At least we can be thankful that Driscoll apparently wasn’t guilty of some of the more lurid kinds of misdeeds that have been discovered in the lives of too many other high profile Christian leaders. But I have to say it is appalling that someone can be the pastor of a church that claims to follow Jesus Christ and for many years be guilty of “arrogance, harsh speech” and what amounts to an abusive leadership style. Jesus said leaders must be the servants of all. Peter instructed church leaders to be humble and to not “lord it over” those entrusted to their charge. Being domineering is a direct violation of those commands.
I fear that both Tompkins and that woman are dead on in their critiques. In our society success is indeed an idol, whatever the field of endeavor. In the church it is undeniable that most people define success as “big.” The pastors who gain notice, who are invited to speak at big conferences and whose books get published are almost without exception leading megachurches. In the seminaries they are held up as the models of “success.” It is precisely as Pastor Tompkins labeled it “the idolatry of church growth and numbers.” The effect of that will be that pastors who are dynamic enough, charismatic enough to draw large numbers will be catered to. They will get their way, for they are seen as the essential key to the “success” of the church. Far from fostering the humility and gentleness of Christ this creates the arrogance and domineering approach of “Gentile style authority.” Sadly that kind of authority and leadership is common in the church in America.
I wish I had a way to ensure that this kind of thing would stop happening in the church, but I don’t. The success mentality and “idolatry of church growth” is so deeply ingrained in our culture that it is nearly impossible to root out. So I suspect it will continue and churches will just keep on letting their dynamic pastors run roughshod all over Jesus’ commands for leaders in his church. I may not be able to change that, but what I can do is commit myself to being what Christ calls on me to be, to make sure I am seeking to be, like Jesus “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29) and to be focused on the goal of being faithful, not on being a “success.” I can continue to call on God’s people as well to demand that those who lead not be those who are the most charismatic, but those who are most like Jesus. I believe that Mark Driscoll loves the Lord Jesus. So I can also pray that the result of this in his life will be real repentance and a new found humility. Fortunately I think that will happen, but I must admit, I hope if he returns to ministry it is in a much lower profile position…for his own good.