I didn’t grow up in a perfect home. My parents weren’t perfect parents. Despite that, I have many fond memories, many of which are oriented around items of restoration. I always enjoyed being part of seeing old things brought back to life, whether it was an old farm tractor or a piece of furniture. To me there is something sacred about making old things new. Yet, I do realize that there are some things better left unrestored. I inherited a 66 F-85 Oldsmobile from my grandfather when I graduated from high school. It wasn’t a pretty car. It was actually a rust bucket. The interior had seen its better days but the V8 330CID 250 horsepower engine ran like a top. I knew it was beyond my ability or financial means to retore so eventually it was sold to someone who saw it for what it could become. I also had a 1959 Dodge pickup that I dreamed of restoring. I overhauled the little flat top 6-cylinder engine with my dad. Canister oil filters were a challenge to find, so there were times that single ply toilet paper served me well as a filter. It was a fun truck to drive, but just like the Oldsmobile it was too far gone for my ability to restore. I eventually gave it to my dad for a ranch truck, and it served him well. Eventually it too was sold to a wide-eyed individual who had a similar love for restoring things.
In his book, The Undefended Leader, Simon Walker discusses the undefended leader and the challenges that are faced to become one. He dives into both the challenges associated with the front stage and the back stages of each leader. He explains that he has never witnessed a leader whose leadership approach wasn’t molded by their childhood. During the formative years there are many things that can mold one’s behavior; parents, friends, teachers and youth leaders. Positive and negative experiences. Even one’s genetic makeup can influence how a leader will lead. No matter what the influence is, Walker explains, “the root of the defendedness they exhibit as a leader, the strategy they use to make themselves safe, lies in the experience of trust they record as a child.”
Walker unfolds the root causes of the “defended self.” When looking at the four leadership egos each one has a particular response to childhood trust. He dedicates a complete chapter to each leadership ego. A shaping leader’s ego struggles with being overconfident and the need to rescue others. The defining leader’s ego struggles with being overzealous and very driven. The adapting leader’s ego struggles with taking on too much responsibility and being anxious. The defending leader’s ego struggles with being oversensitive and being suspicious of others.
As I read through the discussion of each leader’s ego, I couldn’t help but take a moment to reflect on areas of my own life that I could see where some of these tendencies unfolded. I also could see some of these tendencies in leaders I have served under, some of which have fallen morally. In the wake of having witnessed friends and fellow leaders along with world renowned leaders failing morally, I wonder about the restoration process. How do these egos interact with the morality of a leader? Should a morally fallen leader be restored? Can there again be a place of productivity in the Kingdom of God for them? Can they ever be trusted again? What should the restoration process look like?
Obviously, the context of leadership makes a difference. In the business world, morality issues don’t seem to be a major concern. Not that corporate leaders don’t have moral issues! Corporate America tends to hide well the private lives of their leaders. Even when they don’t, there appears to be a greater tolerance for moral failures within the business world than in the church. As long as the stockholders are happy, little concern is shown toward a leader’s personal indiscretions until certain legal boundaries are crossed. But within the religious world, the church context of a personal moral failure becomes a scandalous event.
When looking at 1 Timothy 3 on the qualities of a leader, there may be some areas that should be considered when looking at restoring a fallen leader. Paul unfolds the importance of being of good reputation, being above reproach and being able to lead one’s family. One of the questions when looking at restoring a leader, needs to be restoring them to what? I believe in forgiveness and restoration. Can a fallen leader be restored to their Christian faith? Most certainly. Can they be restored back to their family? I think so, but that depends on the willingness of the family. Should a leader be restored back to leadership? What do we do with examples of biblical characters that were restored after doing some pretty horrific things? The Apostle Paul persecuted Christians. Moses was a murderer. King David was a womanizer and a murderer. Peter denied Christ.
When exploring leadership restoration, here are some more questions that may need to be considered. Is the leader repentant? Are they truly sorry for their failure? Is there a possibility that they will commit the failure again? Has the leader completely lost their credibility? Can they get credibility back if they re-enter leadership? How deliberate and lengthy should the process be? Can trust be restored?
Restoration is important. The leadership journey is full of potholes and pitfalls. Part of restoration is restoring trust, and also includes forgiveness and healing. But recovery goes beyond healing; it goes to the deep issue that caused the problem in the first place. The value of the Undefended Leader is not only to give vital insight to a leader looking to prevent a moral failure from happening, it also gives a solid starting place for recovery of a leader who has fallen and needs guidance and is willing to do the deep work involved in restoration.
 Simon Walker, The Undefended Leader: Leading Out of Who You are, Leading with Nothing to Lose, Leading with Everything to Give (Carlisle, Piquant Editions, 2010), 61
 Simon Walker, The Undefended Leader, 62-100, Chapters 7 -10 discuss each ego in great detail.