This is your shepherd speaking…

Church leaders, past and present, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

A facebook friend posted this link on his wall a couple of weeks or so ago. (It’ll take you about sixty seconds to read it. Go ahead. I’ll wait here.)

Did you read it? Your thoughts?

In my exchange with the guy who posted the link, I suggested that nowhere in Scripture do you find that the the flock is charged with protecting their pastor’s faith, working to keep him optimistic and shielding him from problems without “viable solutions” so he has plenty of emotional space to dream about where God is taking his their church. I understand all too well that dealing with nitpicky issues like the decor of the church and the color of the bulletin will suffocate a leader (even one who loves to micromanage!), but if this is what Pastor Furtick meant, I think he would have used his words to say so. But, as I noted in response to the guy who posted the link, Furtick appears to be putting the onus on the sheep, staffers, or both to protect their shepherd’s faith. Or dreams. Or perhaps *gasp!*…his personal ambitions.

I checked in on Furtick’s blog today. From his most recent post, the visionary word to his sheep: “If you’re on staff, volunteering, or simply attending, it’s your responsibility to be united under your visionary. If God wanted everyone playing your song, He would have elevated you to a place where you could make it happen. But He hasn’t. He may one day, but in the meantime you need to faithfully contribute to the song your pastor has chosen with your unique contribution. And do it with excellence.”

The tricky trick of these words is that there is a measure of Biblical truth embedded in them: Not all are gifted with leadership gifts. John 17 unity is Jesus’ prayer for us. Faithful service and excellence are marks of spiritual community. But I don’t hear a shepherd willing to lay his life down for his sheep in Furtick’s words. I hear the words of someone who finds the stink of sheep scent clashes with his own cologne. 

Lest you think I’m picking on Pastor Furtick, I am not. I am responding to his ideas – ideas that are pretty popular among a certain slice of evangelicalism in spite of overwhelming evidence that this type of leaderculture isn’t quite as effective in transmitting the message of Jesus as maybe some of these “awesome” Big Dawg C.E.O. visionaries might believe of themselves.   

A couple of years ago, when South Florida DJ Brant Hansen was blogging, he had a dark, wry and painfully accurate series going called “The 417 Rules Of Awesomely Bold Leadership”. I’m not sure he ever got all the way to #417, but you can click here to sample his a bit of his take on this culture.

So, you got my opinion today. I’d love to hear yours. What do you think of Furtick’s words? Have you ever had a spiritual leader who talked like this? What was the experience like?

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2 thoughts on “This is your shepherd speaking…”

  1. Love Brant's "blizzard of acronyms" and the comments and his responses are pretty funny.

    I don't really qualify as a church leader, but I'll give you my opinion anyway. 🙂 Furtick's words are correct, but his heart? Only God knows, but my gut sense about the spirit in which he wrote the blog agrees with your clashing cologne observation.

  2. Thanks, Jane. I was bummed when Brant Hansen stopped blogging. His site was a must-read for me.

    I can't judge another person's heart (though unfortunately it doesn't stop me from attempting to do so sometimes), but after having been a part of a church years ago that had a textbook example of spiritually-abusive culture, my scarred-over war wounds flared a bit when I read Pastor Furtick's un-pastoral words.

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