First, let me preface this post by speaking of the idea of Mark Driscoll. I don't know Driscoll. I shouldn't draw final conclusions on the real Driscoll because I am not involved with him. He has not wronged me personally that I know of. I am using the rumors of Driscoll to ask a question.
Can a leader without integrity be effective? This question begs others. What does it mean to be effective? What do you mean by integrity?
In the rumors, it sounds like Driscoll's leadership style ultimately undid him at least for the moment. It wasn't the accusations of plagiarism though. It was, in rumor, the way he treated other people.
But here is my question. What if a leader's lack of integrity never becomes known? Is it possible that there are leaders out there right now who are, by all accounts, very effective leaders but who have significant integrity issues? I would almost bet my life on it.
I want to be very clear here. It is essential for truly Christian leaders to have moral integrity. I am not in any way trying to negate the need for inner spiritual health in a Christian leader. What I am saying is this. I don't think for one moment that there haven't been famous Christian leaders we deeply admire and whose ministries we view as immense successes who will not be in the kingdom. I strongly believe we will find out in the kingdom of God that some of our idols, as it turns out, did not have integrity.
This is the principle that God often lets the wicked prosper. In this world, God often lets the unrighteous prevail. Indeed, I would say that it is more likely that, on average, the most righteous in the church are not the leaders but the servants. God uses and blesses the gifts and drive that often are present in great leaders, but that drive also carries with it great temptations.
So I can't see at all how a Bobby Clinton can say, "God won't use a leader who lacks integrity" (63). What about Pharoah? What about Cyrus, king of Persia? True, they weren't Christians, but I think even the barest look at church history suggests this idea is blatantly false. Historically, I suspect some of the leaders we think of having the biggest effect sometimes were far less principled than many under them.
I would edit Clinton's sentence, not to speak of effective leadership but to speak of godly leadership: "Integrity is foundational for godly leadership," for leadership that truly counts. Integrity is essential for a leadership that God values and considers worth a dime, yes.
But by worldly standards, I suspect there are gobs of "effective" and "extraordinary" leaders who have had serious integrity issues. It's just that, in God's eyes, they're schmucks.