Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mark Driscoll on climbing the ladder, how discontent is bad if accompanied by envy, and revisiting a quote from Driscoll about how he approached Mars Hill in 2002
from October 15, 2015

In Western culture, the adults have invented a new game that I like to call “Climb the Ladder.” In Climb the Ladder you look at those people who are above you on the rungs of success. You spend so much time looking at life on their rung – such as the car they drive, house they live in, clothes they wear, food they eat, and social events they enjoy – that when you look down at your rung beneath them you find yourself unhappy. You try your best to get up to their place on the ladder, only to repeat the entire process once you get there and realize there is always something that looks “better.” Some people play this game until they go broke and fall off the ladder. Other people who “win” at the game, get to the top of the ladder only to jump off because they feel miserable being criticized, stolen from, and attacked by everyone on the ladder below who are fighting for their place.

Discontent and envy go together like gas and a match. Both are dangerous, and when combined they are deadly.

Discontent happens when we are not satisfied with the life that we have. Discontent is not always a bad thing. For example, a married couple may feel discontent about the condition of their marriage, which compels them to work wholeheartedly on their friendship. That kind of discontent happens when we compare how our life is, in comparison to what it could be if we walked in obedience to God and the fullness of what he has for us.

Discontent is always a bad thing when it is accompanied by envy. Envy is what happens when we start to covet the life of someone else, a life that God has not intended for us. For example, a married couple may feel discontent and envy about the condition of their marriage, which compels them to start comparing their spouse to other people they would rather be with. This can lead them toward emotional and/or physical adultery, which can happen slowly as they allow the feeling to grow privately. Feelings like this need to be repented of quickly so it doesn’t provide opportunity for destruction in the marriage.

Isn't it quaint how when people are higher up on the ladder they somehow must be miserable from being criticized, stolen from, attacked by everyone on the ladder below.  Mark Driscoll's plagiarism controversy erupted almost two years ago and since then a whole bunch of Driscoll books have been retroactively fixed. 

It's also quaint how he keeps coming back to marriage.  If there's any precedent in the life of Mark Driscoll for envy, well, he did write in Real Marriage about how resentful he was that his fearful and frigid wife wasn't putting out as much as he wanted in the sex department. But from the earliest days Mark Driscoll half joked about plotting "world domination".

But to get a fuller appreciation for Driscoll's ambitions it will be useful to highlight a few times in which he's insisted that his desires are modest.  For instance ....
An Update from Pastor Mark
August 24, 2014
I may be an author, a speaker, and a thought-provoker; but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’m a local church pastor, and that’s what I want to give the rest of my life for. ...
Which was why he quit just a couple of months later?  Because he was soooo committed in the deepest recesses of his heart to being a local church pastor? After he'd spent years writing and saying stuff like "6 reasons I'm not going anywhere"?  Well now he's in Phoenix.

Let's consider now what Driscoll explained to Brian Houston earlier this year.

I've made a lot of mistakes and one of them was going too fast. There's the Lord's calling and there's the Lord's timing and I should have waited longer. I should have been under godly spiritual authority, for Grace and I to be under a godly couple, that was [a] senior pastor, so that we could learn and grow. I, I, my character was not caught up with my gifting and I did start to young. And I believe God called us to start the church and he was very, very, very gracious to us, uh, but had I to

do it over again I would not look at a 25-year old and say, "Do what I did."

... We went into the urban core and we felt, specifically, called to go after young, college-educated males. That was really my heart. I wanted everybody to meet Jesus but I felt particularly if we were gonna make in the city and the legacy of families and, you know, the way that women and children and culture treated, that getting young men to love Jesus would be paramount. So that was really the focus and I didn't think the church would amount to much. [emphasis added] The first three years we didn't collect a salary; it was very small; we met at night; we moved a lot because we kept losing our rental location; the offices were in our house, so it wasn't a big deal and we didn't anticipate that it would become what it ultimately did.

As we've discussed earlier ...

that wasn't even all that Mark hoped could be done.  Observe this screen capture ...

God's Work, Our Witness Part 1
Pastor Mark Driscoll

about 12:30 in
You know, and I thought, for sure, we’d probably tap out at two hundred. I thought if we can get this
thing to two hundred, that would be amazing.

And I had big vision for more. I put together a forty-page vision statement. I said, “We’re going to
start a school. We’re going to plant churches. We’re going to do a record label.” I had this whole vision, and I handed it out to, like, fifteen people, and they’re like, “Are you kidding me?”

So I had big dreams. But to be honest with you, man, if we could just get up to two hundred, I thought that would be amazing.

Say what?  About 200?
From "Seasons of Grace" by Mark Driscoll

In the fourth season, we launched the church in October 1996 at 6pm with an attendance around 200, which included many friends and supporters. The attendance leveled off shortly thereafter, somewhere around 100 adults, and we continued meeting until the Christmas season.

So at the launch of Mars Hill Church, according to Mark Driscoll's "Seasons of Grace" they had already launched at the number that Driscoll was saying in the 2011 film would be "amazing".

Back in 2006, of course, Driscoll jovially described his ambitions for "world domination".

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
ISBN-10: 0-310-27016-2
CHAPTER ONE: Jesus, Our Offering was $137 and I Want to Use it to Buy Bullets
0-45 people

from pages 53-54
So in an effort to clarify our mission, I wrote down on paper the first of what would eventually be many strategic plans. I shot for the moon rather foolishly and decided that our church that was not big enough to fill a bus would plant multiple churches, run a concert venue, start a Bible institute, write books, host conferences, and change the city for Jesus. I started handing out these goals printed on boring white paper without any graphics, colors, or cool fonts, naively assuming that it would all happen eventually just because it was what Jesus wanted.

To get leaders in place for world domination, I also spent time trying to articulate the vision in my head to good men who would be qualified to rise up as fellow elders-pastors. So, as Jesus did, I spent time in prayer asking the Father which of his sons should be trained for leadership. The church started as an idea I shared with Lief Moi and Mike Gunn. Lief is a descendant of Genghis Khan and his dad was a murderer, and Mike is a former football player. They proved to be invaluable, except for the occasional moments when they would stand toe-to-toe in a leadership meeting, threatening to beat the Holy Spirit out of each other. Both men were older than I and had years of ministry experience, and they were good fathers, loving husbands, and tough. ...
So if 200 would have been amazing why didn't Driscoll settle for that 200?

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
350-1,000 people
pages 135-136

A very wise friend who is a successful business entrepreneur, Jon Phelps, [WtH, for more on Phelps]shared an insight with me around this time that was very clarifying. He said that in any growing organization, there are three kinds of people, and only two of them have any long-term future with a growing organization. First, there are people on the rise who demonstrate the uncanny ability to grow with the organization and become vital leaders. Second, there are people who attach themselves to the people on the rise as valuable assistants who rise by being attached to someone else on the rise. Third, there are people who neither rise nor attach to anyone who is rising, and they cannot keep up with the growing demands of the organization. These people fall behind, and the organization can either allow their inability to slow down the whole team or release them and move forward with out them. This is difficult to do because they are often good people  who have been partly responsible for the success of the organization. But the needs of the organizational mission, not the individual in the organization, must continually remain the priority if there is to be continued success.

Up until this point, nearly everyone in the church had been connected to me, and I could no longer pull them all up with me. Simply, leaders needed to rise on their own or attach themselves to other people on the rise, or they would have to be let go.

So we made all these difficult decisions, and the church stabilized. Finally, we had facilities, money, men rising up to lead, intentional community housing, a successful concert venue, and a church that seemed organized to us. We had grown a church of one thousand people in a tough urban culture despite massive hardship. With things going so well, I feared we'd get too comfortable, and so I decided it was time to blow it all up, create some strategic chaos, and start over again. [emphasis added]


1,000 to 4,000 people
from pages 140-141

It was a warm spring day and I sat in my office at the church, gazing out the window at large white clouds blowing through a clear blue sky, enjoying our success. I had lost about forty pounds by shifting from the Fatkins to the Atkins diet, had paid off all the personal debts I had accrued as a broke pastor, had fitted up the old home for my family, was getting closer to my lovely wife, was enjoying my three children while looking forward to a fourth, finally owned a vehicle with less than 200,000 miles on it, and was the pastor of one of the largest churches in our city at the age of thirty-one. My eye no longer twitched, I wasn't throwing up from acid reflux, and my vertigo had cleared up.

I was sitting at my new desk, which was the first piece of furniture I had ever owned that was not a donated hand-me down. ... We owned our church building outright and had money in the bank. I had a large staff for a church our size and was sleeping like a Calvinist at nights because things were under control.

