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Thou Shalt Offend Pharisees


How you handle offense has the potential to make you or break you as a leader.

You will offend.

The only question is: who will you offend?

And you will be offended.

The only question is: how will you respond to offense?

As God expands your sphere of influence, you’ll offend more and more people. It’s inevitable. But there is a right way to handle it and a wrong way to handle it.

First things first: who are you offending? Some leaders are so afraid of offending people that they offend God instead. Let me tell you who you should offend: thou shalt offend Pharisees! That is who Jesus offended.  And he did so regularly and intentionally. He could have healed on any day of the week, right? I think he chose the Sabbath to confront the Pharisees who couldn’t see the miracle through the theological trees.

So go ahead and offend Pharisees, but while you’re at it, make sure you aren’t one of them! 

How do you know? Well, read the Gospels and see the distinctives of Pharisaicalism. Self-righteousness is chief among them. Pharisees are low on humility and high on criticism. That critical spirit results in a focus on the letter of the law with very little room for grace.

Pharisees use, or I should say misuse, the Bible as a weapon.

And they have an uncanny habit of focusing on what’s wrong instead of celebrating what’s right.

They bring division instead of unity. The sow discord instead of peace. They aren’t advancing the kingdom of God. They are actually undermining it by backbiting and infighting. And instead of building up, they tear down. That’s the tip of the iceberg, but I think a pretty good caricature.

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Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., a multi-site church and a leading fellowship in the nation’s capital. Meeting in movie theaters and Metro stops throughout the D.C. area, NCC is attended by more than 70 percent single twenty-somethings. Mark’s weekly podcast is one of the fastest growing in America. His book, In A Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars peaked at #44 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. He has just released his newest book entitled, Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God. He and his wife Lora live on Capitol Hill. They have three children.