Okay, so I've never read any of David Platt's books. And, quite, frankly, I didn't know what the fuss was all about ... until tonight. I'm not sure what happened, because I came here to "cover" Catalyst–as a detached, objective, non-participating blogger–but by the time Platt got done preaching, God had brought me to my knees, weeping. The talk was pretty simple–a four-point sermon based on Exodus 32 about the pitfalls of pastoral ministry–but it bowled me over (and I'm not a pastor at this point in my life). So what happened?
First, there's Platt the guy, the ordinary, humble, broken fellow-sinner and struggler who just stands up with a Bible and starts preaching. David started the message by reminding us a few times, "I'm way over my head in every area of my life. My life in ministry is filled with so many weaknesses." Then he proceeded to preach a message that was laced with prophetic zeal, but here's the amazing thing: I never once caught a whiff of anger or self-righteousness from him. As a matter of fact, at every stage of his message he was on the verge of tears. I'm not given to Christian celebrity name-dropping (as a matter of fact, it repulses me), but this guy reminded me of a modern-day Jeremiah, exuding tenderness and tough truth at the same time.
Now for the four points of his message. Based on Exodus 32, Platt identified four "golden calves" of our leadership (and, again, he stated them with such biblical integrity, simplicity of speech, and with so much tenderness of heart that I couldn't argue with anything he said):
1. We have become leaders without convictions. We have created an entire leadership culture where the name of the game is giving people what they want. But Platt urged us that "God is more interested in the sanctity of his people than the success of your ministry."
2. We have devised salvation without dedication. But Christ is worthy of our total abandonment.
3. We have manufactured worship without humility. Where is the brokenness in our worship? Where is humility in our worship? Where is Isaiah's cry of "Woe is me" in our worship? If brokenness and humility have no place in our worship, then God will have no place in our worship.
4. We have created a God without retribution. But by doing so we have minimized and undercut the mercy of God and the beauty of the cross. Because at the cross Jesus drank the cup of God's retribution. That's why Jesus agonized about going to the cross.
So the question for us isn't just, "What are the golden calves in our culture or in our church?" This is the first question we need to ask: "What are the golden calves in my heart and in my approach to leadership?"