A Few Words on Leadership - UPDATED

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By now, since news on the Internet travels at lightning speeds, you've probably heard about the arrest of Jason Russell, co-founder of Invisible Children. He was arrested for being, well, drunk in public and masturbating. There are any number of reactions, and, of course, I am not here to tell you how you should react to this news. That's not my purpose.

But I do want to highlight something very important: part of this is the result of a leadership culture in which we consider our leaders beyond accountability instead of beyond reproach. Our attitude seems to be that "well, they're the leader, so they can't be bad."

Anyone remotely involved with Christian industry can tell you that that's not the case. There are tons of scandalous things going on beneath the surface, and the current method seems to be just hoping that no one finds out and that the damage control PR machine you have in place is good enough to handle the scandal (it never is).

We need to work to create a culture in which our leaders - not just pastors, but leaders - can feel comfortable about sharing themselves with us. We need to create a culture in which the pastor can buy beer at the super market without being side-eyed by a member of his congregation. We need to create an environment where our leaders are able to admit their faults within a safe community. We need to create an environment where the people at the top don't feel so alone and above it all.

The failure of a leader - like Jason Russell - is not the failure of one man, though that is certainly part of it, but the failure to create an accountable environment. We don't need safety nets; we need systems of unbreakable support.

Update: According to this AP story, no actual charges were filed.

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Photo by Dot&Cross and McManus Studios, originally posted here.