Adult Bullies In Pastor Bodies

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           February 21, 2014

 

Earlier this week I wrote a blog about “Adult Bullies in Churches”. It got more views, clicks, hits, or whatever you want to call it then any other blog post I’ve had except one. One of the comments about it was from someone who wondered about pastors and churches that are bullies. I promised that I would pursue the suggestion. Since I’ve been a pastor for just shy of thirty-five years it is right in my backyard. I’ll try not to be threatened by it, but also offer a balanced view of the situation.

Quite honestly, I think there have been, and are, pastors that bully. Most of the time the bullying is veiled behind an appearance of spirituality. The pastor conveys the idea that he/she is closer to God because he/she is more into the Word of God, and spends more time meditating about the ways of the Lord. People who question the pastor’s leadings and motives are often subjected to scorn and ridicule “in the name of Jesus.” 

When a pastor communicates by words and actions that he is closer to the Lord than anyone else a power play in is the works. When a pastor keeps promoting his vision that the Lord has given him…that, ironically, needs to be funded by the congregation, beware of the pleas that question how committed the people of the Body are.

I remember the words of an American Baptist pastor from Michigan, Jack Harris, spoken many years ago. Jack who served churches for a span of time just shy of Methuselah, said that the pastor was the sheep dog. Jesus was the shepherd. The pastor is entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the congregation headed in the direction of the Good Shepherd, not trying to be the Good Shepherd.

Some are uncomfortable with such a picture. They think a sheep dog has a little bullying in his actions, but the sheep dog is always about keeping the herd safe and headed in the direction they should be headed. Sometimes that requires a little more barking, but it is never to make the barker look more important than anyone else.

There are also pastors who firmly believe that they have been empowered with the authority to do anything. They view themselves as being like Moses, who was up on the mountain with the Lord receiving some divine words, and then had to return to the chaos of people dancing around a golden calf. I think it is easy for pastors to take on the “Moses Mentality” that the people they lead are prone to screwing up their lives. Thus, they need a strong voice that doesn’t put up with any nonsense and indicates it is either the pastor’s way or the highway. If such an ultimatum doesn’t work the pastor will sometimes even bring Satan into the equation. In other words, it is either his way or he’s going to hand them over to the Dark Side.

Accusing people of being of the world is a favorite bullying tactic. Sometimes I get discouraged by those who choose to follow other pursuits and interests instead of being at church on a consistent basis on Sunday morning. The temptation to focus on the lack of commitment gets especially strong around June and July.

A last thought! A pastor has been called to lead, but the leading must mirror the Philippians 2 passage about Jesus, who “being in very nature God (Not us! Don’t think that I’m saying we’re God, or God-like, but rather with a leaning sometimes towards being “Godly!”), did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” (Philippians 2:6-7) Being a pastor is more about serving than it is about getting one’s way. A pastor gets the privilege of administering the communion elements, baptizing a new believer, talking to someone about a major life decision, conducting the union of two people coming together in the covenant relationship of marriage, saying the final words as a follower of Jesus is lowered into the ground, sitting with a heart-broken family who has lost a special person. If a pastor’s base grows out of bullying and intimidation it leads to a fracturing of everything else, including the devastating fracturing of people’s lives.

Being like Jesus will always be more about a basin of water and a towel than a charge up a hill.

 

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible, Christianity, Community, Faith, Grace, Jesus, love, Pastor, Prayer, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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