Something went horribly wrong at Penn State, that much is clear from all the dialog on the news and sports radio in the last week. The evidence points to the fact that evil was being perpetrated and nothing was done to stop it. If people were ignorant that something bad was happening, it seems as though that ignorance was intentional. Like the little monkeys with hands over eyes, ears and mouth, it appears that the leadership pretended not to see or hear and certainly did not speak out about the evil.
When an organization looses sight of its mission and perpetuation of the organization becomes its central focus, then compromise is likely to occur.
Years ago, Oral Roberts shocked Christendom with his claims that if he did not raise enough money to send out missionaries from his medical school, that God would kill him. Mr. Roberts effectively held himself hostage demanding a ransom from his followers painting God as the knee breaker.
The point is that when the success of the medical school took priority over accurately portraying God to the world, then Oral Roberts chose badly. When the football program became more important than the well being of young lives entrusted to their care, the leadership at Penn State chose badly.
The lesson for church leaders is that your ministry, no matter how important to you, is a very small part of what God is doing in the world. When you begin to think that God’s mission will collapse if your ministry does not move forward, you are heading toward irrelevance at best and scandal at worst.
If God is doing great things through you now, are you willing to step aside and play a lesser role so that God gets the glory? If your ministry is taken away, will you think less of God? Can you pray with Job, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21 NIV)?
If the answer is no, then I recommend that some soul searching is in order. The Church is God’s to lead and to develop. He chooses men to be the ones through whom God leads his church. Yet, the ultimate purpose if for God’s glory and he will not share that glory with the leaders he chooses (Isaiah 42:8 and Isaiah 48:11).
The organization exists to facilitate accomplishment of the mission, it is not the mission itself.
If you are seeking glory for yourself through your ministry, if you your goal is to propagate the ministry rather than the gospel, if you are feeling yourself to be an indispensible part of God’s program, remember Penn State.