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Entertaining accusations

“Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.” 1 Tim 5:19 "Entertaining accusations" is an interesting phrase. We entertain guests by inviting them in, making them comfortable and hanging out with them. Perhaps entertaini…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

“Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.” 1 Tim 5:19

"Entertaining accusations" is an interesting phrase. We entertain guests by inviting them in, making them comfortable and hanging out with them. Perhaps entertaining an accusation is similar. A friend slanders someone you know, and rather than insisting on truth, you listen, afraid to confront, and allow the slanderous thoughts into your mind.

Of course criticism is different than accusation. Part of my accountability as a leader is my openness to critique. You can disagree with my actions without making it personal and accusing me.

The difference between the two can be confusing. The greater my level of influence as a leader, the more I am able to instigate change. And when change happens, someone is likely to find it unpleasant. In fact, they may feel as though their world is in some way being threatened. And then they may counterattack.

I'll use my life to illustrate. When Adventures was small and didn’t impact many people, my critics were few. These days, I've got more people who disagree with the way I lead. It seems to come with the territory if your influence is expanding.

But some of my critics have upped the ante by leveling attacks that border on accusations. They say that I believe things or endorse things that I don't. For example, some say that I espouse New Age beliefs. I do not and have written a detailed essay on my position. Some people say that listening prayer is unbiblical. I have spelled out why I believe it is.

Why do they attack?
The more a person's core beliefs are put in jeapordy, the greater the threat they feel, and the more likely they are to attack.

In my case, some of my critics are distressed because their children have signed up to participate in our ministry.
They may not be Christ followers.
They may believe the timing is wrong.
They may be suspicious about our methods.
They may be concerned that we are teaching heresy. They read my writings and find fault.

Of course I can make things worse by the way I, or my proxies, respond. We have at times made things worse by not responding to critics graciously and humanly.

How do they attack?
All honest questions are legitimate. When attacks come, occasionally however, a critic will escalate quickly. One mother who didn’t want her adult daughter to participate in the World Race said, “I will not go away. I will be your worst nightmare.”

Some relatives have launched attack campaigns based on insinuation, writing blogs and papers. Some have passed along hearsay.

When people do that, they are dabbling with accusations. Much of the gossip that we read on the internet may fall in the realm of entertaining accusations.

How should we respond?
•    The best defense is your reputation. If my life and character is not above reproach, the ministry I lead is vulnerable. The good thing about critics is they cause me to look at how I'm living my life.

•    Questions deserve responses. Leaders can’t be defensive. They must be accountable.

•    Questions may be helpful. Some questions highlight the need for greater clarity in policy and communication, or greater accountability.

•    Prayer. When we want to respond defensively, I encourage our staff to take it to prayer. Truth comes out over time.

Comments (11)

  • Very thoughtful post. I totally agree that the more you threaten a value someone holds that is central to whatever it is they believe, the bigger the issue they make of it.

    One thing I find interesting though is that this mother has an ADULT daughter who she doesn’t want to participate. I think there is more going on behind the curtain there than just her desire for her daughter not to participate. If the daughter were a minor child, different story.

    When our daughter turned 21 last year, my husband and I both said, we can see she is ready to paddle her own canoe. We have given her the tools and now she can put them into action and figure out what works and what doesn’t. God has a unique plan just for her and that is her journey to follow. It isn’t always easy to step back, but good parenting calls for that – whether you are a believer or not. Now, if we see her about to go over a high precipice, we will in love point it out. Ultimately though, the journey is for her to navigate.

    So excited that one of my daughter’s roommates was selected and is participating next summer in WR. Funny, but I am one of those mom’s that if my daughter wasn’t getting married, I would have actually encouraged her to do WR. There is surely such a variety of beliefs in the world isn’t there?

    Blessings to you and your team.

  • In my experience, leadership an interesting exercise in working with diligent focus so as not to be distracted from the call while simultaneously being fully aware of what’s coming at you to make adjustments, be accountable, expand to include others, and sometimes protect yourself. Living in the tension between those two realities is either invigorating or exhausting. You seem to do it well. Thanks for staying at it, Seth.

  • I do not want to get entangled in a particular religion. To me religions are like “all roads lead to Rome”. All religions ultimately teach the same thing i.e. total surrender to God with no thoughts about anything else. So I want to be away from the debate about the different religions and their superiority. What attracts me towards your write-up is about
    the human faith and trust. That is all I know and I need to know.

  • I have no idea what is going on here. But I do know this: Since our adult daughter traveled the World Race and then involved herself with the workings of Adventures in Missions, Pat and I have seen nothing but good fruit borne in our daughter’s life and in the lives of many others.
    Oh sure, there have been difficulties and tribulations and tears and pain that we have discerned from afar in our daughter’s sojourn. But could a young person travel around the world twice, visting Christian ministries all along the way on four continents, and not endure some hardship?
    Probably not, for the Lord said we would have tribulation.
    Just be honest and accountable, Seth, and the Lord is with you. If there are sins, if there are misjudgements, confess to the Lord of all and receive forgiveness, as I, and every one of us Christians, have done many many times.
    Whatever accusations and trouble you are now enduring are but small change compared to what Jesus went through when he encountered Caiphus, Herod, Pilate, and the wrath of a bunch of self-righteous religious folks.
    In some ways, things have not changed much since 33 AD. Then, on the other hand, a lot of things have changed, like the capacity of a worldwide organization to encourage and assist in the Lord’s work on earth in just about any nation I can think of.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Great post. It’s so easy to entertain accusations. I’m in a situation like that right now. The more I follow Christ and step up to the plate in the role of leadership, the more the attacks come.

    But also, I must add to that, the support I do have has been amazing and trumps the negativity.

  • As I read this it causes me to be accountable to you in prayer! Just as I pray for my Pastors. I read this and I recognize the responsibility that God has given you with this ministry and I am thankful for your candidness in sharing. Praying for you and your staff to continue to seek God and be accountable to Him 🙂 God Bless you and AIM and WR! (My daughter is currently in the feild serving with WR G Squad)

  • Seth
    You can make some of the people happy some of the time….It has never been a true leaders position to make people happy. Challenging, encouraging, lifting up, collaborating, skills enhancement are more the model to leadership.
    Sounds like you are in good company though. I read about a guy that once said “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.” New Living Translation (©2007) Mt 5:11
    Keep leading…and following!!

  • Thanks, Tony, and thanks to others of you who have sought to encourage me. Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

  • Thanks Seth.

    I have so many deep feelings on this post it is better for me to quietly reflect on them.

    What I will say is that “murder” takes many forms and character assassination is one of the most virulent versions. It is often found among tribes claiming to follow Jesus.


  • Seth, this was a Word of encouragement from the Lord for me when I read it last week. I’m in the midst of battling accusations about breaking confidentiality that could, if not corrected in love, result in our 4 foster kids having to leave in the long-term. Your words helped me disassociate their attacks from me personally (which resulted in relief of anxiety) & explain ‘why me’ (affecting new levels of change). Thanks.


  • Hermano, Love you, man and what AIM is, was and will be. You guys opened doors for us and I can’t tell you how many lives have been changed in Mexico, Guatemala, Hungary, Texas and Georgia, yes, Georgia because of the impact that AIM and AIM staff have had on our lives and our kids’ lives.
    Praying that fiery darts get extinguished by that shield of faith!
    I know a mom whose son is on World Race now and she is so excited to see what God is doing in his life each week on the field. It’s not only changing his life, but his family’s lives too.
    Keep up the great work!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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