Ecclesiastical Cronyism: The Tale of Bobbie and Jimmie.

Once upon a time in a kingdom built by men.

Jimmie and Bobbie grew up in the same neighborhood. They went to the same school and were great friends. Baseball was their favorite pastime. They loved playing it and watching the big league games down at the ballpark.

During their middle school years they played for the same team and both boys tried out for the pitching spot. Jimmie was a natural pitcher. His long frame produced nice velocity with control and good ball movement. However, Bobbie’s father was a friend of the coach and so when the final cut was made, it was Bobbie who stood on the mound. This didn’t dampen the boys’ relationship. They were simply friends for life.

The same thing happened in college. Jimmie and Bobbie went to the same university. While studying for their degree Bobbie’s dad spoke to a friend who owned an international marketing and administration firm. Bobbie was soon after appointed as the senior aid to the president. Jimmie worked two jobs plus Workstudy just to make ends meet.

Jimmie and Bobbie both graduated from the university with advanced degrees, but Jimmie with honors. After graduation, Bobbie’s dad, because of his connections, opened the door to a C-suite opportunity for Bobbie. Both the boys were in the running for the job but in the end Bobbie’s last name tilted the scales in his favor. Jimmie went on to work for a small firm in a quiet community on the coast.

Cronyism happens all the time. Good men and women are set aside, who have impeccable credentials, for others who are the children of famous, well-connected or well-respected parents. However, this should never happen in an evangelical Christian organization committed to a high ethical standard.

Such is the case with the appointment at a leading school of evangelism at a leading seminary. How can the trustees appoint a 35 year old with no teaching experience to speak of, accept for adjunct work, and no depth of scholarship to be a dean? How can that school’s president say he is excited about such an appointment? Surely they know how this looks.

Who is Jimmie in this story? Who was passed up? Was there not one professor with the experience and scholarship appropriate to lead the school as dean?

The “Bobbie” in question received both his MDiv and PhD at a school his father oversees. He worked as the senior aid to the president of a leading mission sending organization while working on his PhD. Really? He spent a brief period on the mission field and on staff at a mega church on the East Coast.  Does all this add up to an appointment as dean?

This smells like cronyism. Anyone willing to take an impartial look at the information will feel uncomfortable. Of course, this is not the only case of cronyism or nepotism within a kingdom built by men. Check the last names and watch as they appoint one another to the highest offices and positions with their dominion.

Jimmie and Bobbie are still friends. Jimmie knows that’s the way it is. It’s not what you know but who you know, and sometimes it’s who your father knows. That doesn’t make it right, especially for a Christian organization that confesses its commitment to a high ethical standard.

That’s how it is, once upon a time, in a kingdom built by men.

Published by David B. Smith

Author, podcaster, pastor, and Big Pappa to my grandchildren.

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