Earlier this week, Blood Stained Ink received an email from the now former personal secretary to James MacDonald, Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel. As per her own testimony to us, she has decided to resign from her position, no longer confident that her former boss is fit to serve as an elder at the church. Moreover, in light of everything she has seen over the years, she no longer feels as if her silence is serving the church, but rather has come around to the conviction that Leviticus 5:1 compels her to speak:
“‘If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.”
Consequently, as she was preparing to leave Harvest this week, she copied numerous files onto a jump drive for the purpose of passing them along to BSI for publication. Today, we bring you the first of these files, which is the original rough draft of MacDonald’s infamous “resignation” post from 30 April 2013.
I wanted to wait until we returned from the Holy Land to make my decision public. By the way, thank you for your generous tithes and offerings over this past year that allowed a number of staff members and their families to travel for free. We are truly grateful. I am officially announcing my resignation today from a job I have long held, and frequently done very poorly. I am not sure how I got into this profession, but I suspect it had something to do with needing truckloads of money. I know I wasn’t invited, and I have often been deeply unappreciated. Why spend your life doing something neither required by the Lord, nor welcomed by others? Frankly, I gave up the job a while back, but felt constrained to make my decision known to all who read this blog. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see me at my post, I am really done this time. Yes, for me it’s over. No more fixing people—I resign.
No more setting people straight, helping others see the light. No more putting people on a program or convincing them to look in the mirror and see what they refuse to believe,
such as my arguments that Texas Hold ‘Em is a game of skill and not gambling. Helping? Yes. Praying? For sure! Preaching? Always and with increased power, I pray. (Can you imagine how awesome I’m going to be in 15 years?!)But fixing people individually? I’m done, even though the elders have mandated that I must spend time with my congregation following each service.No more stepping up or stepping in or stepping on toes to ring a broken bell that clangs discordantly with the facts about friend or foe. If you, like Dave Corning, Ron Alchin, Joe Stowell Jr, Joe Stowell Sr, Matt Stowell, Rod Vansolkema, Daryl Rice, Sam Jinodyan, Gordan Zwirkoski, Bing Hunger, David Jones, Daryl Rice (Rice twice cause that one was really rough!), Leo Klus, Jim Jodrey (not sure about these last two as we gave them both a nice going away party with cake), Rob Green, Ty Gouch, Mike Mahoney, that little ingrate Mike Bryant, Stuart Little, Luke Trifilo, or even my “second daughter, Lindsay McCaul, were wounded in a bad fix or a fast fix or a bad response to a fast fix, please accept my apologies —I truly hope you are doing better, I know that I am. Unless requested, unless an obvious critical – path, life or death – emergency, ‘the fix’ is off!
Was it the temptation to push the pulpit application too far that caused fixing people to spill over into personal interaction or was it my narcissitic attempt to make every biblical passage about every trial, battle or life consternation I was having that week with elders, staff members, or congregants the real problem? Did knowledge puff me up?
Heck no. How could it? My research assistant does all my learning for me. Besides,I don’t remember thinking I was better, but I do recall needing people to be more or better or different or just more like me. For my sake or for theirs? For God’s kingdom, certainly not no doubt, but also as an increased efficiency in the crossing of paths and the sharing of responsibility. “I’m not sure if anyone has ever pointed this out to you, but do you realize…” “It’s not easy to say this to you, but from a heart of love I feel I must…” “This is not going to end well…” Like the understated, dentist who offers, “This is gonna pinch,” the fixer has a variety of ‘opens’ that don’t really prepare the hearer adequately for what is to follow.
Fixes should end well, we should be ready at all times to receive the “reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction” (especially when it comes from a Celebrity Pastor, like myself or my good friend Mark Driscoll) (2 Timothy 4:2), but many are not. Yes, “reprove a wise man, and he will love you for it” (Proverbs 9:8), but apparently there are “not many wise” (even among my elders and family members. [Note to self: explain more on this later]) (1 Corinthians 1:26), and many blows, whippings, verbal beat-downs, catapults, and castrations are too often needed (Proverbs 17:10). Where the fixer is uninvited and the receiving heart is unreceptive, it’s far better to pull up and kneel down—interceding for a better reception, a more timely time, or a more worthy messenger.
Let’s start with some easy ones first:
- I’m not going to fix the oblivious pedestrian wandering aimlessly through the busy airport terminal, dragging their carry-on across the feet of determined passengers seeking an open road to a late flight. Instead, I’m going to spend my congregants’ well intended tithes and make my way to a private airstrip where I can fly in real style, far away from these annoying commoners.
