Perry Noble has started to lay out the rationale for minimizing the damage from Gary Lamb’s affair with his personal assistant. He tells us in his blog,
Here is a truth about every leader you know in church world…we are all under an intense amount of spiritual attack. And…the larger the ministry grows the larger the target on his or her back!
So, you see, it was because Gary Lamb was doing such a great job that he was specially targeted by the devil. If he was just a run-of-the-mill, small-time pastor, he wouldn’t have been so cruelly tempted.
Perhaps Noble could show us some evidence for his truth. He gives a few scriptural references, though none support his assertion.
- 1 Samuel 31:1-3 describes a military attack on a national leader after many of his soldiers had also been killed. Saul was the final target, but his people were subjected to the same test first. Noble came back to the same passage to assert that the enemy will also come after a leader’s family. The problem with this interpretation is that Saul’s regular soldiers were cut down before the enemy got to his sons or to Saul. If anything, if you’re going to apply this passage to pastors, you’d say that the enemy comes after the leader last.
- 2 Samuel 5:11 describes a special tribute gift to David after he had won a victory. Either Noble or I badly misunderstand this passage, or he got the reference wrong.
- He refers to David’s affair with Bathsheba as David being attacked while at the top of his game. I’m sorry, but the Bible presents David as a conniving, murderous aggressor, not some spur-of-the-moment victim. David did it, not the devil.
- In line with the general poor treatment that Lamb’s partner has received from these leaders, Noble makes the obligatory reference to Jezebel. Trouble is, Jezebel’s threat to Elijah was an overt promise to kill him in revenge after she’d killed other prophets, not to seduce him in her bedroom. There was no special target on his back; she was treating him just as she’d treated others before Elijah.
I don’t see any evidence for the assertion that leaders suffer greater attacks or deal with greater temptations simply because they are leaders. I do see evidence that God holds leaders to higher standards than others (1 Timothy 3). Jesus experienced (and successfully withstood) temptations that are common to us all, not common just to a special class of leaders (Hebrews 4:15).
While the Bible chronicles plenty of temptations and failings for leaders, it also shows that regular folks are just as susceptible to falling to temptations as anyone else. When a leader succumbs to temptation, the results are often more public and the consequences more far reaching, but that doesn’t mean that their sins are more special than any one else’s.
Noble’s “truth” gives latitude for leaders to fail because they’re under greater pressure than others; God’s truth is exactly the opposite. Sin comes from our heart, not from our job.