in Wester. And I don’t mean prayed for, I mean preyed upon. Phil Saviano, Spotlight
When Jesus commissioned Peter at the end of John 21, He tells Peter to feed His lambs. Lambs are the smallest and the weakest of the flock. They’re innocent, young, and often unable to fend for themselves.
Children and young believers in the church are the same way. They are learning what being a Christian is all about. They’re unsure of themselves, trying to figure out how to grow. It is the job of leaders to protect our young ones. The Word tells us that leaders watch for the souls in the church. Leaders must take care to not abuse the protection that they have been entrusted with.
Jesus set His apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teacher to train the body up for ministry. It is up to leaders in the church to not only protect the flock from the thieves and robbers from outside, but also from inside the church.
We must be aware of what abuse of power, privilege and protection looks like and unafraid to say something. Spotlight is a movie that reminds us of what happens in a community when authority takes liberties and abuses the power afforded it.
As the news fills with sad, tragic and painful stories of abuse from within the Catholic and Evangelical church, our church leaders and congregations must be even more aware regarding what happens in the church. And we must not be silent in the face of abuse. It is on all of us to be aware of sin and to not be afraid to confront it when it happens.