uploaded November 16, 2016
092816 400 Gathering Session 1
Interview with mark Driscoll starting at 39:35
LO: It's not been a, a, great kind of couple of years for high profile pastors in some situations. And your situation at Mars Hill was probably as visible in social media and all that as anything that people have gone through.
So we just wanna take a little time now and, and not so much deconstruct kinda what happened, but what God has taught you through that situation, [indistinct] you can help us to learn, things about, maybe, being helpful to brothers and sisters that go through a rocky time.
Many of us, nobody expects to go through one of those, they just kinda happen, like, dinner at Denny's--you just, end up there. ...
But Mark, first thing ... how's Mark doing?
Driscoll: ... it's been a hard one to answer. I guess the answer that I started giving, not to be super spiritual, but, uh, "I'm at peace and I believe I'm in God's will."
And so I've even actually started asking pastor friends of mine, not "How are you doing?" but "Are you in God's will?" because sometimes being in God's will is not the easiest place to be but it's the peaceful place to be. So I don't know HOW I'm doing but WHERE I'm at is pretty good and I think that in the season that we have been in the fatherhood of God has been profoundly, ah, real to me. Uh, I kinda feel like a son who, as long as [he] sticks close to his dad is gonna be okay, and, better than okay, he's gonna be better.
LO: Looking back, if there was ONE that you could have a do-over on, [a] mulligan, what would that be?
Driscoll: Going into ministry [audience laughs]
Yeah, no, I say that half joking, half honestly. You know, somebody once said that going into ministry is handing God a blank sheet of paper that he gets to write into your life and I think that's true. I think, uh, after I pulled back from public ministry and took a season of learning and really connecting with Grace and the kids because it was, as you know, and thank you for being a good pastor to us through that season. It was just a very difficult time for the family.
So, you know, my first ministry is to my wife and my kids, and then we had an opportunity to travel some, and to meet with other pastors and leaders--not teach or be on the stage, just take notes and learn and listen and kind of treat it like an opportunity to fill in the gaps.
I met with one particular pastor. (I won't namedrop. A lot of people were very kind to me.) He said, "A church really comes down to two things." He said, "Governance and relationships." and he said: "If the governance is bad the relationships can save it. If the relationships are bad the governance can straighten them out. If the governance is bad and the relations aren't strong then you've got a real problem." And I believe there was a lot of wisdom in that.
So, if I had anything to do over again it would for certainly be governance and relationships, `cause sometimes as leaders we can be so much about the windshield and what's next and the opportunities we're not spending much time in the rear-view mirror on where we're vulnerable, and what things from the past and so far as policy, relationship and conflict that have not been tended to they can find themselves suddenly thrust into the future.
So, yeah, I would say those issues of governance and relationship and those become the pot in which the ministry grows and if the pot's not right eventually the plant's not healthy.
LO: The pot's a little more on the relational side as I think, for this group, we've all kinda worked through kinda governance issues. People who kinda followed your story know part of it is governance. but relationally, what'd you do differently if you had that moment again.
Driscoll: There's a lot. There is an interesting book, ah, called Necessary Enemies by Henry Cloud that I found particularly helpful and I think it's in chapter 7 he talks about three kinds of people. And you're a proverbs, wisdom kind of guy. He talks about wise, foolish and evil. And so he says that you treat different people differently and they will determine how they will be treated by their conduct or their character. So the WISE people, you give them more time, more energy, more access, more vulnerability because they'll be a gift to you and you give to them, they'll act upon it, and it'll increase their wisdom like proverbs says it should.
Then there's foolish people and you're always having the same conversation; they want to blame-shift and change the subject and argue and fight and get others involved and make a lot of drama. And with foolish people he said you LOVE them but, ultimately, it's consequences so that they'll hopefully move toward wisdom and get some course correction.
