For those of you out of the area you may have heard about the scandal that has rocked Penn State this week. There are men that are very high up in the authority structures of Penn State that have hidden the ugliness of child sexual abuse of one of their own peers/coaches/leaders from the public for years. The sheer scope of this horrendous crime has no words in my vocabulary to describe the ache of my heart as I read the accounts.
But somewhere in the past few days I began to see trigger words that made me wonder even about my own heart. I’m not going to rehash the Penn State story so you may have to read a bit on it to understand what I am saying, but my first thought was this: In being a leader so long at our church am I ultimately no different than the men who failed to report the crimes at Penn State? Now there were no crimes of a sexual nature that I ever witnessed nor do I even want to insinuate that there were. Nor am I saying that anything I have ever witnessed even starts to approach the gravity of child abuse.
So I’m off the hook right? Well... wait – not so fast.
I watched as people were thrown out and left by the wayside with no friends, no support system and spiritually bleeding and never did anything about it.
I believed the system was right or at least “making a difference” in people’s lives. I decided to look at the positive things and not the negative because “Not everything was bad.”
I believed I had no right to correct the leaders. Other leaders needed to do the correcting right?
I didn’t want to chance the fact that what I was seeing might be a skewed viewpoint and therefore not correct. (What if I am wrong?!)
I did not want to jeopardize my position within the system.
And ultimately, in my heart, I knew what happened when you questioned the leaders or the system.
I basically shut up for the support of the system and in that – am I any different? Does any of that sound familiar to the Penn State scandal? Do you see the analogy I’m drawing?
Funny, the people over at our blog decided a few weeks ago that the real truth needed to come out about the church we were involved in. We spoke up. Ultimately we decided that it might be ok to hurt the system if it will help those who are being chewed up by the same.
Ultimately, I am asking those who may be tempted to throw stones at Penn State right now to first look into our own hearts and ask forgiveness for staying quiet on things in our own lives that we should have spoken out against.
Is there something that you need to speak up about? Is there a story that you need to tell? Is there a system or person you need to confront? Let’s learn something this week in looking at Penn State. Let’s not let the log in our own eye obstruct our vision any more.