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Lake Robinson Baptist Church

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The Line Between Leading and Lording

This week Seattle Mega Church pastor Mark Driscoll resigned after being on leave for several weeks as charges of pastoral abuse were being investigating. Driscoll and I will disagree on many points but this isn’t the purpose of this article. I simply want to address the charges of pastoral abuse. Mar Hills Church Board released a statement with the below assessment.

  • Arrogance

  • Responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech

  • Leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner

Other leadership allegations surfaced which was not addressed by the board

  • He visited message boards under a fake name where he would attack critics.

  •  It is said that he would push anyone out of the church who did not agree with him

  • He had the by-laws changed to ensure he was control of everything.

  • There was a lack of transparency and accountability in which only a few people knew what he was paid and where the money went.

The disturbing thing is that many readers could probably replace Driscoll’s name and Mar Hills’ name with the name of other pastors and churches.

Pastors are warned of overstepping the bounds of authority.

1Pe 5:3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock

2Co 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand

Peter tells pastors to take the oversight but not to lord over the flock. That is, we are not the Lord, Savior, or Sanctifier of His people. It is important for pastors to lead and warn but realize that he cannot take the place of God in people’s lives. Paul warns that we cannot have dominion or lordship over people’s faith. Pastors often seem to find it difficult to trust God with His people.

 A well-meaning pastor may overstep biblical bounds because of his attachment to the flock. A pastor will pray for the people, will preach to the people, will carry burdens for the people, and will serve the people. This deep emotional, physical, and spiritual investment can often make the actions of people very personal to the pastor. When a person not does not take biblical advice, when a person does not respond to preaching, or even gets out of church, the pastor may take this as a personal affront.

Sometimes a pastor mistakenly believe that it is his job to make people live right. A pastor who believes this may overstep the biblical bounds in an attempt to help others live for God. This pastor will often attempt to control all areas of a person’s life in attempt to ensure that they are right with God.

There are times in which pastors misunderstand their level of accountability before God. They believe that they will stand in account for everything that takes place in the lives of the people they lead. Pastors will definitely give an account but not for the actions and choices of other believers. They will give an account of themselves before God.

But, there are times when pastors act solely in their own interests. The churches they pastor often become the feather in their cap. They intervene in the lives of others because they see their actions as a personal reflection upon themselves. Another words, people will judge the pastor’s abilities, standards, and success based on the lives of the people he pastors. Some pastors will attempt to make others live right so they will look good in the eyes of other pastors.

Pastors also struggle with not being overbearing because many are so passionate about what they believe. Many are passionate about the Word of God, biblical doctrine, personal convictions, and many other things. The things clearly stated are matters of black and white and it can be discouraging when people reject light. But, pastors are also passionate about our convictions and standards (questionable things). Pastors can be so passionate about these things that they demand that everyone else live like they do. Sometimes the bible is taken out of context to support these matters of conscience. Again, it can be difficult to trust God with His people on these matters but it is something that must be done to maintain the biblical role.

As a pastor, I have struggled with many of these things. There are things that I believe passionately about and may not agree with church members when I see them do those things. But, if it is a matter of conscience or a difference in application of a biblical principle then I must trust God. There are times when I see people going down the wrong path and I have realized that I can warn them but not stop them. There have been times that I have been too invested in people’s lives and wanted to help them by making decisions for them. There were times earlier in my pastorate that I felt it was my job to make people live right and was accountable for it. To be quite honest, there were times that I was concerned about what others thought about me and it motivated my behavior.

Another confession is that I have not always handled things the right way. There have been times when I have been too harsh, arrogant, and quick to anger.

I am still seeking to be a balanced pastor. I don’t want to compromise God’s word and I don’t want to overstep the biblical authority of a pastor. It’s can often seem like a thin line to walk. I don’t know if I will always be able to walk that line but I will continue to try. I will probably make a few mistakes along the way but I still must continue to try.

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