And then he says there's evil people. And evil people, he says, you know, what they need is lawyers, guns and money and that with evil people, if you treat an evil person the way you treat a wise person (you give them more time, more information, more access, more vulnerability) they're just going to use that to hurt and to harm you and your ministry and your family. And so sometimes what evil people do, they will get foolish people to then make demands on their behalf that they be treated as wise, and so, for me, it would be wanting to pursue, first of all, wisdom by God's grace and that's a lot of the wisdom literature
and a lot of times we think about being RIGHT (and you can be theologically right and still not be relationally wise) and then how to encourage people that are foolish or in ourselves or in myself there's aspects , there's components, there's parts of my life I'm still foolish. And we all have those areas and seeking wise people in those areas. And then with evil people it's trying to teach the wise and the foolish that, you know, we love those people and we seek good for them but Jesus didn't say to Judas Iscariot, "If we could just do coffee every Tuesday for the next fifteen years we could really come to an agreement." You know, wear matching sweatshirts, ride a tandem bike and tell a reconciliaton story. He said, "I know what you're gonna do. You're evil, so you need to go do that now."
And I think as a leader the hard part is we have to, at some point, be the umpire in certain relationships. Is this person wise, are they foolish, are they evil? How am I behaving? Am I behaving in a way that is wise or foolish or evil? How are WE behaving as a team? Are we wise? Are we foolish? Are we evil? And I think when it comes to relationships it's first really understanding, "What kind of person am I dealing with?" and then "How am I behaving?" and then make sure I get over to the wise side and then appropriately ascertain where they're at and how I interact with them. And it's probably more complicated.
But it's been, it's been helpful for me.
And wise people are not always the smartest, the most gifted. There's teachability and humility and so everyone can be wise according to Scriptures if they allow the Holy Spirit to bring some humility and that includes me and others as well.
LO: As you look back, in terms of those three things; prior to reading that, being in the zone of, "Lord, teach me, I've got a lot of stuff to learn; what would you say you did RIGHT, or NOT right not knowing those three things in terms of just treating conflict, I mean there was a time (it's no newsflash to you or anybody in this room) Mark would be known for wanting to be right far more than wanting to be anything else. So talk a little about how those changes took place.
Driscoll: I heard another leader one time say, "You can either make a point or you can make a difference but to make a differences takes a relationship." Points are easy and in the age of the internet every 25-year old guy thinks he's Martin Luther and he's gonna nail his 95 Theses to the internet Wittenberg church door because everybody in the Church got it wrong until he was born and we're all glad you're here because we've been waiting for messiah.
And what happens is, uh, is that when you're young and idealistic, at least for me, I was making a lot of points and the result is that the relationships tend to be weak and don't make a difference. You know, I think it's in Luke 6:40 Jesus says that fully trained students become like their teachers. You know the second and third generation is always a more extreme version of the first. And so if you're, uh, you're someone who is all about making a point, not about making a difference, well by the third generation you've raised up Pharisees and they've all got clipboards criticizing you.
And if you're all about making a difference but you're not really teaching or making a point, by the third generation they're not even Christians, they're just out helping poor people but not alleviating the worst suffering of all which is eternal suffering.
So I thought he made a good observation. It's not just about making a point, it's about making a difference and sometimes making a difference takes the long, hard route of a relationship. And, you know, when you're a preacher, a teacher, a writer, you're a leader, you have a platform it's a LOT easier to make a point than it is to make a difference.
So, what, you appear, at this point (at least to me, and I have been able to walk through a lot of this time with you [Driscoll says "yeah"]) to be, um, humbled; kinda Mark 2.0 in some areas and as you've gone through that what really--and you really haven't been bitter or broken, I mean, you've been more broken than bitter, let me say that in English. You've not really been bitter at any particular point. What did you learn, because the attacks were particularly public and therefor embarrassing and all of that--you mentioned the other day that you'd gotten pretty good at awkward in terms of your conversations.
