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DEALING WITH A SENSE OF BETRAYAL

“DEALING WITH A SENSE OF BETRAYAL”

Matthew 26:14-30; 26:47-50; 27-1-7

I have been thinking in recent years about a “vocational vision” for school presidents/directors in relation to colleagues with whom they closely work.   I am referring to the way we “see” ourselves – a vision of our calling or “vocation” that holds us steady when pressure mounts and we feel betrayed.

We are committed to our serving as leadership role models of Christian character formation with individuals who report to us on campus. We are passionate about becoming leadership “heroes” for students with whom we live and work, similar to the way our leadership role models were for us. We are driven by the “big picture” of developing Christian character and values in the students and staff for whom we are responsible.We are intense about shaping in these colleagues a resolve for lifelong service to Christ and His Kingdom.

However, as committed, passionate, driven and intense as we are about our vision, the mission of the school where we serve and our mentoring key staff and student leaders, there will be occasions, sooner rather than later, where that relationship, we feel, is abused and manipulated.  And we sense betrayal in those in whom we have invested so much.

In these times, how do we lead with a Christian spirit? How do we express Christlike leadership to that person or group when we sense that a “Judas” is in our midst?

Insights from Matthew chapter 26 hold me steady when I sense betrayal from a colleague. I welcome your comments on these thoughts and suggestions on ways to strengthen the article.

#1.Lead From Our Knees.  Jesus withdrew often to pray.  The passage of scripture dealing with Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane is located between Matthews 26:30 and Matthew 27.  Some issues are just too big for us to deal with by ourselves.  With some people, and in some situations, we pray that God will carry us through these difficult times. These seemingly irreconcilable expectations placed on us by people with whom we work appear to daunting and overwhelming.  These are moments when we increasingly learn what it means to “lead from our knees.”

2.Stay Focused on Mission.  Jesus did not allow the distractions around him and difficult people to preoccupy his attention to drain him of his energy.  To the disciples at the Passover meal he said, “My appointed time is near.”  (26:18)   A few verses later, “The son of man will go just as it is written about him” (26:24).  He withdrew.  He had his silent retreats.

Judas talked to the high priests about “thirty pieces of silver” (Matthew 26:17).  Jesus stayed focused on mission.

3.Build Your Support Team.  Just prior to the conversation with Judas regarding betrayal, Jesus was with friends in Bethany (26:6-13).  Jesus had his inner circle.  We likewise need a support team, an accountability team, a group of elder brothers.  We can’t go solo in our work.

4.Believe in Your Distracters. Judas was invited to attend the Last Supper   (Matthew 26:20).  Don’t isolate those who seek to “undermine” you. This is tough.   Stay close to them, however, in ways that are possible and appropriate.  Believe in them even when you sense betrayal.

5.Speak Truthfully in Love (Lead Decisively with Humility).  When Judas kissed Jesus he signaled to the guards. Jesus said, “Friend, do what you came for (26:50). In other words, Jesus encouraged his Judas to do quickly what he and the guards had come to do.

It appeared Judas was manipulating Jesus with a question, “Surely, not I, Rabbi?” Jesus responded with kindness and grace. “Yes, it is you” 26:25.

Avoid resentment.  Ask growth producing questions, not growth inhibiting questions.  Remember, we witness to our faith in Jesus by our actions.  Jesus did not lash out to Judas or to the officers and guards who took him away.

6.Stay in the Word. Reflect on the numerous quotes in the New Testament from the Old Testament. “But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled” (Matthew 26:56.  See also Matthew 26:31.

7.Trust God with the Results. Judas hung himself (Matthew 27:5.  Don’t become the problem by deciding the issue in an inappropriate way.  Give the person time to repent and show remorse. Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t.

It is still painful for me to reflect on the betrayal I felt by someone in whom I had placed much trust.  I continue to be tempted with the thoughts of “why did this happen?” and “what if I had done things differently?” I can go to the grave asking these questions.

Another set of questions placed me on a growth producing path. I begin to ask, “what can I learn? How can I change?” I had to release the other person to the Lord. I could not change the other person, and I was not responsible for the person’s behavior.

I could pray that God could insure the change in me that I desire to see in the other person. I could learn and change in areas of personal need even though I may see or not see change in others.

Remember, as committed, passionate, driven and intense as we are about our vision, the mission of the school where we serve and our mentoring key staff and student leaders, there will be occasions, sooner rather than later, where that relationship, we feel, is abused and manipulated.  And we sense betrayal in those in whom we have invested so much.

In these times, we choose by the grace of God to express Christlike leadership to that person or group when we sense that a “Judas” is in our midst. In so doing, we live out our vocational vision to live and lead with the mind of Christ.

Comments

Jeff Cotner October 12, 2011

Dr. Fairbanks,

Thank you for your insights in this article. It not only applies to leadership in higher education,but other arenas as well (such as churches, hospitals, corporations, etc.). I do hope you continue to write!

Jeff

Almiitta May 24, 2012

I don’t think Judas really bieelved in Jesus as God in the first place. He may have followed him because he wanted Jesus to save Israel from Roman rule, but it does not appear that he ever truly knew, as Peter did, that Jesus was the Holy One of God (John 6:68). Judas did not believe so he could not fall away from faith in Jesus. He just gave in to Satan’s temptation (money and perhaps political favor with the Jewish leaders for his help in fixing the problem Jesus was to them). Judas just naturally went farther and farther down the path of destruction because of his own choice of unbelief.Peter, on the other hand, truly bieelved in Jesus as the Holy One, the Son of God, the Savior. He betrayed Jesus, fell away you might say, for a little while because fear (a tool of Satan) took over. But Jesus knew he would repent and return to him (Luke 22:32). He even asked Peter to strengthen his brothers when he did return. I would even go so far as to say that Peter never really fell away in his faith, he just allowed fear to weaken it for a moment. That experience actually ended up strengthening his faith in the long run. My point is that I don’t think we have to worry that we will fall away from our faith in Jesus if we truly believe in him. Yes, we live in a dangerous world where Satan desires to sift us like wheat, but Jesus is always pleading in prayer for us that our faith will not fail. He is always interceding with the Father for us. We do need to be alert to Satan prowling around and watch out for the temptations of this world, but even when we fail the test as Peter did by denying Jesus 3 times, if we really believe we will repent and come back to Jesus humbled but stronger.

Winnie Nhlengethwa September 11, 2012

I relate completely with all suggested actions to take when we sense betrayal. Iterm #4 “Believe in Your Distracters” speaks to wanting to know in depth the person or character you are dealing with so that you better positioned. It is easier to counter your opponent when you are very close and better understand their devious ways. The late King Sobhuza II in one national consultative forum ” You should bring your enemy closer so that you are able to see his/her devious ways”. Having said so I am not sure I understand how I would believe in someone who has betrayed me. What is there to believe?

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