I am not the only one who has expressed wonderment over the selection of Dr. Ezell due to his church's historic low giving to the Cooperative Program. I'm not opposed to Dr. Ezell being NAMB President, and frankly, he could wind up being a wonderful, effective leader that takes the North American Mission Board into a new era of church planting and missions.
But I must say I am amazed at one of the statements Dr. Ezell made to his church last Sunday. ABP reports Dr. Ezell said:
"Because of the visibility of the position, there are people across the United States who want to look for things that perhaps I do not do as well or they think we should do different, and perhaps be critical of myself or of Highview, just to try to get their name in the paper ... Typically those are bloggers who live with their mother and wear a housecoat during the day. Just ignore them, but I apologize if you are hurt by anything that they might say about me or indirectly about you."Statesmanship is a quality of leadership that organically brings people together through eldership, a spirit of caring for others, and a benevolent concern for the whole while resisting a partisan attitude. Not all leaders are statesmen, but all statesmen are leaders. The SBC needs statesmen. Dr. Ezell's quote above does not negate my belief that Dr. Ezell is a strong leader. It does, however, mitigate against any belief that he is a stateman.
One of the things that turns leaders into statesmen is the ability to be gracious to all, even those who criticize. Regardless of whether or not the proposed NAMB President has the temperament to handle the criticism that will come his way, it would be helpful for him to be gently reminded that it is both inconsistent and illogical to call his critics "bloggers who live with their mothers and wear housecoats" and then "apologize for the hurt" those bloggers cause. Criticism from respected leaders hurts. To publicly disrespect the character of one's critics and then turn around and acknowledge their criticism hurts is a fallacy. It's best to either remain silent in the face of criticism or answer the criticism while displaying respect for the critics.
Leaders who turn into statesmen learn this lesson quickly. I am hopeful Dr. Ezell learns this lesson quicker than most.