Driscoll--yeah, I have a master's degree in awkward
LO: So, what did you learn that could help us, because every one of us are gonna find ourselves to SOME degrees in those public attacks, the staff attacks, that kind of thing, navigating that kind of thing
Driscoll: um, I met with thirtysome former leaders that would be sort of in the unhappy, disgruntled, frustrated category and almost every single conversation post my-resignation and transition, it's almost like it was a script, and they said the same thing which, I don't know if they were processing together, it's just where it ended up. And it was, "I can't forgive you because you're not repentant."
And I'd say, "Well, I apologized" and I would give the dates that I apologized with them, one, on multiple occasions I said, "Did I ever do that again?"
"No, you didn't not but I can't forgive you because you've not repented."
I asked, "Well, what does repentance look like?"
And over and over and over it was repentance--forgiveness, rather--forgiveness is at the END of the process, not the beginning and then I will JUDGE you and I can't forgive you until you're repentant and that means that I kind of sit in a God seat, and I need to give it a lot of time, and I can't forgive you until I believe you have come to full repentance as I see it. [emphasis added]
And I would wholeheartedly disagree with that. That is actually one of the fundamental theological issues that we had ongoing conflict underneath the church. There were some books that came in, there was some teaching, and I taught AGAINST that, I said I believe that forgiveness in ANY relationship is at the FRONT. Good luck handing this [forgiveness last praxis] to a marital relationship. "I will not forgive you until I feel you are repentant and I've seen the signs of repentance over the course of X number of years and conditions."
Well, tell the couch, "hello." And, you know, it's gonna be a long, hard route.
And so I did a full year of Bible study on forgiveness and I found that almost every time that the Bible talks about forgiveness, unforgiveness or bitterness, in that same orbit it talks about the demonic. So Ephesians 4, "forgive one another, don't give the devil a foothold." Paul tells the Corinthians, "Satan will not outwit us because we're not unaware of his schemes." You mentioned Matthew 18 in your talk. The story of the jailor that he's in torment, and I believe that is demonic torment. I believe the jailor is probably Satan in Jesus' story.
The question is, once we are hurt--and there's a difference between hurt and harmed. It's important to note that--once we are hurt we can either choose bitterness or forgiveness. As soon as we choose bitterness what we've determined is we will live in a cell where we are demonically tormented because Satan and demons have never forgiven anyone; they're never forgiven of anything; and as soon as we say, "I do not do forgiveness" what we're saying is, "I DO do the demonic." And I believe that Satan and demons, that the foothold of all the demonic is in the realm of unforgiveness.
And so what happens then is, you're in a jail cell of bitterness and hurt--the worst day becomes your every day; you take the worst of your past into your future; and the question is, "Do THEY have the key by repenting or do YOU have the key by forgiving?" and I believe that the Bible is clear that we hold the key to get out of our own cell of demonic torment and bitterness and frustration and living with the unending loop of in our mind of the worst parts of our life
and so, honestly, for me it was a long Bible study with the family--we couldn't go to church for a long time so on Sunday mornings we'd do that as a family, and did a long Bible study on forgiveness--[I] needed my children to forgive me for things I'd said and done to contribute; we needed to forgive others for things they'd said and done to contribute; and I want to make sure there was not a root of bitterness in my heart or in my family because the Bible is clear in Hebrews that eventually that grows up to defile many and all it takes is bitterness in one heart to destroy an entire church
and so ('m not saying I'm particularly skilled at forgiving but) I just see that, that it IS demonic [unforgiveness], that it HARMS those who don't forgive, and it allows us to have empathy for those who are hurting and to pray that they would come to experience the kind of forgiveness that the Lord forgave them because those who are forgiven are to be forgiving and when we STOP that flow I believe we stop the flow of the Holy Spirit in our life and I believe we stop the flow of the Holy Spirit in our relationships. [emphasis added]
LO: And I commend the work of the Lord in you in that, walking through this time. I have personally experienced you living out much of that, you know, in the mirror, asking, "What do I do to get rid of my bitterness?" and made sure the Lord can use me and we look forward to the Lord using you in the next few minutes as you share with us--
Driscoll: and I want to thank you for being a good pastor to Grace and I. We love you. We love you very much. Thank you.