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January 24, 2013

A Fake Girlfriend, a Cheater’s Confession, and Inauguration Day

Three recent events that matter to your ministry

Consider these recent events and how they might affect your ministry.

A Fake Dead Girlfriend and Our Longing for Love

College football player Manti Te’o and the unraveling story of his fake girlfriend have been the biggest story of the past week, and as the truth begins to take shape it will continue to be a topic of conversation. What started as a too-good-to-be-true headline—“Football Player’s Dead Girlfriend Never Existed”—has morphed into a discussion of much bigger, and more interesting, questions. What forms the foundation of a relationship? What keeps someone in a relationship? Is there one right way for a relationship to look? And how should we respond to individuals who find themselves in online relationships?

While this specific situation is pretty uniquely bizarre, the desire for companionship and emotional intimacy, a drive that can lead people to do some pretty unpredictable things, is not. Vulnerability is never easy and always carries a risk—Te’o says he lied because he felt too embarrassed to admit he had never actually met or seen his girlfriend. The way we talk about this story is important, because our words and tone will also communicate to anyone who understands that desire to find love and hold onto it even when faced with challenging circumstances. It is important to uphold the dignity of all people and to come alongside those who have suffered embarrassment, disappointment, loss, or tragedy. They do not need our ridicule; they need our love.

Cheaters Never Win (Once They Get Caught)

After years of denial amid suspicion and speculation, professional cyclist and famed cancer survivor Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah in an exclusive interview that he had, in fact, used performance-enhancing drugs en route to his record seven consecutive Tour de France wins and Olympic bronze medal, all of which were then stripped from him. For years he had not only denied the allegations but successfully sued the former teammates making them. He attacked their characters and reputations as he dug further and further into his hole.

Let Lance’s story serve as a warning to all those in leadership, particularly after experiencing success. There are plenty of takeaways: Don’t break the rules. Don’t lie about breaking the rules when you get caught. Don’t sue other people for telling the truth about how you broke the rules. But for ministry leaders the big one is this: A reputation is invaluable and not to be treated carelessly. This applies both to our individual reputations and the reputations of others.

In the interview Armstrong repeatedly described himself as "deeply flawed," "ruthless," and "arrogant." He seemed to have everything and threw it all away in his pursuit of more victory, fame, and glory. In doing so he lost not only the titles themselves but his good name. His name now conjures up not images of yellow bracelets and finish-line fistpumps, but of a head hung in embarrassment and shame. This is not something he can have back, and it is something that could have been avoided had he not dug so deeply to avoid facing the truth.

Inauguration Time

Over the weekend President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were sworn in for their second terms in office. Inauguration ceremonies, concerts, and parties celebrated the occasion. After a controversial selection of Atlanta megachurch pastor and Passion founder Louie Giglio to deliver the benediction, then his withdrawal from the opportunity, the role and fate of faith in the public square are once again topics of discussion and concern.

Regardless of your political preferences, an inauguration is a time to look ahead at the next four years and imagine what can be done. It is a time to come together to mark where we are now and consciously decide to step forward together. The political landscape is as fractured, embittered, and partisan as ever. For Christian leaders, this weekend’s activities should serve as a reminder to offer up our nation and our leaders in prayer. As we look ahead to difficult conversations surrounding issues of gun control, the definition of marriage, abortion, and the budget deficit, our country and its leaders need prayer now as much as ever. And as we engage these issues we can remember that our hope is not in governments of this world but in the Kingdom of God.

Laura Leonard is the associate editor of Building Church Leaders at Christianity Today. You can find her on Twitter @lmarieleonard.

Related Tags: Kingdom of God; Politics; Relationships; Reputation; Success


i like your article and mind set but i feel like a lot of cheaters might get caught but the question is did they still benefit from the cheating? lets take a look at Lance Armstrong. Would he be as successful as he was without cheating? He might of lost all his medals and what not, but he still has made a fortune from all his success racing bikes. people are quick to forgive and forget too often i think the cheater get more for cheating than he looses.

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