Signs of a Restorable Spirit

November 10, 2006

It has been enlightening to read the many comments on the weblog this week. It’s clear that the Ted Haggard situation has touched a nerve inside the Christian community. Along that line, Eric Hogue asks, What is the appropriate “rehabilitation” for Ted Haggard? Marshall Shelley discusses the signs of a restorable spirit. (Note the diversity of opinions in the comments). He offers five probing questions when someone is working through the restoration process:
1. Is he rebuilding the broken trust with his wife and children? His marriage vows and his relationships at home were clearly damaged. What progress has he made to restore the damage at home that his actions caused?
2. Has the sin been confessed in a way that shows he understands the deeper issues involved? Confession is not simply “I’ve done something wrong.” It’s an awareness of both the depth of the damage done AND the depth of the sin embedded in his soul. Any healing will involve a sharper clarity of the motivations, drives, and character issues at work.
3. Has he taken clear and specific steps to address the deficits in spiritual, relational, and emotional health? Without identifying, confessing, and correcting the root causes of his behavior, no change can be lasting.
4. Has he willingly relinquished his claim to position, privilege, and power? Any sense that “I’m doing what you’ve told me to do; now when can I get back into leadership?” is a red flag.
5. Has enough time passed that it’s clear that his life has taken a new direction, that repentance (the “turning”) is lasting, and that the soul and relationships have been cleansed?
The most helpful book I’ve read on this topic is The Stain That Stays: The Church’s Response to the Sexual Misconduct of Its Leaders by John Armstrong.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?