Learning from General Stanley McChrystal

The news story that has been all the rage in America for the last few days has been the fallout caused by General Stanley McChrystal’s interview with Rolling Stone. In this interview, both the General and his aides are openly dismissive and insulting toward other members of the United State’s national security team, the Vice-President, the President, and our allies in Afghanistan. The question on everyone’s mind has been “what was he thinking?” Apparently his answer to that question wasn’t very good, since he was fired yesterday.

How could he be so careless and undisciplined? How could he speak that way of his commander-in-chief? Didn’t he know what a stupid idea that was?

It’s a rare moment in American politics when people on both sides of the aisle can agree on anything. It seems like most people agreed on this: what he did was inappropriate.

Here’s my question for us worship leaders: what if a Rolling Stone magazine appeared on your pastor’s desk tomorrow morning with word-for-word quotes of things you and your “aides” have said about him? Your opinion of other people on your church’s staff? Your derogatory nicknames for certain people? Your critical words of him?

General McChrystal was careless in saying what he said in front of a reporter. But he was wrong to say what he said in the first place. It went beyond the appropriate communication of differences and the respectful dialogue between two people. It was more than confiding in a trusted friend your struggles and difficulties. It crossed the line and became insulting, petty, immature, and unprofessional.

We can all struggle with crossing this line – but in particular I think worship leaders cross it with respect to their pastors. We start off with our opinions, then our opinions become facts, then we tell people those facts, then we become careless about who we share those facts with, and before we know it we’ve said stupid things we can’t take back.

In Psalm 64:8, we see that one characteristic of the wicked is that: “They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them; all who see them will wag their heads.”

General McChrystal is an honorable man. And most of us worship leaders are good guys too. But we dabble in wickedness when we let our tongue loose. God cautions us in Psalm 34:13 to “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

Of course this truth applies to everything we say – not just about our pastor. But every once in a while it’s good to be reminded to keep our tongues in check, to watch what we say, and to be careful who we’re saying it around.

Odds are that a Rolling Stone reporter isn’t listening in on you and reporting to your pastor what you’re saying about him. But it’s damaging and unwise and inappropriate nonetheless.

Let’s serve our pastors well, honor God with our tongues, and be faithful at doing our jobs.

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