On that day I had only a few appointments, with lengthy breaks in between. I decided to walk down to the deli a few blocks away and get a Reuben sandwich on sourdough bread and some fresh air. On the way back, I walked barefoot and remember thinking these simple pleasures had made the day one of the most relaxing and satisfying days I ever had. But by the time I walked back to the church, I realized I was already getting bored. There was no dragon to slay, no hill to charge, no battle to fight, and no foe to conquer. [emphasis added]

It was the winter of 2002, and our church had fought through hell and gone from homeless to one thousand people--a big deal in Seattle. I had nearly killed myself and had gotten the church to the comfort zone.
In other words, it doesn't matter how content Mark Driscoll says he is with his current life.  He spent a decade talking about how satisfied he was by his marriage to Grace before he turned around and rigged up a bestseller complaining about how fearful and frigid she really was.  Driscoll's already told us his ambition to change the world and have a legacy is big.  He's already told us about the times when he was afraid he'd get too comfortable or that because he got bored it was time to blow everything up and start over.

He's not going to be content just being a guy who isn't a pastor, the Dick Nixon of megachurch pastors in the 21st century.  He's probably going to want to start a new church, a church that he can be the public voice at.  He may not bother with the formality of being "Reformed" this time.  Driscoll's demonstrated the level of his ambition already and it seems mprobable he won't try to relaunch his career.

Now that he's mentioned how he's settling into the Phoenix area that's probably where he may try to re:launch and re:brand.  Dave Bruskas is already in that area.  At an informal level a good deal of the networking that was once meant to be around New Mexico as a hub for future Mars Hill expansion might still exist. 

It doesn't much matter how content Mark Driscoll says he is, discontent and the ambition to shape a legacy has been what has driven Mark Driscoll since the dawn of his public career.  Don't expect that to change at all.  Driscoll has said in the past that he's wondered if he would even keep doing the pastor thing if, well, we can let Driscoll speak for himself.

Part 22 of 1st Corinthians
Pastor Mark Driscoll | 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 | June 18, 2006

Here’s the tricky part: Figuring out what your idols are. Let me give you an example. Let’s say for example, you define for yourself a little Hell. For you, Hell is being poor. For you, your definition of Hell is being ugly. For you, your definition of Hell is being fat. For you, your definition of Hell is being unloved. For you, your definition of Hell is being unappreciated. That fear of that Hell then compels you to choose for yourself a false savior god to save you from that Hell. And then you worship that false savior god in an effort to save yourself from your self-described Hell. So, some of you are single. Many of you are unmarried. For you, Hell is being unmarried and your savior will be a spouse. And so you keep looking for someone to worship, to give yourself to so that they will save you. For some of you, you are lonely and your Hell is loneliness, and so you choose for yourself a savior, a friend, a group of friends or a pet because you’ve tried the friends and they’re not dependable. And you worship that pet. You worship that friend. You worship that group of friends. You will do anything for them because they are your functional savior, saving you from your Hell. That is, by definition, idolatry. It is having created people and created things in the place of the creator God for ultimate allegiance, value and worth.

So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get incredibly personal. This will get painfully uncomfortable if I do my job well. I’m going to ask you some probing questions. We’re going to try to get to the root of your idols and mine and I am guilty. I was sitting at breakfast this morning. My wife said, “So what is your idol?” I was like, “Hey, I’m eating breakfast! Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk about that.” I’m the pastor. I preach. I don’t get preached at. Eating bacon. Don’t ruin it. You know, it’s going good., And I told her, I said, “Honey, I think for me, my idol is victory.” Man, I am an old jock. More old than jock, lately, but I – I’m a guy who is highly competitive. Every year, I want the church to grow. I want my knowledge to grow. I want my influence to grow. I want our staff to grow. I want our church plants to grow. I want everything – because I want to win. I don’t want to just be where I’m at. I don’t want anything to be where it’s at. And so for me it is success and drivenness and it is productivity and it is victory that drives me constantly. I – that’s my own little idol and it works well in a church because no one would ever yell at you for being a Christian who produces results. So I found the perfect place to hide. [emphasis added]

And I was thinking about it this week. What if the church stopped growing? What if we shrunk? What if everything fell apart? What if half the staff left? Would I still worship Jesus or would I be a total despairing mess? I don’t know. By God’s grace, I won’t have to find out, but you never know. So we’re going to look for your idols, too. Some questions. Think about it. Be honest with me. What are you most afraid of? What is your greatest fear? See, that probably tells you what your idol is. Sometimes your idol is the thing that you’re scared of not having, not being, not doing. What are you scared of? You scared that you’ll be alone? Are you scared that no one will ever love you? Are you scared that you will be found out that you’re not all that smart? Are you scared that you’ll be stuck in the same dead-end job forever? What are you afraid of?
And this year Driscoll claims he got permission from God to quit before he'd ever have to find out. 

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