Stepping Down For An Abuse of Power? (IBTR # 42)

Perhaps you heard the recent news that Mark Driscoll, well-known evangelical pastor of an influential megachurch, was stepping down from his pastorate, for at least a time, for “an abuse of power.” I know nothing personally about the situation, but it is clear that he was held to account by those in the circle he ran in. There was no charge of immorality, just that he was too harsh with those he ministered to.

Could Independent Baptists learn something here? We have lost a few to sexual sin or financial impropriety, but our cases of “abuse of power” are rarely held to account. Many in the Independent Baptist world seem to think those who ask for the abuse to stop are the criminals. Those who know better often enable others to propagate this warped thinking.

It is true that some church members charge pastors with abuse when it is actually the other way around. Still, there are some serious cases of abuse that should force a pastor to step aside.

I am personally aware of pastors verbally attacking someone from the pulpit, yelling at someone in the church hallway, churching someone for simply disagreeing, breaking confidences of especially personal problems, lying on a church member, starting a gossip campaign and destroying someone’s reputation. These things ought never be so for someone with the high calling of shepherding souls.

We have been known as a group for loving and respecting our pastors and that is a good thing, but that must be balanced with accountability for clearly unacceptable behavior. Good pastors will never be afraid of it. They will, in fact, relish the dignity of the office being upheld. Lord, help us learn from others.

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10 thoughts on “Stepping Down For An Abuse of Power? (IBTR # 42)

  1. I am afraid this is more prevalent than many imagine. Some of the instances you spoke to are the most obvious, but often abuse is somewhat more quiet. The developing of people who will no longer think because they believe the pastor is the only one who God speaks to and they may make a mistake without his guidance. I had a deacon tell me that if the pastor told him the white wall was black he would believe him. The rallying around one man or camp to exclusion of others so that there are eight Baptist churches in a small area because each camp did not see a bible believing church in that area. Yes, there is much abuse in the IFB ranks. Being rude and crude is not being bold. It is just being rude and crude. Using street terms to speak about sin is not spiritual. Ranking and raving is not preaching, It is ranting with a Scripture attached that may not even be in context of the rant, but it makes it look like a sermon. Finding a way to work smoking, drinking and rock and roll in every sermon to get Amens is not sticking to the text or teaching sound doctrine. It is preaching to men and covering up weak points. Usually, the louder the preaching the weaker the point. We should clean up our ranks or maybe we should leave them.

  2. Bro Reagan,
    This post is so true in so many different ways that it makes me sad. I personally believe that abuse of power is a fruit of the “man of God” or the “Lord’s anointed” teaching.

    I’m sure you’ve heard, as I have, these abusive men call themselves “God’s man” while also warning their congregation not to touch “God’s anointed” (also referencing themselves).

    This is partiality which James said is sin and is incompatible with faith in Christ (James 2). It is also a gross misunderstanding of Scripture where elements of OT temple worship are erroneously applied to the NT church.

    What these men (and many other Christians) fail to realize is that all people that are saved in this age are anointed with the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13). All of us that are in Christ are also part of the same body – the body of Christ. These men, therefore, don’t realize (and maybe aren’t taught) that this behavior hurts the body of Christ.

    Lastly, we would be wise to remember that God respects no man’s person (Colossians 3:25; I Peter 1:17). Pastors, therefore, are men just like everyone else. They simply have more responsibility. God’s Word tells us that elders that sin before all should be rebuked before all (I Timothy 5:20).

    Perhaps this isn’t happening in IFB churches because “God resisteth the proud” (James 4:6). We are a proud group with a high look of ourselves, and this brings God’s resistance rather than His grace.

    My hope is that things can change, but my logical mind tells me to “mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).

  3. Every church has its own identity and flavor. I personally have no problem with the “common” language that Driscoll has used. Honestly, it’s nice to see that, while the rest of evangelicalism is singing the world to sleep with their weak-sauce sermons, someone who has a voice is actually waking people up and catching the attention of the “common” and pointing them to Jesus. Sure I don’t agree with everything, but I know that I cannot bash him for his style. We all have one. His is just a bit more noticeable. But on to the point – every pastor needs rebuked from time to time. In his case, he’s a public figure. It’s only natural for his rebuke to be large-scale. He’s made many mistakes, and as I’ve followed over the past few years, he’s always seemed willing to repent. He does seem a bit emotionally unstable at times, and I think that is what is getting him trouble. Every pastor has his problems. What is important, and I think this is what we should all take away from this, is no matter who we are, what our gifts or our weaknesses are, we should always be open to rebuke and re-direction through repentance. After all, isn’t that what repentance is? Re-direction via the conviction of the Holy Spirit, often via the rebuke of men? I fear that too many times we see repentance merely as saying the right words and making the proper adjustments to get people off our backs. We should always be walking in submission to Christ under His Lordship. Once we become lord of our own lives we have become lukewarm, useless, messes. We are all messes. The question is, are you a meek and useful one? Time will tell what kind Driscoll is. Let’s focus through this not on his mess, but our own and see what kind of man or woman we are.

  4. Though not having experienced this, I followed the similar experience of a nearby church via conversations with people dealing with it there. Thank God a “preacher boy” in his thirties had the courage to challenge the pastor’s fiscal and interpersonal abuses when no other men would lead the inquiry and challenge. Today the church is spiritually free and healthy. Praise God things can be reversed and restored.

  5. Pingback: It’s Time For An Independent Baptist Truth Revolution! | The Reagan Review

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