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Mark Driscoll’s controversy involving pride

Mark Driscoll, Seattle pastor
Mark Driscoll, Seattle pastor

Popular Seattle mega-pastor, Mark Driscoll, announced on August 24, that he would temporarily step down as leader of the Mars Hill Church dynasty due to charges against him by 21 pastors in his organization. However, four days later, nine of the Mars Hill Church's 65 pastors “called for Mark Driscoll to step down not for six weeks but for a full year,” according to a Christianity Today article by Morgan Lee, posted online on September 3.

To his credit, Driscoll has admitted that some charges were his fault “and I will own it, confess it, and move on from it as God continues to redeem me.” For a minimum of six weeks he had planned to “process, heal, and grow” while the accusations against him are reviewed.

Driscoll is known for his frank sermons, which sometimes include slang (if not vulgar, at least crude) words, and sexual humor. Preaching about Jesus as a man’s man, Driscoll’s sermons appeal to men. He is a popular pastor of the Reformed Theological position, and founded his emergent church 18 years ago.

Concerns against him include plagiarism, pride and other character flaws, and leadership style. Other well known megachurch pastors who have stepped down this year include Bob Florida, due to immorality (April, 2014), and James MacDonald in Chicago, allegedly due to gambling and misappropriation of funds (July 2014).

It seems that these are the three areas where Christians most likely fall into sin—pride, sex, love of money. Every Christian, no matter how passionately he or she desires to please God and serve Him faithfully, must beware of temptations from these three sources.

First John 2:15-17 calls them “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh [sex], the lust of the eyes [love of money], and the pride of life. In other words—passions, possessions, pride.

The failures of Christian leaders should remind us to watch out for and control our desires. The lust to do—pleasurable things that can hurt our bodies, the lust to have—more for ourselves, and the lust to be—famous and important.

Very few people can handle popularity—the power goes to their heads. They think the rules don’t apply to them and they deserve the worship people give them.

High office often leads to low morals and misuse of authority. Authority can cause leaders to bend the rules to benefit themselves, because they can, and to lose concern for their fellow man.

Martin Luther said, “Every age, even in the faithful, hath his peculiar temptations: as fleshly lusts assail a man most of all in his youth, in his middle-age ambition and vain-glory, and in his old-age, covetousness” (Luther’s commentary on Galatians, p. 511).

First John 2:15 tells us not to love the world or the things that characterize it. Mark Driscoll’s experience should help us all take stock of our motives and desires so we will avoid spiritual and moral failures.

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Mark Driscoll is learning that lesson. May we all learn from his unfortunate example and not from our own failures involving pride, sex, and/or love of money.

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