cartoon: weaklings

True story. A pastor who I trusted as my mentor once asked what my problem was with him… while he was physically poking my chest with his finger! Finally exhausted by his intimidation tactics, I said, “I find you very overpowering. Others do too. And I don’t think that’s fair because you send the message that you don’t respect others or their opinions. It has the effect of silencing people into submission.” His response was, “That’s because I am a strong leader and you are weak.

I have experienced this many times. This was the exasperated articulation of a methodical way of being a leader which was finally expressed in a moment of frustration. The cat was out of the bag. And once it is out of the bag it is impossible to get it back in. It’s time to part ways.

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33 Responses

  1. lisa says:

    time to part ways, indeed. that dude’s no “pastor” leading his sheep with strength PLUS huge love. he just is using the strength (or self-perceived strength, dare i say “might”) part. do you think that pastor has he actually read about the life and methods of christ?!

  2. Doug Sloan says:

    This is neither pastoring nor leadership. This is naked authoritarianism and it is not The Way.

  3. james says:

    What a bully! I bet he has been bullied or expereinced similar treatment from someone!

  4. wvpv says:

    and leaving is a sign of weakness. everyone else that leaves is weak, too. also, you obviously don’t believe in unity and would rather run away than have the difficult conversations required to work things out.

    sadly, this is all too familiar to me.

  5. ttm says:

    And we wonder why bullying is rampant among our youth. We ignore it among adults and we laugh at it in media. It’s sad and anger-inducing.

  6. Lynn says:

    That’s intimidation. Many IFB preachers are like that.

  7. Lisa says:

    well, I’ve never experienced this with a pastor, but I have it experienced it very recently with a mentor/spiritual parent. a relationship that I unfortunately had to end for this very reason.

  8. Chad Estes says:

    Too many times I was told, “you serve at the pleasure of the King.” and he was not referring to Jesus, but himself.

  9. Lynn says:

    “and leaving is a sign of weakness. everyone else that leaves is weak, too. also, you obviously don’t believe in unity and would rather run away than have the difficult conversations required to work things out.

    sadly, this is all too familiar to me.”

    wvpv,
    If I’m understanding you correctly, you are defending the preacher that NP found abusive. But I think if adults are treated this way, they do try to protect themselves by getting away from that person if they can. If it was a family member, they’re stuck. Or if it’s at their job, sometimes they decide to try to deal with it. But mostly I’d think you’d just want to get away.
    Why? Because life’s too short to spend your time around such people if you don’t have to. And it doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you care enough about yourself that you demand a certain level of respect. And adults have the ability to decide what atmosphere they will live in.

  10. nakedpastor says:

    Lynn: I think wvpv is saying the opinion of the controlling leader that anyone who leaves is weak and unwilling to work things out and are therefore against unity. i don’t think wvpv shares that opinion. unless i interpret it wrong.

  11. wvpv says:

    Lynn: NP is right. Getting out from under that kind of leadership was the best thing for me and my family.

  12. Colin says:

    That’s not leadership at all, let alone pastoral leadership. This is exactly why the hierarchy established in many churches ends up working against them.

    Thanks for sharing.

  13. The accusation of weakness is a great weapon to bring out in church power circles. You go see the ‘boss’ with your concerns and come away thinking there must be something wrong with you. This tactic eventually becomes apparent and hence powerless when enough followers share their stories. At least that’s been my experience.

  14. james says:

    too many pastors/vicars/minsiters (mainly men) are in the job because they are weak and they want a power base. I was involved with one of these bully boys when I was much younger who was a bible basher – he used the bible/ theology as his weapon to intimidate, humiliate and bully others.

    I have since learnt that admitting my weakness/ vulnerability is my strength

  15. Lynn says:

    wvpv,

    Oops! Sorry I misunderstood your comments. And thanks for being so gracious about it.

    james,

    I agree. Imagine having a job where you’re explaining to a group of people what the guy who invented the universe wants, means, etc. It’s absurd when you think about it.

  16. Linde Brocato says:

    My observation of late is that we’ve made “leader” = “hero” and “hero” = bully, basically creating a sociopathic culture of bullying. A quintessential statement of this was when Cheney said “Principle is OK up to a certain point, but principle doesn’t do any good if you lose” — that was 1976 during Iran-Contra scandal. I’ve experienced it everywhere — this culture of personality, willfulness, and arrogant self-indulgence, and I think it’s at the root of our societal and economic crisis. Thanks for the story and the cartoon — glad you got out of that mess!
    lmb

  17. Victor says:

    I have been closely involved in about 7 churches over the years, with a total of about 10 pastors that I knew fairly well (some in Germany, some in the UK). In my experience, 2 of these 10 were control freaks. The others were all easy to get on with. In one case, I and my family left a church because of this (resisting a bit of arm-twisting as we did).

