As we have mentioned on more than one occasion, we have not ceased to appreciate Carl Trueman's wit and wisdom. And "There's Tough and Then There's Fluff" was no exception.
Thinking over this story taught me an important lesson: there are tough guys and there are fluff guys. The fluff guys, rather like eunuchs, are often quite brilliant. They also (like eunuchs) know what should be done, how it should be done and who should be doing it but are sadly not actually capable of doing it themselves. The tough guys may not be perfect and may never achieve all that they hope to achieve. Calvin managed what? Maybe 70% of what he really wanted in Geneva? But they do actually do some reformation, they have the backbone to sit in meetings, say unpopular things to the face of those who oppose them, and take the consequent hits; they take personal risks with their careers for the sake of making a difference; they do not simply talk about reformation from the safe distance provided by the internet. Talk is fun; the internet is a hobby; only action makes a difference.Read Trueman's entire post.
This reminded me of the divisive criticism of pastors and leaders, which can so easily take hold in our hearts and - if left unchecked - through an entire congregation. How easy it is for us to ask "Why hasn't he done more about ________?" Or, "Doesn't he care about Scripture, why doesn't he address ___________ ?" And yet we launch such assaults on character from a "safe distance" to the trenches of real reformation work. Such terms as "Monday morning quarterback" come to mind.
So, this is a reminder that before we criticize or confront our leaders - either in our church or in a wider sphere of influence - we need to keep several matters in mind. First, we may not know what our subject actually wants to achieve. We also may be overlooking the ferocity of the opposition which he may face. Thirdly, we may underestimate how much courage it actually takes to say unpopular things, especially with the knowledge that "hits" will come. And, in the end, we may best serve the cause of Christ simply by praying that the Lord will strengthen our leaders to remain faithful and persistent amid the heat of real action.
NB, for more from Carl Trueman: