We Had To “Let Him Go.”

“We had to let him go,
not because of what he did,
but because he did not see
that what he did was wrong.”

. . . . 

Those were the works of a vice-president at a well-known Christian college in the United States.  He was sadly recounting what had just happened regarding an administration change that had taken place.

What had happened was that a fellow administrator had engaged in inappropriate behavior. He had come up from behind of a female fellow worker, put his chin on her shoulder, and spoke from that position for a few seconds.  It was not that he said anything wrong, but that he felt comfortable propping his head on her shoulder. It was just that, unthinking inappropriate public behavior.

The female employee was taken back by his actions and expressed her unease with that behavior.  There was no push for any severe action to be taken, but his actions were clearly called out by her.  In response, the head of the administration called him into his office to address the situation.

The offending administrator thought it was perfectly innocent and did not see anything wrong with what he had done — and continued to maintain that he had done nothing wrong despite the repeated attempts to convince him otherwise.  He remained unpersuaded and actually stubbornly defending his behavior.

There was no intent or plan to release him from their employ over what had happened, but . . . .

“We had to let him go, not because of what he did, but because he did not see that what he had done was inappropriate, and therefore we could not be confident that he would not do it again!”

. . . . 

The account has stuck with me because it illustrates, and really highlights, two principles . . . .

#1) Back At The Same Table:  So often, it is not the mistakes you make, but whether “You get it!”  Do you see. . . .

  • what has actually happened, or
  • what your role was in the situation,
  • where your responsibility was/is in the matter
  • how you could have acted much differently
  • how improper, not sinful but inappropriate [1]
  • etc.

It is not only what you do, but whether you grasp what you did.  If not, you will probably do it again!  That is why some people have to be “let go.”  They don’t get it, and we will be back at the same table again.  It is just a matter of time that the same generic issue will have to be addressed.  Different people, a different set of facts, but the same issue.  We are only kicking the can down the road to another day — maybe a far worse day.

. . . . 

#2) No Cost, No Change: One of the reasons that poor decision-making is repeated is because there is no price for being wrong.  Poor decisions follow poor decisions because the one(s) making the poor decisions never pay the price for those poor decisions for being wrong.

This bad decision was preceded by other bad decisions.  There was no cost for making those previous “weak-or-poor-or-bad-or-terrible-or-disastrous” decisions.  No one feels any shame.  No one is demoted.  No one is replaced.  No one is fired.  The result is that one “poor” decision is followed by another poor decision.

And — even that pile-up of poor decisions exacts no cost!

There is no lack of well-known examples of this principle.  Why haven’t “all” the leaders, administrators, and board members of RZIM resigned?  Because there is too little “felt responsibility” and shame over the decisions made, which resulted in the terrible series of events. Too often, the same leaders, administrators, and board members show up on yet other boards, in positions of authority at other ministries, in charge of other local churches, over-seeing another Christian organization.  They utterly and appallingly failed, and even then, there is no cost for that failure. [2]

While that example is horrific, it is all too present in ministries and local churches of a smaller scale.  In some ministries and local churches, “all” the officials, board members, deacons, and/or ministry leaders ought to resign because they were complicit in the decisions that were made, and they are responsible for what was allowed to take place!  They made bad decisions and bad decisions upon bad decisions, all without any cost or shame!

It is only when there is a cost to “weak-poor-bad-terrible-or-disastrous” decisions that the needed changes in leadership will properly take place.  The weight of decision-making is best only felt when there is a realization that they, as the appointed or voted in leaders, will also be held responsible for what is allowed to happen or what has taken place under their oversight!  That their name is on the product!

. . . . .

√ There is no shame in not knowing.
√ There is no shame in asking for help.
√ There is no shame in making a bad decision.
√ There is no shame in failing.

But there ought to be a clear sense of responsibility and shame in knowing, in not knowing what one should have known, in not asking for help, in making one bad decision after another, and in failing when one did not have to fail if one would but listen to or seek out the help of others. [3]

. . . . 



1. “Sinful” if you knowingly do it again and again.

2. Other posts:

3. “Shame” is not an unbiblical emotion.  In fact, it is an emotion that is designed to lead to repentance.  Shame is what we feel when we have violated our own standards or feel responsible for something that went wrong due to our dcisions and actions.

The Shaping Power of Shame” — Link Christianity Today

Interestingly, in American culture, we have a gesture for the “shame” . . . .

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