I wanted to write a personal note about recent social media posts and news reports that have been circulating about me and RELEVANT.
Over the last week, I’ve heard from former members of the RELEVANT team pointing out long-term insensitivity and poor leadership on my part. I’ve heard about patterns of toxic communication that have caused pain for members of my staff. I’ve learned how my insensitivity has hurt people, and when it came to women and people of color on our staff, I was blind as to how some of my statements were especially insensitive and hurtful. Hearing that I’ve hurt so many members of our team and ended up reinforcing toxic systems I want to help tear down has been hard. I’ve caused pain to a lot of people and I’m deeply sorry.
Last week, we took steps to address the criticism internally and add new measures of accountability that were missing from our operations. But that’s not enough. RELEVANT is a Christian company, and as its founder, I should be held to a higher standard. My public silence was a mistake because it seemed like I wasn’t taking the criticism seriously. The opposite was true. For the last several days I’ve been speaking with many leaders about the right next steps for me and RELEVANT to take, and that’s what I want to tell you about here.
I started RELEVANT almost 20 years ago to give voice to what God is doing in this generation. I was a kid. It has been a struggle trying to keep an independent media company afloat, given the ever-changing landscape, but I’m deeply passionate about the Kingdom work we’re trying to do at the intersection of faith, justice and culture. I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible, equally passionate people over the years.
That’s why I don’t want to see any of my negative patterns continue. I don’t want my lack of positive leadership to hold RELEVANT’s mission back. So, this morning the RELEVANT leadership and I decided that I would step away from my position. Call it a sabbatical, or a leave of absence, but I want to use an extended period of time to engage a process of healing, growth and learning. I will be seeking counseling, as well as reaching out to Christian leaders about ways I can grow and better understand important issues, especially about race and equality.
In addition to my own personal process, we at RELEVANT will be bringing together outside voices to serve as third party sources of accountability. We will be transparent about this process as the details are finalized.
I know there won’t be any quick fixes. I want to thoroughly engage this process, and there *will* be tangible changes on the other side. Through the process of listening and learning from people far wiser than me, the specific steps we need to take to heal and sustainably improve things at RELEVANT will become clear. I never envisioned myself a public figure, but I want to be fully transparent as I engage this process. It will not only have long-term effects on the work and mission of RELEVANT, but affect the people that I’ve hurt over the years.
Starting this week I’ll be stepping aside from my role on RELEVANT’s podcasts, magazine and day-to-day operations. Pray for our team (we’re small—there are only 11 on staff) that my absence won’t be a burden, but a time of renewal and growth. And pray for me as I engage a long process of healing, repairing relationships and learning. I want to do this right. I want to make it right.
I’m deeply sorry to the people I’ve hurt. I’m sorry for my toxicity and insensitivity in leadership. I don’t want to be that person anymore. Thank you for your understanding and prayer.