Posted by: missionventureministries | June 15, 2016


Manipulation in the church (E)

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:2-3) 

Spiritual abuse can be detected in the church, since it is manifested in many ways.  

For instance, when a pastor tells his congregation that those who disobey his authority or decide to leave his church are in danger of God’s wrath, we can be sure this man is operating in a spirit of control. He is attempting to sow fear as a carnal means of keeping people in his church so that he can manipulate them for his gain.  

“If you leave this church,” he may warn, “the blessing of God will be lifted from your life, because you are disobeying God’s will. You will be in rebellion, and you will open yourself up to all kinds of calamities. The devil will have freedom to attack you because you have walked away from God’s protection,” that “protection” being the one true church that he happens to pastor.  

Fear is the motivation behind such intimidation, not love. We can be sure that this type of reasoning is not from God. Fear and false guilt are forms of manipulation, which is sin. Instead of motivating people through love, serving the body of Christ and reach the lost, a spiritually abusive minister will try to motivate through threats and manipulation.  

Remember: ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.’ (1 John 4:18) 

By ruling people in fear, controlling leaders work to get people to accept their lies and to follow them blindly. Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15) 

We also see this in the example regarding the prophets and priests in the book of Jeremiah.  

An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end? (Jeremiah 5:30-31) 

In these verses the controlling leaders are focused on their own agenda, and the people are being persuaded and led astray from God’s commandments.  

Sadly around the world, many hurting churchgoers struggle to earn the favor and approval of these modern-day Pharisees, false prophets and priests; all the while thinking they are earning the favor of God. 

Remember: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) 

The plan and purpose of false teachers and abusive manipulators is always to enslave their victims and to imprison them for their own egotistical and selfish gain. 

The truth is that if you are in Christ, you already have God’s favor! And no amount of work done for a spiritually abusive pastor will give you more acceptance than you already have. What you need to do is to run as fast as you can; get out of that abusive and controlling situation and find a group of true believers that love to study the Word and want to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth. 

Jesus recognized the burden that was being placed on sincere believers in His time, who just wanted to do what was right. He saw them as weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd, and He had compassion on them. (Matthew 9:36) 

A manipulative leader will discourage members from visiting other churches or receiving counsel from anyone who doesn’t attend their church. If anyone breaks this rule, he or she is viewed as rebellious. 

Many manipulative leaders are also very racists. However when Christ returns for His Church, people from all nations will be gathered to the Lord. Those who have become brothers and sisters on earth through the blood of Jesus will have that brotherhood lasting for all eternity. 

A true spiritual leader will provide godly counsel from selfless motives. He or she will want God’s will for your life. If that means that you have been called to minister somewhere else, they will rejoice that you are being sent out by God to be a blessing in another place. 

The preacher’s task is not to manipulate his hearers. Manipulative preachers however, use all kind of slick techniques, like the pulpit dramatics of talking loud and fast, having emotional shakes and jumping and stomping on the stage, and do whatever they can do to create an emotional setting. In addition they use background mood music and command the lifting of hands and clapping, and all kinds of additional emotionalism and pressure to pursue you to their way of acting and thinking. This is not preaching the Word; this is more like a secular Hollywood performance.

Members of a church have the right and responsibility to see that religious leaders conduct themselves in a manner that honors the dignity and Holiness of God. Please remember that: “all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” (1 Corinthians 14:40)

Jesus said: “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

The decision of yielding, surrendering and then acting, is between the hearer and God, not between the hearer and the preacher. It is the Holy Spirit’s work. Preaching is proclaiming saving and sanctifying truth, and strengthening truth from Scripture, the rest is done thru the Holy Spirit. 

Therefore, a healthy pastoral relationship should produce peace in the life of the believer. If the message and counsel that you receive is not giving you peace or rest in your soul, it is probably because it is not coming from the Lord. 

We must be very careful and discerning when seeking guidance from a person of pretended “spiritual authority,” otherwise we may be subjecting ourselves to the manipulative practices of a spiritual abusive leader.  

We need to ask God to give us a spirit of discernment through His Holy Spirit so that we can detect and avoid spiritual manipulation and control in our life.  

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) 

Therefore: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) 

How can you know when you are in the presence of a man or woman after God’s own heart? Jesus will always be the center of attention.


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