Last week I came across some questionable material from a somewhat controversial Christian leader online. It was an in-depth interview that really rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve had a lot of friends mention to me how much they admire this leader, but up until last week, I hadn’t really known much about him. It worried me enough that I did a bit more research. I found out that he is, in fact, not someone I would want leading or teaching. But that wasn’t the only thing I found.
Immediately, in the course of my research, there was a wealth of inter-Christian hate, mud slinging, and nastiness. It hurt my heart to be honest. So much vitriol, passed off as shepherding, but really full of pride and arrogance. It nearly brought tears to my eyes to see my Christian family behaving so badly.
Where do we draw the line between righteous leadership and the putting down of others just for the sake of being right? Isn’t there an art to leadership that does not include attacking the misled or mistaken?
I believe that leadership is a limited calling, to those under our authority, not to the entire nation or world that we can reach out to in today’s Internet Age. The ability to blog, tweet, etc. does not expand our leadership roles, but rather it should focus them.
A cottage industry has grown up around the idea that we must tell the entire world about where we see questionable material. Whole websites and careers are devoted to poking holes in the theology of others.
I believe it is a lack of opportunity to enter leadership locally, probably for good reason, that motivates some to resort to taking to the net. There is an instant audience online. Anyone with a computer can find fulfillment and like minded haters instantly. Suddenly we can feel important even if our only value is that of attacking others. It’s shameful.
Of course there are leaders that we should look to outside of our immediate spheres of contact for guidance. They should be few though. Truly gifted guides of the faith. For most of us, our criticism and guidance should remain constructive and local to stay productive. Tearing down people to people we don’t know or do life with is really only an excuse to hear ourselves talk.
“But Josh, isn’t that what you’re doing here?”
Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe I need some repentance in my own life in this area. I’d like to think that I am different in that I’d really only like to lift others up. I’d like to see myself as a defender of the vulnerable but I am open to the fact that I need more growth than I realize. Isn’t that usually the case anyway? We are almost always worse than we care to believe.
One thing is for sure, I won’t be naming the questionable leader I spoke of at the beginning of this post. I had tweeted about him last week but chose to delete that tweet (one of the only times I’ve ever done that) because I didn’t see anything positive coming from it. I’ll save that conversation for those in my immediate circle of influence.