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Feet of clay

In the online communities I (and many of you) have been a part of, there have been numerous discussions about people in the public eye and the good and bad things they have all done.

This is especially true with the bad…unfortunately, years of observation have led me to believe that people will always want to discuss and read about the negative more than the positive.

One thing I fear gets lost in the shuffle far too often is seeing the person or people we criticize as a fellow human being.

Online, it is easy to dehumanize someone and consider them to be:

  • a ‘bloginsta’ babbling nonsense from their mother’s basement
  • corrupt
  • bitter
  • angry
  • perverted
  • just like the rest of “them” (whomever “they” happen to be)
  • greedy
  • not just part of, but the whole of the machine

and that’s just a few of the many categories you can come up with.

We tend to label people by those categories, and, for better or for worse, there is real truth behind those stereotypes.

However, if there are times when those stereotypes hold true, there are times when they don’t. And, always, always, there is a real, live, human being behind each of those categories, made in God’s image, created by God for His own purposes and glory:

  • A woman kicked out of her church for standing up to abusive clergy, cut off from friends and family she’s known for decades
  • A pastor trying to shepherd his flock in a Godly way, while getting hit with accusations and comments that really should go to his peers
  • A man desperately trying to restore his marriage and family after a string of foolish decisions to pursue another man’s wife
  • A woman, seemingly on some kind of online crusade, who at the core of her heart is desperately concerned that her kids will grow up in a horrific society

We forget, too often, that the people behind the names on the screen are as human as you and I.

It does not excuse bad, poor, abhorrent behavior.

Gary Lamb does not excuse the behavior that led to his divorce from his first wife and the loss of his pastorate.

The temptation is there to see Lamb, even with everything he wrote, as the bad guy with no redeeming values who needs to disappear for good at best and be continually punished for his sins at worst.

That would be overlooking the fact that Lamb is a man, flesh and blood like any other man, who sinned and made mistakes and – after the fact – seems not only to realize it but is fessing up to it.

The temptation is there to damn him as another example of the pastorate gone wild…but the opportunity is there to support him as a brother in Christ and to learn from his past to help prevent the next guy from falling from his own pastorate.

It should help us remember that the wayward pastors, the bitter sheep and every other online category of people you care to label are all people to be loved as Christ loved them, and not ideas to dismiss or fight to the death.

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  1. james t kirk
    July 12, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Brian,
    Good stuff! Sorry I lost your “address” but won’t forget it now.

    I’ve been studying the resurrection, and check THIS out:
    Luke 24
    8 And they remembered His words, 9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. 11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.

    I guess our short-coming are understandable (but not excusable), if THOSE guys struggled! Ha ha

  2. BrianD
    July 12, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Jtk 🙂

  3. July 12, 2010 at 10:51 am

    The temptation is there to see Lamb, even with everything he wrote, as the bad guy with no redeeming values who needs to disappear for good at best and be continually punished for his sins at worst.

    I wouldn’t put it quite this way, but I don’t think he should be starting another church.

    I don’t much care what Lamb has to say about anything for several reasons. I think he’s still part of the problem rather than part of the solution. He was apparently some sort of big-box “church planter,” he made a mess of his life, he spent some time in marketing, and now he’s reconciled with his wife and thinks he should be a pastor again. I don’t see anything in this list that would make me want to attend his church.

    He goes on about pastors not being accountable, but he doesn’t name names of the people he’s accusing of engaging in self promotion and he doesn’t allow comments on his blog. He still refers to the last church he started as “my last church.”

    If I remember correctly he has a book in the works about how he screwed up. I can’t imagine wanting to read this book: I’m guessing it’s going to go like this: “I used to have all the answers; then I realized I didn’t. Now I have all the answers.” And it might be decorated with Scripture verses; more likely it will be decorated with leadership-speak.

    I don’t think Gary Lamb gets it; I don’t care what he has to say about anything. So it’s not so much that I think he should disappear for good; it’s more that I don’t think he’s grown up enough to reappear.

  4. erunner
    July 12, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Excellent article Brian. Pretty much explains why I haven’t been blogging much these days. Not real comfortable with what I have read.

  5. jlo
    July 12, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Good words Brian, not only did I see others there, I also saw myself.

  6. BrianD
    July 12, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Two things:

    1. This is my observations of the entire internet, not just and not specifically the online communities I have been a part of.

    2. Not to excuse Gary Lamb’s behavior…just to remind everyone that, in keeping with the overall theme of this post, that there IS a human being there, and not just abstract concepts we can get angry over (or react to in any way we desire).

  7. erunner
    July 12, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Brian, As to your number 1, I did answer in regards to various blogs that have begun since the PP shut down and then opened back up. I am not angry at people but am trying to figure where I fit in or if I even fit in.

