This past year we saw the violence in reaction to the need for changes to bring racial justice. This past week we were mortified by the violence inflicted to and in our nation’s Capitol. I’m not writing this blog about the right or wrongs of these causes and of the changes sought. I’m writing only about HOW change is sought. Of course, as followers of Jesus, we want to pursue changes that reflect the heart of God. But the “how” must be considered, as well, and the path to change must also follow the way of Jesus.
I believe that violence does not bring about real, significant, and lasting social change. Humans are tempted to think violence will bring quick change, but if it does, it is usually only short-lived. Long term change happens not by force, but by winning over hearts.
In a few days, we’ll celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He was a man of faith. He was a man with a vision for racial justice, but his “how” was unusual and rare. He sought justice through nonviolence. And he was not the first. There was Gandhi. And before him was Jesus, who transformed all of humanity through nonviolence.
Nonviolence is a clear and understandable strategy. But there’s something deep and profound that underlies a nonviolent approach to change. It is not talked about enough. It is even more rare to find. It is key to real, lasting change. The lack of this is why real change often fails to materialize. I’m talking about the foundation of nonviolence and lasting change – humility.
Jesus is the supreme example of this “how.” One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in Philippians 2:6-8. It appears in the form of a Hebrew poem or song. Jesus…
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Jesus, who is God, gave up the peace, glory, and safety of heaven to come to earth. He gave up all the privileges of heaven to come to suffer with us. He did so willingly. He came to serve us, not to be served. This was the ultimate act of humility and flowed from humility. He gave his life for us to bring us peace with God through his sacrifice. He gave us abundant life now and for eternity. Our salvation and hope are all a reality because of his humility.
He changed you and me and changed the world we live in through humble nonviolence. In our actions and in our hearts, we may choose out of humility to serve others to bring about the change that our world needs. May humility become the dominating character trait that moves us to live for others above ourselves. May we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
I didn’t know what else to title this blog. Integrity is a crucial part. But so is humility and maybe a dozen more words. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the recent scandal involving Bill Hybels, the former founding pastor, of the Willow Creek church. Hybels has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women. He resigned in the spring. Last Wednesday night the elders and key staff of Willow Creek church resigned for not responding well to the allegations. You can search online to get the bigger sad, disheartening story and videos.
The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) we hosted last week was started and hosted by Hybels. However, since his resignation in April, he is no longer a part of this event. Fortunately, the current leaders of the GLS owned up to their own slow and inadequate response at first and have made the right efforts to correct things. The GLS is entering a new and even better season. I think the 2018 GLS was the best yet.
I used our GLS hosting opportunity to offer a lunch-time teaching on how we at Pantano create a safe environment free of harassment or abuse at any level: physical, emotional, sexual or spiritual. You can watch the teaching and Q&A here. Here’s part of what our policy states: Pantano Christian Church is committed to providing a work environment that is free of discrimination. In keeping with that commitment, Pantano maintains a strict policy prohibiting unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment. The policy goes on to spell out what behaviors among our staff and leaders are not acceptable. We require all paid staff to sign a document agreeing to these policies. We also do an orientation and a yearly reminder of what we value in this.
Further, I remind all staff and now declare to our entire church, that if you feel like you are being harassed or abused in any way by any staff or identified leader we urge, encourage and even beg you first to confront the person. That’s the biblical way (Matthew 18:15-16). If there is no change, repentance or resolve, we want you to report that to the appropriate leader(s) UNTIL you are heard!
I also talked to the leaders attending the GLS about how they must follow some policies and principles to protect themselves from or in case of false allegations. For example, for our married leaders and staff here are a few of our policies and practices:
Finally, we have developed a governance or leadership system designed to protect the church. One of the great dangers that has prompted the #MeToo movement and was a factor in the “scandal” at Willow Creek Church is that leaders are tempted to abuse their power. The Elders of Pantano Christian hire, evaluate and fire me, the Lead Pastor. The Elders do staff 360 reviews of me, and they get the report. Without me, they meet with the Executive Team leaders and their teams regularly to ensure that Pantano is a safe and healthy church moving toward its vision and mission. I am never the chairman to ensure the elders set the agenda for all our meetings. These and many other things are the policies and systems we’ve created to protect people and our church and create a healthy safe environment.
I have known and believed all my life that in the end, my leadership doesn’t rest on how skilled I am, how good my leadership is or how much I know. My leadership and your trust rest on my authentic relationship with Jesus that results in strong integrity based on humility. I will do all I can to protect my integrity and embrace humility. I appreciate your prayers for all our staff to serve and lead in ways that respect and honor all people.