Home Pastors Articles for Pastors General Petraeus, Leadership and Why Adultery is Never Private

General Petraeus, Leadership and Why Adultery is Never Private

Adultery is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of weakness.

Adultery is not an indicator of healthy adulthood. It’s an indicator of juvenile behavior.

Adultery is not a sign of self-controlled leaders. It’s a sign of out-of-control leaders.

Adultery is not the badge of great leadership. It’s the badge of failed leadership.

It’s Not a Matter of Triumph

Ultimately adultery is not a matter of triumph; it’s a matter of failed trust.

An adulterous man or woman once stood before God and human witnesses and pledged his or her lifelong commitment to another person. Indeed he or she entered the sanctity of marriage as a promise that neither would ever break trust with the other.

Adultery is failed trust; it is therefore failed leadership.

How can we trust a leader who failed to keep trust with the person to whom he or she has devoted his or her life? How can we believe what that leader says when he has deceived and lied to the person who is supposed to be closest to him?

Don’t read me wrongly. Adultery is not unforgivable. I am reminded of an adulterous woman about to be stoned to death only to see her life spared. There was no one around without sin to cast the first stone except Jesus. And He showed grace.

But please don’t take adultery as lightly and with such frivolity as much of the media and society. The breach of trust is indeed forgivable. But the consequences are deep and far reaching.

Great leaders keep trust at all levels: in their friendships; in their business dealings; in their organizations and, above all, in their marriages.  

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Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.