In the church world it is even harder because you have to fight the spiritual egos of those you are leading. We all think we are greater than what we really are sometimes. I have had better success leading those who are not Christians than those who are. It is a crying shame really.
I am just a man who God has called to help lead his people. How that looks and in what form that has become; I leave in His hands. It makes me not better or greater than anyone else. In fact, we have taught different than that for years. I see leadership in the church not as a hierarchy but as a place of servant hood. The best leaders are those who want to simply serve the body of Christ and help make them mature in the Lord.
Paul the apostle faced a horrible betrayal by two people he mentored and lead. He was horrified by their actions and meant business when warning others against them. These two did not only betrayal their mentor but they betrayed the gospel message and were hindering the body of Christ. Paul was more upset over the latter because he cared so deeply about the Church.
1 Timothy 1:18-20 Timothy, my child, I'm giving you this order about the prophecies that are still coming to you: Use these prophecies in faith and with a clear conscience to fight this noble war. (19) Some have refused to let their faith guide their conscience and their faith has been destroyed like a wrecked ship. (20) Among these people are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan in order to teach them not to dishonor God.
There are a few different types of betrayal and the one mention in the scripture above is the worst kind. Please understand that those that betray were once those who followed the truth or who were loyal to you and God’s word. They were followers who desired to turn from the truth and embrace other truths. I wanted to point out that we all can become Alexander or Hymeaneus if we are not careful. There are so many false doctrines entering into the Body of Christ now days. New Age teachings seem to be the largest type doctrines attaching themselves to the doctrines of God. Most Christians don’t even realize it or cannot tell the difference between the two.
Types of Betrayal:
1. Spiritual Betrayal: This is where one turns from the teachings and doctrines of the Lord and hinders the body of Christ with their own doctrines. Since you were their leader he or she will try to undermine the ministry God has called you too. Usually the people who reach this stage of betrayal have left the faith.
2. Personal Betrayal: This is where one turns on you personally. They attack your leadership, ministry, and all sorts of things. He or she are still believers but are crossing the line when they gossip and say all manner of evil about you. Usually the people that reach this stage are weak minded Christians or those who don't have a real relationship with the Lord.
3. Selfish Betrayal: This occurs out of ignorance due to the selfishness of the person you are leading. Once again most people in the world are totally consumed with one person. “THEMSELVES." Sometimes a person you are leading will selfishly betray you but not fully affect the work you are doing. Sometimes the person will not realize what they have done.
4. Inner Betrayal: This is the type of betrayal we as leaders have to be careful with. We can think someone is betraying us because they don't agree with our statements or teachings. We have to be careful because this type of betrayal leads to paranoia and arrogance. The next thing you know you spend have of your time defending your ministry. This is not what God desires.
All betrayals come with a consequence. Look what Paul said again about those who had betrayed him and the faith.
2 Timothy 4:14-18 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will pay him back for what he did. (15) Watch out for him. He violently opposed what we said. (16) At my first hearing no one stood up in my defense. Everyone abandoned me. I pray that it won't be held against them. (17) However, the Lord stood by me and gave me strength so that I could finish spreading the Good News for all the nations to hear. I was snatched out of a lion's mouth. (18) The Lord will rescue me from all harm and will take me safely to his heavenly kingdom. Glory belongs to him forever! Amen.
