*sigh* Pastor, STOP Being a Bully!

Overheard:

“You need to trust me and allow me to lead you. I expect unconditional support of the leadership of this church in all ministry environments.”

What?! Are you KIDDING me?!

This is cult-talk, not Christian Church talk.

This is bullying, not leading.

This is oppression, not Christian servant-leadership.

This HAS to stop!

If you are in leadership in the church and this is your attitude, you need to get on your face and repent, begging God to change your heart and protect you from His due punishment for oppressors (Malachi 3:5; see also Psalm 94:20,  Jeremiah 25:34; Zechariah 9:8; et.al.).

In fact, God has something to say about oppression and oppressors 84 times  in Scripture…it is SO not okay with Him!

Jesus gave us His example of leadership (see the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet, for example, in John 13, especially John 13:14, 15, 17).

In fact, Jesus admonishes His disciples (that includes you, pastor),

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” ~ Matthew 20:25-28

If you think your position in the church entitles you to “lord it over” (bully and oppress) those you are there to serve, better go back to Bible school – if you ever went.

You are there to serve, NOT to be served. You are to gently lead from in front, not drive from behind (that’s the role of the butcher!).

Also, there seems to be a great deal of confusion about what authority is and what it isn’t.

Other than Jesus Himself, NO ONE has any authority. Let me say that again…

“Other than Jesus Himself, NO ONE has any authority.”

  • Jesus: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18b)
  • Paul: “And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things.” (Ephesians 1:22)
  • Paul again: “For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1b)

Bottom line is this: NO one “has” any authority; they simply exercise the authority God in Christ has assigned TO A POSITION, NOT A PERSON.

Example: If you get elected mayor, you will exercise the AUTHORITY OF THE POSITION of mayor until you are no longer mayor. Once you are no longer mayor, YOU NO LONGER EXERCISE THE AUTHORITY of the position of mayor.

If you serve as a pastor or other elder, your exercise the authority of that POSITION, and it DOES NOT belong to you!

Oh, and this nonsense about “spiritual authority?” Go back and read Matthew 28:18 and Ephesians 1:22 – again.

And before you take Titus 3:1 out of context (“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.”), this was part of Paul’s instructions to Titus on teaching the people in his congregation about how to treat THOSE OUTSIDE the church.

Also, your limited scholarship in dealing with Hebrews 13:17 needs to be repented of and you need to seek to understand what is meant, not just what is being said. It requires more than a “letter of the law” approach based on English translation:

  • Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (KJV)
  • Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (NASB)
  • Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. (NIV)
  • The word often translated “obey”  is πείθω (peithō), and it means (among other things) “to suffer one’s self to be persuaded, yield to persuasion, to be convinced.”
  • In the very next verse, the same word is translated either “convinced” or “sure”, depending on translation (“Pray for us. We are sure…”NIV; “Pray for us, for we are sure…” ESV; “Pray for us, for we are sure…” NASB)
  • Even the go-to translation (KJV) for many hyper-headship and other oppressive authoritarians renders that same word in the next verse as “Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience…”
  • Some of the variants of this word are translated “But the ruling priests and the elders persuaded (epeisan | ἔπεισαν  the crowds …” in Matthew 27:20; “And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will bribe (peisomen | πείσομεν ) him…” Matthew 28:14; and “He also told this parable to some who were confident (pepoithotas | πεποιθότας) in themselves…” Luke 18:19).

It seems quite clear that the idea of “obeying spiritual leaders” is not consistent with what God’s Word actually teaches, doesn’t it?

For those of you who think that a pastor or husband or father IS the authority or HAS authority, you have been deceived. Throw that off. Not only is that a man-made construct, it is oppressive at base.

Christ’s leadership was a servant-leadership.

It was self-sacrificial, not self-serving ( “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28).

It was for the good of us, not for the good of Him (Ephesians 5:25), and He had a passionate desire for God’s best for us, even if it cost Him everything (Philippians 2:3-11).

Pastor? Elder? STOP IT AND BE WARNED!

“Weep and wail, you shepherds; roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock. For your time to be slaughtered has come; you will fall like the best of the rams.”  Jeremiah 25:34

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.'” Ezekiel 34:10

“The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence [opression] His soul hates.” Psalm 11:5 (emphasis added)

For those who agree with God on the exact nature and character of their wrong, He provides forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). It requires a contrite heart to be truly repentant and confessing (Psalm 21:7; Isaiah 66:2).

Serve others as you have been commanded, or relinquish the position you are not entitled to because of your oppression. He will not long tolerate His sheep being oppressed.

Soli Deo Gloria

Hyper-Headship and the Scandal of Domestic Abuse in the Church

(Reblogged from The Gospel Coalition Blog)

by Jared C. Wilson

 

(NOTE: This is the kind of thing I have been praying for – no, BEGGING for – to see happen in the church for a VERY long time. His word-picture about the 3 doors parallels what I have often said: “When it comes to abuse, there is no ‘Switzerland’ – you either side with the abuser or the abused; there is no third choice.”)

Jason Meyer, pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, gave a powerful and important sermon this past Sunday.

In it, he defined things like “hyper-headship”:

Hyper-headship is a satanic distortion of male leadership, but it can fly under the radar of discernment because it is disguised as strong male leadership. Make no mistake—it is harsh, oppressive, and controlling. In other words, hyper-headship becomes a breeding ground for domestic abuse.

