I have just read the Herald article on the frantic search for Tony Veitch last night (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10567358&pnum=2). Not good! I pray for him that he can find himself in the wake of this fiasco and be restored. What gets me is how we have a glorious example of the importance of character over charisma. I think it is fair to say that, whether you like him or not, Tony is one of the most brilliant broadcasters we have. He is dynamic, articulate with the gift of the gab. I listened to him for a few years on Radio Sport and while he did not have the depth of Martin Devlin, he was quite dynamic. He looks great on TV. He speaks a million miles an hour. He is a great interviewer. All in all, he's got the goods. He's about as good as it gets in terms of talent.
Yet this episode reveals how deeply flawed he is in terms character. He is clearly cracking under the pressure. Kicking a person in the back, even as a one off, reveals a tendency to violence under pressure. Suicide attempts reinforces this. His weakness is his character.
He is not alone in this. We are all broken to a certain degree. I remain a flawed man myself. But for the grace of Christ...
The teaching of Christ and the apostles repeatedly make the point that it is what is going on the heart that matters most. Our characters are the genuine test of who we are. We only find out what we are really like when the pressure comes on. Do we respond in anger, violence, self-destruction etc? I get the feeling that Christ is more concerned in the how of what we do than what we do. Do we do it with grace? Are we characterised by the fruit of the Spirit? And not just the nine listed in Galatians (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control), but other attributes like humility, integrity and more.
This has an important edge for our churches. Churches are falling prey to charisma. The crowds seek charismatic dynamic leaders who have the gift of the gab. They want to be entertained. Leaders fall prey to the game, seeking to entertain, be dynamic, spice up what they do to meet the desires of the throng. Far too often such leaders fall usually into sexual sin or perhaps monetary misdemeanours. More incidious is the problem of power, as they lead in an unchristian manner, exerting power over their people. This is not often seen in he public domain but in the boardroom of the church, these leaders have a trail of crushed workers who come and go in their wake.
What is needed is people of depth who have strong Christian hearts and character. None of us are perfect and we are all broken and weak to various degress. But these leaders are in control of their emotions, they lead but with servant hearts and gentle grace. They take people with them and do not manipulate or dominate. They cultivate their characters by getting help when they need it, maintaining their prayer life. They seek consistency between their private and public lives. They have accountability, mentors who oversee them and ensure that they do not fall to the sins of the flesh. They take the breaks that they should, their day off a week, holidays. There priorities are not their work, but their relationship with God, their marriages and their families.
I pray for Tony. He is a gifted man. Often a person can come through a terrible fall stronger and better. It can lead to greater things. It alls depends on how we face the failure. Do we allow it to make us better, or bitter? Do we get the help we need to find out why we are like this and gain restoration for our hearts and character.
As for me it reminds me as a Christian leader that what is going on on the inside is what matters. What comes out of a persons heart is what makes a person unclean/clean. The placement of 1 Cor 13 about love between two chapters on spiritual gifts powerfully makes the point. May God bring restoration to Tony. May he do so to me.