Public people make big public blunders and big public bad choices and sometimes, their sins look very ugly amplified in the multiple media.
Sometimes they really are ugly, almost as ugly as mine. Our instinct is to hide pour ugliness. We do not want it seen, known, scrutinized, criticized, ostracized, or categorized. We don't want to be boxed in.
We want to create the image that everyone sees in us and that becomes the source of our identity, strength, confidence, and purpose --- sometimes, even our income.
When a public person tumbles, fumbles, or humbles himself or herself, I hope for the best, for them, for all. I tend to look for that. I tend to withhold judgment and stand with those who declare their innocence.
When public people fall, they fall hard. The inclination is to scrutinize, criticize, ostracize, and categorize. Why?
For one thing, it is safe to do it from afar. We don't know them. They don't know us. We are far more forgiving with those we know.
Second, and this is the best part, we want to learn from their failures and not make the same errors. We want our children to learn, "Don't do that." We want our neighbors to learn. A bad example is still useful.
Mostly, it just brings out some sense of indignation, superiority, or curiosity in us and we are tantalized by the whole thing and react.
I can understand all of that, but I am a pastor and I cannot maintain that stance for long. I've known some public people and they are people. I've known some not-so-public people and they are people too. I just assume that at any moment, I could be called upon to pastor that person and, if I were called upon, I'd want to meet them ... really meet them as person to person.
It starts with meeting and meeting is a place of empathy, caring, and intercession.
So, I tend to be reminded ... after an occasional foray into delusional moral superiority.... that I am an intercessor and can pastor people from afar. Any of us can. So, I pray. I may not pray well, long, or with intensity, but I pray in my way and it brings me into a curious contact with that person and I start to really care about his or her well being.
I am a conservationist and I do not think anyone belongs permanently on the scrap heap. Everything can be used in some way. Everyone has a purpose. Everyone is redeemable and I do not want to be the guy that got in the way of that because I had something clever, perhaps true, but totally unnecessary and vitriolic to say about that particular child of God.
We do need to be occasionally prophetic, perhaps often prophetic, but we do not need to be jerks. Some old preacher said, "Brothers, tell the truth, but don't be mean for Jesus."
Sure, these folks a big targets and have big potential to lead many astray before disappointing them. That is all the more reason to intercede for and with them.
Everybody is somebody's child ... even the meanest man on earth. And everyone is God's child.
Let us find it in our hearts to lift up all the people we meet, and those we don't, from afar, in prayer.