Meyer also addressed the issue of domestic abuse, highlighting three lessons in particular they had learned:

  1. Not all abuse cases are the same, even though they may share certain things in common. If you have seen one abuse case, you have seen one abuse case.
  2. We need to distinguish between two types of marital sinfulness: normative sinfulness and abusive sinfulness.
  3. There are spectrums and varieties of domestic abuse. A good working definition of domestic abuse is “a godless pattern of abusive behavior among spouses involving physical, psychological, and/or emotional means to exert and obtain power and control over a spouse for the achievement of selfish ends” (John Henderson).

Calling it a “draw-a-line-in-the-sand kind of moment” for the church, Meyer read a statement from the elders about domestic abuse:

We, the council of elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church, are resolved to root out all forms of domestic abuse (mental, emotional, physical, and sexual) in our midst. This destructive way of relating to a spouse is a satanic distortion of Christ-like male leadership because it defaces the depiction of Christ’s love for his bride. The shepherds of Bethlehem stand at the ready to protect the abused, call abusers to repentance, discipline the unrepentant, and hold up high the stunning picture of how much Christ loves his church.

The statement goes on to give information about whom to contact when abuse is occurring.

Meyer addressed abusers:

If you are an abuser, I call you right now to repent and bear fruit in keeping with repentance. The only hope is on the other side of repentance—getting out of denial so you can own your sin. That is the only hope because if you confess it as sin, there is a sacrifice for sin. There is no sacrifice for denial.

He addressed victims:

If you are being abused, the bulletin gives information on next steps. Please let us help. God hates abuse, and so do we. We are committed to help. If you have come to us for help before and have been disappointed, please give us another chance. We believe that the tide of awareness has risen on all three campuses and that positive changes are happening.

And he addressed children:

If you are a child and have seen one of your parents abuse the other, it is not right, and it is not your fault. You are not to blame. We want to get you help as well. You may think telling someone will tear your family apart, but it may be the only thing that can bring your family back together. If you are a child and you are being abused, let us help. Don’t walk this road alone. Tell someone. Please tell the children’s pastor or your youth pastor or a Sunday school worker.

He then closed with an address to men in particular:

Men of Bethlehem, let me address you. I will lay it on the line. At first glance, it looks like there are three possible doors the men of this church can take.

  • Door 1: side with the abusersm
  • Door 2: take no side, or
  • Door 3: side with the abused and stand up to the abusers.

If you are tempted to open Door 2, please know that it is a slide that just takes you to the same place as Door 1. Doing nothing is doing something: it is looking the other way so the abusers can do their thing without worrying who is watching. Saying nothing is saying something—it’s saying, “Go ahead, we don’t care enough to do anything.”

I would strongly encourage you to read the entire sermon, which contains careful definitions of the various kinds of abuse and various principles about abuse. You can listen to the audio here.

For some resources on abuse, see Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s resources:

See also:

How Do You Know You’re Repentant? – Reblog

(Reblogged from Gospel Coalition Blog)

Jared C. Wilson

How do you know when someone is repentant? In his helpful little book Church Discipline, Jonathan Leeman offers some guidance:

“A few verses before Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18 about church discipline, he provides us with help for determining whether an individual is characteristically repentant: would the person be willing to cut off a hand or tear out an eye rather than repeat the sin (Matt. 18:8-9)? That is to say, is he or she willing to do whatever it takes to fight against the sin? Repenting people, typically, are zealous about casting off their sin. That’s what God’s Spirit does inside of them. When this happens, one can expect to see a willingness to accept outside counsel. A willingness to inconvenience their schedules. A willingness to confess embarrassing things. A willingness to make financial sacrifices or lose friends or end relationships.” (p. 72)

These are good indicators, and I believe we can add a few more.

Here are 12 signs we have a genuinely repentant heart:

1. We name our sin as sin and do not spin it or excuse it, and further, we demonstrate “godly sorrow,” which is to say, a grief chiefly about the sin itself, not just a grief about being caught or having to deal with the consequences of sin.

2. We actually confessed before we were caught or the circumstantial consequences of our sin caught up with us.

3. If found out, we confess immediately or very soon after and “come clean,” rather than having to have the full truth coaxed out of us. Real repentance is typically accompanied by transparency.

4. We have a willingness and eagerness to make amends. We will do whatever it takes to make things right and to demonstrate we have changed.

5. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized, spending as much time as is required listening to them without jumping to defend ourselves.

6. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized as they process their hurt, and we don’t pressure them or “guilt” them into forgiving us.

7. We are willing to confess our sin even in the face of serious consequences (including undergoing church discipline, having to go to jail, or having a spouse leave us).

8. We may grieve the consequences of our sin but we do not bristle under them or resent them. We understand that sometimes our sin causes great damage to others that is not healed in the short term (or perhaps ever this side of heaven).

9. If our sin involves addiction or a pattern of behavior, we do not neglect to seek help with a counselor, a solid twelve-step program, or even a rehabilitation center.

10. We don’t resent gracious accountability, pastoral rebuke, or church discipline.

11. We seek our comfort in the grace of God in Jesus Christ, not simply in being free of the consequences of our sin.

12. We are humble and teachable.

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.– 2 Corinthians 7:9-11

(I have put my signs in the first person plural not because it is always inappropriate to seek to gauge someone’s repentance, but because we should always be gauging our own first, and because the truly forgiving heart is interested in an offender’s repentance but isn’t inordinately set on holding up measuring sticks but holding out grace.)