On Leadership and Mark Driscoll

This is not a Mark Driscoll bashing post.

I applaud Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill for what they have done in a location the church has not had a lot of success, Seattle. I do not agree with everything he has taught, especially his view on women and marriage, but love that he and his team are gospel preachers. I honor this work. His work has been especially powerful to a previously unreached demographic, young men; or “boys who shave” as Driscoll calls them. Seattle has seen tremendous growth in the gospel and many churches are thriving. I attribute a lot of this to Driscoll and Mars Hill.

With leadership, we always must be on the lookout for things we can learn from the successes and failures of our own teams, as well as others.

In the age of celebrity pastors such as Driscoll, sometimes their mistakes are highly publicized.

Here are some things we would do well to learn from in light of the recent happenings with Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill:

1. Accountability.  As leaders, we must surround ourselves with a team who’s strengths are different from our own. They must have the power to tell us “No” and it sticks. As well, when we fail (not if), we need this group to help us walk out poor decisions in a godly way. Thomas Merton famously said, “No man is an island.” I think even more true is, “No Leader is an Island.”


2, Power being too top-heavy.  It seems much of the authority in Mars Hill rested in the hands of three people, Driscoll and his two top elders. This is dangerous. Group think and even cult-like tendencies are only a few steps away when the power is in the hands of a few. Jesus split his church to twelve, not two. Our top-level team cannot be too small and it must include healthy conflict and discussion.

3, Entitlement.  Things which can be a blessing for working hard at a low salary when the church or non-profit is small, can become expected when it grows larger. What started as, “Let’s bless the pastors and their wives with a meal, pedicure, or day at the spa” can subtly shift to being an expected perk of the job. I see this in the organizations I work with. Entitlement is subtle but dangerous. Some of the financial reports coming out on Mars Hill, seem to indicate this drift occurred.

4. You are always on. Perhaps the most documented mistakes Driscoll has made center around his inappropriate and vulgar comments made in chat rooms under an anonymous name. Especially in the day and age of technology, a misguided tweet or Instagram photo can be devastating.  Our online habits in regards to pornography also fall into this category. Things can be found out.

When confronted with mistakes, failures, or even just styles which need to be adjusted; we must walk in grace-based leadership. We must be willing to investigate and make the necessary changes. We must acknowledge our mistakes and seek help to grow and change. Ambition has the power to blind us, encouraging us to maintain appearances on the outside.

But eventually, if we are not faithful to face these issues, they will drastically affect our leadership and influence.