Idleman is correct. Not all fallen preachers are false teachers. Some are hirelings who can put a good word together but care nothing for the sheep. Others do fall into sin. This is why in the key verse today we see Paul warn young pastor Timothy to guard two things -- his life and his doctrine. I have never heard of doctrinal errors on McDonald's part but it is safe to say he did not guard his life very well. I have no problem with lovingly confronting and encouraging as long as it is accompanied by lovingly removing them. Consider it grace for the sheep if you must but it really just comes down to enforcing biblical standards. It is amazing in light of the allegations against McDonald, including the recent audio tapes of him wanting to plant child pornography on the computer of the CEO of Christianity Today, that Idleman keeps bringing this back to us somehow drifting? To bring such reprehensible behavior from the pulpit back to Christians allegedly "bashing" McDonald is just shameless sheep beating.
"A misunderstood calling: Leaders may appear controlling because they are called to lead. They may come across as unapproachable because they set boundaries. They may be viewed as hard because they are called to defend. They may appear secretive because they must choose their words carefully. If they are not available 24/7, we say that they are "not there for us." If they can't make every event or respond to every email, Tweet and Facebook post, we label them as "unavailable." Folks, we all need a lot more grace. When it comes to money, churches need to handle finances like we handle explosives: very carefully. However, everyone will have different opinions on where the money should be spent; this cannot be avoided. When churches grow quickly, this becomes even more challenging. I've noticed that how money is spent will always be an issue. As long as the church is avoiding massive debt, building on integrity and accomplishing the Great Commission, they are hopefully heading in a good direction. This doesn't excuse financial mismanagement, but we must look at the whole picture. For example, I often hear this about churches in America: "The pastor is surrounded by 'yes' men." Should we be surrounded by "no" men? God forbid. A healthy church is a unified church. This does not mean it's OK to control the board or manipulate decisions, but this topic deserves a closer look. Many times when people make this statement, it's because they were denied a request. Instead of repenting of a wrong attitude, they use the "yes men" clause against the leadership. But sometimes their concern is very valid. So yes, some churches have passive board members who do not confront overbearing pastors, and I'm not defending that behavior. However, the answer is not a passive pastor. Within the leadership of the church, there ought to be unity, which is only found in prayerful submission to one another." -- Shane Idleman
Spoken like a pastor protecting the racket. God forbid you are surrounded by yes men, not no men. A yes man is like that by nature and will say yes to whatever comes along. There is also no check on the pastor. At a church I used to attend, they would never put me on the board not because I was a no man but because I might have said no if it was warranted. James McDonald purposefully blew up his board to 30 members so that they individually would have less power. He created the constellation of yes men around him. Mark Driscoll did the same thing at Mars Hill. This too is an offshoot of the purpose driven church teachings that say only the pastor has the vision. That is absolute unbiblical garbage beloved. The bible is our vision and we do not need any vision from man to supplement it. God grows His church as He sees fit. What Idleman is doing here is muddying the waters. Are there instances where disgruntled board members are to blame for dissent in a church, I am sure there is. Is that what happened and Harvest Bible Chapel? Not at all. Stop beating the sheep Shane.
