Leading Gone Bad and Abusive
On the mission field talk about leadership is natural and necessary. As Christians we are sent to preach the gospel, evangelize and make disciples while the Lord then forms the new believers into a church body. This involves following our leader, Jesus Christ, through the clear teachings of His word as given also through His Apostles that were used in leading souls to Christ and laying the foundation of the church. Their writings, the New Testament is what instructs us by means of the illuminating work of the Spirit. As we follow Jesus into His global mission we then, necessarily, "lead" others to Him for salvation and into discipleship which is a lifelong endeavor. Talk about leadership is natural and necessary if we are to be fruitful in missions.
Missionaries throughout history have faced unique temptations, and at times have also fallen victim to these temptations. As it is, God has a custom of using broken men and women to fulfill His purposes. Any glimpse at God's redemptive story in Scripture reveals this reality. Most, if not all, of God's servants have totally blown it at least once! Not only are they not immune to deadly temptations of the Enemy, but they are actually his primary targets. Satan knows that if he can cause the missionary to go astray he can keep the lost souls from being reached and the church from being edified; worse still, he can cause major soul damage to the young sheep and divide and destroy the local church plant and flock. There are many such temptations and challenges we could talk about, but today we will focus simply on the role of pastoral leadership and the one who keeps a track record of blowing it time and time again, not just once.
Missionaries are typically driven people with strong wills. Often they are fearless, or so they seem. Many missionaries are quite humble and do well at playing secondary roles within missions groups. Some, however, are more charismatic and attention drawing. These types are often used in more noticeable ways to bring people to the Lord and involve more saints in the Lord's mission. But while living in the dark and spiritually dry mission field while fighting the good fight day in and day out, living by faith in the fullest sense of the meaning, they can nonetheless go astray, miss the mark and do great(er) damage to the Lord's people in the process. They remind us that we can start out well, yet finish poorly.
Here is a brilliant and well-written short article that reveals the character and danger of a pastoral leader who has gone astray and even become abusive, though he may not yet realize it. It is a good reminder of what can happen to all God's servants who start out well, but nonetheless live in a fallen world where they can be tempted and led astray. It's a good reminder also of the importance of selecting carefully the leadership we will follow and submit to for the glory of God. There may be times in your life when you will have to decide if the Lord wills for you to submit to a certain leadership. This can happen when leaders have gone astray. To continue submitting to them would be to continue supporting their practices contrary to the will of God. It's not a small matter so it is worthy of our thought and attention.
I exhort you to give the article a read and let your soul be edified to consider leadership from a different angle. Then, be moved to consider carefully who you will let lead you and how you can pray for those leaders, knowing that temptations of a unique variety can and will come to them in order to cause havoc to the Lord's church. If you are troubled by certain things in the leadership you are under it may simply be that you ought to be praying more for them while also checking your heart before God. On the other hand, it may be that they have gone astray and have become unqualified for leadership based on a lack of godly character. In this case, if you are unable to confront in love it would be best to remove yourself from this situation which will likely not be resolved any other way if you would choose to stay. God bless you!
Here is the author's intro from the article:
"What struck me as I read these books was that in both the “secular” world and the church, destructive leadership tends to look the same. In other words, the same things that caused Jimmy Bakker to implode also led to the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes and her company “Theranos” (once valued at $1 billion).
And Tiger Woods, though not necessarily a “leader” in the same sense as a pastor or CEO, imploded for many of the same reasons.
More and more, it’s critically important to be able to identify dangerous, destructive pastors BEFORE everything falls apart. Few things cause Christians to become disillusioned more than being ripped to pieces by a really bad pastor. Few things do more to sully the name of Jesus more than abusive spiritual leaders.
"I’ve read sobering stories of bad pastors/spiritual abusers (Jimmy Bakker), deceitful startup founders (Elizabeth Holmes), and obsessive athletes (Tiger Woods). I’ve also witnessed the profoundly destructive power of bad pastors and spiritual abuse first hand."
The 6 Warning Signs the author treats in the article include:
1. A bad pastor surrounds himself with "yes" people
2. Spiritual Abuse isolates critics
3. A bad pastor prizes loyalty over diversity
4. Spiritual abuse refuses accountability
5. A bad pastor leads by force of personality
6. Spiritual abuse refuses to believe anything is wrong