I Drove My People: A Faulty Criticism
Recently it has been brought to my attention that someone who once worked side-by-side with me in my ministry has criticized me to several men for having “driven” my people rather than leading them. Now, normally I would actually consider that to be a compliment. However, it was obvious that it was not said as a compliment but as a criticism.
It is interesting that someone who would claim to be a friend would say what my enemies also have said about me. This is not something new. Nor is it something that concerns me other than for the fact that it came from a source I would have trusted. Plus it confuses people as to what good leadership is.
People who are told they are “hurting” after being so-called “driven” never knew it until they were told so. We are basically lazy by nature and anyone who will feed that will have to be critical of prior leaders who were driven because of a cause. It is an insult to those who gave their lives to a cause to say they were “driven” without a choice in the matter.
Let me talk about this matter of driving your people and how silly it is to be critical of one for doing so.
1. A leader leads based upon the urgency of his cause. If a general contractor is behind on a construction job then he drives his people to finish the job. Business owners and CEOs of successful companies are often accused of driving their people which usually means they have successful companies. A sales manager drives his people to make sales because that is what his job is. Reaching the lost is a part of what my job is too.
Driving people reveals how important a task is to you. I am sure the manager of a store drives his people in order to make the store successful. Yes, I drove my people to do what I considered to be important. Maybe what my critic is saying is that what I drove them to do is not important to him.
2. This is a war not a picnic or a walk in the park. I was under the impression that this is a spiritual battle and we are in the Lord’s army while fighting for the souls of men. Forgive me, but it seems to me my football coaches in High School and college drove me.
Great military leaders drove their soldiers in battle, not only to to win the battle, but also to protect the soldier. Complacency could cause a soldier to be killed in battle faster than any other thing. I can still hear our football line coach in screaming, “Don’t stand around after a play or you’ll get blind sided.”
Great military leaders had a job to do and a commander drove his men in battle. That is how the great spiritual leaders of the past accomplished great things as well. We admire them, but this younger generation would not like the drive.
3. Just because a leader drives his people does not mean he does not lead his people. I drove my people to give, but I led them in giving. I drove my people to go soul winning, but I led them in winning souls. I drove my people in their commitment to Christ, but I led them with my commitment to Christ. I drove my people in many areas, but I always led them as well.
It’s a bit hypocritical to say that someone who led his people in every area is driving them because his desire is for them to be more committed to Christ. It’s interesting that the people who say I drove my people do not have the same commitment to lead their people as I had. I guess they forget to mention that fact.
4. No one ever drove his followers harder than our Saviour. Let see, he told them to leave their occupation and follow him. He told them to forsake all and follow him. He told them not to go back and bury their dead. He led them from town to town sleeping on the bare ground while living lives more like vagabonds. I’m finding it hard to see where Jesus did not drive his disciples.
Of course we don’t want to lead like Jesus. We want to lead with style. Don’t tell me that Jesus didn’t drive his followers. He drove them and he led them at the same time by his own example. In fact he led and drove them all the way to persecution and martyrdom. Suffering is not in the vocabulary nor the life of those who oppose being driven.
5. The shepherd both led and drove his sheep; thus, since a pastor is the under-shepherd his responsibility is at times to lead and at times to drive. I have never met a great leader who did not both lead and drive at times. I sat under the ministry of Dr. Jack Hyles. I saw a man who drove his people to build a great work for God. I also saw a pastor who compassionately loved his people even as he drove them. That’s what Shepherds do.
5. The people who criticize my style are indicating their own preference to lead by suggestion rather than by driving their people. Yet, I have seen the same men threaten their people with church discipline if they did not follow him, which seems to be the same thing. The difference is not whether or not they drive their people. The difference is what they drive their people to do. The very ones saying I drove my people are driving their people too, but in different areas.
6. The same people who claim that I drove my people are now enjoying the fruits of my labor. In fact they were able to experience the blessings of my so-called driving of people. Now they say I was wrong. Now my style of leadership is questionable. It seemed fine then. Perhaps the truth is that they don’t want to work and lead as hard as I did so they can’t drive as hard as I drove.
Obviously if you are lazy you cannot push people not to be lazy. If you don’t get converts down the aisle you can’t push your people to get converts down the aisle. If you had to be pressured to tithe then, you certainly aren’t going to pressure people to tithe now. Critics are hypocrites disguised as philosophers.
7. Sometimes people forget the joy they experienced from the victories we won because I drove them. I didn’t enjoy my football coach driving me, but I enjoyed winning the game. I didn’t enjoy when Dr. Hyles drove us to do more for a big day, but I enjoyed the victories of the big day. You see I learned at a young age that victory tastes sweeter when you have done your best to make it happen. But, I also learned that you have to drive people to do their best so they can truly enjoy their rest.
8. Perhaps the greatest reason to drive people is so that they will receive rewards in Heaven. Jesus drove the disciples, but the greatness of their rewards far exceeds the price they paid. The Bible says we are to run the race that is set before us, not walk it. I have learned that when you run a race the prize is even sweeter. But, we run for a different prize. We run for an eternal reward.
No one will be griping in Heaven for the way they were driven to do more for God. No, I think they’ll rejoice that someone drove them a little harder to do a little more to win more rewards for Christ.
So, I say to those who accuse me of driving my people, you are right, I did drive my people. I drove them to do what’s right. I drove them to obey the Great Commission. I drove them to sacrifice for the cause of Christ. I drove them to put the Kingdom of God above themselves. I drove them to be the Christians they should be.
But, also led the way in doing the exact same things. You have a problem with that? If you do, then obviously you and I don’t have the same cause.