In the midst of all the discussion about polity, extra local authority, apostles, etc… it’s easy to lose track of simple statements of commitment and intent by those in charge of SGM. One such example is the important commitment made by CJ Mahaney himself that his presidency over SGM was to be temporary. Perhaps you’ve forgotten, so let me refresh your memory:
In a response statement, after the three adjudication committees had reached their findings, CJ Mahaney said the following:
…here’s how I think I can best serve you in days ahead: as I step back into the role of President, I will only do so temporarily. I think it would be wise for SGM to have a new President who has gifts better suited to serve Sovereign Grace in this next season… I look forward to serving SGM more effectively in a different role. So my return will be temporary with a few important intentions... [he goes on to describe those intentions as transitioning from interim board to permanent board and helping find a successor].
and from the Pastor’s Conference where CJ Mahaney addressed SGM pastors, an honest self-assessment of his ability to lead an increasingly expansive organization –
“Now reflections on Sovereign Grace, reflections on my leadership of Sovereign Grace. Prior to this leave of absence I had become convinced, with the help of others, that I am not gifted to manage a movement. I lack the necessary organizational skills, I am not good at establishing policy and procedures and processes that set an appropriate expectation for how we serve together.”
This promise to return temporarily shouldn’t be idly tossed aside – it was stated to justify and explain his return to pastors and members who, frankly speaking, were losing confidence in his leadership. It said in effect: “don’t worry, this is temporary – we’re actually going to appoint someone other than the old guard who can lead us through this mess”.
Now just a few questions –
Is CJ Mahaney going to honor his commitment to hold this position temporarily? In my mind, this means 3-4 months but not much more beyond that point. The first statement above was made at the end of November so it’s now been 7 months and counting…. This is important because his actions related to his words will either lend to his credibility as a leader or detract from it.
What specific efforts have actually been made to seek a new President? Have the qualifications for this role been defined or articulated? Have any candidates been approached? Have the names of these candidates been made public for evaluation? Frankly and sadly, we have no evidence that any effort has been expended toward that end. If that is incorrect, then I welcome any information that might help clarify what appears to be inactivity in the search for a new President. Sadly, it leaves many SGM members with the impression that CJ’s promise to return temporarily was done to placate us in hopes that we’ll forget.
Finally, if you can’t trust a leader to fulfill his commitments, can you trust him to lead?
Now we await hopefully to see if CJ Mahaney and SGM Board are men of their word. We want to believe that they are – but their actions will tell us if they are so.