When is Doing the Right Thing Wrong?

Just re-reading Eugene Petersen's fantastic book "Under the Unpredictable Plant." Any leaders who haven't read it, go and buy it.

I got hit right from the word go, with his initial analysis of the structure of Jonah with regards to leadership. Eugene says it is a book about a leader in God's people and that it comes in two halves. In the first half the leader is running away from the pupose of God, and is therefore in the wrong place - Tarshish not Ninevah. In the second half the leader is in exactly the right place - geographically. He says what God tells him to say, proclaims the message clearly and accurately and sees astonishing repentance and revival.

And he is still really not in the right place. He doesn't embrace what God is doing and doesn't even want it. He wanted God to obliterate, not rescue.

What a great lesson about the ways we are tempted to measure succesful ministry. Doing what God says, even seeing revival and mass repentance, even confronting kings and rulers among God's enemies isn't finally a good indication of "succesful" ministry. Only what is in our hearts before God.

It's quite a shock to realise from Jonah that you can do all the right things and still be wrong.