Friday, March 27, 2015

EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE LEADERSHIP


EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is negative. It is about negative experiences that many people have with a spouse, a pastor, a church leader, a school teacher, an employer. You will not come away from reading this article with any sense of joy or happiness in your heart--UNLESS you have been a victim of an abusive relationship and have found words here to describe your situation for the first time. There is no way to paint this reality with any kind of bright colors. It is a sad situation that occurs in our society with frightening regularity. It is not confined to any particular class in society.

I have taken the points from the previous article and included ONLY the ones with which I have experience. These are the ones to which I will add comments.

  • Whatever you want, they want opposite
    In my experience with controlling leadership, it hasn't quite worked out this way. rather than being 'opposite,' they generally just say, "No" to any suggestion of doing something they themselves haven't thought of first. Initiative among the flock or employees is squelched.
  • They are always the victim
    This shows up in many ways. In the church I was a part of, the pastor told me, "I would never do to my pastor what you did to me." I was also told numerous times by others that the reason for his behavior was that "he had been hurt so many times."
  • You work overtime on the relationship (they don't work at all)
    Went to see him, took him out to breakfast, called, prayed with him before church meetings, yet he never called to check in on me, wanted to just spend some time together.
  • They will make up stories about you
    In another church I was in during the mid-70s, part of the accusations brought against me to hasten my removal from leadership were entirely fabricated stories. I was able to answer those accusations with proofs from others against the stories.
  • Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountabilityA year or so before I arrived at this church, the pastor had sent letters out to all his leadership dissolving their positions. Four years later, there is still no leadership within the church except for the pastor. His only supposed accountability is with four men who live in other cities far away.
  • No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry
    My wife and I both sent letters, e-mails, and Facebook private messages concerning different things, none of which were ever responded to. On the day he made me leave, I said during the course of conversation, "I still do not understand why you never meet with any of your staff." He turned red in the face, stretched himself up as much as he could to meet my face, and angrily said, "How I run my church is none of your business."
  • No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses, such as an independently audited financial statementThere is never a Profit & Loss statement, or any other kind of financial accounting given to the church, nor is it available to anyone who would ask. Solid records are kept as to donations, but we can only guess as to whether expenditures are so logged. No one knows the pastor's salary nor the salary of others employed by the church. We do know that others employed in ministries such as day care or the school are paid a pittance--day care workers are paid $5/hr.
  • Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions
    On the day he preached against my making the announcement, he alluded to wife-swapping as a result of home meetings. He spent time pointing out that anything untoward at home meetings would come back on the pastor, who "could be sued." He wouldn't allow a forum on the church website, because of "liability issues." Almost anything that was presented to him was shot down with some sort of fear of what could happen. (and this was supposedly a "Word of Faith" church.)
  • There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil
    The common excuse is taken from 1 John 2:19. On the day he made me leave, he said three different time, "I can't work with you." I asked, "Do you want me to leave?" He said no. When I saw him a month later, I tried to find a way of reconciliation, but he was not interested. He said, "I don't know how to deal with you." 
    So, he is protected from having "thrown me out," but he made it abundantly clear I was not welcome there.
  • Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances
    This was common among those whom I could find that had left for one reason or another.
    .
  • Followers feel they can never be "good enough"
    This was a common complaint among the men of the church. The pastor would step in on any project they were involved in and tell them they weren't doing it right. This happened for all kinds of things, whether it was cleaning, building, renovating, or any other task he had asked them to perform
    .
  • The group/leader is always right
    They might admit publicly that they could be wrong about something, but dare to challenge them on something, and you will find out quickly how wrong you are.
  • The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible
    This goes back to his fear of home groups or any type of fellowship gathering that occurred outside the four walls. This is never stated openly, but is gleaned fom various situations.

    If you find even ONE of these signs within your church or organization, then you should begin to consider whether you are involved with an abusive leader who is slowly forming a cult of their own. 

  • Discernment is critical in order to avoid the pain and heartache that comes with the entanglement in an abusive situation.


    For further clarity and understanding on the nature of spiritual abuse, read the book
    The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church

    If you order through this link, I may receive compensation from Amazon.

    Any and all comments, critiques, questions, or criticisms are welcome here. Your response does not require my approval before being posted. While I certainly appreciate your comments on Facebook, I would prefer that you also leave your comment here, just below this article. There are many people who do not visit Facebook, and cannot join in any discussion that may be generated by your thoughtful insight. Please consider leaving your response below--either through words, or simply checking the appropriate box that equals your reaction. Thank you.

    4 comments:

    1. I am finding that I must respond to your blog again with a statement that I understand. I've never been in a leadership position, but I have had negative experiences. I'll relate one:

      Not sure if you remember the church "down the street," but for some reason the church down the street was very suspicious of my church. However, I met my first husband through people from the church down the street -; that was the church he attended. He wanted them to marry us. So we contacted his pastor, met for "counseling" and he refused to marry us because of my church. He made no bones about telling us that.

      One of the things he told us was to stop "sleeping together" until we were married. We were both so shocked and tried to tell him that was NOT the case because were were NOT sleeping together. His attitude was, "yeah, whatever you say," and his parting words were again to stop sleeping together. My husband-to-be left in tears - I was just dumbfounded.

      We were married by another minister, yet my husband still wanted to attend this church. As I got to know people, a little at a time, I was constantly told, "You're really nice, You're nothing like the things I've heard about you."

      ReplyDelete
    2. It is things like this that go on constantly within the confines of our local churches. It is not good, and there is no one pointing out the abuses. We just simply leave and go somewhere else, leaving the abuser to continue. Of course, there is really little that anyone can do against the one in charge. You get labelled--much like the whistle-blower in today's corporate world--as a trouble maker.

      ReplyDelete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      ReplyDelete

    Your comments are welcome here.
    Feel free to critique, criticize, question, or otherwise make your voice heard in relation to this post.
    I only ask that you keep it civil and appropriate to the post.
    Thanks.