Grieved To See (part 2)

Because i wrote about the Strange Fire, John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll incident, I felt it was fair to follow-up with a public letter Mark Driscoll released this morning.

I almost called this post “Grieved To See (once again)”. Almost, but I didn’t. I didn’t because

(1) It feels condescending. Pastoral ministry is difficult. Pastoral ministry over thousands is difficult times ten. Pastoral ministry over thousands in the public eye is near impossible. Grace should be held onto even as we evaluate the public fruit of what a man does.

(2) I’m called to pastor and teach, not pontificate opinions. This does not mean I don’t weigh in thoughts on public matters. Examine fruit Jesus said. That clearly is weighing in. What this does mean though is that the thoughts I share should be rooted in scripture, expounded to understand more of scripture or how to apply scripture so that my words would help any see more of Jesus and be more like Jesus.

That said, here’s my attempt at learning from Pastor Mark’s letter:

1) WE NEED A NEW METHOD – Most understand that in order to bring correction or confrontation, it’s good to affirm a person first. But because most understand this principle, most can smell it the moment it starts. Somehow we need to learn how to affirm a person without it feeling like “let me set you up in order to chop you down.” Perhaps affirmation is best saved for the end of the confrontation and not the beginning.

2) WHEN YOU APOLOGIZE, JUST OWN IT – Hemming and hawing about the details of what led you to do what you did never invokes strong emotions of forgiveness. In every conflict, it’s pretty safe to say that everyone has some fault they made. If you apologize, zone in on your own mistakes and own it like a kid over his Halloween bag.

3) DON’T HUMBLEBRAG IN INTERACTIONS OF RECONCILIATION – In fact, don’t humbebrag (ever) but especially in times of reconciliaton (I confess it’s hard to avoid. ref: The Art of Humblebrag). Nothing taints your expression of reconciliation like promoting self. Constantly talking about people taking pictures with you, “my book”, signings of “my book”. Painting imagery of how people wanted to hang out with you and illusions of how you ministered to people in the conflict doesn’t strengthen your case of love and care for the person. Btw, dropping the name of the son of the person you may have offended probably feels more like deflection than anything.

4) THINK TWICE ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO HUMBLEBRAG ABOUT – Related to #3 above, humblebragging about how you ministered in a place you aren’t welcomed to minister in is not something to be proud of.  Praying over a people, at a place that is not your own, to a people that is not entrusted to you, in an environment you are not welcomed at is a point of apology, not of honor. Saying “I intentionally came during a break so as not to interrupt the sessons” is silly at best. No matter how the moon crashes into the earth, it will be an interruption. When you pastor a church of 40,000 (or something like that) and are consistently in the top 5 of most downloaded pastors, anywhere you go and anything you do at anytime is an interruption, for good or for bad.

5) WE LIVE IN A CULTURE OF PUBLIC LIFE, BUT PUBLIC IS NOT ALWAYS BEST – Some reconciliations should be lived out in private. Some words and letters should be short and to the point and vague in details, but clear in remorse.

6) PINNING SOMEONE TO A CORNER TO FORCE THEIR HAND IS NOT CHARITABLE – No matter what John MacArthur does, it will seem like he is in the wrong. While he may be in the wrong, just realize, when you trap an animal in the corner, rarely do they react well. Rarely will you win a brother or sister. Lead them in a way that shows you care about them, even when they are wrong.

7) CLICHES AREN’T ALWAYS HELPFUL – I’m not sure cliches are ever helpful, but to end a letter that will feel like an affront or at least will be received with some hesitancy, a sincere word to end might be better than a quotable quip. “I apologize for any wrong I may have done, In Christ”, “Hoping and praying for unity”, “I consider you my dear brother” are some that come to mind. “A nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody” doesn’t seem to quite fit the moment.

Some thoughts early in the morning. No coffee yet so there’s no guarantee of any cohesiveness.


  1. I am left frustrated by Pastor Mark’s attempt at (saving face) reconciliation. However, I am also convicted by the presumptuous tone of his public explanation–and for fear of psychoanalyzing his motives, I repent right now!

    1. I hear you. There are so many things that I like about what he does and some things I don’t like. And of course, that can be said about anyone.. And seriously, the sermon he preached at Act Like Men conference … every man ought to hear that sermon at least once in their life. I wasn’t going to say anything, but when you go public in such a brash way, you are inviting people to comment and analyze and learn from, good or bad.

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