5.6 min
By: Joseph Bonifacio

The Leader Who Has Issues

God doesn’t just accept us in spite of our weaknesses—He’s also made provision for them.


What do we do when we aren’t strong enough to lead at this time? What if we’re just as anxious and worried as the people around us? What is the place of a leader who fails to rise to the occasion in such times as this?

Some days we feel like leading, but some days we don’t. For some, this crisis has brought out a surge of productivity, empathy, and spirituality. For others, it’s produced lethargy, irritability, and apathy. Still for some, it has caused anxiety, hopelessness, and paralysis. For most of us, it’s a mix of all.

I was talking to one of our veteran pastors who admitted that he got scared of contracting COVID-19 when he found out his neighbors had it. He spent multiple nights in fear, unable to lead or help others. Another friend said that he was unable to serve and help, because this pandemic triggered crippling doubts that he thought he had dealt with before. One of our ENC alumni messaged me about how this crisis is bringing out a lot of character issues that were flaring up greater than ever. 

For me, I’ve swung from irritability with my family, as we spend so much time together to impatience with my teams to indulging myself for hours on video games and TV series. 

It seems that this pandemic is exposing the cracks in institutions and individuals. So what do we do when our issues are highlighted in times like this?

Thankfully, God isn’t surprised at all. He knows exactly what our weaknesses are. He not only accepts us in spite of them—He’s also made provision for them. God has no problem working on, working with, and working through people with issues.

There’s a section in the Last Supper before Jesus’ death and resurrection where He predicted that the disciples would desert him. Peter boasted that while the others might abandon Jesus, he never would (Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29). Then Jesus told Peter that he would also betray Him. 

But Jesus had comforting words even as He predicted Peter’s failure.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” – Luke 22:31–34

This is what this passage tells us:

  • Jesus knew Peter would deny him.
  • Jesus also prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail.
  • Jesus also predicted he would “turn again” and gave him the command “strengthen your brothers.”

If I paraphrase this, it would say: “I know you’re going to fail this test. But failing this test isn’t the end of everything. I pray you remember your faith in Me. In fact, your journey in this failure will help you strengthen others!”

Peter would indeed fail and deny Jesus. But his faith would survive the test and he would be restored when Jesus rose again. After this, he became an even more powerful leader in the community. It happened just as Jesus said it would.

God has no problem with leaders with issues. For some of you, your faith is shaken. That can be a good thing. Maybe what God wants to do in you is to deepen your foundation to a level that wouldn’t happen in normal, busy times. Maybe God’s letting old issues or buried issues rise to the surface so He can deal with them once and for all. Maybe He’s reminding us that the first step isn’t what we do for Him, but what we receive from Him. 

Amazingly, when we receive God’s grace for the failures in our lives, we become more effective in sharing His grace with others. It happens naturally. So as a leader today, let our first step be to go to God and ask Him to pour His abundant grace into us first.

P.S. Thank you to my wife, Carla Bonifacio, for this amazing insight.

About the author
Joseph Bonifacio

Joseph Bonifacio is the director of Every Nation Campus Philippines and a lead pastor with Victory Katipunan. When he isn’t working in the campus or doing life with students, you can find him at home or in an adventure with his wife, Carla, and their two sons, Philip and Manu. Joe, as most people call him, admits that his hair (or lack of) never distracts him, but that the thought of a chocolate chip cookie almost always does.

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