- I’m not going to fix the store clerk who promises three different times by phone, that my friend can pick up my new golf clubs as long as he brings the receipt…then refuses to do so without reason, each time my ‘friend’ drives over while I was out of the country. Instead, I’m going to leave my Inverness mansion (again, thank you for your tithes and offerings), hop into my jag (again, thank you), drive over to the general manager of my Inverness country club (do I need to say it again?), and I’m going to use my finely honed rhetorical skills to make sure that these employees know exactly who it is that pays their salaries.
- I am not fixing drivers or drive-through window guys or my own personal drivers or anyone else driving me, or those I love, nuts. I’m not fixing flight attendants that have air marshals throw me off the plane when I refuse to hang up my phone in compliance with those ridiculous FAA regulations, or church attenders or church members or members of the human race. If it’s your problem, then guess what? It’s not mine. I will pray, I will quietly attend to those I love when invited. I will always be willing to lend a hand or help the hurting or even instruct the weak by invitation or direct responsibility (1 Thessalonians 5:14), but by God’s grace I will be patient with all, especially producers who oversee volunteers that can’t get a freakin’ power point slide up on time. The fix is off.
- I’m not going to fix staff members who want to complain instead of work, or sleep instead of work, or do whatever they do instead of work. If you want to gamble in the office with me, Fred, Dallas and the other guys, or even fly to Vegas to roll the dice, that’s fine. But if you won’t work, you can’t eat—at least not on our dime—but we aren’t going to try to fix you. You’ll have all the time in the world when you don’t work here anymore.
- I’m not going to fix elders who complain instead of lead. I didn’t hand select most of you for this board to hear your belly achin’. Most of you were chosen for your ability to write a check and for your willingness to say “yes.” You need to realize that brighter and more gifted men with real gravitas have already tried and failed. So sit down, nod your head, and let me do my job before this ship goes down. What? You think you’re gonna kick me out of this office? Good luck paying off $60 million in debt without my show.
- I’m not going to fix family members who think love is a one-way street, [Note to administrative assistant: is it inappropriate to mention family members by name or is it better if I just leave it as “family members?”] or friends who
don’t understand that I have new and more important, wealthier friends nowthink that doing life together means everything always the same, forever. I’m not going to help you be more grateful or sow more seeds be more generous or more anything individually. I am here to help when asked, and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). But “each must bear his own load” (Galatians 6:5), and from now on the ‘fix’ falls under your job description. No more allowing the bleating sheep single digits to block my ability to market to the masses and avoid my responsibilities as a shepherd view the many who are the vast majority that make serving God pure joy.
- I’m not going to fix preachers in error or erroneous ministry methods or methodical madness of any kind because people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Besides, there’s too much I can learn from these folks. Just gonna preach the Word in season and out of season (except for: summertime, playoffs, opportunities that allow me to collect a phat honorarium, and any conferences in California, Florida, Arizona, Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji and maybe Haiti if there’s cameras around and my good friend Mark Driscoll wants to go.), and seek to fulfill my ministry (2 Timothy 4:1-5). I don’t wish you were more loving or more truthful or, truthfully, more anything. I wish I was more of what Jesus calls me to be for my family and church family. You answer for your congregation. After all, if your ship goes down in flames, I can simply absorb your old buildings as campuses and leverage them to further expand my empire—that should be enough responsibility. I know that answering for mine keeps me on my knees long enough, without reflecting on what you should be doing more or better or less.
I suppose I assumed when I began that everyone wanted what I wanted… to be filthy, stinkin’ rich to be better. I have accepted, even solicited, and been blessed by the critical feedback of friends, and picked diligently through the rubbish of those
cheeto-eating, basement dwellin’ blog monkeyswho sought my ruin to great advantage. But I have erred in thinking those who dish it out can take it, and had to learn that when you want it for people more than they want it for themselves, it won’t end well. Sadly, when you overestimate your ability to manipulate others through the abuse of Scripture to change the behavior of others, and rush in where fools fear to tread, you heap scorn for yourself and have little to show for it, aside from the faithful wounds of a well-intentioned friend (Proverbs 27:6).
Available, as always
(except for those occasions when my family is vacationing at our second home up at Camp Harvest, or vacationing in Italy on the church’s dime), for the humble and teachable and lowly of heart—but no more fixing people. It doesn’t work, it’s not fun, and it often hurts mostly because it doesn’t pay well. Maybe you learned this a long time ago and took a pass on fixing me. Thanks for your patience. I have it now, the fix is in place for no more fixing. Take this job and . . . shove it up your … I quit! One last thing. I am done trying to fix people who don’t understand that satire is often the last and only appropriate tool left for pointing out the fact that the emperor has no clothes.