Uncovering Abusive Church Leadership
Uncovering abusive church leadership
Power posturing – this means the leaders spend lots of time focusing on their own authority and reminding others of it. This trait is necessary in an abusive system because their spiritual authority isn’t real or genuine. It must be postured if there is to be any.
Basically, the leader subtly replaces Christ or God over church membership’s individual or collective consciences. Unhealthy, authoritative leadership encourages people to put their leaders on a pedestal. This type of leader is eager to place people under them, under their word, and under their authority.
In a spiritually abusive system, a misplaced sense of loyalty is fostered and even demanded - loyalty not to Christ, but to an organization, group, or leader. Because authority is assumed or legislated, and therefore not real, following must be legislated as well – hence, the doctrine of "FOLLOW-SHIP", advocated by such leaders and their emasculated sycophants.
In a spiritually abusive system, manipulation certainly takes place, especially in the use by leadership of open and public rebukes, public confessions, ridicule of critical or independent thinking, shunning or avoiding dissenters, and even defamation of character and suggestions of failure for those who don’t toe the leadership line.
In abusive church groups control-oriented leaders dictate what members think, although the process is so spiritualized members usually don’t realize what is going on.
A "leader" in this system is viewed as God’s mouthpiece, and, in varying degrees, a member’s decision-making and ability to think for themselves is buried by the group. Pressure to conform and low tolerance for questioning make it difficult for the member to be truly discerning. And, FEAR rules! Disabling FEAR!
A cardinal rule of abusive church leadership is "Don’t ask questions, don’t make waves, just follow for unity’s sake."
To question or exercise critical thinking is labeled as "human reasoning" – sort of a demonizing tactic! And this is enough to provide group leaders with justification for disassociating from a member whom they "mark" as rebellious, unteachable, or disharmonious to the group.
A healthy leadership welcomes even tough questions and they look for ways to strengthen members and their families as oppose to subduing them with guilt or scattering them abroad. Healthy leadership wants questions! It keeps them honest, affords accountability!
So, if you’re on the "out" with your church or religious fringe group you may be asking too many questions. Or, you can remain, if you like being a battered sheep. Your choice!
Something to THINK about, DON’T YOU THINK? Your "leaders" MAY NOT want you to!