Shepherding the Church Toward Jesus

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It's Time to Remove Unrepentant Bullies from Church Leadership

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Building others is selfless, whereas bullying others is selfish. An autocratic leader seeks to advance themself at the expense of others. A gospel leader seeks to promote others at the expense of self.

My friend resigned from his church as the lead pastor when he refused to lie to the church at the elders’ request. They wanted him to hide the real reason the elders fired a staff person. This pastor is no longer in ministry. The board of elders cared more about their reputation than they did for holiness. They took a short-cut and harmed the congregation.

Psychologists describe bullying as physical, emotional, or verbal abuse. It always involves a power imbalance. Leaders use any force at their disposal to dominate another in a way that makes one miserable. Victims become depressed and doubt their self-worth. They resign from important positions in the church, and some leave the church for good.

Spiritual abusers leverage their position of religious authority to hurt a vulnerable person. They stress their power and importance to prey upon the weak. Their actions, though deplorable, are secondary to their motivation to subjugate people to their power. This abuse extends from leaders to people and from boards to leaders. They gratify themselves by conquering others.

I saw a Christian leader bully his senior staff and tear them down to the point of tears. He often made fun of their weight, ethnic characteristics, and abilities. He belittled the outward appearance of a staff member’s spouse. He even dared to joke about the mental capacity of one of the staff member’s sons.

Scripture admonishes us not to consider ourselves above others (Phil. 2:3). A tyrant has no boundaries as long as he perceives it benefits his cause and standing. Bullies empty others of their dignity and value. But Jesus empties himself for others (Phil. 2:7). In a humble state, Jesus took on the form of a servant to obey God and give us life (Phil. 2:3-11).

We either empty ourselves daily, or we will become full of ourselves.

1 Comment

Love this perspective. Grateful to know a leader like you.

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