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How Mark Driscoll Leads

How Mark Driscoll Leads

By Pastor Scott Thomas

A lot is written about leadership principles. Most of it is written from a sterile academic perspective or from theory, not from real life. I am asked a lot about what makes Mark Driscoll so successful. He’s a complicated dude. In fact, I usually tell people that he is a “freak” to dissuade them from trying to be Driscoll 2.0. I say that with the greatest amount of respect and admiration because he is one of a kind. Most world-class leaders are.

Mark has some methods he employs that make him a great leader. I offer 6 ways Mark Driscoll leads to inspire us toward leadership.


  1. Jesus Leads Mark. Mark continually emphasizes the fact that Jesus is the Senior Pastor of the Church, Sovereign King, Lord, Ruler of our lives. A good leader is a good follower of Jesus. Jesus is mentioned multiple times in everything Mark teaches. He bows before Jesus. Praises Jesus. Loves Jesus and talks about the person and work of Jesus with passion and sincerity.
  2. Mark Leads with Passion. Mark is not the pastor who does his job out of duty. Sure, there are plenty of times that responsibility overrides a desire to stay in bed or fly to a sunny location during the dark, rainy winter months in Seattle. But ultimately, it is his passion for the mission of Jesus that compels others to follow. He is never satisfied to maintain as long as people are unchurched or the believers need encouragement/rebuke through the gospel. Recently, Mark called for 900 men to become church planters or campus planters. That passion led many to respond.
  3. Mark Leads through His Family. I am most impressed with Mark when I am in his home. A man’s character is most evident in his home with his family. I love to watch his five kids, all with unique characteristics, eagerly showing “PoppaDaddy” love in their own ways. Ashley serves him eagerly. Zach connects with him cognitively in a quiet way. Calvin is enthusiastic and tells his Dad what is happening right now. Alexi likes to be in Mark’s lap and smile a lot. Gideon (“Guppy”) likes to have his Daddy notice him as he struts through the room wearing 2 swords and 3 guns in his pajamas. I like to see Mark holding Grace’s hand while we sit and talk. I’m not sure either one of them realizes they are holding hands, but it seems natural and loving.
  4. Mark Leads through His Gifts. He is a gifted communicator, so he speaks a lot. He has an intelligent mind and he uses it to train others and to challenge others theologically. He has the ability to challenge young men and he invests a lot of time and energy building them up. He acknowledges the areas where he is not as gifted and he lets others lead there while he focuses on the areas where he is most gifted.
  5. Mark Leads through the Gospel. Mark understands his need for the gospel. He realizes that he says things that are misunderstood, but he does it for the sake of the gospel and not for the sake of being popular with the Christian population. He is quick to repent and to listen to the counsel of his leadership team and chosen friends like John Piper, CJ Mahaney and DA Carson, to name a few. Mark is the first person to tell you he is not perfect, but also the first to appreciate the grace and forgiveness of God in his and in other’s lives.
  6. Mark Leads with the End in Mind. As a man under the age of 40, he expends a lot of thought into how he will finish the work God has entrusted him. He has publicized goals for the future and talks about the churches planted, books written, legacy for family and future generations. Most people are only worried about how we are going to get to the next phase of our life. Mark kiddingly (I think) says he will serve at Mars Hill until he preaches his own funeral and then crawls into the casket and dies.

Mark is just a man. But he is a leader that God is using to influence many people for the gospel. Even those in Mars Hill Church sometimes misunderstand his passion to proclaim the gospel. But he leads in a way that points people to Jesus, even if he has to yell at you to wake up and see the victorious Jesus awaiting His return.


Mark is teaching at the upcoming Acts 29 Boot Camp in San Diego:


San Diego Boot Camp: Missional Influence

 Missional Influence: Multiplying Leaders on Mission for the Gospel

May 5-6


To Register click HERE




Robert Dailey

on Apr 20, 2009 :: 7:41 am

This is a good summary, but I would have liked to see how Mark coordinates and leads the various ministries and ministers at Mars Hill.

Kevin Layne

on Apr 24, 2009 :: 9:46 pm

Hey, Robert. May I suggest one of Mark's books, Vintage Church? It's got great theology behind the way Mars Hill is structured and how and why Mark leads the way he does. Much has been written on coordination of ministries in many books... But Mark does a great job with Gerry Breshears in Vintage Church. Enjoy!

Jeff Giampa

on May 4, 2009 :: 12:06 pm

I highly admire Pastor Mark. I will be taking our leadership team through "The Radical Reformition" in a few weeks. It would be cool to see him author a book specifically on leadership having heard some of his messages on the subject. Until then, I'm sure he would agree with me in recomending "Developing the Leader Within You" by John C. Maxwell. I just started reading "Vintage Church" and like it so far as well.