I don’t want this post to be going to bat for Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle. It may seem that way, I don’t know.
Recently I was watching some old “off the cuff” talks he was doing on church discipline, and it was obvious to me that although he could make good biblical points on discipline and yes, many pastors encounter problem-people in the church who need to be dealt with, he wasn’t doing so with a lot of grace. Coming from a catholic, mostly-unchurched background and never having formal theological training at a higher institution, Driscoll has his own style of preaching and church. While many find it fresh and fitting for the seattle area, in this video I was disturbed by his word-choice for problem people and his almost high-school-bully tactics for dealing with some. Getting people off his back, deleting emails, labeling, slander etc. His words were not becoming of a graceful pastor, even if he is theologically sound.
But what I love to see is growth. In general, I want to think about how some people say “people never change,” which is true because a bad habit or a childhood scar or an attitude are the hardest things about someone to deal with and if you’re wishing for someone to be different, let’s say in dating someone or working with a coworker, it’s not going to happen just because you wished upon a star. People cannot change themselves.
There is hope though in the gospel. I know my story, and I know other people’s stories, and now Driscoll is sharing some of his. He has seen growth and change in the last few years, which I can respect, and most of it is because of team. Without teammates, brothers and sisters in your life, people who root for you in some aspect, even if they disagree, you won’t be changing much. But when people can speak truth to you, and they are looking to make an impact not just win an argument, great things can happen. Check it out:
1. I appreciate godly friends who don’t want to defeat me publicly but rather help me privately.
Some years ago when I was leading our megachurch with no formal theological training and having never been a formal member of any church let alone a pastor in any church, I was in a scrum with the emergent church and was completely full of myself. Dr. Gerry Breshears, former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, put an arm around me, built a degree program for me, loved me, served me, and helped me grow theologically.
He remains to this day a dear friend loved by my family and me. I also appreciate that when many were taking shots, Dr. John Piper came and stood next to me put an arm around me and said he had hope for me and loved me.
People like this are a gift. I want to grow in becoming a person like that, and though I’ve got a long way to go, I want to not get more angry, narrow, hardened and tribal as I get older but rather grow in grace. I don’t want to be a lonely old man shooting everyone who does not fit on my island.
I have close friendships, most of them private, with Christian leaders across the theological spectrum. We share a love for Jesus and a love for each other. Some consider me their theology buddy whom they can call on issues, and I deeply enjoy those friendships and want to serve in any way I can.
2. I don’t want to just make a point—I want to make a difference by God’s grace.
At an event hosted by Perry Noble, Andy Stanley gave one of the most helpful and practical leadership talks I’ve ever heard. He said as a leader we have to decide if we mainly want to make a point or to make a difference.
If we want to make a point, we don’t need to pursue, know, or love someone. We can simply sit back, create a caricature of them, and shoot them. If we want to make a difference, we have to pursue them, get to know them, understand them, love them, and serve them.
Making a point is easy. Making a point will get you a rabid online fan base who love it when there’s someone else’s blood in the water. Making a difference is hard. Making a difference will get you attacked by a rabid online fan base who love it when your blood is in the water.