To be fair, I’ve had a mixed response to what I’m offering here. One friend, in particular, felt it was a waste of time because, of course, anybody can sign a piece of paper. That means diddly-squat. Which is entirely fair and reasonable. And I agree.
But sometimes I think just the fact of articulating and airing such things is reason enough for sharing them, even if it doesn’t develop into anything more. So here goes…
Where are the virtues?
As this little series has continued, I’ve been trying to get under the skin of where things have gone wrong. It’s not all doom and gloom; but there are causes for genuine concern about what evangelical subculture(s) have become, especially that of English private school evangelicalism. I’m not the only one by any stretch, nor am I particularly authoritative, nor do I have a job that offers much scope for doing anything about it. Which is perhaps both a drawback and an advantage.
But I wonder if one problem has been a lack of concern for the virtues of Christ-likeness. They get talked about, of course. I don’t mean that. I just don’t think they’re truly valued in the final analysis. Too often, they get trumped by other stuff. Ends justify means, pragmatism rules; strategic ability, rhetorical prowess, personal magnetism, and apologetic skill (in fact, gifting generally) have such weight that we’re prepared to overlook character flaws. I don’t mean mistakes, aberrations, or failings. I mean habitual flaws. Perfection is not to be expected, but we are to crucify the sinful nature, are we not? We seem to have been distracted from the fact that character seriously matters. I feel slightly ridiculous even writing that because it seems platitudinous. It’s not rocket science.
I remember Don Carson saying years ago that a congregation will forgive their pastors more or less any lack of gifting or competence IF they know they love them. But the converse is certainly not true, is it? That puts this in some perspective, doesn’t it?
So I want us to articulate the virtues that form true Christlike leadership right out. This is what we aspire to. This is what we can be called on. This is what we need help with.
This is a first draft, a work in progress. So please don’t treat it as anything more than that! If you have amendments, additions, or subtractions, I would love to hear them. Bung them down in the comments. I have no delusions about changing cultures by getting signatures on a random piece of paper. But I do wonder how different things might become if we all pledged to live these virtues out in our leadership and discipleship… Is this the beginning of getting things back on track?
I’ve called it the ‘doulos’ covenant after the Greek for ‘slave’. Christ is our master. We are his. And we are to serve him and his people.
The 'doulos' covenant
Please let me know what you think.