The Price of Always Being ‘Right’
Harris doesn’t address it in the TEDx talk, but his decision to step down as pastor of Covenant Life Church was heavily influenced by an in-church sexual abuse scandal the pastoral leadership team decided to deal with internally, rather than contacting the police. According to the Washington Post’s reporting, a former Covenant Life youth group leader was convicted of molesting three boys in the 1980s. Trial testimony showed that the victims or their families had gone to church leaders for help and that the church officials did not call police. Harris said the thinking of the church was that such allegations should be handled as an internal, spiritual issue.
Reflecting on this incident, Harris said he wanted “to get a broader perspective. I want to learn other ways of how pastors and other leaders deal with all these things. We need to learn from the historic church about ways that there is better accountability and responsibility.”
What Harris learned is that when church leaders become too convinced of what they think they know, it inevitably damages their communities, sometimes in life-altering ways. And while this can just produce more sleepless nights for some pastors, Harris believes that when leaders are able to willingly admit their mistakes and choose humility, it actually makes them the safest sort of leader to be around.
The question then is can pastors have the courage to say “I was wrong”?