Leaders are the architects of culture. You create a culture whether you intend to or not. One sure sign of a toxic culture is that you have to play politics to get anything done.
You know things have gotten political in your church when:
Decisions rarely get made the way they’re supposed to be made.
Most decisions happen outside of meetings or any agreed-upon process.
From the stories that you have shared to me personally, on Word Press and on Face Book, I would suggest that many of you have suffered abuse at the hands of spiritual leaders. We all hate the word abuse and usually recoil from it. We don’t like to talk about it. It is reserved for especially evil people. Yet are all capable of abuse and in its most common form we use it to control people. Spiritual Abuse is when spiritual leaders cross the boundary from care and nurturing to control, neglect and rejection.
“If religion is worth holding on to, it should be the place where the marginalized feel the most visible, where the hurting receive the most tender care, where the outsiders find the safest refuge. It should be where diversity is fiercely pursued and equality loudly championed; where all of humanity finds a permanent home and where justice runs the show”. John Pavlovitz
Spiritual abuse comes from someone that you are asked to trust, that the community trusts and that society trusts. This is difficult because group trust desensitises your alarm systems. It is also wrapped up in theology and your vision of who God is. This abuse is harder to see coming and when it does it takes you out. Trust is at the core of every relationship and very difficult to get back once broken.
“Spiritual abuse can occur when a leader uses his or her spiritual position to control or dominate another person. It often involves overriding the feelings and opinions of another, without regard to what will result in the other person’s state of living, emotions or spiritual well-being” (Johnson).