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How Leaders Should Deal With Betrayal

Betrayal is one of the most brutal things a person (especially a pastor) deals with.

It hurts—deeply.

Someone who was close to you and who you trusted walked away … and they did not do so silently, they left making a lot of noise, saying things about you that simply were not true. They called people and spoke lies/half truths about you.

They sent out mass emails, and at some point, you felt like everyone in the world believed them, hated you and ultimately wanted to see you fail. You know what Jesus said about loving your enemies, but it’s hard, really hard, because the wound they left runs deep!

You see them (or those influenced by them) in public, and you want to crawl into a hole and hide because it is so awkward, and you just don’t want to talk about it anymore.

You isolate yourself and convince yourself you can never actually trust anyone again because of how bad it hurts.

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Ever felt like this? Are you going through this right now?

It’s happened to me a few times in the past 20 years of ministry. I’m not going to lie: the pain associated with this is very real! It makes you question whether or not it is worth it to keep “running the race” and causes you to want to never trust anyone again.

So how do you get past this and move on to what God has called you to?

It’s pretty simple, really: We’re given a great model in the way Jesus handled His betrayal. Judas was one of the twelve. He was close to Jesus. He heard His words, witnessed His miracles and still chose to walk away.

And how did Jesus respond? He simply moved on!

He didn’t allow the betrayal of Judas to sideline His ministry. It actually served Him in a way that enhanced His ministry. Think about it: Without the betrayal, there would have been no crucifixion, and without the crucifixion, there would be no resurrection!

Isn’t it just like God to use something the enemy meant to use to destroy us for HIS glory and our good? (See Genesis 50:20!) And while this has distracted you, it does not have to destroy you! Pour out your heart to God, tell Him exactly how you feel, be completely honest like David was in so many of the Psalms, and ask Him to make things right in His eyes and in His time … and then get back to work.

We cannot be effective leaders if we are more obsessed with the pain of our past than the potential of our future.

Betrayal will happen if you are in leadership long enough, but the leader who is defined by it will always wallow around in self-pity and defeat, while the leader who is sharpened by it will allow God to use it to conform him to His image and shape him into a better leader.

The Apostle Paul had a friend named Demas (Colossians 4:14)!

If He brought you to it, then he will lead you through it (Philippians 1:6). Don’t give up on God or the people He has called you to serve. Stay the course. Life is too short, and hell is too hot to allow discouragement to turn into defeat!

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Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina. The church averages 26,000 people during weekend services at multiple campuses throughout the state. You can read all of Perry’s unfiltered thoughts about life and leadership at PerryNoble.com. Don’t worry, he holds nothing back.