  8. BrianD
    July 12, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    ERunner, you do have a place.

    You not only have your blog, which offers a very good service. You also have your voice, your opinion, your viewpoint. Hang in there!

  9. July 12, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    This is good advice. I thought Lamb wrote a good article. I’m sure a lot of people had to ask, “How could this have happened?” and he gives a fair assessment. I’m sure there were people who were so angry at him that they wanted to destroy him, but even “delivering one to Satan” is for the goal of bringing them to restoration. That’s restoration to fellowship, not necessarily former positions. If he has reconciled with his wife, there may be room for that, but I don’t want to turn this into a discussion of judging Lamb. The point was the real person behind the ambition, the sin, the fall and the contention.

    Jesus was angry over sin, but he never let it consume or control him. We can’t let our emotions get the best of us. Our actions in confronting sin should be measured, purposeful and rational.

  10. BrianD
    July 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Exactly, Buster. Lamb is an example, of a real man behind the sin he committed.

    Again, I don’t want to excuse his actions…I too sin, and it’s too easy to look at my sin and say ‘hey, it’s all under grace, no big deal.’ It is a big deal. Bigger than I need to be judged for it now…big enough for the Creator to get involved and say in and of itself, I deserve eternal punishment.

    Fortunately, he sent Jesus to be my atonement and your atonement for our sins.

    There are real people behind sins….people who commit them and people who are hurt and affected by them, sometimes for years.

    Jesus died to cleanse us from those sins…so we don’t have to hurt others…but even if we do, we have an advocate with God the Father to forgive us and cleanse us. And, those sins oftentimes have consequences that have to be dealt with. Fortunately, God is willing to mediate and guide in those instances…and not only free those caught in them, but heal those affected by them.

    All the

  11. erunner
    July 12, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks for the kind words Brian. I’ll be just fine. 🙂

  12. Na'amah
    July 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    erunner, your blog serves a much needed service to so many. I was so delighted when i ‘found it’ after reading your words at PP and here. I refer/tell professionals/clients/regular peeps 🙂 to your site.

    you are a blessing to many, and i include myself

  13. Na'amah
    July 12, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    I am ‘unaware’ of the history of this human person Lamb, former pastor and one who believes God is restoring him…

    i do not question his new ministry. so many who serve our Father, men and women, end up isolated and alone due to the ‘role(s)’ they serve others. And yes, there are consequences when we make less than Christlike choices. I am not in the ‘limelight’ so my failings, weaknesses, insecurities will usually go unnoticed by others (not by my Saviour)

    i live in a glass house… i will not throw a stone to condemn another human, but i will identify and acknowledge behavior that is sinful. I will not tell someone their sin is ‘ok’ and part of their healing is helping them discover how they traveled the path to choose such destructive choices… what we they rationalizing.

    i definitely have feet of clay

  14. jlo
    July 12, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Na’amah, well said.

  15. BrianD
    July 12, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Na’amah, Gary Lamb was a young, up and coming pastor of a young and growing megachurch down south who fell.

    One thing we can do is see a guy like this as a man who sinned, and you acknowledge his sins and call them out for what they are, and not damn him along with his sin. You see there’s a man here, who needs Jesus, and Jesus may choose to redeem him and use him in a mighty mighty way, as you infer…whether we agree or think Jesus needs to drop a few dozen lightning bolts on him.

  16. Na'amah
    July 13, 2010 at 12:18 am

    i know i would be TOTAL toast at this point for decisions/choices i’ve made in my life! lolol and absolutely earlier in my life!

    in my facilitating of therapy groups in a “Christian” venue, a person would painfully share their experiences of shame, humiliation and their fear of being summarily rejected and ostracized telling their parents they were ‘gasp’ pregnant prior to marriage ( i say this w some humor as in the 17th century, 1/4 of all marriages included pregancy :))

    and in this setting someone would self righteously exclaim “i am so glad i am still virgin” i would ask, “how do you know you are?” They would righteously state,” i’ve never had sex, ever in my life.” and i would ask, “Have you ever been in a situation/relationship where you could, wanted to and had to ‘choose’?”

    We are all in times in our lives “needy/needing”. Any man or woman that succumbs to the temptations of another person outside of their marital vows, means there was
    is something, for whatever reasons (and the reasons are endless) that led me to RUN for you. 🙂

  17. jlo
    July 13, 2010 at 1:24 am

    good night all.

  18. nate
    August 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    “He was apparently some sort of big-box “church planter,” he made a mess of his life, he spent some time in marketing, and now he’s reconciled with his wife and thinks he should be a pastor again.”

    Actually, he divorced his wife and married his mistress. IMO, that makes a HUGE difference.

  19. BrianD
    August 14, 2010 at 10:18 am

    That little fact cannot be denied…

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