LeadingSmart

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Q5: Ted & Gayle Haggard

On Tuesday afternoon at the Q Conference, Ted & Gayle Haggard were interviewed. Gabe Lyons opened the session by asking us not to blog or twitter or publicly talk about the interview, and that no members of the press were allowed in the room.

Following the interview, I was in a Q&A session with Mike Foster (one of the moderators of the conference). He informed us that Ted & Gayle asked Q to reconsider that restriction of silence. He said they wanted their story to be dispersed. Mike said, "So please feel free to blog or talk about your experience in the session."

The session began with a 5-minute video condensed from the documentary called HBO: The Trials of Ted Haggard. Then the interview began. First some quotes...then my thoughts:

  • Ted: I put my friendships at risk. Some couldn’t respond well, that wasn’t their fault, that was my fault.

  • Ted: If people hate me, that’s just. If they are kind and accepting, that’s grace. I don’t judge those who are mean. I’m grateful for those who kind.
  • Gayle: I could look at this man I love and know that this struggle isn’t all that there is to him. I wasn’t going to let my new knowledge of this sin destroy everything we had built.
  • Gayle: I knew as a believer I am to forgive and love. I found as I chose to forgive, I would heal. And as I got angry, I would hurt more and spiral down. He didn’t need me to tell him how much I hurt him, cause he already knew that. He needed my grace.
  • Ted: Very few believers gave me a second chance. It was Alexander Pelosi (film maker), Oprah and Larry King who gave me my second chances. I had some advocates, but they weren’t the believers.
  • Ted: At one point, I became suicidal and discouraged, not because of the process, but because I asked for help and the church wasn't there. It caused me to question whether the church believed the gospel.
  • Ted: Before my fall, I had tried to tell people, they didn’t help me. I regret that the responses were so empty.
  • Gayle: Our real struggle was against particular leaders. The individuals in the church were mostly very kind and forgiving. But some of the leaders and decision makers felt we needed to be gone. That was excruciatingly painful.

I had lots of thoughts as I listened to the interview. The video seemed very produced and staged...like a Ted Haggard commercial, not an unbiased documentary. He also came across very bitter at the church which "exiled" his family. To be fair, I haven't seen the entire video--just the condensed portion they chose to show us.

However, in the interview itself, Ted came across mostly repentant and remorseful. I wondered why the difference from the video. I found out later the documentary was filmed over a period of time throughout 2007 and 2008 so didn't necessarily reflect his current thinking. I was glad to hear that he was now accepting more responsibility.

There was still a little bit of a self-focused victim-mindset by both he and Gayle in that they were wronged and hurt by the leaders of the church which bothered me a bit. I can't see their hearts, but I'd love to see that completely dealt with before they go public with their ministry. Even their newly designed website seems to explain away the fall as something that happened "to" him, not because of his choices: "Ted Haggard suffered a personal and family crisis causing him to resign from his positions." It would be great if 100% of the focus of their story was on Ted, his sin, his journey of healing, and the efforts to hold his family together.

I guess I wasn't the only one who walked away with those thoughts. As I sat in a discussion immediately following the interview with 20 leaders from the conference, several expressed anger or frustration with a church who would treat Ted and Gayle that way. Yet, I couldn't help but think of the 14,000 church members who were betrayed by their leader in November 2006 and the healing that had to take place for the entire community.

Ted and Gayle have moved back to Colorado Springs, have begun conducting healing meetings in their home, and are actively engaging in speaking opportunities across the nation. My sincere prayer is that their reemergence into the public eye does not come too fast or furious, lest the trappings of ministry and the glare of the spotlight short circuit the continued healing process.