As many of you have heard, Mark Driscoll is stepping down from Mars Hill Church for at least the next six weeks to allow for an investigation of charges against him. Here’s the announcement:
This post is neither to blast Mark Driscoll or to defend him. I’ll let other pundits do that.
As someone who has followed this somewhat closely though, there are some things that I think ALL of us should learn from the position that Driscoll finds himself in. Here are my thoughts:
OBSERVATION #1: ALL MINISTRY IS NOW NATIONAL
Your ministry is no longer local. It’s national in nature, whether you like it or not.
Sure, we’ve not heard of most of the 300,000 local church pastors in America. But you’re one slip-up or controversy away from making national headlines.
And you can thank the internet.
Did you know that Westboro Baptist Church has less than 100 members?
Or take the example of the little church in Ohio that regularly picketed a strip club in their community. You didn’t hear about it until the ‘artists’ from the club decided to protest this small church, topless, a few weeks ago. Then it was national news.
While most ministry stays local, there is no guarantee. And if you’re a pastor who likes or tries to draw attention to yourself or your ministry, you most likely can do it.
Lesson: Don’t think for a minute that how you lead will always stay local. It might not. And at the very least, you’ll get a few nasty blog posts written about you, and a nice piece in the local newspaper and on the local newscast.
OBSERVATION: #2: THE MOUNTAINTOP ECHOS LOUDLY WHEN YOU’RE A LEADER
I like how The Message paraphrases Luke 12:3: “You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”
Remember this: What is said in private rarely ever stays private.
What you say to others WILL be repeated.
The emails you write can be shared in a heartbeat.
Quick example: When 21 former elders and staff members made form charges against Driscoll last week, their document was leaked on the internet. The first words of that document: “CONFIDENTIAL: We don’t intend to make this communication public, and we ask that you not make it public either.”
So much for confidentiality.
Lesson: What you say, can and will be used against you.
OBSERVATION #3: VOLUNTARY CONTRITENESS IS BETTER THAN LATER FORCED CONTRITENESS
When you are wrong, it’s always best to admit it early and often.
Contrite: feeling or expressing remorse or penitence; affected by guilt.
In Driscoll’s case, he’s been forced to apologize quite a few times now… and with each contrite apology, more and more people question Mark’s sincerity.
Only God and Mark Driscoll know the heart in these matters. But that doesn’t keep people from coming to their own conclusions. (And that’s where all the internet talk and pundits thrive… they love to rip people to shreds over stuff like this).
Lesson: When needed, apologize early and often. Be humble.
OBSERVATION #4: TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY… DON’T BURN YOUR BRIDGES
Many of the consequences Mark Driscoll is dealing with now are because, apparently, he cut off many former trusted allies.
When you have over 20 former pastors and elders that need to make written charges against you… the chances are quite good that you are at least somewhat unapproachable.
It appears bridges were burned. Often.
I see this all the time. “If you’re not for me, then you’re against me.”
In other words… you’re off the team. It’s as if you never existed.
If you find yourself saying this about anybody in your church… be careful.
Lesson: Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Words well said.
OBSERVATION #5: Don’t think you are invincible.
Lesson: You are not..
OBSERVATION #6: It’s not about you.
Lesson: If/when your personality gets bigger than Jesus or you begin to view yourself as the ‘brand’ of your ministry, something is askew.
Lesson: As Rick Warren puts it, “It’s not about you.”
OBSERVATION #7: Surround yourself with competent, independent thinkers and leaders.
One of the big charges against Driscoll is that all that are left on his staff are the Mark Driscoll loyalists. This may or may not be true… but the critics will see Mark stepping aside as being no real change.
Lesson: You need to have objective people around you that can disagree and hold you accountable without fear of losing their job or position.
OBSERVATION #8: Be sure your polity works before there is a crisis. If it doesn’t work before the crisis, it won’t work during one.
Mars Hill has been under much scrutiny for changing it’s polity a few years back. As Driscoll pointed out yesterday, authority of Mars Hill rests not with the elders, but with an external (outside the church) Board of Accountability. Time will tell if this was a good polity move years back or not.
Lesson: Be sure your polity is a good, balanced plan that will benefit the church as a whole, while readily keeping the leaders of the church accountable.
These are just a few thoughts this morning about what we all can learn from these events. I’d love to hear your comments.