You can tell Paul was hurt. Most don't understand this hurt unless you have mentored someone. When you pour out your life to people you are called to lead; it is a tough circumstance to see someone you spent time with betray you. Apparently, Paul was betrayed in a way where he was taken to court. Many believers were apparently afraid and did not stand with Paul during the trial. Paul tells us of a miracle of where the Lord delivered him from his accusers. It also appears that Paul grew in the Lord from this situation and his faith was renewed in God’s promises. Paul’s betrayal by Alexander was an attack on his character and ministry before the Lord. Alexander was once a disciple and mentee of Paul’s. He followed the teachings which were the truth of the Lord. Why did Alexander rebel? Why did he turn his back on Paul? I don’t think anyone could argue that Paul was not a great leader. We do know in his early stages that he was a tough leader but a good one nonetheless. Regardless, Alexander decided to follow a different path. Now let me stop here and say this. Not every person you mentor is meant to be mentored for life. Sometimes it is for a season, and you have to be willing to release them to someone else. Sometimes only God and that mentee determine if you are meant to go further in the mentoring process. Just because you release them to another does not mean they have betrayed you or that you have failed in the mentoring process. I have found in a lot of cases that there are some you mentor who simply for a lack of a better word. “WILL NOT LISTEN OR CHANGE” They refuse to allow the Lord to change their inner being, and they make excuses of why they are the way they are. The blood of Jesus is powerful enough to free us from all bondages. The question is do we believe it and are we willing to allow the Lord to change us. Alexander’s situation was that he turned completely to the opposite of the gospel. He left the faith even though he thought he was ok in his faith. This is a powerful place of deception and anyone of us can succumb to it. It is important to stay humble when others betray you for we could fall to the same deception. Paul had to make a stand against Alexander’s betrayal, not for his sake, but for the sake of the Gospel. Alexander was telling lies on Paul to the people Paul were responsible for. Paul, in my opinion, was lead by the Lord to make a stand. There are times, during a betrayal process, where Holy Spirit will lead you to make a stand and give out information which points to the truth. However, I would caution on this action and make sure the situation is deemed by Holy Spirit to take action. Not all betrayals warrant the need for you to take up for yourself. Remember the Lord is our Avenger. He will take care of those who falsely accuse or have gossiped about you. If you devote your time in trying to defend yourself then pride begins to sink in. Pride is a lurking enemy for any believer but especially for leaders. I have learned over the years to just let it go. I listen and learn from the situation but I can’t be distracted by it. There is a work we all are called too and we must passionately pursue it.
Alexander probably met another mentor who would tell him all he wanted to hear. Paul would try to bring correction with sternness but with love. Maybe Alexander did not want that anymore. Maybe he thought he was ready for ministry or he was better than Paul. Regardless Paul had to play his cards right in the situation.
I have spent years with people to only see them go to another ministry and see that ministry reap the rewards of my labors. This is a hard thing to watch. Sometimes you feel like the forgotten son of God. You must learn to allow your pride to be shattered. I will be the first one to admit that I struggle with this. But I will also be the first one to admit that God has redeemed me in each situation I have been in. I just had to learn to step aside and let Him work. The key I have tried to minister to those I have mentored is to not forget what they have been taught. My hope is that he or she will put down selfish pride and allow cross-pollination to take effect. In other words, I will reap what I have sown by the mentee giving back. I am still waiting for this and have not seen it happen as of yet. Fortunately for me that is not why I lead because it would be a long wait. LOL!!!
So what are some things we can learn in this lesson in regards to handling betrayal?
1. Don’t try to fight back unless Holy Spirit directs you to give information. Sometimes you might have to stand trial before your accusers but God will redeem you.
2. Watch out for pride in regards to defending yourself.
3. Not every betrayal is an attack against you. It is simply the immaturity of those you once mentored or lead.
4. Pray for your accusers and for those who betray you.
5. Grow from the situation. Listen to what is being said from the accusers and weight it out with the Holy Spirit and wise counsel you surround yourself with. Wise counsel is not the people you seek out to tell you what you want to hear.
6. Release your mentees when the Lord speaks or when you have reached all you can reach within them.
7. Be the mature one in the situation. Walk with peace and speak with love.
In closing, I want to encourage you to keep pressing towards the mark. For every person that betrays you and the gospel message; there are those who will lift you up and follow the Lord whole-heartedly.
I know it hurts but it is part of our growth process as leaders. We can either waddle in our self-pity are move forward with his plans. I choose the latter.