Dave Toycen, president of World Vision Canada, has been plagued by a malicious and erroneous email that has ‘gone viral’ stating he is overpaid, drives an expensive car, and lives in an extravagant house.
I am close to Dave and respect him deeply as a leader. With grace and skill, he leads a complex organization that everyday is making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children, families and villages around the world. We travel together; hang out together – why I have even seen him get into his car!
For the past seven years I have served on the board of directors for World Vision Canada and as such am one of those responsible for setting Dave’s salary and benefits. In a spirit of authenticity and transparency our board has been posting his salary on the website for years along with our policy on executive compensation.
These false accusations quickly circle the globe on the world-wide web and land in the inbox of people who may be monthly supporters of World Vision’s work with children. The result? Some supporters call the World Vision Office and express deep concern. This uses valuable staff time as they respond. Others withdraw their support without even checking to see that the email is identified as an “urban myth” as the public site www.snopes.com clarifies.
The ripple effect of this attack on one leader is that boys or girls suffer. They are the ones ultimately impacted by an erroneous email filled with misinformation. Children, who every day are simply trying to survive due to the effects of poverty, are hurt by someone trying to find fault, blaming and condemning.
So what can you do?
If we receive emails making claims that are harsh and judgmental we must not circulate them without verifying facts. The internet becomes a contagion for spreading lies. Remember people at the other end of that email are impacted by this – in this World Vision case, poor innocent children.
But what if you are the one who is being falsely accused? Most Christian leaders I know or mentor experience the challenge of a false accusation at some point in their life of leadership.
False accusations and unjustified attacks eat leaders up from the inside. Afflicting you, discouraging you, and distracting you from the people or mission to whom God has called you; a lie is intended to destroy you. It is a natural response to want to strike back, to fight the lies, and stop the attack. However, in my experience, this is very difficult to do and seldom accomplishes what we desire. I mentor leaders to not perpetuate a feud that could go on for years but rather ‘let it go’.
What God desires is that we leave it with Him. If someone is attacking a Christian leader then God is also being attacked and He teaches: “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. (Romans 12:19 NLT).
God can defend His own name and in doing so vindicate those falsely accused. Our problem is often waiting for God to act.
So let’s not stand for any more false accusations. Pick up the phone and check it out before you are tempted to forward a malicious email.
What saddens me the most is that I strongly suspect the source for the email I have been referencing was one who would claim to be a Christ follower.
Romans 14:10 in the Amplified Bible reads, “Why do you criticize and pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you look down upon or despise your brother or sister? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God”.
It continues in verses 12-13: (12) “And so each of us shall give an account of himself – give an answer in reference to judgment – to God.” (13) “Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother or sister.”