Judas was a betrayer and a thief. He was also a disciple of Jesus.

Jesus knew Judas.¬†And yet he still trusted Judas to be in his inner circle … and to be the keeper of the money bag! Imagine trusting your church’s funds to someone whom you knew would steal from it. Poor stewardship, right?

Maybe not. What if there was a greater stewardship in play?

Money is important. Every youth worker learns this after their first youth event and meets with the accounting person. A few minutes into the meeting, the accounting person’s voice shifts from concern to greatly alarmed to full scream: “You mean to tell me the church entrusted you with our people’s tithes and you didn’t keep any receipts?!?” You also discover the wrong responses: “Dude, that vein on your neck is going to burst, need me to get a doctor, or better yet, a tourniquet? By the way, did you know you can’t get a receipt for ice when you buy it from a shady warehouse in Mexico.” (Not based on a true story.) (Ok, maybe it is.)

Truth is, money isn’t our greatest stewardship. Money serves our higher calling, which is to draw people to Jesus. The Judas Principle isn’t about entrusting money in the untrustworthy–that’s just an expression of the principle.

The Judas Principle means trusting something important to a person who hasn’t (yet) earned the right. What if we need to let people fail so they can discover for themselves that they need to grow. This is true learning and it’s the kind of self discovery that leads to humility. Have you always been a good steward of what God has given you?

Jesus trusted Judas, but not enough to ruin his plan. In fact, since God has the whole GOD THING going for him, the betrayal by Judas was a part of his plan. We can’t have this kind of knowledge, so we need to be careful and follow God’s leading. We can’t build the foundation of our ministry on untrustworthy people.

The way Jesus treated Judas means that sometimes we need to trust those who haven’t earned it. There are some things that can only be learned from failure. My charismatic peeps, can I get an AMEN? Everyone has personal experience with learning from failure. Feel free to share your failure story below. I promise you won’t hear me chuckling.

What could it look like to trust someone when there is a high chance of failure, or even sin?

What a difficult question! It is up to you to decide if it’s one that God wants you to answer. If he is, here are some ideas. You might allow a Judas-type to:

  • sing on stage
  • play in the band
  • be a greeter for a program
  • help plan an event or lead a small part of it
  • share their testimony

I don’t think I’d put a Judas-Type in a permanent position of leadership. I definitely wouldn’t set them up so that it was impossible for them to succeed. Don’t make the responsibility beyond their skill set or gifting. Instead it’s a test of the heart, their integrity and humility. Oh, and come to think about it, maybe don’t call them “Judas Type,” that’s not as encouraging as it sounds.

The Judas Principle is really nothing more than an expression of God’s unconditional love. Jesus loves all sinners–the prostitutes, tax collectors, and even the betrayers.

Betrayal of any kind is difficult to shoulder. As a leader, I think it’s even more difficult. I can forgive just about anything, easily, because I’ve made every mistake in the book. When I’m betrayed, I can hold on to that grudge for a long, long time. I’m not proud of this. But I can’t let it keep me from trusting others with important things.

There’s a positive side to this: trust a Judas-Type and they might surprise you and rise to the occasion. If they don’t, be ready to show up with grace. Keep the lessons and lectures to your self and simply ask, “What do you think God is teaching you through this?”