For months now, I’ve been wanting to write something about the Mark Driscoll saga, but I’ve never quite found the words.
I wanted to argue that some of the charges of plagiarism were overblown, but I didn’t want to come off as blindly defending one of my “tribe.”
I wanted to explain why using ResultSource to game the New York Times bestseller list seemed like a permissible marketing practice to me, but I didn’t want to defend something that Driscoll, himself, had since disavowed.
I wanted to shame those dredging up decade-old anonymous message board posts (that had since been repented of) as disqualifying Driscoll from ministry, but I didn’t want to whitewash what were sinfully intemperate statements.
I wanted to question who had appointed Warren Throckmorton as the Grand Inquisitor into Driscoll’s malfeasance, but I didn’t want to come off as defensively attacking the messenger heralding Driscoll’s downfall.
I wanted to chide the Acts 29 leadership team for removing Driscoll under a “totality of the circumstances” test borrowed from Supreme Court jurisprudence and not found within scripture or church confession, but I didn’t want to speak for fear that I was unaware of some truly damning action that justified their decision.
But then I read a description of his actions that crystallized the issue for me.
Before he was deposed, Driscoll had a reputation internally for acting like a tyrant. He regularly belittled people, swore at them, and pressured them until they reached their breaking point. In the pursuit of greatness he cast aside politeness and empathy. His verbal abuse never stopped. From one reported about a half-hour “public humiliation” Driscoll doled out on his staff:
“Can anyone tell me what this initiative was supposed to do?” Having received a satisfactory answer, he continued, “So why the f–k doesn’t it do that?”
“You’ve tarnished Mars Hill’s reputation,” he told them. “You should hate each other for having let each other down.”
One journalist describes Driscolls’ rough treatment of underlings:
He would praise and inspire them, often in very creative ways, but he would also resort to intimidating, goading, berating, belittling, and even humiliating them… When he was Bad Mark, he didn’t seem to care about the severe damage he caused to egos or emotions… suddenly and unexpectedly, he would look at something they were working on say that it “sucked,” it was “shit.”
We all knew that Driscoll was nicknamed the cussing pastor, but these behaviors are truly reprehensible. His abuse needed to be stopped.
Just one thing, though, before we rush to judgment. Those lines were not written about Driscoll. Those are the abusive workplace patterns of Steve Jobs.
Leading Like Jobs
Mark Driscoll is not the first chief executive who has been known for dressing down his subordinates. Steve Jobs didn’t allow personal niceties or corporate inertia to prevent him from focusing on turning out the best possible product on schedule. He would upbraid partner companies for falling behind schedule. He offered to hire people with abrasive faint praise like, “Everything you’ve ever done in your life is shit so why don’t you come work for me.” He fired people on the spot in front of their teams for failure to get a program up to snuff. Continue reading