Mark Driscoll and the Violence Within Me

Jean_Jouvenet_The_Resurrection_of_LazarusAs I’m sure most of you know, Mark Driscoll offered up some big news yesterday to his Seattle congregation of Mars Hill Church. At minimum, he will be stepping down from his post for 6 weeks while the church’s leadership navigates numerous investigations around his conduct over the past number of years. 

Most now agree that his leadership has brought about much harm. He has admitted to that and it’s safe to say that his decision to step down was much needed for all involved. 

With all that being said, and with the long line of those negatively impacted by his past actions, it would be easy to celebrate his downfall. But in reality, he is not the only broken one, we all are…I know I am. 

When we celebrate critically or piously the downfall of another, what does that tell us about the state of our individual and collective soul?

I’ve been reading an incredible biography of John Deer. It is his story as a leading Jesuit nonviolent peacemaker committed to the life, teachings and reign of Jesus. He has done some bold things in his life in the name of Jesus: stood against death squads in Central America, protested America’s addiction to nuclear arms at the Pentagon, lived among the poor and forgotten in shadowy corners of major cities, etc.

But, throughout his life, he has at times found himself calling out the violence in others from an unhealthy place. A place of violence within himself. In these moments, he immediately closes his mouth, stops his actions and goes to Jesus. Silent retreats. Council. Scripture. Prayer.

He says that until he confronts the violence within himself, he cannot confront the violence of this world. In other words, if he doesn’t first and foremost place his identity in who he is as a son of the Father, he isn’t fit to say anything constructively out of love.

As I have seen, first hand, the implications of Driscoll’s poor leadership and character, my first response can’t be to judge or even to celebrate his downfall. No, my only response is to confront the “violence” within me that would judge or celebrate his downfall. I have to examine areas in my own life where my leadership and character is flawed. I have to -- again -- reorient my life and identity as a son of Father who calls me to live in the way of the crucified and risen Jesus. 

So in this moment where Mark’s failures are on national display, I will use this time to examine my personal failures. In the end, I’m as busted as he is, so I suppose without a healthy understanding of my identity and a trusted community to continually remind me of it, Mark’s downfall could be my downfall.

May we stumble to the cross together and allow the mystery of Resurrection to breath new life in the most unexpected people and places…beginning with me. 

5 Responses to Mark Driscoll and the Violence Within Me
  1. Robbie Mackenzie

    Thanks friend. From a fellow busted brother.

  2. Terry Timm

    Seriously needed this word. Preached myself yesterday on the line in the Creed, “the forgiveness of sins” and yet i find it too easy to point a finger and say others like Mark are simply reaping what they sowed or they had it coming.

    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, be merciful to me a sinner…

  3. Jaime

    Let’s not shoot our own wounded, instead let’s watch Jesus do what he does best and be part of the redemption process.

  4. CSK

    His glaring flaws are the very reason I have always learned a lot from Mark Driscoll’s teachings. And I’m even a female! It’s been searingly obvious over the years that he is just a man- not a perfect leader. He’s so black and white on some things he’s blind to the simpler truth, BUT… He does speak from the heart of truth. When you keep perspective that he’s a sinful man, his messages are much more clear. We expect too much perfection from our church leaders- because of this they are all on the road to removal or passive pansiness. I hope this trial refines his character in all the hardest places.

  5. David Reist

    Jon – Thanks so much for this reminder…it is so tempting to feel self-righteous and cloak it under the guise of nobler motives.

    In my own case I always felt like I wanted to protect people from some of the things coming from Driscoll, but I see that some of it is also my own desire to feel better about myself.

    I think your comments also apply well to the posts you’ve had about the middle-east; namely that we must address the violence in our own hearts as part of our efforts for peace around the world.

    Keep writing brother – your reflections are wonderful.


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