I grew up playing and watching a lot of baseball. It was almost a religion for me and Fenway Park in Boston was my church (so to speak). To further the illustration, the elders and leaders were players on the Red Sox. I think of Roger Clemens, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski. When I would arrive at Fenway I can remember walking out of the tunnel and being overcome by all of the images and sounds. There was the fresh cut grass, the 37′ wall in left field, the Prudential Building, and the sight of the players warming up. I was absolutely invested–I might have even secretly felt like I was on the team.
Several years ago one of these players, Roger Clemens, was investigated for cheating. He was found to have used performance enhancing drugs, or banned substances. Clemens, along with a bevy of other players, have received something of an asterisk on their career because they have dishonored the sacred tradition and integrity of the game.
As a baseball fan I can appreciate the way the league, players, and fans have renounced the way these guys tried to take a short-cut. Some players cared more about themselves than the game. This, according to baseball is unacceptable.
Pastoral ministry is hard and there are a lot of ways that someone can go awry. This is brought to the fore in an article in Christianity Today noting that Mark Driscoll is retracting his best-seller status and “resetting his life.” This due to the fact that controversy seems to be as much a characteristic as blessing in his ministry.
As a pastor you can become inflated with pride and bang your head on the door frame, because you believe the lie that all of the good things that are happening in your ministry are because you are awesome. On the other hand, you can be thrown into the depths of despair because things are not progressing as well as the other guy or whatever your expectations might have been.
The danger on both sides is that our identity, standing, security, approval, etc are based upon us. Attendance is up? I feel good. Attendance down? I feel like a failure. Excitement over ministry? I’m excited. Issues of discontentment or discouragement? Suddenly I’m sullen. You see, pastoral ministry is hard because I am selfish.
I can relate to Driscoll. I don’t agree with everything he says and does but I see how he got where he is right now. And, if you’re a pastor, you should see it too. The idol self-approval is deadly. Whether you have 30 people or 30,000 people in your church, you are prone to this and so am I.
I don’t pretend that all of Driscoll’s issues should …
All the talk and controversy about plagiarism has made me somewhat uncomfortable. When I listened to the infamous interview between radio host Janet Mefford and Pastor / Author Mark Driscoll I was haunted by a phrase. I don’t know if it is an exact quote or not but it went like this, “You are stealing his ideas.”
I am a pastor. My whole life and ministry is about regurgitating someone else’s ideas. I believe it was Charles Hodge who said that he never had an original thought or idea. We read, listen, talk, think, integrate, pray, and listen. This is what we do. In one very real sense pastors don’t know what is original and what is not. Even our sermon outlines have a family tree.
If you are a Christian then you have convictions. If you are a Christian who knows other Christians then you probably have realized that we don’t all agree on everything. As a result, it is incumbent upon those who name Christ to consider how we engage with those who have different doctrinal foundations and ministry expressions. The two loudest arguments we hear are those who tend to be overly critical and those who tend to be overly accepting. On the one side folks want to limit their full affirmation and support of a teacher and ministry to those within their “tribe” (referring to people just like them). Others, resisting this, build a big tent and welcome as many people in there as they can.
As I have thought about this more and more I find it ironic that both sides are after the same thing: influence. One side wants to protect people by minimizing it and others want to influence people by expanding it. It is truly fascinating to watch and observe.
It’s Monday AM and I need some comic relief…
I was recently watching David Platt’s T4G sermon (highly recommended) and was struck by how much he looked like Tom Brady. Occasionally I’d have to untangle my mind as I thought Brady was telling me that I needed to be willing to go and die for world missions. That got me thinking about some other evangelicals who look like other notable figures. Here is a short-list. Add more in the comments if you got ‘em.
David Platt and Tom Brady.
Mark Driscoll from and Joba Chamberlin from University of Nebraska (& that pro team in NY)
Then you have this remarkable pairing:
Peter Sellers (from The Pink Panther)
Ray Comfort (from Way of the Master)
Who else do you have? (And it is not valid to do the whole “Tim Keller & Yoda” comparison).
This is a good 4 minutes. He hits the nail on the head in terms of the cultural preoccupation with what is fake.
Also, “All the slots for hypocrite are taken. Do not quit!”
Good word. Forget the thumbs. Drop a fist bump and get to work doing something that matters.
(rss readers may need to click thru)
I recently had a terrific conversation with a fellow pastor. We talked about how much we appreciate the accessibility of so many great bible teachers today. There seems to be a larger number of helpful books, blogs, podcasts, and videos available than ever before.
For this we remain thankful.
Well, sort of.
One of the things that has disturbed me in the last few years is the way in which the public debate so galvanizes us against one another. For example: Pastor so and so (let’s just call him John) who is highly successful with a substantial following takes a public shot at another pastor (let’s just call him Mark), who also is highly successful with a substantial following. (whether the first or second pastor were right is not the point at this point)
What is the result?
Well, a fairly awkward climate for discussion among the less visible pastors and lay people.
This is real life for me. I like John MacArthur. I have ever since I first laid eyes on The Gospel According to Jesus. In so many ways I want to emulate his pastoral & preaching ministry. At the same time I like Mark Driscoll. I have ever since I read Radical Reformission. I am thankful to God for Driscoll’s personal devotion to Christ, love for his flock and desire to reach those outside of Christ. You may recall that last year there were a series of blog posts that lit up the blogosphere, twittersphere and any other reformed sphere out …
The more that I try to live the Christian life the more I am confronted with my need for Christ. I am graciously shown the person and work of Christ and this thrills my soul. As a result I want to remove idols that undermine my satisfied delight in Christ.
In recent years we have been helped to this end by various teachers pointing out ‘functional saviors’. For example, Jerry Bridges defines functional saviors in the following way:
Sometimes we look to other things to satisfy and fulfill us—to ‘save’ us. These ‘functional saviors’ can be any object of dependence we embrace that isn’t God. They become the source of our identity, security, and significance because we hold an idolatrous affection for them in our hearts. They preoccupy our minds and consume our time and resources. They make us feel good and somehow even make us feel righteous. Whether we realize it or not, they control us, and we worship them. (Bridges & Bevington, The Bookends of the Christian Life), p. 72
Likewise Tim Keller has done a terrific job in his recent book Counterfeit Gods identifying and dismantling these idols. One thing that I like about Keller is that he shows that these idols oftentimes are not bad things but rather good things that we have sinfully made ultimate things.
They Cannot Deliver
To our shame and disappointment, these functional saviors may promise a lot, and we may hope for big returns, but at the end of the day, they are flat …
As a Red Sox fan I was reluctantly watching the ALCS last night because for some reason baseball calms down our crying infant like nothing else. Perhaps it’s the rapid pace of the game. Anyway, the Yankees brought in Joba Chamberlain to try to hold on to the lead and go to their first World Series in 6 years. Then it hit me…this guy is Mark Driscoll’s twin. Pretty amazing actually. And what’s more, both guys get heat for too much passion. As a Sox fan who loves Christ, I’m hoping Driscoll has a longer, more effective career.
“Legalists love to act like God by making rules. Legalists love rules about the rules. Legalists love rules about who gets to make the rules about the rules. Legalists love rules about who gets to enforce the rules made by the people whom the rules appointed to make the rules about the rules. Legalists really love rules about who gets to interpret the rules that rule. Legalists get perfectly euphoric when they get to enact the rules by punishing people who break the rules as interpreted by those appointed by the rules. In the end, legalsts want to rule through rules and wield their rules like weapons to divide the church body into bloddied parts.” (Mark Driscoll, Vintage Church pp. 143-144)