Today we continue speaking about a very important subject - spiritual abuse.
Peter Nash (former director of our church's counseling and community ministries and now school chaplain of Waverley Christian College) shared an important message with our church a few years back entitled Spiritual Abuse - When the Church Becomes Unsafe. Here are a few thoughts from his message ...
What is abuse? Abuse is the misuse of power in such a way as to bring harm to another person. Abuse can be sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, or spiritual. Spiritual abuse is when a leader uses their authority as a weapon to cause pain or to manipulate, control and dominate people.
There is a big difference between leadership and abuse. Godly leaders lead by example, showing people the way, in order to achieve God's purposes and for the group's ultimate benefit. Christian leadership is servant leadership.
God does not dominate or control people in his leadership of them. Yes, he does seek to influence people but he allows them the freedom to choose. He never forces us.
Godly leaders are open to feedback and input from others. They do not over-react against questions from people. Yes, they lead in confidence but also in humility. They don't see themselves as infallible or untouchable. They don't quote Scriptures such as, "Touch not the Lord's anointed" (1 Samuel 24:6).
Godly leaders don't try to isolate, humiliate, or embarrass people. They avoid inappropriate use of guilt, shame, and fear.
That doesn't mean that leaders will never make decisions that some people won't agree with or that may be difficult for people to accept. However, they should endeavor to seek counsel for important decisions and then implement them in as wise and loving a manner as possible. When people disagree, leaders should take time to listen to them and to discuss the issues at hand in a constructive manner. Not everyone will agree on every matter but understanding can be sought and efforts should be made to keep the unity (see Ephesians 4:3).
More tomorrow ...