"Leaders walk a very fine line: Church leaders must be bold but also broken, firm but flexible, hard on sin but humble with others, demanding excellence but not pushy, motivating but not overbearing. Sadly, it's impossible to walk this line perfectly. We need to own our faults, apologize and ask God to change us. But on the flip side, a wounded pastor who is constantly under the microscope--where every word and action is weighed in the balance--can become passive to avoid pain. We begin to think, "I don't want to deal with that issue; I've been hurt many times before," and we become paralyzed. The passive pastor gets steamrolled, and the abusive pastor is the steamroller. Pastors will spend their lives trying to find the middle ground. Those who are abusive, manipulating and controlling (the wrong type of control, that is) need to repent, seek restoration and rebuild broken relationships. Passive, weak, people-pleasing pastors also need to repent and spend time in the prayer closet. Ask God for boldness to lead, fortitude to make tough decisions and the strength to continue. Bold, humble, gracious leaders are desperately needed in these dire times. The church, as well as our nation, desperately needs to hear "the voice crying in the wilderness" to awaken, convict and restore." -- Shane Idleman
Considering most of the sheep work jobs in a mundane existence for often far less than a mega church pastor's salary the woe is me nonsense is just insulting. No one expects perfection from pastors. What they expect is that they do not plunge their church 70 million dollars into debt and sue former members as McDonald was trying to do. A truly wounded pastor would be helped by his church but one who is the victim of self-flagellation will probably earn the contempt they find. Accusing people who demand accountability in your church of being operatives of Satan, publicly, should be met with a microscopic examination. Shane presents two polar opposites and pretends they are the only options. The steamroller and the passive pastor. Finding the middle ground would be far easier if other pastors stopped enabling both steamrollers and passive pastors. What the church and our nation needs is for pastors to stop embarrassing the cause of Jesus Christ. Are we seriously having this conversation in reaction to what James McDonald stands accused of? Seriously? Even the world hears the audio tapes of him wanting to plant child pornography on a perceived enemy's computer and cringes while the church says well he might be a steamroller. Who cares? Do we care at all for the sheep left in the wake of this destruction? Do we care at all for our witness for Christ to a lost and dying world? We absolutely should pray for James McDonald to be restored in his walk but stop beating the sheep to excuse his inexcusable behavior.
"It's hard to walk the fine line between passivity and passion; balance and boldness. As they say, "The struggle is real." As a child, I would isolate myself to prevent future pain (I still tend to do that today). I became an approval seeker, something you would find hard to believe if you heard my preaching. Angry people scare me, and personal criticism hurts more deeply than it should. The deep pains of ministry can linger, and the enemy of our soul will use them against us. Thankfully, God makes provision for all our needs through His Word. He must be our anchor and our true source of hope. The solution: As I said in a past op-ed, if you are on the cliff or have already fallen, take time now and repent. It will hurt, but the fruit of repentance far outweighs the fruit of exposure that will surely come (see Num. 32:23). God's grace will see you through. A penitent person turns from sin. They accept full responsibility for their actions without blame, resentment or bitterness. They seek forgiveness without conditions and stipulations. They take full (not partial) responsibility for their actions. There can be no "buts" when repentance is genuine. "I am sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me," are often (although not always) healing words and signs of repentance. Excuses need to stop before healing can occur." -- Shane Idleman
Beloved, I am not suggesting that a pastor's job is easy and it often is underappreciated but this struggle is no different than what everyone else in life goes through. Everyone has work issues. Everyone struggles. We cannot claim to not want to put pastors on a pedestal and then pretend their plight is somehow more arduous than the sheep they tend to. It also neglects all of the positive benefits of such a job in direct comparison to working in the world. Shane is right that the bible is our source for dealing with pain but why isn't it our source to avoid the pain to begin with? Walking that fine line is far easier if we turn to the word before we find ourselves wounded and bleeding. The disconnect here is staggering because Idleman is correct that true repentance comes without "buts." The problem is this entire article is one big "but" for James McDonald. Oh I don't condone financial maleficence BUT sometimes the board plays the abusive pastor card. Oh I don't condone steamroller pastors but sometimes they are too passive. A pastor is fired for obscene and sinful comments and the article opens with the foundation of needing repentance in the pulpit and the pew. Right.
Idleman ends his piece by suggesting better diets for pastors. I kid you not. Beloved, if Shane Idleman wanted to write an encouraging piece for pastors to get a better handle on their stress and how to seek God to avoid becoming controlling or passive I would be all for it but not under the title, "James MacDonald Isn't Alone--The Truth About Pastoral Abuse." Can you imagine being given the job of running a company and accruing 70 million dollars in debt for that company, publicly attacking the board members, and the ultimately threatening to place child pornography on the computer of an agent of the press for daring to cover the story? Not only would you be fired but you would be vilified and prosecuted. In the church however it is time to reflect, pray and beat the sheep to distract from the fact that their shepherd is thoroughly disqualified from the office he held. James McDonald is disqualified. Leave the sheep alone Shane.