Complicity and Confrontation

Note: These are notes from the first gathering of the Young Leaders Forum. I meet regularly with emerging African leaders to encourage them and pass on lessons learned over a lifetime. Each time we meet we focus on one biblical character, and from their life learn a competency related to some aspect of godly character. Floyd


Complicity and Confrontation – 1 Samuel 2:12 – 3:14

“Do not share in other people’s sins...” 1 Timothy 5:22

Corruption and Compromise - Whenever corruption and compromise takes place, the spotlight should be on the one who committed the sin, the perpetrator.

Complicity is the sin of hiding people’s sins.

But that can be a distraction from another sin, that of complicity on the part of those who knew about the sin and were silent. To be silent when knowing about sin is agreement with that sin.

Not so obvious is the sin of leaders in the background who know about the corruption and compromise, and are silent. There are those in the foreground, whose sin is seen, and those in the background, whose sin is not seen, but is just a great an act of irresponsibility.

It was once said, “The despicable conduct of those in the foreground is not possible apart from the irresponsibility of the leaders in the background...”

Silent PerpetratorsThose who are fearful of being rejected, who are filled with indecisiveness, concerned about their image, lacking in love for their leader or friend, clinging to the safety of being inconspicuous, saying little or nothing, turning a blind eye, claiming busyness, rationalizing responsibility, are guilty of anemic spirit; these are the leaders and friends who fear man more than God, who are prisoners not leaders, and cowards not true compatriots.

The biblical figure who was guilty of the sin of complicity is Eli the High Priest (I Samuels 2: 12-35; 3: 11-14).

Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinebas, were priests under Eli’s leadership. They ate meat that was to be offered for sacrifices and seduced young women who assisted at the tabernacle. The New Living Translation calls them scoundrels. As an old man, Eli did confront his sons on one occasion. However, it was weak and half-hearted, and therefore ineffective. He did not stop their blasphemy. He covered it up. Despite his age, Eli still had responsibility. In fact, God repeatedly warned Eli to discipline his sons (I Samuel 3:13). Under the authority of God, Eli could have dismissed his sons from priesthood. He did not. Eli could have cut them off from the community (Numbers 15: 30). He did not. Therefore, God harshly judged Eli, making good on the promise to bring an early death to Eli’s sons and the rest of his family as well as cut his family off from the line of priests.

When things go wrong publicly with a leader, look beyond the public to the private. No man or woman who sins publicly is without a private world of family and friends and fellow leaders. Who knew and did not speak up? Who spoke up but did not follow up? Who followed up but did not speak up?

What roles do leaders and leaders of leaders and family and friends of leaders play in corruption, compromise, and cowardice? We cannot claim culture when God says it is compromise.

Complicity – participation in wrong-doing. Complicity comes from the word accomplice, meaning an associate, an ally, to wrap or fold together. An accomplice is a person who helps another person commit a crime.

Complicity is the result of the fear of man. It is caused by a lack of the fear of God. It is the sin of negligence. It is to cover up, to conceal, to deny, minimizing, or otherwise failing to challenge or expose wrongdoing. Silence about the sin of a friend or family member or another leader is not love, it is cowardice.

Every leader has a choice: you can obey your culture or obey Christ. Christ or culture, who will you follow? Who will you obey?

Skill of confrontation – what should one do when a friend, a follower, a family member, or fellow leader sins?

  1. Pray for true love, for wisdom, and for courage and strength to do the right thing with the right attitude of heart and mind. 1 Timothy 2:2, “pray for those in authority”.
  1. Go to the person alone. Ask questions - don’t make accusations. Speak with respect not anger. You are not responsible for their actions; you are responsible for your actions. Do not be drawn into an argument, do not be swayed by emotions.    1 Timothy 4:12, “let no man despise your youth... but be an example”


  1. Take time for discernment – an “injury time out” of a few hours or if needed, for a few days, to reflect, to discern, and to seek God’s wisdom and guidance.


  1. Go with another person who has witnessed the same situation. Give the guilty person the opportunity to confess their sin himself or herself. Wait a few hours, not days or weeks or months to hear their response. 1 Timothy 5:1 “do not rebuke an older man, but speak to him as a father”


  1. Offer to go with them to confess their sin to their leaders.


  1. Go to the proper authority to report the sin If they don’t confess their sins openly to their leaders. Go with tears, not tantrums. 1 Timothy 1:8, “lifting up holy hands, without wrath...”


“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words...he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which comes envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth...from such men withdraw yourself.”

Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts, which drown men in perdition and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for some have strayed the faith in their greediness, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows...”

Flee these things... fight the good fight of faith... keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing...

Command the rich not to be haughty nor to trust in uncertain riches, but to trust in the living God, who gives us all things to enjoy...” 1 Timothy 6:3-19

See also 2 Timothy 2:14-18...

“A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God will perhaps grant them repentance, so they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will...” 2 Timothy 2:24-26













This article was adapted from other articles and sources, which have been lost. To my regret, I cannot attribute proper credit where it is due. Floyd McCLung