Lance Armstrong has been one of the most inspiring heroes of our generations. Against all odds he beat cancer that had metastasized to his brain and lungs, he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation which has become one of the top ten groups funding cancer research in the US and he won the Tour De France seven consecutive times, a feat that will never be repeated. This summer Armstrong was stripped of all of his titles and banned from the sport of cycling for life. How does that happen? How can a legacy be destroyed so quickly?
If we believe the United States Anti-doping Agency Armstrong destroyed his legacy through arrogance. He believed he had found way around the rules and he did anything it took to maintain his position and his fame. He followed in the footsteps of Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard and a growing list of church planters around the country whose arrogance has crushed them. I am dealing this week with another pastor who has damaged his family and destroyed a ministry it took 25 years to build. It breaks my heart to see another man go down the well-worn path of destruction.
There are three simple but difficult ways to avoid Armstrong’s fate:
- Build transparency into everything you do. Let others read your email and texts. Make sure your Facebook account is open for anyone to read. Evaluate every decision through the filter of how it would look on the front page of tomorrow’s paper.
- Create foolproof accountability. Open your life to trusted, close friends and insist that they stay in you business. You have no right to privacy when it comes to accountability.
- Realize every day that you are one bad decision away from being the next leader to fall. When you begin to feel immune it is time to get on your face before God, and to come clean with your inner circle.
You know all of this. You have read it, heard it, taught it 1000 times. And yet there you stand on the precipice of disaster secretly believing it will never be you. And just like Armstrong, Swaggart and Haggard your arrogance will be your downfall.