My family and I have been supporters of Vision Forum for years. We've bought things from their catalog for at least 10 years, we've bought books by various people involved in that ministry that have been a great help to us. we've even attended a conference of theirs.
Doug Phillips, the head of Vision Forum recently resigned, and I mention this not because I want to highlight his failings or draw any more attention to his shortcomings that has already been drawn. I don't want to cause his family any more grief than he has already caused. But honestly, the way he departed the ministry is absolutely one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. The more I've read it, and re-read it, and pondered it in my heart, the less spiritual I feel. The longer I think about it, the more I feel that I've gone a long way to go when it comes to truly repenting and forsaking my sin.
Too often we make light of our own sin, and that seems to be especially true of those in the ministry, which of course is exactly backwards. Sadly, when a person in a leadership position tries to sweep their transgression under the rug, many of those loyal to them support this, and by their silence commit a egregious sin of omission. I understand the logic, if it can be rightly called that. Nobody wants to see all the good that can be done undone by a simple mistake. But the fact is, when sin is in the camp, the way you handle it is of the utmost importance, and if handled properly, enables more good to be done than if you hide it. God allows restoration, but only to those who will come clean. If you leave right, you can come back right. Your ministry, whatever good it may be accomplishing, is not worth holding onto just for the sake of holding onto it.
I can only hope, if I ever find myself caught up by the sin which doth so easily beset us, that I would have half the guts Doug Phillips displayed in his departure. I offer to you, as a model on what repentance looks like; his resignation letter.
With thanksgiving to God for His mercy and love, I have stepped down from the office of president at Vision Forum Ministries and have discontinued my speaking responsibilities.
There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance. I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries. I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not "know" each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.
There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability. I have acted grievously before the Lord, in a destructive manner hypocritical of life messages I hold dear, inappropriate for a leader, abusive of the trust that I was given, and hurtful to family and friends. My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition, providing counsel, strong direction and accountability. Where I have directly wronged others, I confessed and repented. I am still in the process of trying to seek reconciliation privately with people I have injured, and to be aware of ways in which my own selfishness has hurt family and friends. I am most sensitive to the fact that my actions have dishonored the living God and been shameful to the name of Jesus Christ, my only hope and Savior.
This is a time when my repentance needs to be proven, and I need to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, not a ministry leader. Though I am broken over my failures, I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family, nurturing my wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life. So, for these reasons I want to let my friends know that I have stepped down as a board member and as president of Vision Forum Ministries. The Board will be making provision for the management of the ministry during this time. To the friends of this ministry, I ask for your forgiveness, and hope that you will pray for the Phillips family at this time, and for the men who will be responsible for shepherding the work of Vision Forum Ministries in the future.
Interestingly, there is a follow-up letter , in which addresses the sentiments of well-meaning people that felt like he was being unnecessarily hard on himself.
I would like to express my gratitude for the great kindness so many have shown to my family in the wake of my stepping down as president of Vision Forum Ministries. My family has been greatly encouraged by many loving notes we have received. With that in mind, I want to be so very clear about the rightness of this transition, and I want to clear up some matters which have been brought to my attention. My sin has resulted in great pain within the Body of Christ, some confusion, and has given the enemies of God reason to rejoice. This is heartbreaking to me. Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin. Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years. The local church, not the Internet, is the proper forum for overseeing the details of a man's repentance, but I just want to be clear for the sake of peace within the Body of Christ, that the tragic events we are experiencing, including the closing of Vision Forum Ministries are my fault, and that I am sincere that I should not be in leadership, but must spend this season of my life quietly walking a path of proven repentance. Please pray for the Phillips family, the Board, and the men who have made up the staff of Vision Forum Ministries.
Oh my goodness I feel like such a low-down dog.