There is something that is bothering me about pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention - including myself. I have re-read some of the posts I wrote over two years ago, right when the ordeal with the IMB was beginning, and I was too self-absorbed. It may have been the initial shock of the recommendation for my removal, or it may have been my own inward and inordinate concern over my 'reputation' being sullied, or it legitimately may have been an inability to adequately explain the unique circumstances of my life, but for whatever reason, I spent way too much time defending myself or enjoying the defense I received from others. Time and experience, however, have seasoned me. Nothing has changed for me in ministry. I am still pastor of a great church. I have a wonderful family. And I am doing what I have been doing for the past quarter century - serving people in ministry and getting paid to do it.
But I have conversed with other people in our convention who have lost their ministry jobs for opposing the powers that be. I have witnessed people in our convention literally cry in fear of losing their convention jobs. I have personally observed a pastor, whose wife was dying of cancer, be the recipient of a false rumor - intentionally circulated - that he was having an affair; all because this pastor opposed a certain viewpoint held by those who controlled the board on which he served. I have heard the pain expressed by another Southern Baptist leader over intentional rumors that he had experienced a mental breakdown - rumors spread in a concerted attempt to minimize his influence.
I have seen a woman employee of one of our agencies lose the job of her dreams, sell her blood to meet expenses, and face the humiliation of being called a tool of Satan - all because she was a 'woman in a position reserved for men.' I have met missionaries who lost their jobs overseas because they refused to bow to the political pressure of their superiors, and then sacrificed their children's college education by spending those college funds in an attempt to fulfill their call and stay on the mission field. I have met a number of Southern Baptists who have been abused, lied about, mistreated, and terminated - and they are now fighting to right the ship of their lives.
And yet we Southern Baptist pastors are doing nothing to correct the problem or help our wounded. We spend more time defending 'ourselves' against perceived attacks than we do helping those who have actually had their lives turned upside-down. We are arrogant, self-absorbed men who are more concerned about what people think of us than we are about helping our own people who have been abused and discarded like oily, dirty rags. And, frankly, I'm tired of it.
No more Mr. Nice Guy. I will be kind, tender and helpful - in very concrete ways - to those who have been abused and mistreated in our Convention. But I will not put up with pastors, associate pastors or denominational leaders who are spiritual pinheads. If you are a pastor and you think you are under attack because you are being 'misquoted' or cry crocodile tears because you are being 'mischaracterized,' then join me in forsaking the Country Club of Self-Absorption and get out in the real world and help somebody who has actually been harmed.
It might make our convention a better place.
In His Truth,