As 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.