Mark Driscoll's Primary Problem

You've got to want what God wants, and only that.

One of my mentors - Bruce Stabbert - ground it into me when I first entered the arena of ministry. He cautioned me against ambition that was not Spirit-driven. He patiently taught me the things God the Spirit fuels in our lives: holiness, passion for truth, love, patience with people, and host of other godly characteristics and desires. But the one thing the Spirit never increases is our pride, or our desire for man's acclaim.

Bruce put it this way: "Focus on deepening your message and leave it to God to broaden your influence."  He went further to describe my message as both my life and my preaching. My focus was to be on "paying attention to myself and my teaching", as Paul had instructed young Timothy all those years ago in 1 Timothy 4:16.

Mark Driscoll's base challenge was his own giftedness. His amazing mind and ability to communicate truth to the emerging generation catapulted him to national prominence. But his pride also caused him to want more than God wanted for him. He chose to focus on broadening his influence, as though he could handle the fame without first deepening his life.

Charles Spurgeon is said to have exhorted those of his generation that "For every 99 who can handle adversity, only 1 can handle prosperity." In our day, John MacArthur told some of to pray "Lord, give me character before you give me wealth, because if you give me wealth first it will ruin me." 

For all those young guys out there who want to be the next Mark Driscoll, hear this again: "Focus on deepening your message and leave it to God to broaden your influence." And to that let me add my own admonition: Local church ministry is what God empowers, and what people need. God doesn't need either you or me to have national prominence. Preach to your people. Shepherd your people. And push thoughts of a great legacy as far away as possible. In the end, it is the "well done" of our Lord that matters and nothing else.

Nicholas von Zinzendorf said it best: "Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten." After all, our privilege is simply to preach Jesus Christ crucified and coming again.

He has never called us to be popular, prominent or praised. He may grant some that honor, and gift them with the humility and godliness to handle the spotlight. We need them, and may want to be them, but it is God who chooses them and uses them for his glory.

But for most of us, it's enough just to be drafted by God for his service, and crafted by the Spirit to accomplish his mission, in whatever arena he is pleased to plant us. Mark Driscoll may have squandered his great opportunity, but it isn't too late for the rest of us.

Let's focus on our lives and our message, and leave all the rest to Christ.