Many of us who pastor understand the humbling effects of a necessary apology. People who attend our churches expect near perfection when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Some enter relationships with gregarious ease while others engage people a bit more reservedly. The former can come off plastic, the latter reclusive; the former overly friendly the latter standoffish. It is difficult for people to abide other’s tendencies. The context of personality makes for the interesting sharpening of iron by iron(people by people). Invariably people on either extreme and those in the middle of the spectrum come to conflict with other ministers or members.
The recent news out of the IMB information clearing house notes the Executive Committee of the IMB Board of Trustees will move to rescind a previous decision to recommend Wade Burleson be removed as an “elected” member of the IMB Board. Many of us hoped the IMB would make such a decision. The lack of substantive illustrations to support the charges of “gossip and slander” or the revised “broken trust and resistance to accountability” should have signaled concern by any observer. One of the major issues rests on to whom must the Trustees give account. Chiefly the Trustees must give an account to the body electing them to service. Since our SBC agency boards are not self-perpetuating, the Trustees must be accountable to the Convention. We would expect substantiation of charges to come in any termination of a staff position and so would require such in this case.
We now understand the impulse move came as a systemic deadline approached. The Board only had three days to notify the SBC Executive Committee of its intention. [See Wade’s recent post.Also here.] Many of us can sympathize with impulsive decisions. We have all made at least one. We certainly want to be forgiven our too quick decisions. A close read of Wade indicates any but a vindictiveness regarding the manner in which he has been treated. He has taken personal attacks – persistently referred to as arrogant. Some of us believe, many who know Wade personally, this construal stems from a failure to understand the issues for Wade rest on principle rather than an attempt to subvert the work of the IMB Board to accomplish his own agenda which indeed would be arrogant.
I am admittedly just one member of a very large denomination. Yet, in light of the course taken since November by the IMB Board, it is my conviction the high road for the Board would be expressed in not simply undoing what has been done. Rather, in an attempt to stand before the world an illustrate the kind of response to an error in judgment, the Board should apologize publicly to Wade. This should not be seen as the request for punitive action but rather since a brother has been injured by unsubstantiated charges representing impulsive action running ahead of good judgment, the Board should acknowledge the misstep.
For months the Board pled with Wade for an apology without demonstrating his error. The action of the Board is acknowledged to have been rash for fear the matter would drag on until 2007. It would have been far better to have handled this matter in the manner it appears will be taken from this point forward. To hide behind the lack of an established policy to handle these matters is to ignore the Scriptural illustration for handling conflict described by Jesus.
May the IMB Board take the high road, a road not oft traveled, and extend an apology to Wade and let the world see how brothers walk together for the good of the Kingdom and the blessing of the world.