Clergy, Integrity and The Man

I could care less about debating people regarding the "prosperity gospel." Sorry, it has no credibility, no foundation in Scripture (unless you do some serious proof-texting) and does nothing to further The Gospel, the Good News Jesus came to proclaim. So naturally, when Creflo Dollar and Benny Hinn were credited on the news this morning claiming that the senate committee has no authority to request this information and that this is a separation of church and state issue, I've been just a bit annoyed.

"The Man" is not out to get you guys. You have non-profit tax exempt status. This isn't an IRS issue, it is a tax exempt issue. And in the eyes of the public (which maybe more important than the government right now) the question is whether you are personally profiting from this privileged position? There are a number of other non-profits who aren't religious based too. Did you miss the paper yesterday? American Red Cross Forces President Everson to Resign his position over a personal relationship with a subordinate. When any of us loses integrity, we'll pay a price.

It could happen to any of us. But you guys are more public, more influential, more powerful...which actually makes you "THE MAN." Ben Folds' words in the "Ascent of Sam" ring loud and clear:
Once you wanted revolution, But now you're the institution. How's it feel to be The Man?

Whenever we ascend to a place of influence and gain a voice, the temptation, the allure, the perks, all play a part in turning revolutionaries into The Man. Remember the pigs in Orwell's "Animal Farm?"

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Jack Black, in the movie, "School of Rock" says,
"The Man. Oh, you don't know The Man? The Man's everywhere: in the White House, down the hall, Miss Mullins; she's The Man! And The Man ruined the ozone, and he's burning down the Amazon and he kidnapped Shamu and put her in a chlorine tank! Okay!? And there used to be a way to stick it to The Man, it was called rock 'n roll. But guess what? Oh no! The Man ruined that too with a little thing called MTV! "
(of course, Jack Black is part of the "Hollywood Elite" and has the same power and influence and could thus be considered "The Man" as well).

I'm curious though, how a clergy could miss the meaning behind Paul's words to the church in Rome?
Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:2-8 NASB)

"The Man"? Well it seems clear to me, Paul is really stating that in the instances of government involvement and investigation, God is at work, thus placing God in the role as "The Man."

But the larger question for each of us is in our own lives. How do we handle the responsibilities when the role and influence of being "The Man" is thrust upon us? How do we respond when "The Man" calls us to account for our behaviors and conduct? For conscience sake, can we say we have loved our neighbor? What about employees? Strangers? Homeless? Enemies? Families? What about "The Man?"

The next time we look in the mirror, whether we like it or not, we just may be looking at "The Man."

May I Ask: When was the last time you had the chance to influence another person? How did it go?

May I Suggest: Take time to consider your personal goals. Are your daily actions in line with those goals or have you compromised your integrity somewhere? Share your concerns with a trusted friend or mentor and make plans to get realigned. Where needed, ask forgiveness from those you've hurt.


Dan said...

Ken, great post, and outstanding Scriptural reference - a good example of accurate theological interpretation rather than mere proof-texting! I would only add one thing, that compared to the rest of the world, most all of us who are fortunate enough to be born in this country are essentially The Man, even if we feel pretty far down in the American power structure.

Integrity is a tough one to monitor at all times - it's so easy to make little compromises, and eventually a series of little ones adds up to one big one. I suppose these preachers probably started off with good intentions and made a series of compromises along the way - I like to think, at least, that none of them began their ministry with the intention of owning luxury cars and private jets!

Ken L. Hagler said...

Thanks Dan. I guess it shouldn't surprise us as the lone superpower, the world tends to consider the U.S. to be "The Man."

I posted this thought elsewhere today:
We might consider just how a theology (and a culture) that promotes excess, would be able to establish for itself when enough is enough? And for that matter, what behavior goes too far in attaining and maintaining it?

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