Friday, October 17, 2014

in light of Turner and Driscoll resignations, let's revisit some of their words in the past about people who quit and people who fear men

In light of Sutton Turner's resignation it seemed appropriate to revisit Aaron Armstrong's review of Turner's book Invest.

A weak theology of work and ministry

A second concern is the theology of work and ministry described in the book, particularly as Turner differentiates between a “job” and “ministry.” Consider his distinctions:
  • If you want praise and recognition for what you do, it’s a job. If no one else besides Jesus needs to commend your work, it’s ministry.
  • If you do the job as long as it does not cut into other things (such as hobbies, family activities, etc.), it’s a job. If you are willing to make sacrifices in your personal schedule, it’s ministry.
  • If you compare your lot with others who have more free time, more money, and more possessions, it’s a job. If you pray for others rather than compete with them, it’s ministry.
  • If it bothers you when the phone rings on evenings and weekends, it’s a job. If you see random calls at odd hours as opportunities to serve with joy, it’s ministry.
  • If you want to quit because the work is too hard, the pressure is too great, or your performance is criticized, it’s a job. If you stick it out—until Jesus clearly tells you that it’s time to move on—it’s ministry.
  • If you use the church as a stepping-stone, a payday, or a gold star on your résumé, it’s a job. If you’re working for the church because you love Jesus and you want more people to meet him, get saved, and be transformed, then it’s ministry.
There’s definitely some truth to these examples. Turner is correct that both the “work to live” and “live to work” mindsets, or what another set of authors describe as idleness and idolatry in work, are unhealthy. The problem, of course, is the distinction between “job” and “ministry” is actually a false one. Vocational ministry roles are jobs, and we’re kidding ourselves if we think differently.  Non-ministry jobs intrude on our personal lives all the time. So do ministry ones.

It’s a silly distinction, one which elevates a kind of work as being more important than others. This is ironic since Turner is trying to advocate for the importance of these non-traditional type ministry roles. You also need to be very careful as this is the kind of thinking that’s lead so many men to sacrifice their families on the altar of ministry. They bought into the lie that if you take care of the ministry, God will take care of your family—a lie that destroyed both their ministries and their families.

So in light of what Turner wrote in Invest would Sutton Turner's resignation from Mars Hill prove that it was just a job after all?  Would it suggest that rather than having a pastoral heart Sutton Turner ended up displaying the heart of a hired hand?  And in light of Mark Driscoll's resignation in spite of statements that he was not found unfit for ministry would not Driscoll's own resignation invite a question about whether it was just a "job" even for Mark Driscoll after all? 

Did not Mark Driscoll himself in his ten reflections on Elephant Room 2 remark that "fear of man is deadly"?  If fear of man will prove to be a snare then has Mark Driscoll succumbed to fear of man?  We don't know but the sum of Driscoll's public statements about the wrongness of fearing men makes his recent resignation seem muted by his long and public history of calling on men to not be cowardly.  To be sure he was able to produce a litany of incidents in which he feared not for himself but for his family. One of those concerns was what his kids might discover being said about him.
Add to this the safety issues posed by technology. I cannot fathom allowing my two teenagers to be on social media for fear of the venom they would receive. When my kids have to report on current events at school, they’ve learned to ask before they click on to news sites, since I never know who is saying what about me where

It could be a very awkward day in the Driscoll household if one of the Driscoll kids read anything by William Wallace II or even just Real Marriage.  But for now they would no doubt be best off not having to worry about these things.  And Driscoll, back in October 2013 seemed to assure us all that in spite of all the trials he was going to keep on being a pastor.

... When people learn that my concern for family safety is the most difficult part of my ministry, I usually get the follow up question: Why don’t you just quit and go do something else or go do ministry somewhere else?

Honestly, I’ve pondered that question myself on the darker days. I love my family. I love Jesus—and so does my family. I love our church—and so does my family. And I love our city—and so does my family. On average, we have seen 100 people get baptized every month for about the last five years. We are seeing lives change, and we find great joy in that. That said, I do all I can to care for my family and protect them, without being paranoid, and the truth is if I were not called to this line of work, I would quit.

Yes, sadly this question is all too easy for me to answer, so your prayers are appreciated. I just turned 43. Lord willing, we have decades of ministry left to go, and honestly if I think about it too much I get depressed and anxious. For those ministering in similar contexts, I’m earnestly praying for you and your families as well.

It seemed at the time Mark Driscoll's answer was a rhetorical "yes" to his continuing on in ministry, even after compiling a list of incidents in which he was concerned for the welfare of his family.  Fair enough ... but if fear of men is deadly then should someone trying to follow Mark Driscoll's advice reconsider ministry altogether?  Maybe for a season.

But whether for a season or for good it's strange that Sutton Turner seems to have ultimately viewed his ministry at Mars Hill in a way where, if he were talking to someone else, he'd say they treated it like a job.  It's strange that having affirmed how determined he was to love the city (Seattle?) and keep going for decades more in ministry Mark Driscoll has stepped down.


benden said...

And it's strange that if Driscoll really meant what he said above, that he would list the physical safety of his family as one of his rationales in his resignation letter.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Yes, since the safety of his family wasn't reason enough to quit back in 2013, it is a bit odd. But then back then Driscoll could let people assume (wrongly) that when he said "And I love our city" that this meant Seattle rather than a city in Snohomish county. Knowing he hasn't lived in King County for years makes it all the more dubious Driscoll opened with comments about how pastors who live in gated communities don't understand the perils of urban ministry.