    However, I have had four long-term secular jobs (three in schools, one in a publishing house), and in three of the four places of employment there were control freaks in high places, and they made the atmosphere unpleasant.

    So my conclusion is that there are control freaks and power grabbers in many organisations, both inside and outside the church. My experience seems to suggest that there are more in a secular context, but that is by no means a representative sample.

    I am happy now to be in a church which I experience as positive and open, and a work situation in which I am my own boss.

  18. Lynn says:

    It’s been said to me many times that you must not look at others, because you’ll always be disappointed eventually. You are to keep your eyes on Jesus. But is it really unfair to expect Christians to be noticably different than other people? Doesn’t the Bible imply that you are radically different than other people if you are a real Christian? Yet, we don’t see this.

  19. Victor says:

    Lynn, that is a common view, but I opt out of the moral idealism that says that Christians should be (or even MUST be) this or that. As a Christian, I know that I am redeemed and I know that God is gradually changing me, but I also know that I am not perfect. As I see it, that puts me in line with a lot of characters in the New Testament (read the Acts of the Apostles, for example, and watch the sparks fly!).

  20. Sheryl says:

    You can’t stay in an abusive relationship, especially not after you have defined it and declared it to be abusive AND told the abuser this!! The abuse will get worse if you stay.

  21. Jeremy says:

    What is the context? Pastors don’t just start taking shots at people unless often times provoked. How much provoking went on before hand?

    I am not defending said pastor. But, if he knew you had an issue with him… he probably had reason to be on guard.

    I would not agree with his statements… but I have a hard time believing that he was the only “guilty” party in this post. Although portrayed that way… I don’t think it is correct.

  22. JH says:

    well said Sheryl, unfortunately most abusers refuse to acknowledge their abuse and without the acknowledgement, change doesn’t come.

  23. nakedpastor says:

    jeremy: oh. i’m sorry. i didn’t realize abuse was permissible if provoked. thanks for that.

  24. Lynn says:

    If called on their abuse, abusers always explain how it’s not abuse, and whatever it is, YOU caused it.

  25. Sunil says:

    Yes we’ve been through that. But these guys draw their inspiration from people like John Piper and Mark Driscoll who act upon their ‘authority’ on a ‘biblical’ basis. It would be laughable except for the fact that they are so influential all over the world.

  26. Chad Estes says:

    This cartoon, as well as some conversations yesterday, really triggered some past pain for me. It always helps me to write about it. Here’s my story for anyone interested: http://www.chadestes.com/2011/02/leadershijumping-up-and-down-test/

  27. Lynn says:

    Victor said: “Lynn, that is a common view, but I opt out of the moral idealism that says that Christians should be (or even MUST be) this or that. As a Christian, I know that I am redeemed and I know that God is gradually changing me, but I also know that I am not perfect. As I see it, that puts me in line with a lot of characters in the New Testament (read the Acts of the Apostles, for example, and watch the sparks fly!).”

    Victor,
    I guess your view could work if you’re a Calvinist, where God simply chooses some and not others, and so if you’re a jerk, you’re God’s jerk. But Christians always saying they are not perfect, just forgiven, just comes across as a handy excuse for their basically being just like other people. People in all groups, Christian or whatever-some are nicer than others. I’m sure plenty of atheists are jerks just like plenty of Christians are.

    But this very thing is one reason I doubt there’s some Holy Spirit that radically changes these people. I’ve never seen that, at least. They tend to be just as much gossipers, deceitful, cheat on taxes, divorce (actually their divorce rate is higher, not lower)etc. Yet they are supposed to have God living inside them. That’s a pretty big deal, wouldn’t you think? I just don’t see the evidence. And I’ve been around dedicated Christians for 53 years. But you’re probably right that I am sort of an idealist in these things.

    I’ve known people who cheat on their taxes. Yet they are Christians and don’t feel one bit of guilt. I would feel very bad about myself if I did that. I would think, “But, that’s not right.” I’ve heard Christians tell outright lies and laugh about it. Where is this convicting Holy Spirit?

    Now there are some Christians who truly want to be better and better as people, and they truly strive for that. I respect that. But over-all, I don’t see that Christians are any better morally than non-Christians. It doesn’t make me hate Christians or anything, it makes me question what the Bible says OR makes me think none of that really matters and Calvinists are correct.

  28. james says:

    Lynn – I agree with your thoughts, those are the conclusions I have come too. The type of ark theology… as long as I am saved, it’s ok. This theology promotes Jesus as a life insurance policy – accept him into your life then carry on life as normal/ instead of doing some hard looking at yourself. As you – I don’t believe that the Holy spirit is changing people. Personally I feel I’ve changed much more since leaving the church then i ever did in it.

  29. Monica says:

    That is really such a sad storie. Leaders, especially religious ones, should be lifting up and empowering people. Part of leadership is also all about encouraging people.

  30. Gottabeanonymous says:

    Hmm, CPE feels like this sometimes.