Mar 27

3 Leadership Lessons from World Vision Chaos

WorldVision-LogoWhat if we all sponsored a child right now? Add to the new sponsorship of the last few days? What if the children where actually the winners? I’m getting ahead of myself. In recent days World Vision, the great ministry known for serving the orphans of this world decided to allow those in same sex marriages to become employees. If you missed the story you can read about it here. Yesterday, World Vision decided to reverse its decision. Here are the reasons I believe they reversed their decision:

  • Money – World Vision has been the leader in ministry to orphans. I can only think that Compassion International might rival them. The board of World Vision obviously realized they made a decision that would cave in their organization.
  • Scripture – I want to think that not only was money a motivating factor, but scripture was an ultimate factor. I believe it was a factor in the decision to reverse. While this is a huge mistake by World Vision, I believe they could not live with the fact that they were moving away from the clear teaching of God’s word.
  • Leadership - Surely leaders at the table took charge. I’m sure there was someone at the table who said, “We should stick with the decision” but I’m also sure most of the World Vision board said, “We must lead. We have made a mistake.” And lead they did. I’m glad.

There are leadership lessons to be learned from this “debacle.”

  1. Be careful to respond slowly to controversial decisions others make. 

I follow a great writer online. Her name is Rachel Held Evans. I like here writing but disagree with her positions on homosexuality. I recommend you read her. She is good. She is creative in addressing the issues we are all talking about. She is what I describe as a Christian hyper advocate of the LGBT movement. So when the World Vision announcement to hire same sex couples came out, she jumped all over it. She mobilized the troops on her blog to replace the so called drops in sponsorships. Which was a good thing. The problem? The decision was reversed within two days. I’ve made this mistake so many times. So I’m not just throwing stones. But here is the lesson.

  • Don’t respond to the decisions of others when they are in your favor too fast. It can make you look bad very quick even when your intentions are good. 

2.   Be careful to stick to clear biblical teaching. World Vision has been a strong evangelical organization for many years. For some reason, they decided to leave their spiritual moorings. I believe Richard Stearns was behind this. If not, he should be held accountable in some kind of way for leading or letting someone else lead World Vision away from scripture. And the scriptures are clear on homosexual sex – it is wrong for us.

  • Don’t leave the scriptures because of cultural pressure. You will look bad when you do and are clearly wrong. 

3.  Be careful in labeling others too fast.  I have been having a conversation on Twitter with someone who decided to stick up for Evans and LGBT cause. What I found interesting is how people label me a “homophobic” fundamental and hater … blah blah blah. I’m not. I believe the scriptures. That is it. I’m a Christian. I’m converted. I have people who are gay in my family and friends circle. I don’t bash them. I don’t agree, but I’m not mean. I have a immoral sexual past. But people who don’t know me (and others) make to be something I’m not. I’ve made this mistake too. so here is the lesson.

  • Be slow to label people when you don’t know them personally or understand their theological positions. You will look like a 21st century Pharisee only concerned with a position rather than the person. 

4.  Be careful to fix wrong decisions. I had two emotions when the decision of World Vision was reversed. First, joy. I was glad of the decision. Second, I wanted to brag. I was also glad that those who judged people were kind of “put in their place.” So I went to Rachel Held Evans site. And lo and behold there was the “I’m stunned” party. Evans apologized and blah blah blah. She shared here disappointment with the church. She apologized to her readers who gave to World Vision when they thought money and kids would be at risk (a decision that was premature). It was a good cause. I hope those same people keep giving. I wonder if they will? Will you now take back your money because you “lost” your victory? And why were you not giving beforehand?  Rachel Held Evans did try to fix her mistake: moved too fast on an issue that could bite back. And who would have thought that would happen? I was stunned by the reversal also. Those who would fight so for the LGBT movement remind me of little Lucius when he was playing Gladiator with the guards, “I’m Maximus, the savior of Rome.” Rachel Held Evans and her movement seem to be the “savior of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender Rome.” They mean well, but I have never seen her write out or state that homosexuality is wrong just like having sex before marriage is wrong or sex outside the marriage is wrong. I’ve asked for it in comment posts. If I have missed it, and I have looked, I will apologize for that oversight publicly.

  • When you get it wrong, own up to it. Rachel Held Evans did just that. She did not change her position, but did apologize to her audience. Good leaders do that. Poor leaders just move on and cover it. 

This post comes from a year of wrestling with the Christians who would label me unjustly. I’m not who they say I am just because I believe homosexuality and same sex marriage is wrong. Jesus spoke on this when He said, He answered, 4Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh6 So they are no longer two but one flesh.What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matt 19:4-6 (quoting Gen 2:24-25)

Have you not read? 

This is an issue that has much more impact than whether we should eat catfish or not, but that is for another day.

3 leadership issues for ALL OF US. Lord have mercy on us.

Go read Evans. She will make you think. Buy her books.

  • John B

    Thanks Alan for your wise reflections.

    • Alan Stoddard

      We are definitely living in the days of Noah.