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The Cure for Spiritual Abuse October 9, 1999

Posted by roopster in Christianity, Church, Spiritual Abuse.
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We see reports daily on how the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 60’s is still effecting our society today. Many of today’s woes can be traced back to the departure from a God centered culture to a self-centered, humanistic society. In the same way, we are seeing the effects of the ‘shepherding movement’, that was prevalent in the 70’s, in our churches today. Spiritual abuse (the new politically correct word for shepherding) is considered one of the “hot” topics of the church. But, in the same way that there is no quick cure for the rise in teenage violence, divorce, teen pregnancies, single parent homes, and the other challenges our society is facing, there is also no quick cure for the rampant abuse of authority we are seeing in the church.

Many of our churches are being built on principles that are contrary to what the Word of God teaches concerning leadership. The children of the shepherding movement are now the leaders of today. While the movement has been renounced as error, these leaders have developed ideas, patterns, habits, and principles based on what was experienced and taught. These patterns are now surfacing as subtle, spiritual abuse in the church.

As we endeavor to ‘fix’ our society from the effects of the 60’s, we cannot simply focus on the problem but we have to come up with solutions. We need to find creative ways to counteract many of the wrong beliefs which have developed. There is a great effort being made by the church to spread the Word and re-educate our children on the values and morals that have been the building blocks of our country. While we may not see dramatic, immediate results, as we continue, we will begin to see a change.

Romans 12:2 says that we are changed by changing the way we think. We can build healthy church environments if we begin to spread the Word and re-educate the church on what the Bible says about leadership.

According to the Word, as leaders we should:

– ServeLeaders are called to serve and care for those they minister to. Jesus, our example of a leader, came to this world to serve. How much more should we, as under-shepherds, serve those assigned to our care.

“And [Jesus] said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.” (Luke 22:25-26; NASB)

“For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others.” (Matthew 20:28; NLT)

“You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the broken bones. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with force and cruelty. So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd.” (Ezekiel 34:4-5; NLT)

– Accept

Leaders should accept everyone for who they are and not show favoritism based on someone’s social or financial status. We should portray the heart of God who has accepted us (Eph 1:6).

“I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the holy angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing special favor to anyone.” (1 Tim 5:21; NLT)

“For God does not show favoritism” (Rom 2:11; NLT)

“How can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others? For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor” – well, doesn’t this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives?” (James 2:1-4; NLT)

– Facilitate

God has a plan and purpose for everyone (Jer 29:11). Leaders are called to help the body discover their gifts and callings and to help provide opportunity for them to exercise those gifts.

“For anyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? (Romans 10:13-15; NLT)

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2; NKJV)

– Equip

One of the primary purposes of leadership is to equip and build up the church. Leaders are called to teach and to lead by example. This means that leaders cannot live isolated lives from the people to whom they minister.

“He is the One who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and to build up the church.” (Ephesians 4:11,12; NLT)

“Care for the flock of God entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly – not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example.” (1 Peter 5:2-3; NLT)

“Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12; NLT)

If we develop these SAFE (Serve, Accept, Facilitate, Equip) leadership principles, we will build healthy churches where the focus is on the people instead of the leaders. We will create an atmosphere where people are SAFE (Spiritual Abuse Free Environment).

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