If you haven’t been following the Mark Driscoll saga, this post might not make a ton of sense.
Here’s a good synopsis from Owen Strachan:
Some of you have been following the events related to Mark Driscoll’s publishing plan. It’s been a winding affair, but long story short, according to Warren Cole Smith of World Mars Hill Church essentially bought a best-seller spot for a recent Driscoll book. It was found out, controversy ensued (on the blogosphere, of all places), and Driscoll publicly issued a statement of repentance related not only to book-writing but his general demeanor and leadership. Ray Ortlund just wrote up a short blog post on Driscoll’s repentance that you should read.
I don’t know all that happened, but as this was unfolding, I was preaching a series on the life of Samson, leadership and manhood. I gave a sermon on how we are all one choice away from wrecking our lives the week that this blew up. As a pastor, leader, husband, father and man, it was sobering. As a pastor in Acts 29, I’ve always appreciated Mark Driscoll. This blog isn’t about what happened, if it’s true or what Mars Hill or Mark Driscoll should do moving forward. They will figure it out.
What I do want to point out is what a situation like this has taught me and what it can teach other leaders:
- Every choice matters. And every choice affects the next one. This is easy to forget when you live life, especially at the pace we live at. Something that you say in a meeting, counseling session, or sermon can ripple into something that happens 3 years from now. There really is no situation that is off on its own.
- Repentance and humility are always good. When you wrong someone, apologize. Humble yourself to say you are wrong. Church planters are not good at this because by nature, many of us are type A, driven, entrepreneurial leaders. This is good, but also leads many of us to step on people and hurt the ones we are called to shepherd and lead. When that happens, make amends. I’m thankful for the repentance Mark Driscoll has shown as a leader and pastor in this letter to his church.
- Every leader needs to answer to someone. Pastor, elder, deacon, missional community leader, whoever. Everyone needs to answer to someone. Everyone needs someone who can call them on the carpet in their life. Too many pastors do not have this. Too many pastors are not in a small group or missional community (and don’t tell me your elder team is your small group), they answer to no one.
- Everything is public now. In the age of social media, youtube, and everything else, all your reactions, comments, thoughts, body language can be made public and last forever. The moment you forget this, disaster easily strikes. This also pertains to the bloggers throwing lots and lots of mud as if it is your job to police Mars Hill and its elders. It is sad to watch how unhelpful many people are online talking about how great it would be if this is the end of Mark Driscoll as a pastor, that doesn’t move the gospel forward or is it helpful to anyone. And sadly, those opinions are public and will last forever.
- Be a pastor first. Mark Driscoll talked about how he is canceling speaking engagements, pulling back on social media (although his team will tweet for him) and writing books to focus on being a pastor, husband and father. This is a healthy example for younger pastors. Many of pastors dream of speaking at conferences, writing books, being known outside of their church. Many are gifted and God has called them to this, but if God has called you to be a pastor first, give your best to that. Don’t mix it up.
- Watch your heart first. Many people question the validity of Driscoll’s heart, motives and if he is sincere. I don’t know and neither do they. Too many get caught up in playing the Holy Spirit and saying what someone means, if they are sincere or right. Too many bloggers are the theology police and it creates too many divisions in Christianity. Stop calling people heretics and making lists of people to avoid and work on your heart first. Yes, warn people you shepherd about heretics, but build up the church in the process of doing that, don’t tear it down.
- You are always one choice away from losing it all. As I said in my sermon on Samson and in this post on leadership and moral failure, you are only one choice away from losing it all. People who wreck their lives do not do it in one choice, they do it in several choices over a period of time. Samson took 52,000 steps from his house to wreck his life. 52,000 chances to change his direction and his mind, yet he didn’t. He kept walking.
For me, moments like these are incredibly helpful to check my heart, my motives and my leadership. They serve as a great reminder of how fragile what I do is.