Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Bible teaching about
personal defeat

The Bible teaching about personal defeat in Christian leadership gives help and hope to many who are discouraged, and whose dreams have been shattered. Here is how to dig out of the hole of defeat, and start to win again. What follows is deeply personal and practical.

Recognizing the Problem

Many years ago, my mentor who was a man I deeply respected, told me that the road of Christian leadership is littered with fallen evangelists, church leaders, Bible teachers, and missionaries. In my early days of faith, I didn’t believe such a thing could be true of Christian leadership. 

However, after some 45 years of being in Christian leadership: pastor, missionary, counselor, and Bible teacher – I now believe him. He was right. Pastors are fired by their churches, others are discouraged because of lack of progress, or their churches and families are filled with fighting, and they seem helpless to stop it. 

Missionary Problems

In Christian leadership, missionaries may be ignored or opposed, subjected to poor living conditions and culture shock, and fall to quarreling among themselves. Maybe one spouse wants to continue while the other says, “So long, I’m going home.” Many families return home and cannot find a niche in the market place, and/or end up in divorce. Ouch! Career over! 

There is another missionary calamity. Those who have been esteemed and successful on the mission field, but who are forced to retire and return to a “forgotten” status, brushed aside and neglected in their home country.


Bible teaching about personal defeat in Christian leadership indicates we are faced with temptation: greed, pride, lust, laziness, loneliness, or just the unrelenting pressures of ministry. And, yes: unrealistic expectations. We thought things were going to be like this, then found out too late they were like that. And “that” becomes unbearable. 

For Christian leadership, there is the fear of our weakness being found out. So, we don’t tell anyone or get help until it is too late. 

Maybe you fall in one of these categories – or one similar: Perhaps you are involved in Christian leadership, and embroiled in defeat, discouragement, betrayal, divorce, or personal sin. I write this Bible study just for you. One message: there is hope! God has not abandoned you! 

Bible Examples

Paul wrote of Old Testament personal defeats, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Let’s see how our forefathers handled defeat. 

Moses and Personal Defeat

Consider Moses. He failed, yet recovered and went on to magnificent ministry. He murdered the Egyptian, covered up the crime, was discovered, and fled for his life. Moses was rejected, dejected, and resigned to 40 years in the desert herding sheep (Exodus 2:11-22).

Not wanting to face more rejection, he tried to avoid God’s call to return to Egypt for ministry. He failed again (Exodus 2 and 3). Later, faced with constant criticism and complaining opposition from the Israelites, Moses lost his temper. He disobeyed God, and struck the rock twice to bring forth water (Numbers 20:1-13).  Yet, Moses was humbled before God, and went on with his assignment.

Abraham and Personal Defeat

Abraham, to save his neck, lied and passed off his wife, Sarah, as his sister to Abimelech, the king of Gerar (Genesis 20:1-18). His deceit was discovered. He was humiliated in front of the world. Yet, Abraham is known as the father of three world religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. His faith healed him.

David and Personal Defeat

David’s story gives hope to all in Christian leadership who sin. He was guilty of adultery, cover up, and murder. He seduced Uriah’s wife, got Bathsheba pregnant, tried to cover the affair, couldn’t, then conspired to have Uriah murdered (2 Samuel 11:1-27). 

Although harsh consequences came to David, he repented, his heart went back to God, and he maintained his position. Because of his experience, David was able to write the Psalms which have brought comfort to billions over the centuries. 

The Results for Christian Leadership

This Bible teaching about personal defeat in Christian leadership asserts the Bible is replete with examples of good people who have miserably failed, yet God refreshed and restored them to places of successful ministry, usefulness, and friendship. He will do the same with you. 

No matter how deep is your hurt, humiliation, bitterness, guilt, and personal defeat; He will never give up on you. I recommend you read my Bible study on the Christian and sin. (link)

How to Dig Out of Personal Defeat

So, if you have failed, sinned, been disgraced, fired, lost a career, your spouse – or even your life’s savings, how can you come back? In this Bible teaching about personal defeat (or perceived personal defeat) in Christian leadership, let me suggest several things that will get you back on the road to recovery. 

But note: when you are still mired in the swamp of depression and despair, disillusioned and discouraged, you may not “feel” like these suggestions are true – or that God is anywhere to be found. But, remember that our faith is based on fact, not feelings.

1. Believe that God has not abandoned you. He said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). God is true. He cannot lie. He still loves you. He still “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). Nothing can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39; cf. John10:28, 29).

2. Realize that God still has a place for you in His fellowship and somewhere in Christian leadership. It is God who calls you and gives you opportunity, even though others may consider you unfit for Christian leadership (cf. 1 Timothy 1:12-17; 2 Timothy 1:8-15). His grace is far bigger than your sin or personal defeat. Jesus is still your advocate (1 John 2: 1, 2).

3. Realize that God may set you aside for a time to prepare you for your next Christian leadership venture, and to give you a time for healing in your soul. In the meantime be patient, do what you can to survive and progress, don’t give up, and keep looking for God’s movement in your life (cf. Romans 8:28). Let Him bring back your passion for Christian leadership and service in His own time. Be willing.

4. Focus on the opportunities He gives, and don’t dwell on your problems and mope into depression. Learn to forgive, be taught from your mistakes, and get on with life’s exciting adventure. Life has not ended, and you can start anew. Find and focus on the possibilities He is preparing for you. Start over.

5. Don’t give up on God. Find a good church, some faithful Christian friends, continue to pray, and read your Bible. Just being in an environment that acknowledges God and accepts you will give you hope and healing. 

6. Know that God sometimes permits hard things (including personal defeat) to bombard us. This is for His purpose in purifying us, and to strengthen our faith (1 Peter 1:3-9). God will turn the bad things into good in accordance with His purpose for His program and your life. Focus on your eternal reward awaiting you in heaven (1 Corinthians 4:16-18).

7. Finally, as a practical matter, you may have to retrain for another occupation. It is hard for someone once in Christian leadership to transition into secular work, but you have to have income to support yourself and family. 

For this Bible teaching about personal defeat in Christian leadership, Esmie and I wish you well, and pray for God’s richest blessing, encouragement, and hope to saturate and heal your soul. 

Dr. Willis and Esmie Newman


1. How do you feel about personal defeat in Christian leadership?

2. Under what conditions will God abandon a fallen Christian leader (Hebrews 13:5, 6)?

3. How can a Christian deal with personal personal defeat and sin (1 John 1:8-10)?

4. How did Peter deal with his sin and personal defeat (John 21:15-17)? Did Jesus take away Peter’s position of Christian Leadership because of his personal defeat?

5. How should Christians treat others that have succumbed to temptation (Galatians 6:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 2:6-11)?

6. Joseph was constantly and unfairly treated, falsely accused, did prison time, and was betrayed (Genesis chapters 37-50). What was his ultimate attitude about his sorrows (Genesis 50:20)? How does this apply to Christian leadership?

7. Did Moses and David lose their place of service to God because of their sins and personal defeats? Explain.

8. How does God consider the plight of His own who have sinned and made mistakes (Psalm 103)? Write out your explanation, and maybe even memorize the Psalm.

9. Carefully study Psalms 32, 38, 51. Analyze them, and explain in your own words how David dealt with his sin, and how God responded.

10. What stands out to you the most in this Bible study on the Bible teaching about personal defeat in Christian leadership? Explain.

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